During the campaign, when I pointed out to liberals some of Obama’s more egregious Leftist statements, they pooh-poohed me: “Don’t you know that all politicians campaign to the base, but govern from the center?” I wonder what they think of the fact that Obama, having campaigned to the base, with bows to the center, is now governing from a Leftist extremism that surprises even some of the base. These same liberals are remarkably silent right about now.
Archives for February 2009
In the old days, when someone was a substance abuser, the entire onus for the abuse lay with that person. At a certain point, however, someone figured out that, in many relationships, the abuser’s partner was part of the dance of drug or alcohol dependency. A new term entered the pop culture vocabulary: “codependent.”
The theory behind codependency is that the codependent person, for his or her own psychological reasons, needs the abuser to continue abuse. That’s why you see the abuser’s partner buying booze for the alcoholic, or making excuses to the employer for the drug abuser’s bad behavior.
Sometimes, of course, the codependent is simply trying to ensure the abuser’s continued functioning for economic reasons. If your husband is the sole breadwinner, and if he benefits from the hair of the dog that bit him so that he can go to work, it’s in your interest, at least in the short term, to make sure he gets that drink. Likewise, if Mom has a happy drunk, but a mean hangover, keep her drunk, right?
Practicalities aside, there are definitely relationships in which the codependent gets a sort of sick, martyred pleasure out of keeping the abuser tied to the abuse. For someone with low self-esteem, or a pathological desire to be needed, there’s really something satisfying in the bizarre dance of keeping an alcoholic simultaneously tied to his bottle and functioning. You are both better than he is and entirely necessary to his survival. You are the hero; he (or she) the perpetual damsel in distress. Until things get intolerable, your needs are satisfied catering to his illness.
Of course, when things finally do get intolerable, you often find that it’s too late to do anything to change the situation. You’ve gone too far down the slope of abuse and degradation for either of you to recover.
This whole line of thinking flows from the workout I had this morning at the dojo. Everyone there is fairly successful (I know, ’cause I talk to people), most people there are Obama-ites (I know, because I read the bumper stickers and listen to the talk), and anyone who was at today’s workout is a driven person. You don’t work out as maniacally as we did, pushing through the pain and fatigue, unless there’s a very deep level of commitment to succeed.
As the workout wrapped up, and we all oozed our sweaty bodies out of the doors, it occurred to me that my friends at the dojo are both a microcosm of the driven personalities in Marin and a microcosm of the liberal mentality. Liberals actually expect quite a lot from themselves. And so many of them need to feel that they are better than others. They can pull an 80 hour work week, carpool their kids all over the place, and engage in a high intensity workout because they are superior — or, at least, they need others to see them that way.
To maintain that illusion of superiority, however, liberals don’t expect the Hispanic gardener, or the black bus driver, or the southern talking Mom in the trailer to prove that he (or she) is capable of precisely the same efforts and outcome. And in order for liberals to maintain that satisfying distance from that gardener or bus driver or mom, they need to create a dependency system whereby they keep those people in their place. The substance liberals offer these people isn’t alcohol, or meth, or cocaine — it’s government money.
Once the flow of government money begins, the subliminal liberal thought process locks into place: “Sure I suffer a lot working so hard to keep the flow of government money, and sure I pay lip service to how pathetic your life is, but as long as you’re hooked on that largesse, I can look at myself as a superior, beneficent being. I’m better than you are. I work harder than you do. I’m more productive and I expect more from myself. And as long as I keep your supply of government cash flowing, I never have to see a situation in which you, pathetic you, prove that you too can work long, hard and successfully.”
Of course, as with the chemical substance abuser, being hooked on a free money is a stable situation for only so long. The abuser gradually needs more and more of the substance to keep functioning (whether alcohol, drugs or welfare). Then, at some indeterminate point, but a point that always seems to come as a big surprise, nothing helps anymore. The substance abuser becomes dysfunctional and the whole abuser/codependent dance grinds to a halt.
That’s what’s going to happen to America. Right now, we’re creating a two class system, led by Obama, our Codependent in Chief, who is aided by his other obsessive, arrogant and martyred Ivy League educated codependents. They see themselves as superior beings, who can work harder, be more productive, and be more moral than the “average” American. But the only way they can maintain this fantasy (and it is a fantasy) is to ensure that the average American is prevented from being hard working, productive and moral. So Obama and his allies are busy creating a political system that provides disincentives for the precisely the type of virtuous behavior that manifestly characterizes the Progressive leadership. Eventually, though, those same Americans that we hook on government money will become so dysfunctional that nothing can save them. And then it all grinds to a halt.
By the way, if you think I’m fantasizing about what happens when you hook a community on government money, just look at what the liberals did to the blacks starting with the 1960s’ Great Society. Rather than giving the blacks equal opportunities alongside whites, which would have enabled black Americans to engage in the same obsessive, hard-working, compulsive, driven, high achieving behavior that characterized whites, the Great Society gave them free money — and almost destroyed them. And throughout those years of codependent destruction, even as whites bemoaned the burdens of crimes and drugs and illiteracy that blacks placed on America, those same whites could view themselves as beneficent and superior beings, and that almost made it all worth while.
