On the political left, fair is foul and foul is fair.
The left likes to use words to mean their opposites. Communist dictatorships like to call themselves “democratic” republics. It’s a cynical tease, because it shows that they know democracy is better than dictatorship.
A cynical lefty euphemism much in use in America is “diversity”. It should mean “variety”, but what it has come to mean in practice is its opposite - “orthodoxy”: a strict doctrinal uniformity of opinion.
The doctrine has achieved enormous success in the universities, which are no longer open to new ideas, no longer allow free debate, no longer question fixed assumptions. That’s what they once existed for. Now they are temples of political correctness, safes for the secure locking up of leftist doctrine.They want a sterile mix of ethnicities and of as many genders as semantic ingenuity can invent, but not a fertile mix of ideas. They recognize only one set of ideas as correct. To question it is heresy.
Steps towards enforcing this kind of “diversity” in the news media have been proposed by the Obama administration. Charles Krauthammer deplores the move in this video clip:
Here the doctrine of diversity is examined by Victor Davis Hanson:
Diversity has become corporatized on American campuses, with scores of bureaucrats and administrators accentuating different pedigrees and ancestries. That’s odd, because diversity does not mean any more “variety” or “points of difference,” at least as it used to be defined.
Instead, diversity has become … synonymous with orthodoxy and intolerance, especially of political thought.
When campuses sloganeer “celebrate diversity,” that does not mean encouraging all sorts of political views. …
Do colleges routinely invite graduation speakers who are skeptical of man-made global warming, and have reservations about present abortion laws, gay marriage or illegal immigration – if only for the sake of ensuring diverse views?
Nor does diversity mean consistently ensuring that institutions should reflect “what America looks like.” …
Do we really want all institutions to weigh diversity rather than merit so that coveted spots reflect the race and gender percentages of American society? …
Gender disparity is absolutely stunning on American campuses. Women now earn about 61 percent of all associate degrees and 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees. With such disproportionate gender representation, do we need outreach offices on campus to weigh maleness in admissions? Should college presidents investigate whether the campus has become an insidiously hostile place for men? …
If ethnic, rather than class, pedigrees provide an edge, how do we ascertain them in today’s melting-pot culture? Does the one-quarter Latino student, the recent arrival from Jamaica or the fourth-generation Japanese-American deserve special consideration as “diverse”? And if so, over whom? The Punjabi-American? The Arab-American? The gay rich kid? The coal miner’s daughter? Or the generic American who chooses not to broadcast his profile?
Does Diversity Inc. rely on genetic testing, family documents, general appearance, accented names, trilled pronunciation or just personal assurance to pass judgment on who should be advantaged in any measurement of diversity?
In such an illiberal, tribally obsessed and ideologically based value system, it is not hard to see why and how careerists such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and activist Ward Churchill were able to fabricate helpful Native American ancestries.
Diversity came into vogue after affirmative action became unworkable in the 1980s. Given the multiplicity of ethnicities, huge influxes of new immigrants and a growing rate of intermarriage, it became almost impossible to adjudicate historical grievances and dole out legal remedies. So just creating “diversity” – without much worry over how to define it – avoided the contradictions.
But diversity is not only incoherent; it is also ironic. On a campus short of resources, the industry of diversity and related “studies” classes that focus on gender or racial differences and grievances crowd out exactly the sort of disciplines that provide the skills – mastery of languages, literature, science, engineering, business and math – that best prep non-traditional graduates for a shot at well-compensated careers.
And here Jonah Goldberg writes on the same subject:
Cancel the philosophy courses, people. Oh, and we’re going to be shuttering the political science, religion and pre-law departments too. We’ll keep some of the English and history folks on for a while longer, but they should probably keep their resumes handy.
Because, you see, they are of no use anymore. We have the answers to the big questions, so why keep pretending there’s anything left to discuss?
At least that’s where Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College, seems to be coming down. Her school invited a famous [or infamous - ed] left-wing Princeton professor, Cornel West, and a famous right-wing Princeton professor, Robert George, to have a debate. The two men are friends, and by all accounts they had an utterly civil exchange of ideas. But that only made the whole thing even more outrageous.
“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion,” Ching told the Daily Gazette, the school’s newspaper. “I don’t think we should be tolerating [George's] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.”
Swarthmore must be so proud.