Perhaps it’s time for us to begin a Twelve Step Program for Democrats. We need to help them so that they’ll stop “helping” others.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News
I’m ambivalent about abortion. I grew up pro-choice, and have always accepted that, in certain situations, pregnancy is simply too burdensome. When I was young, I set a very low standard for what constituted “burdensome.” As I’ve grown older and had children of my own, that standard has become very high.
No matter my views on abortion, though, I’ve never, ever, ever believed that someone opposed to abortion should be forced to perform one. As the Anchoress explains, though, while I may find abhorent forcing people to commit an act they consider to be murder, the Obama administration has no problem with doing so. This is what comes from government by narcissists. If it’s right for them, it’s incumbent upon you.
I was speaking with one of the parents at martial arts today, a Frenchman who now lives with his family here in the United States. I don’t recall how it happened, but the conversation got around to a coded talk about the Islamisization of Europe. His opinion, surprisingly, was that it will happen in America before it happens in Europe. “You Americans are too politically correct. They are not so nice in Europe.” I pointed out that, demographically, the Muslims had a huge head start in Europe. That didn’t matter to him. “One family after another with eight children,” he said, “and before you know it, they take over. And you won’t stop them.”
A few more conversations like that and I’ll know him for the conservative he is and invite him to one of the crypto-conservative parties I’ve mentioned here before. (I’m going to one on Saturday, and I’ll let you know if anything interesting comes up.)
Linda Chavez is a writer I often read but seldom (if ever) quote. Today, though, I thought the opening paragraph in an article she wrote perfectly summarized everything one needs to know (and fear) about Obama:
Hubris is the word that comes to mind as I listen to President Obama lay out his plan to rescue the economy, create 4 million jobs, halve the deficit in four years, and give quality health care to every American. The man has big ambitions and an even bigger ego. It has been one of the most troubling aspects of his character as it has emerged on the national scene in the last two years. He seems, almost literally, to believe he walks on water. No one — no matter how talented — could accomplish a fraction of what Obama has planned in a good economy, much less the weakened one we have right now. Worse, he thinks he can do this simply by taxing the rich, a fantasy only someone who knows nothing about human behavior, much less the U.S. tax system, could possibly believe.
I’ve mentioned hubris too in connection with Obama, but Chavez does a better job.
As is appropriate after a disastrous election, there is a lot of soul searching going on on the conservative side, trying to figure out what went wrong so that we can do it right the next time. I see this in phone calls from relatives, lunches with friends, gatherings with Marin’s cryptoconservatives, and the hundreds of pages of articles and blog posts from conservatives: how can we fix this?
It seems appropriate, therefore, to remind you of Ronald Reagan’s words, spoken before Carter got elected and before four years of Carter-nomics, but still spoken at a time of comprehensive conservative defeats. I know some are arguing that it’s time to bury Reagan once and for all and let him rest in peace, but there is no doubt but that the principles he enunciates about the role of government in American life are as vital now as they were back in 1975, when he first spoke them. I’ve therefore reprinted his speech, below, with my comments.
Since our last meeting we have been through a disastrous election. [We know the feeling.] It is easy for us to be discouraged, as pundits hail that election as a repudiation of our philosophy and even as a mandate of some kind or other. [Pundits haven’t changed.] But the significance of the election was not registered by those who voted, but by those who stayed home. If there was anything like a mandate it will be found among almost two-thirds of the citizens who refused to participate.
Bitter as it is to accept the results of the November election, we should have reason for some optimism. For many years now we have preached “the gospel,” in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism. [Interestingly, Obama won by pretending moderate liberalism and then instantly practicing a radical socialist agenda.]
Now, it is possible we have been persuasive to a greater degree than we had ever realized. Few, if any, Democratic party candidates in the last election ran as liberals. Listening to them I had the eerie feeling we were hearing reruns of Goldwater speeches. I even thought I heard a few of my own. [My liberal husband assured me that Obama was running to the middle.]
Bureaucracy was assailed and fiscal responsibility hailed. [Obama promised to get government spending under control.] Even George McGovern donned sackcloth and ashes and did penance for the good people of South Dakota.
But let’s not be so naive as to think we are witnessing a mass conversion to the principles of conservatism. Once sworn into office, the victors reverted to type. In their view, apparently, the ends justified the means. [Could Reagan call it or what?]
The “Young Turks” had campaigned against “evil politicians.” They turned against committee chairmen of their own party, displaying a taste and talent as cutthroat power politicians quite in contrast to their campaign rhetoric and idealism. Still, we must not forget that they molded their campaigning to fit what even they recognized was the mood of the majority. [And this is absolutely true. As much as anything else, Obama won because, after 8 years of relentless demonization, the majority of Americans truly were willing to settle for nothing more than “change” no matter how meaningless or even dangerous.]
And we must see to it that the people are reminded of this as they now pursue their ideological goals—and pursue them they will.
I know you are aware of the national polls which show that a greater (and increasing) number of Americans—Republicans, Democrats and independents—classify themselves as “conservatives” than ever before. [We wish. Although it’s hard to tell because, on the issues, people are conservative, but the demonization of Republicans has resulted in their proclaiming themselves to be liberals or Democrats.] And a poll of rank-and-file union members reveals dissatisfaction with the amount of power their own leaders have assumed, and a resentment of their use of that power for partisan politics. Would it shock you to know that in that poll 68 percent of rank-and-file union members of this country came out endorsing right-to-work legislation? [Does anyone know what the results would be now?]
These polls give cause for some optimism, but at the same time reveal a confusion that exists and the need for a continued effort to “spread the word.”
In another recent survey, of 35,000 college and university students polled, three-fourths blame American business and industry for all of our economic and social ills. The same three-fourths think the answer is more (and virtually complete) regimentation and government control of all phases of business—including the imposition of wage and price controls. Yet, 80 percent in the same poll want less government interference in their own lives! [These words could have been spoken yesterday morning and been just as accurate.]
In 1972 the people of this country had a clear-cut choice, based on the issues—to a greater extent than any election in half a century. In overwhelming numbers they ignored party labels, not so much to vote for a man or even a policy as to repudiate a philosophy. In doing so they repudiated that final step into the welfare state—that call for the confiscation and redistribution of their earnings on a scale far greater than what we now have. They repudiated the abandonment of national honor and a weakening of this nation’s ability to protect itself. [This time, befuddled, bedazzled, ignorant and lied to, the people did not make that same choice.]
A study has been made that is so revealing that I’m not surprised it has been ignored by a certain number of political commentators and columnists. The political science department of Georgetown University researched the mandate of the 1972 election and recently presented its findings at a seminar.
Taking several major issues which, incidentally, are still the issues of the day, they polled rank-and-file members of the Democratic party on their approach to these problems. Then they polled the delegates to the two major national conventions—the leaders of the parties.
They found the delegates to the Republican convention almost identical in their responses to those of the rank-and-file Republicans. Yet, the delegates to the Democratic convention were miles apart from the thinking of their own party members. [Again, once one crosses out the true believers — the nutroots — I suspect this would still be true. Contrary to their party leaders, blacks and hispanics do not support abortion or gay marriage. Contrary to their party leaders, American Jews, no matter how naive or stupid, actually do support Israel. They have a blind allegiance to the Democratic party, even as they do not support many of its key policies or ideological directions.]
The mandate of 1972 still exists. The people of America have been confused and disturbed by events since that election, but they hold an unchanged philosophy.
Our task is to make them see that what we represent is identical to their own hopes and dreams of what America can and should be. If there are questions as to whether the principles of conservatism hold up in practice, we have the answers to them. Where conservative principles have been tried, they have worked. Gov. Meldrim Thomson is making them work in New Hampshire; so is Arch Moore in West Virginia and Mills Godwin in Virginia. Jack Williams made them work in Arizona and I’m sure Jim Edwards will in South Carolina. [And again, this is still true. The disaster zones in American are the places in which Democratic policies have held unending sway, and this is true whether you’re looking at D.C., Chicago, L.A., New Orleans, or any other historically Democratic political zone.]
If you will permit me, I can recount my own experience in California.
When I went to Sacramento eight years ago, I had the belief that government was no deep, dark mystery, that it could be operated efficiently by using the same common sense practiced in our everyday life, in our homes, in business and private affairs.
The “lab test” of my theory – California—was pretty messed up after eight years of a road show version of the Great Society. [As a victim of California public education, I can agree with him completely about what he found when he became governor.] Our first and only briefing came from the outgoing director of finance, who said: “We’re spending $1 million more a day than we’re taking in. I have a golf date. Good luck!” That was the most cheerful news we were to hear for quite some time.
California state government was increasing by about 5,000 new employees a year. We were the welfare capital of the world with 16 percent of the nation’s caseload. Soon, California’s caseload was increasing by 40,000 a month. [Boy, talk about history repeating itself, only a scale larger than Reagan could ever have imagined.]
We turned to the people themselves for help. Two hundred and fifty experts in the various fields volunteered to serve on task forces at no cost to the taxpayers. They went into every department of state government and came back with 1,800 recommendations on how modern business practices could be used to make government more efficient. We adopted 1,600 of them.
We instituted a policy of “cut, squeeze and trim” and froze the hiring of employees as replacements for retiring employees or others leaving state service. [Bet that would still work, even thought it would be painful to begin with.]
After a few years of struggling with the professional welfarists [again, some things never change, and I love that phrase], we again turned to the people. First, we obtained another task force and, when the legislature refused to help implement its recommendations, we presented the recommendations to the electorate.