Over at Harvard, another young lady has similar views. Harvard Crimson editorial writer Sandra Y.L. Korn recently called for getting rid of academic freedom in favor of something called “academic justice”.
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?” Korn asks.
Helpfully, she answers her own question: “When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.”
One could easily dismiss these students as part of that long and glorious American tradition of smart young people saying stupid things. As Oscar Wilde remarked, “In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”
But we all know that this nonsense didn’t spring ex nihilo from their imaginations … These ideas are taught.
Indeed, we are now up to our knees in this Orwellian bilge. Diversity means conformity. …
To want “diversity” – the writer sums up – means to listen only to “people who agree with me” and that means people who are left wing.
[For] the sages of Swarthmore and Harvard … if the conversation heads in a direction where [they] smell “oppression” – as defined solely by the left – then it must not be “put up with”.
Diversity demands that diversity of opinion not be tolerated anymore.
The untruths and hypocrisy hover in the partisan atmosphere and incrementally and insidiously undermine each new assertion that we hear from the president … Indeed, the more emphatically he adds “make no mistake about it,” “let me be perfectly clear,” “I’m not kidding,” or the ubiquitous “me,” “my,” and “I” to each new assertion, the more a growing number of people will come to know from the past that what follows simply is not true. … When we hear the president remind us that he is not a tyrant or monarch, then we assume he laments that fact; “make no mistake about it” ensures that you should believe that the president is not being “perfectly clear.”
So Victor Davis Hanson writes at PJ Media.
Here are more extracts from the same article:
The president had a strange habit, like a moth to a flame, of demagoguing the wealthy as toxic (spread the wealth, pay your fair share, fat cat, you didn’t build that, etc.), while being attracted to the very lifestyle that he damns, a sort of Martha’s Vineyard community organizer. Sometime in 2009, $250,000 in annual income became the dividing line between “us” and “them.” …
I did not think that the administration would be so haughty as to go after the Associated Press and monitor their official and private communications, especially given that the source of most national security leaks par excellence was the Obama White House itself. Recall the sordid details of the AP scandal: the AP sat on a story until they were given a quiet administration go-ahead to publish the account — even as the administration desperately wanted to scoop them and high-five over the story of the Yemeni double agent 24 hours earlier than the AP. The AP was not first advised of the administration investigations, nor were the phone checks focused and narrow. Instead, the administration went whole hog after two months of phone records to send a message to its pets in the press — secure that Eric Holder, in Fast and Furious fashion, could always go to Congress with “I don’t now,” followed by executive privilege and stonewalling.
Meanwhile, in Machiavellian fashion the Obama administration had divulged classified information about the Stuxnet virus, the bin Laden raid, and the drone targeting — in order that sympathetic Washington Post and New York Times reporters might have pre-election fuel for the hagiographic accounts of Obama, the underappreciated commander-in-chief.
While we all knew that a filmmaker did not prompt a riot that just happened to kill four Americans, we did not, until the testimony of State Department officials and the published communications of White House, CIA, and State Department staffers, appreciate just how far the administration would go to further a false narrative. And quite a myth it was: lead-from-behind Libya was still a success; al-Qaeda was still scattered; Obama was still on the global front lines condemning anti-Islamic bigots like Mr. Nakoula, whose religious hatred supposedly had spawned violence that even the Nobel laureate Barack Obama could not deter. …
The IRS, AP, and Benghazi scandals were all adroitly kept under wraps for months before the 2012 election, as [Democrats] thundered about right-wing wealthy people not paying their fair taxes, and the press echoed a “how dare you” when anyone questioned the frightening state of events.
Now the wraps have come off and we find -
Five departments of government are either breaking the law or lying or both: State [Benghazi], Defense [sexual harassment issues], Justice [monitoring of phone lines], Treasury [corruption at the IRS], Health and Human Services [shaking down companies to pay for PR for Obamacare]).
The National Rifle Association is now supposed to be a suspect paramilitary group …
Women [are] suddenly eligible to serve in front-line combat units — no discussion, no hearings, no public debate.
We had a “war on women” over whether upscale Sandra Fluke could get free birth control from the government, but snoozed through the Dr. Gosnell trial. The latter may have been the most lethal serial killer in U.S. history, if his last few years of snipping spinal cords were indicative of his first three unmonitored decades of late-term aborting.