It still took some doing. The legislature insisted our reforms would not work; that the needy would starve in the streets; that the workload would be dumped on the counties; that property taxes would go up and that we’d run up a deficit the first year of $750 million. [Hmm. Haven’t I been hearing something like that — exactly like that — unceasingly from the “progressives,” only with larger predicted numbers or more dire pronouncements?]
That was four years ago. Today, the needy have had an average increase of 43 percent in welfare grants in California, but the taxpayers have saved $2 billion by the caseload not increasing that 40,000 a month. Instead, there are some 400,000 fewer on welfare today than then.
Forty of the state’s 58 counties have reduced property taxes for two years in a row (some for three). That $750-million deficit turned into an $850-million surplus which we returned to the people in a one-time tax rebate. That wasn’t easy. One state senator described that rebate as “an unnecessary expenditure of public funds.” [Ah. California’s golden days, when people made money and government understood that it was not responsible for rejiggering and controlling society.]
For more than two decades governments—federal, state, local—have been increasing in size two-and-a-half times faster than the population increase. In the last 10 years they have increased the cost in payroll seven times as fast as the increase in numbers. [Sadly, since Reagan’s time, both in the fed and local governments, this has been true, and it’s been true under both Republican and Democratic leadership. It’s worse under the latter, but exists under the former. As I noted in an earlier post, our expectations continue to increase, with strides in medicine, longevity, technology, etc., but we’re also simply greedy.]
We have just turned over to a new administration in Sacramento a government virtually the same size it was eight years ago. With the state’s growth rate, this means that government absorbed a workload increase, in some departments as much as 66 percent.
We also turned over—for the first time in almost a quarter of a century—a balanced budget and a surplus of $500 million. In these eight years just passed, we returned to the people in rebates, tax reductions and bridge toll reductions $5.7 billion. All of this is contrary to the will of those who deplore conservatism and profess to be liberals, yet all of it is pleasing to its citizenry.
Make no mistake, the leadership of the Democratic party is still out of step with the majority of Americans. [As Obama demands more and more from taxpayers and, with a complicit Congress enacts ever more extreme policies, these words will become increasingly true, I think. And we can only be grateful that, unlike Venezuela and Zimbabwe, in two, four, six and even eight years, voters will still be able to have a say in the matter (although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, aside from messing with the census, legalizing massive numbers of presumably Democratic voting immigrants, and clamping down on a free media, the Obamanites don’t also try to destroy presidental term limits).]
Speaker Carl Albert recently was quoted as saying that our problem is “60 percent recession, 30 percent inflation and 10 percent energy.” That makes as much sense as saying two and two make 22.
Without inflation there would be no recession. And unless we curb inflation we can see the end of our society and economic system. The painful fact is we can only halt inflation by undergoing a period of economic dislocation—a recession, if you will. [The actor got it. He totally got it. There is no way to get out of a recession without some short term pain. If you try to avoid the short term pain, as Obama is doing with his massive spending programs, all you end up with is unending pain.]
We can take steps to ease the suffering of some who will be hurt more than others, but if we turn from fighting inflation and adopt a program only to fight recession we are on the road to disaster. [Ditto — and completely prescient.]
In his first address to Congress, the president asked Congress to join him in an all-out effort to balance the budget. I think all of us wish that he had re-issued that speech instead of this year’s budget message.
What side can be taken in a debate over whether the deficit should be $52 billion or $70 billion or $80 billion preferred by the profligate Congress? [Point being that, once you commit to spending, arguing over amounts is almost irrelevant. It’s like the joke about the man who asks a woman, “Will you sleep with me for a million dollars?” When she says “yes,” he asks “Will you sleep with me for ten dollars?” She draws back in disgust. “What do you take me for? A whore?” His answer: “Ma’am, we’ve already established what you are. Now, we’re just haggling over the price.”]
Inflation has one cause and one cause only: government spending more than government takes in. And the cure to inflation is a balanced budget. We know, of course, that after 40 years of social tinkering and Keynesian experimentation that we can’t do this all at once, but it can be achieved. Balancing the budget is like protecting your virtue: you have to learn to say “no.” [The hell with “Yes, we can.” What we should be saying is “No, we must not.”]
This is no time to repeat the shopworn panaceas of the New Deal, the Fair Deal and the Great Society. [Isn’t it funny how those are exactly the panaceas we’re hearing this time, too?] John Kenneth Galbraith, who, in my opinion, is living proof that economics is an inexact science, has written a new book. It is called “Economics and the Public Purpose.” In it, he asserts that market arrangements in our economy have given us inadequate housing, terrible mass transit, poor health care and a host of other miseries. And then, for the first time to my knowledge, he advances socialism as the answer to our problems.