The Obama administration … decided to shut down as many coal plants as it can, stop most new gas and oil drilling on federal lands, and go after private companies ranging from huge aircraft manufacturers to the small guitar concerns — based not on law, but on certain theories of climate change and labor equity. As in the case with the IRS, the EPA is now synonymous with politically motivated activism designed to circumvent the law. The president in his State of the Union address assured us that cap-and-trade will be back, given, he says, the atypical violent weather that hit the U.S. in his term — even as global temperatures have not risen in 15 years, and hurricanes are now occurring more rarely than during the last administration. …
We are in unchartered territory.
The IRS has lost our trust, both for its rank partisanship and its inability to come forward and explain its crimes.
Eric Holder wants us to believe that he has no idea why his office was monitoring the communications of journalists, and yet now warrants the renewed trust of the president.
Susan Rice serially misled on national television about Benghazi and so will probably be promoted to national security advisor. …
On campuses, the Departments of Justice and Education have issued new race/class/gender guidelines that would effectively deny constitutionally protected free speech in universities, a sort of politically correct idea that proper thinking is preferable to free thinking.
If you oppose “comprehensive immigration reform” you become a nativist or worse—and apparently are one of the “enemies” the president wants to “punish.” …
Government has become a sort of malignant metasisizing tumor, growing on its own, parasitical on healthy cells, always searching for new sources of nourishment, its purpose nothing other than growing bigger and faster and more powerful—until the exhausted host collapses.
We have a sunshine king and our government has become a sort of virtual Versailles palace.
I suppose that when a presidential candidate urges his supporters [as Obama did] to get in someone’s face, and to take a gun to a knife fight, from now on you better believe him.
And, finally, the strangest thing about nearing the threshold of 1984? It comes with a whimper, not a bang, with a charismatic smile and mellifluous nonsense — with politically correct, egalitarian-minded bureaucrats with glasses and iPhones instead of fist-shaking jack-booted thugs.
It is a thing passing strange that many – a big majority – of the successful Silicon Valley billionaires, who achieved what they did precisely because their inventiveness and enterprise were nurtured by capitalism and freedom, vote for socialism with its restrictions and regulations, its discouragement of individual effort, its confiscation of wealth by punitive taxation, its infertility for innovation. The same could be said of the elites of the east coast, and wherever else the children of Liberty have grown to despise her.
How explain the cognitive dissonance?
Victor Davis Hanson explores the contradictions that are writ so large in California. He writes at PJ Media:
We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.
The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is … how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?
California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm.
Which is to say, the melting-pot, that worked so well for a few hundred years.
Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.
Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not. …
There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.
Their California is long gone … and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.
Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle … and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 … the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. …
Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million. …
And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.
The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?
How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought. …
Somehow, in just thirty years we created obstacles to public learning that produce results approaching the two-century horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. About half the resources of the California State University system are devoted to remedial schooling for underperforming high school students (well over half who enter take remediation courses; half don’t graduate even in six years; and well over half have sizable financial aid). … The majority of the once-vaunted upper-tier University of California campuses now resemble second-tier CSU of old. Yet I think a Fresno State graduate of 1965 was far better educated than a UC Irvine or UC Santa Cruz student of today.
The state’s wealthiest and best-prepared students are perhaps only well-taught at its elite schools — the two UC campuses at Berkeley and UCLA, Stanford, Caltech, USC, Pepperdine, or Santa Clara — while the poorer but still serious students increasingly enroll in the new private online and tech schools that sprout up around failed CSU campuses. …
The coastal elites unite politically with the interior poor … Along the coast, elites have harvested well California’s natural and acquired wealth. I’ll again just toss out a few brands; you can imagine the lucre and jobs that are generated from Santa Rosa to San Diego: Apple, Chevron, Disney, DreamWorks, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hollywood, Napa Valley, Oracle, PG&E, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Wells Fargo, the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland.
So let us not speak of California decline, but of California’s decline and another California boom — one of 6% unemployment and another of 16%, one of $100,000 per capita income and another of $15,000, one of cottages sold on the first day on the market in Newport and another of vacant McMansions molding away in Stockton.
Success continues on the coast and is managed by very wealthy and mostly liberal residents of the sprawl that surrounds Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the five million or so who are enriched in enterprise zones like these — and there are thousands more spin-off and smaller such companies — life is pretty good if you keep your household small, inherited a house, or make enough money to buy something at about $500 to $1,000 dollars a square foot. In Selma, new 1800 sq. foot homes sell for $140,000; in Palo Alto, dollhouses go for $1.5 million. …
Coastal folk seem to view high taxes like Mafia protection money, but in the sense of psychological satisfaction and freedom from guilt. For now, sales, gas, and income taxes are not so high as to matter to those who voted for them, at least in view of the social and political advantages of coastal living: the beautiful weather, the Pacific panorama, the hip culture …
To the extent that “they” (i.e. you, reader) exist, the distant others are nebulous, rarely thought-about souls. Perhaps they really do enjoy polluting the planet as they generate the electricity, pipe in the natural gas and oil, refine the fuels, grow the food, and cut and haul the lumber that gives a Palo Alto or Santa Barbara the stuff to go on …
One of the questions I always hear from strangers: “Why doesn’t everyone leave?” The answer is simple: for the coastal overdogs there is nowhere else where the money is as good and the weather and scenery are as enjoyable. [But] yes, the middle-class small farmers, hardware-store owners, company retirees, and electricians are leaving in droves.
The Latino population, I would imagine, would be in revolt over the elitist nature of California politics. Of course, thousands of second-generation Latinos have become public employees, from teachers to DMV clerks, and understandably so vote a straight Democrat-public union ticket. But millions are not working for the state, and they suffer dramatically from the ruling Bay Area left-wing political agenda of regulations, green quackery, and legal gymnastics. It is not just that the foreign national illegally entered the U.S. from Oaxaca, but entered the most complex, over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-lawyered state in the nation — hence the disconnects.
Take energy. California may have reserves of 35 billion barrels of oil in its newly discovered shale formations, and even more natural gas — the best way to provide clean electricity and, perhaps soon, transportation energy for the state. Tens of thousands of young Latino immigrants — given that agriculture is increasingly mechanizing, construction is flat, and the state is broke — could be making high wages from Salinas to Paso Robles, and along the I-5 corridor, if fracking and horizontal drilling took off. Even more jobs could accrue in subsidiary construction and trucking. And for a cynic, billions of dollars in state energy taxes from gas and oil revenue would ensure that the state’s generous handouts would be funded for a generation. Did someone forget that the California boom of the 1930s and 1940s was fueled by cheap, in-state oil?
More importantly, our power companies have the highest energy bills in the nation, given all sorts of green and redistributionist mandates. The costs fall most heavily on the cold winter/hot summer interior residents, who are the poorest in the state. Those who insist that the utilities invest in costly alternate energy and other green fantasies live mostly in 65-70 degree coastal weather year-round and enjoy low power bills.
Yet the liberal coastal political lock-hold on the state continues.
No one in San Joaquin or Tranquility cares about a baitfish in the delta, but they do vote nonetheless for the elites who divert water from farms, put the poor farm worker out of work, and feel good about saving the smelt in the process. …
How then does the California coalition work, and in some sense work so well?
The coastal elite offers an agenda for more welfare funding, scholarships, class warfare, public unions, diversity, affirmative action, open borders, and amnesty, and in response the interior voter signs off on everything from gay marriage, solar and wind subsidies, gun restrictions, mass transit schemes, and the entire progressive tax-and-spend agenda. Most of this coalition never much sees one another.
The young Mountain View programmer keeps clear of Woodlake. He even has only a vague idea of what life is like for those who live in nearby Redwood City and make his arugula salad at the hip pasta bar in Palo Alto. In turn, the Redwood City dishwasher has an equally murky sense that the wealthy kid who works at Google does not wish to deport his uncle — and so the two become unspoken political partners of sorts. One of the state’s wealthiest cities, a gated Atherton, is juxtaposed to one of its most Latinate communities, Redwood City. But they might as well be Mercury and Pluto. Or should we applaud that the owner of the manor and his grass cutter vote identically — and against the interests of the guy who sold and serviced the Honda lawn mower? …
The liberal aristocracy is as class-bound as the old Republican blue-stockings, but saved from populist ostracism by what I have called the “hip” exemption — liberalism’s new veneer that allows one to be both consumer and critic of the Westernized good life, to praise the people and to stay as far away from them as possible.
California is a tired idea.
Is America a tired idea? Are Americans becoming tired of the idea on which America was founded - liberty itself? Do they really want a different America, a country more like socialist Europe? Or are they just blind to where their votes are taking them?