Shorn of all side issues and extraneous matter, the problem underlying all others is the worldwide contest for the hearts and minds of mankind. Do we find the answers to human misery in freedom as it is known, or do we sink into the deadly dullness of the Socialist ant heap? [If you’re an Obamanic, right now you’re screaming “Ant heap, ant heap!”]
Those who suggest that the latter is some kind of solution are, I think, open to challenge. Let’s have no more theorizing when actual comparison is possible. There is in the world a great nation, larger than ours in territory and populated with 250 million capable people. It is rich in resources and has had more than 50 uninterrupted years to practice socialism without opposition. [At this point, Reagan’s speech takes off in a way impossible to comprehend today. In the mid-1970s, the vast majority of American voters still recognized that life under Communism was dreadful and that it was a zero sum game economically. Ironically, now that Communism is gone and people have actually been able to speak out about just how dreadful it was, the perversion of our education and media system means that people today are less aware not more aware of just how dreadful Communism was. They think Reagan’s “evil empire” concept was just a parochial American fear, rather than the recognition of the true evil that Communism really was.]
We could match them, but it would take a little doing on our part. We’d have to cut our paychecks back by 75 percent; move 60 million workers back to the farm; abandon two-thirds of our steel-making capacity; destroy 40 million television sets; tear up 14 of every 15 miles of highway; junk 19 of every 20 automobiles; tear up two-thirds of our railroad track; knock down 70 percent of our houses; and rip out nine out of every 10 telephones. Then, all we have to do is find a capitalist country to sell us wheat on credit to keep us from starving!
Our people are in a time of discontent. Our vital energy supplies are threatened by possibly the most powerful cartel in human history. [History is repeating itself — and our Democratic leaders will not allow us to utilize our own abundant resources.] Our traditional allies in Western Europe are experiencing political and economic instability bordering on chaos. [Wow! Another blast from the past.]
We seem to be increasingly alone in a world grown more hostile, but we let our defenses shrink to pre-Pearl Harbor levels. [We haven’t yet let our defenses shrink, but Obama has the defense budget on the chopping block. And unlike Reagan’s time, when it was a Cold War, Islamist attacks worldwide make it clear that this is a hot war, albeit one carried out by non-governmental armies.] And we are conscious that in Moscow the crash build-up of arms continues. The SALT II agreement in Vladivostok, if not re-negotiated, guarantees the Soviets a clear missile superiority sufficient to make a “first strike” possible, with little fear of reprisal. Yet, too many congressmen demand further cuts in our own defenses, including delay if not cancellation of the B-1 bomber.
I realize that millions of Americans are sick of hearing about Indochina, and perhaps it is politically unwise to talk of our obligation to Cambodia and South Vietnam. But we pledged—in an agreement that brought our men home and freed our prisoners—to give our allies arms and ammunition to replace on a one-for-one basis what they expend in resisting the aggression of the Communists who are violating the cease-fire and are fully aided by their Soviet and Red Chinese allies. Congress has already reduced the appropriation to half of what they need and threatens to reduce it even more.
Can we live with ourselves if we, as a nation, betray our friends and ignore our pledged word? [We could. We did. And we elected the man and the party who want to do it all over again.] And, if we do, who would ever trust us again? [Most don’t.] To consider committing such an act so contrary to our deepest ideals is symptomatic of the erosion of standards and values. And this adds to our discontent.
We did not seek world leadership; it was thrust upon us. It has been our destiny almost from the first moment this land was settled. If we fail to keep our rendezvous with destiny or, as John Winthrop said in 1630, “Deal falsely with our God,” we shall be made “a story and byword throughout the world.”
Americans are hungry to feel once again a sense of mission and greatness.
I don ‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party”—when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents. [Boy, they did that in 1974 too? And isn’t that exactly the fight that’s going on right now?]
It was a feeling that there was not a sufficient difference now between the parties that kept a majority of the voters away from the polls. When have we ever advocated a closed-door policy? Who has ever been barred from participating? [That’s a marvelous point. We don’t shape the message to the inchoate voter. We believe in the message and, if we build it, the voters will come.]
Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?
[And the following is the “stand up and cheer part.” In it, Reagan simply and clearly articulates conservative principles that worked then and should work now. These statements about the economy and national security are all we need to build a platform to which Americans will come, regardless of their particular place on the conservative spectrum.]
Let us show that we stand for fiscal integrity and sound money and above all for an end to deficit spending, with ultimate retirement of the national debt.
Let us also include a permanent limit on the percentage of the people’s earnings government can take without their consent.
Let our banner proclaim a genuine tax reform that will begin by simplifying the income tax so that workers can compute their obligation without having to employ legal help.
And let it provide indexing—adjusting the brackets to the cost of living—so that an increase in salary merely to keep pace with inflation does not move the taxpayer into a surtax bracket. Failure to provide this means an increase in government’s share and would make the worker worse off than he was before he got the raise.
Let our banner proclaim our belief in a free market as the greatest provider for the people.
Let us also call for an end to the nit-picking, the harassment and over-regulation of business and industry which restricts expansion and our ability to compete in world markets.