We delight in the fact that capitalism provides opportunity for anyone to become rich. We applaud those clever/industrious/lucky people who have achieved great wealth in our (comparatively) free society. We feel energized and encouraged by the happy spectacle of “conspicuous consumption” that some visible billionaires display with their mansions, their yachts, their jets, their football teams … For we see them as the living proof to us all that it is perfectly possible to become “filthy rich”. If they can do it, maybe we can to. They’re a spur to noble effort.
We are therefore bewildered by the cognitive dissonance of those self-made billionaires who vote Democratic. For instance, those who have made their fortunes in Silicon Valley by their marvelous inventions precisely because they were able to take advantage of circumstances – freedom, leisure, investment – which capitalism alone can provide. Do they not realize that to vote for Obama and the Democratic Party is to vote for socialism? Do they not know that socialism is a killer of private enterprise? That collectivism puts an end to innovation? We cannot suppose them to be so mean-spirited that, having made their own fortunes, they want to prevent others following in their footsteps. We’d rather conclude that very clever people can be very stupid about things outside their expertise.
The Democrats of course notoriously pour scorn on “the 1%” and long to make them poorer and ashamed of themselves. So a question arises: How come the extremely wealthy political elite of the Left are not ashamed of their hypocrisy?
This is from PJ Media, by Victor Davis Hanson:
I confess I never admired John Edwards … I didn’t think much of Al Gore or John Kerry … I was not surprised when Susan Rice just disclosed that she is worth considerably over $30 million — and has money in Keystone no less. Are they all part of the “one percent”? Did they pay “their fair share”? Do they “spread the wealth”? At what point in his life did Al Gore know that he had made enough money (before barreling ahead and making more)?
Why do a Timmy Geithner and John Kerry preach about raising taxes while trying their best … to avoid them? I remember the Clintons seeking write-offs for the donation of their underwear, Tom Daschle not counting limo service as income, and Hilda Solis with a lien on her husband’s property. Why wouldn’t the above pay too much rather than too little? If Barack Obama did not get free government everything … would he still preach that guys like him need their taxes raised?
Of course, I accept without much worry that government service can lead to the contacts that lead to big money. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld made millions in the private sector in between D.C. jobs. I grant too that old-boy networking is lucrative. George W. Bush’s Texas Rangers small fortune came from having powerful friends in the right places. No doubt Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are multimillionaires. Bravo to them both.
And Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush are not of the Party that pretends to despise the rich. Democrats who are keen on redistributing wealth should start by redistributing their own.
What we cannot stomach is all the sermonizing about “fair share” and “play by the rules” and “the one percent” from those who seek to be exempt from their own rhetoric. Can’t Warren Buffett keep quiet and just leave his $50 billion to his heirs — and let the wonderful federal government do what it must with a $30 billion estate tax on his earnings? … His estate will dodge more tax liabilities than what millions of his proverbial overtaxed secretaries pay. Why isn’t George Soros one of the despised money speculators of the sort that Occupy Wall Street was enraged about? … So weird what constitutes good and bad riches!
I guess the rub is not big or small money, or what you must do to get it and keep it. No, the lesson instead is what you say when you get it. If I were to advise a young rich man, I would promote entering politics or the media and talking up the liberal redistributionist state, the model being a sort of Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Nancy Pelosi, Jon Corzine, or Jay Rockefeller.
If you know what to say against the rich -
You may meet and marry a rich person … all sorts of doors will open that allow you to keep and compound what you garner — and you will feel wonderful in the bargain.
And Larry Elder writes at Townhall:
Ah, the hypocrisy of tax-hikers who do everything they can to avoid the taxes they wish to impose on others.
Sen. John Kerry … tried to avoid $500K in his home state’s sales and excise taxes by docking his newly purchased $7 million 76-foot yacht in Rhode Island.
Massachusetts lowered its state income tax in 2001. Given the presumably large number of rich people who pine to pay more taxes, the state allowed tax filers to check a box and voluntarily pay the old, higher rate. In a liberal state of over 3 million tax filers, how many volunteered to pay the higher rate in 2004? A tiny fraction of 1 percent — 930 taxpayers.
We’re astounded that there were any. To the well-known statement, “tax payers are entitled to arrange their affairs to attract the least taxation”, the retort must be, “what sort of fool would arrange his affairs to attract the most taxation?”
Among those who refused to pay the higher rate? Sen. Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank. …
John Edwards, former senator and Democratic presidential candidate: His wife, Elizabeth, once called him a person of “character” because Edwards voted against his own economic “interests” by voting for higher taxes. Well, OK, but like billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who urges higher taxes, Edwards is less than keen on paying them. As a lawyer winning major jury awards, John set up a subchapter S corporation to pay himself through dividends — and thus avoid $600K in Medicare payroll taxes.
Well, the guy may be nasty – is infamously so! – but he’s not an idiot.
Ted Kennedy and his family shield[ed] their money through a series of complicated family trusts first begun by father Joe Kennedy. The trusts transfer wealth from generation to generation while avoiding estate taxes.
The late Ohio Democratic Sen. Howard Metzenbaum … enjoyed a lifetime rating from Americans for Democratic Action of 95 (100 being perfect) and a zero from the American Conservative Union. He never met a tax hike he did not like. [But] he moved to Florida when he retired from the Senate. Why Florida? No state estate or personal income taxes.
“Civil rights” leader and MSNB-Hee Haw host Al Sharpton: Though he supports increasing taxes on the rich, Sharpton, it seems, fails to do his part as a member of the 1 percent. As of last year, according to the New York Post, Sharpton owed $3.5 million in state and federal income taxes. His nonprofit, the National Action Network, as of 2011 owes nearly $900K in unpaid federal payroll taxes.
What do these individual instances of hypocrisy say about whether taxes should be increased on the so-called rich? …
The Congressional Budget Office just issued a report on what would happen to the economy if Congress fails to retain the Bush-era tax rates. Keeping the Bush-era rates for all but the rich, the CBO says, adds 1.25 percentage points to GDP. Retaining tax rates for all, including the rich, however, adds 1.5 percent to the economy. In other words, raising taxes on the rich lowers economic output.
Obama cannot really believe that making the rich pay more will help the economy out of recession. Even he knows it won’t. His reason is ideological. He is a communist by breeding and instinct, which is to say an egalitarian, a leveler. He must inform his voting fans, both rich and poor, that he is against the rich in principle. He knows that just so long as he talks that way, it’s okay for him to be rich himself. Okay to be a hypocrite.
Here are just some of the questions hanging in the air over the Obama administration, whose hands are soaked with the American blood shed in Benghazi, about the Generals in Disgrace Affair. They are by Victor Davis Hanson, and we take them from The Corner of the National Review:
How can some individual just call up an FBI friend (?) and thereby instigate an FBI investigation?
That is what Jill Kelley, now said to have been in an intimate relationship with General John Allen, did. Why did she do it?
It seems she is in serious debt, and may have hoped to launch a scandal in order to make money from the media.
How can a Florida socialite by any stretch of the imagination merit a vast e-mail correspondence with the nation’s highest ranking warriors entrusted to conduct our most critical struggles?
Because corruption has become normal.
What in the world is an “honorary consul general” and who extends such Alice Through the Looking Glass titles?
That’s what she called herself, and on the strength of the self-awarded title asked the FBI for diplomatic protection.
How can a Ph.D. candidate, without any journalistic or historical credentials, become the public face of a four-star general and be privy to information to the point of hitting the lecture circuit to pontificate about a CIA annex in Benghazi? How did an early-middle-aged married mother of two suddenly morph into a court biographer who lectured on everything from military practice to leadership to national-security challenges?
This refers of course to Paula Broadwell, who was not a writer but has her name on the biography (actually penned, we surmise, by her “co-author” Vernon Loeb) of General Petraeus. Our suggestion: She didn’t get close to the General because she was writing his biography; she thought up the idea of “writing” his biography as a pretext for staying close to him.
We are not outraged by adultery. As the schoolboy said, the lifelong marriage of one man with one woman is called monotony.
We are outraged by what Obama, Hillary Clinton, General Petraeus, Leon Panetta and Co allowed to happen, or caused to happen in Benghazi. The divers devious divas who play their parts in the spectacle of corruption merely decorate the stage.
We await the day of judgment on the Benghazi disaster – but not with high hopes that justice will be done.
We are witnessing a seismic shift in global affairs. The shake-up is a perfect storm of political, demographic and technological change that will soon make the world as we have known it for the last 30 years almost unrecognizable.