Let us explore ways to ward off socialism, not by increasing government’s coercive power, but by increasing participation by the people in the ownership of our industrial machine.
Our banner must recognize the responsibility of government to protect the law-abiding, holding those who commit misdeeds personally accountable.
And we must make it plain to international adventurers that our love of peace stops short of “peace at any price.”
We will maintain whatever level of strength is necessary to preserve our free way of life.
A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.
I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.
I was in a deep funk today because I thought I’d lost the yellow pad on which I kept the running tally of all of my hours for February. As it turned out, rather like Poe’s purloined letter, it was in front of me all the time — it simply didn’t look right. I feel incredibly relieved. If I just don’t read the news before I go to bed, I might be able to achieve a low level of stress and a good night’s sleep.
I’ll be back tomorrow, depressed about the big picture, but relieved about my own little world.
This is it, the most recent Watcher’s reading stack. My submission is weak, no doubt about it, a combination of post-vacation writing and the fact that I’m not good at describing train wrecks. Before an election, I can make arguments, trying to urge a position. Now, with Obama holding an unbeatable Democratic Congressional majority, I just sit back and watch bad things happen. I have nothing to add to the better punditry, and just want to cover my eyes.
- Rhymes With Right – About The Chimp Cartoon
- Joshuapundit – Holder: US A Nation Of Cowards On Race
- The Glittering Eye – How Not to Draw a Conclusion
- The Razor – Octomom: A Symbol of Obama’s America
- Right Truth – Our Supreme Leader, Barack Obama
- Cheat-Seeking Missiles – NY Times Finally Covers Hassan Beheading
- Bookworm Room – Giving the people what they want
- The Provocateur – The Coming Mortgage Class War III
- Soccer Dad – Try a little tenderness – in foreign policy
- The Colossus of Rhodey – Reaction Eric Holder’s “cowards” comment
- Submitted By: Rhymes With Right – Right on the Left Coast – California Budget and Debt Is All Republicans’ Fault
- Submitted By: Joshuapundit – The Nose On Your face – Islamic Rage Boy Addresses Muslim TV Exec’s Recent Wife-Beheading
- Submitted By: The Glittering Eye – The Long War Journal – Analysis: Pakistan peace agreement cedes ground to the Taliban
- Submitted By: The Razor – The Anchoress – Yep, I Miss Bush
- Submitted By: Right Truth – Chesler Chronicles at Pajamas Media – A Dutch Hero Comes to Warn Us, Seek Our Support. The Incomparable Geert Wilders, MP, in New York City.
- Submitted By: Cheat-Seeking Missiles – Michelle Malkin – The Chinagate/Buddhist temple cash skeletons in Gary Locke’s closet
- Submitted By: Bookworm Room – Threats Watch – Mexican President: Gov’t Does Not Control Areas on US Border
- Submitted By: The Provocateur – Ottawa Citizen – Back to Carter
- Submitted By: Soccer Dad – JudeoPundit – Iran adopts Starfleet insignia
- Submitted By: The Colossus of Rhodey – The Weekly Standard – No Speech, Please
Full employment does not equal wealth. In a totalitarian society, such as the former Soviet Union, one often finds 100% employment, but no wealth. What matters isn’t the quantity of jobs, it’s the quality.
Government prints money. It does not create wealth. People create wealth.
Zimbabwe is a very frightening example of the speed within which bad government interference can utterly destroy a thriving economy.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of being in the company of some interesting, well-informed conservatives (and are there any other kind?). We’d gathered ostensibly as a book club to talk about Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (a book I found informative, but that had a conceit and coyness that irritated me). As is the case with all good book clubs, though, the conversation took on a life of its own, so that the chapter about potatoes triggered an examination of the hereditary system in Ireland under English rule.
One of the attendees pointed out that part of the problem was that Ireland, rather than having a primogeniture approach to land inheritance (an approach that mandates that property goes only to the eldest son), had a system by which all children were entitled to equal parts of the land. The result was that land became effectively became non-arable. Multiple siblings meant the land was broken up into such tiny plots, that, unless the siblings were able to work in concert, it was impossible for anyone to make a living off of a given piece of land. Potatoes were ultimately the only food that could be grown in these small spaces, and we know how that ended.
An Irishman who was at the meeting told us that this approach was not the traditional Irish way but, instead, was an English law imposed to ensure that no single person or group in Ireland could aggregate too much power and become a meaningful challenge to English rule. While I hadn’t known this about Irish law, I immediately recognized the principle. France, too, had no primogeniture, which protected the crown from a single noble family becoming too powerful. (England’s War of the Roses showed the tremendous risks of feuding power factions.)
Louis XIV further strengthened the Crown’s hand by building Versailles. That is, he went beyond breaking up the great land holdings and actually removed the nobles from the land altogether. As with Ireland, this approach did not ultimately work out very well. While the nobles lived their hedonistic, politically incestuous lives at Versailles, the peasantry, trying to survive on land that the owners completely ignored, coalesced into a burning revolutionary fire.
At this point, I showed my mastery of the obvious by stating that a tyrannical government always has to enact policies that prevent any one person or group from obtaining too much wealth and strength. Even as the word’s came out of my mouth, I thought of Obama and the Democrats. Breaking up power structures is precisely what their stated policies are aimed at accomplishing.
They’re planning on taxing the rich to death, destroying industry, and enacting policies that ensure that, like the nobles at Versailles, the American people are utterly dependent on the government for all benefits. With that system in place, Americans will quickly stop paying attention to, and ultimately lose interest in, opportunities to create their own wealth. As long as benefits are drizzled over the masses, with no single group able to amass power, the ruling class can maintain itself for a very, very long time — although history indicates that it will almost inevitably end with a high mortality bang.
Our own Deanna is planning on going to the Chicago Tea Party and is looking for clever slogans for the sign she’s going to carry. We’ve discussed before at this blog the fact that honest conservative thoughts don’t easily yield to bumper sticker sized sentences. The bottom line question is: How does one pithily attack the current government’s abusive taxing and wasteful, ideologically driven spending? Since Deanna, like me, is not a master of the pithy phrase, she’d love some ideas from all of you.
I’m so irritated about all the chimp apologies, despite the fact that its clear that cartoons had nothing to do with race, but instead involved riffs off of other news of the day, that I just feel like putting up some chimp pictures here. Let me assure you that, while I really dislike Obama and everything he stands for, these pictures have nothing to do with him:
This picture, on the other hand, does:
I see this as a running series, as more and more evidence crops proving to the 78% of American Jews who voted for Obama that he will, as conservatives warned, oversee Israel’s destruction. Pre-election, I was assured by so many Jews that the Dems and Obama are friends of Israel, and it was irrelevant to them when I pointed out his awful statements and more awful associates. Well, it should start mattering just about now. The view from the White House now matches the view from the same radical college campuses, which are getting ever more radical, that spawned Obama and his minions.
Cassandra prophesied doom, and no one believed her. It was scant consolation that she was right.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the challenge for government in a world with higher expectations. Cast your mind back to the years when the Founders signed off on the Declaration of Independence and created the Bill of Rights. It was a very different world, with very different needs and expectations.
Let’s start with a simple one: Back in those days, there were no anti-gun movements. People had guns. The only question was whether the people or the government should control them. The Founders said the people should. The fact that one of the first things Hitler did was to take away the people’s guns shows what a smart idea the Founders had.
Medical care in those days (indeed, for another 100 plus years after those days) was fairly simple too. If you got sick and were poor, you either lived or died. If you got sick and were rich, you either lived or died, but only after the doctor had bled you into severe anemia first (with the bleeding often being the actual cause of death). The thought that the government should pay for treatment would have been ludicrous, because treatment was mostly palliative (and often dangerous) anyway. The only cost of medicine was the doctor’s time — he didn’t charge for the leeches.
Infrastructure was also a minimal need in those days. If you wanted running water, you went to the creek by your house. Your sewage treatment plant was the hole in your back yard and, once that got gross, you dug a new one. If you wanted a new road, you followed the ox paths or the paths the Native Americans had carved out of the landscape for hundreds of years. Or you simply blazed your own trail. Again, it was inconceivable that the government would concern itself with cleaning water, dragging away sewage or building major roadways.
As for the poor, attitudes were definitely different. In many ways, they were much crueler, of course, with children working 24/7 in factories or living in unimaginable slums. You only have to look at Jacob Riis’ pictures from the New York tenements at the turn of the last century to realize that Americans had a much more Darwinian approach to poverty than we do now. But even the time of the tenements was different from the Founders’ world. The Founders’ world was a rural, not an urban, world. People weren’t piled up higgledy-piggledy in tenements. Instead, they lived on farms and then, as now, everyone on a farm worked, regardless of age.
Another difference then, and one that still characterized thinking as late as the 1940s, was the notion that, if there was no work in one location, you moved. Nowadays, we’re deeply rooted. If there’s no work in our home town, we stay put, and expect the government to fund us until work returns to our town, assuming it ever does. In the old days, when the work vanished, so did the people — a notion that archeology tells is is unique, not only to America, but to all of human kind since the dawn of time.
I could go on with the above list, but I’d only be pedantic and I’m pretty sure I’ve made my point: in a more primitive world, there was little the government could do for people anyway. It did provide security, which mostly involved trying to protect pioneers against the Native Americans who were outraged at the former’s encroachment on the latter’s land. Even in those circumstances, though, the pioneers, who were armed, willingly protected themselves. The Native Americans, of course, got the short end of the stick, being shot at by both pioneers and the US military, but that’s a different story.
The problem nowadays are that our expectations have changed in so many ways, some reasonable, given the modern era in which we live, and some unreasonable, resulting both from being spoiled and from being somewhat socialized. In defining what government still needs to do, we need to define what expectations are appropriate and what are ridiculous.
I would argue that the rise in infrastructure expectations is appropriate. Creeks and oxtracks and cess pools in the back yard should never be the basis of America’s infrastructure (although, funnily enough, I suspect the greenies, with their “one sheet of toilet paper” mentality, would love it if the other half lived this way). Government should continue to provide clean water, good sewage, and safe roadways, although with all the other infrastructure fundamentals I’ve forgotten to mention here. Most people I know agree, and one of their primary sources of anger about the spendulus bill is the fact that so little is involved with actual infrastracture repair and development and the fact that this small amount is part of the last spending to be done — presumably once the money has run out.
A more nuanced question is education. California used to be the top state out of the 50 when it came to teaching the fundamentals: reading, writing and arithmetic. Now it ranks near the bottom. The interesting thing is that, even adjusting for inflation, it’s spending more and has a much “richer” curriculum than it did in the 40s, 50s, 60s and early 70s. What’s changed is the nature of that curriculum. School is no longer about the three “Rs,” which are pretty easy to teach if you focus yourself. Instead, they’re about everything. The question then becomes, which everythings are necessary, and which are political fads.
In my children’s affluent school district, all of the middle schoolers have computers. As far as I can tell, the computers do not make the children learn better. They’re heavy, the kids spend endless hours on line chatting with each other and getting into trouble, their handwriting is degrading, and the temptation to cheat is always there. (We solved most of these problems by disconnecting my daughter’s computer from our home server.) While it’s useful in today’s computer world to know how to operate them, the kids don’t need them 24/7. A periodic computer lab would be just as useful — not to mention that most of them have access to computers in their own homes anyway.
Language programs? I think they’re a good thing, since there is no doubt that the time to teach a child another language is when the child is young. Wait too long and it’s a brute force effort. Bilingualism is a useful and marketable skill. My only problem is that both my children having been taking Spanish classes since they were 4, and they know nothing. So the problem obviously isn’t the existence of the classes, it’s the quality. Only now that my daughter is 11 is she finally in a program that’s making a difference. This means that, for 6 years, I (and the other taxpayers) paid for nothing.
Sports programs? That’s a tough one for me, because I live in a sports mad community. Outside of school, all of the kids are involved in soccer (lots of soccer), baseball, basketball, swimming, martial arts, lacrosse, and just about any other sport you can name. The school sports program is irrelevant to our children’s physical development. In poorer communities, where kids can’t run on the streets (as my can), where their parents can’t afford extracurricular programs (which we can), and where the kids spend their time eating junk food and sacked out in front of the TV, there’s a virtue to publicly funded programs, if only to keep these kids from all becoming 15 year old diabetics. Given how much kids loath school P.E., though, it might be more sensible to put the money into community sports programs, so that the kids who want to do sports can, and the kids who don’t can be fat and torporous.
I could go on and on (really, I could) parsing every aspect of modern education to try to distinguish wants from needs. Then, I could go on to phase two, which would be examining needs that are being met with money, but (as with the language programs) are being handled so badly they may as well be jettisoned. The bottom line would be the same: at some point, people have to figure out what, if anything, they want that is more than must the three Rs. And as to that, it really should be a community, not a federal government standard. The more the feds get involved with education, the less communities have control over determining what’s important to them.
The same analysis — modern wants versus modern needs — plays out in other areas too. With medicine, in a post leech age, do people deserve government funded MRIs? The Founders never considered medicine as a basic right, since it really wasn’t a product that mattered much. It matters now. And shouldn’t we be asking how to drive costs down, rather than simply throwing government money at medicine, which only distorts the market and drives costs up? One simple thing would be to allow insurance purchases to be conducted on a nationwide basis. As it is, people in Texas pay 60% less for insurance than people in California do. Reducing the 1,600 regulations controlling California insurance and healthcare providers might help too.
Welfare too deserves rethinking, not just more money. Rather than paying people a regular sum to stay mired in poverty, about a giving the jobless a lump sum with a hint that they move to where the jobs are? As it is, the meager stipends they get make it impossible for many of them to move, and simply trap them in dead economic zones.
I’m waffling now, and will stop, but I would love to hear your thoughts about (a) wants versus needs when it comes to government spending in the modern era, and (b) more efficient approaches to money that we’re going to spend no matter what.
Who cares about the content? You’ve got to love this CNN headline:
Obama to lay out sober assessment, hopeful future
The story’s content, as you’ve probably guessed, is that Obama has figured out that people elected Mr. Hopenchange, not Mr. Doom-and-Gloom. So, he’s got to say that everything is awful, so that (a) it won’t be his fault if nothing improves and (b) he can have an opening for his radical policies, but he’s got to say it with a big, cheery smile plastered on his face. Should be interesting, especially seeing whether voters listen to his speech with their hearts or their brains.