Those attention-gripping words open an article by Victor Davis Hanson at Townhall:
Since the mid-1980s there have been a number of accepted global constants. The European Union was assumed to have evolved beyond the nation-state as it ended the cycle of militarism and renounced free-market capitalism. With its strong euro, soft power and nonaligned foreign policy, the EU was praised as a utopian sort of foil to the overarmed U.S. with its ailing dollar. …
The Arab Middle East for the last 40 years seemed to be the world’s cockpit, as its huge petroleum reserves brought in trillions of dollars from an oil-depleted West, along with political concessions. Petrodollars fed global terrorism. Oil-poor Israel had little clout with Europe. In general, the West ignored any human-rights concerns involving the region’s oil-rich dictatorships, monarchies and theocracies, as well as their aid to Islamic terrorists.
Conventional wisdom also assumed that an indebted U.S. was in permanent decline, a cash-rich China in ascendency. …
But none of that conventional wisdom now seems very wise — largely because of a number of technological breakthroughs and equally unforeseen political upheavals.
The eurozone is unraveling. An aging, shrinking population and a socialist welfare state lead to serfdom, not utopia. …
The Arab Middle East is now in a free fall. Tyrants in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen were ousted, while one in Syria totters. But while the world hoped secular democrats would follow in their wake, more likely we are witnessing the emergence of one-election Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood. The region will be mired in turmoil whether these upheavals turn out to be like the hijacked Iranian revolution that ended in theocracy, or the Turkish democratic model that is insidiously becoming Islamist.
Horizontal drilling and fracking have made oil shale and tar sands rich sources of oil and natural gas, so much so that the United States may prove to possess the largest store of fossil fuel reserves in the world — in theory, with enough gas, oil and coal soon never to need any imported Middle Eastern energy again. “Peak oil” is suddenly an anachronism. Widespread American use of cheap natural gas will do more to clean the planet than thousands of Solyndras.
If the United States utilizes its resources, then its present pathologies — massive budget and trade deficits, mounting debt, strategic vulnerability — will start to subside. These new breakthroughs in petroleum engineering are largely American phenomena, reminding us that there is still something exceptional in the American experience that periodically offers the world cutting-edge technologies and protocols — such as those pioneered by Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and Walmart.
In comparison, China is not only resource-poor but politically impoverished. For decades we were told that Chinese totalitarianism, when mixed with laissez-faire capitalism, led to sparkling airports and bullet trains, while a litigious and indulgent America settled for a run-down LAX and creaking Amtrak relics. But the truth is that the Los Angeles airport will probably sooner look modern than the Chinese will hold open elections amid a transparent society — given that free markets did not make China democratic, only more contradictory.
Even more surreal, tiny oil-poor Israel, thanks to vast new offshore finds, has been reinvented as a potential energy giant in the Middle East. Such petrodollars will change Israel as they did the Persian Gulf countries, but with one major difference. Unlike Dubai or Kuwait, Israel is democratic, economically diverse, socially stable and technologically sophisticated, suggesting the sudden windfall will not warp Israel in the manner it has traditional Arab autocracies, but instead become a force multiplier of an already dynamic society. Will Europe still snub Israel when it has as much oil, gas and money as an OPEC member in the Persian Gulf?
Good, good – but Islam is still waging jihad and spreading sharia law; and the UN still exists; and Iran is still becoming a nuclear power; and Obama is still occupying the Oval Office.
The White House has been “leaking” state secrets to make Obama look good.
To augment its boast, it has “leaked” that the US is responsible for the tremendously clever malware, Stuxnet and Flame, that have hampered and stumped and spied on Iran. (In collaboration with Israel, the White House mumbles, hoping you didn’t catch what it was saying just then.)
This is from the Washington Post:
The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort. …
But though the White House boasters want you to know how cunningly the US under Obama has been crippling Iran’s efforts to make a nuclear bomb, it doesn’t want you to think that they themselves are guilty of the leak.
Last week, researchers with Kaspersky Lab, the Russian security firm, reported their conclusion that Flame — a name they came up with — was created by the same group or groups that built Stuxnet. Kaspersky declined to comment on whether it was approached [employed] by Iran. “We are now 100 percent sure that the Stuxnet and Flame groups worked together,” said … a senior researcher with Kaspersky Lab.
So we are to understand that the Kaspersky Lab leaked the info to “Western officials”, who leaked it to the Obama-supporting Washington Post – who blames Israel for the info having come out at all:
Despite their collaboration on developing the malicious code, the United States and Israel have not always coordinated their attacks. Israel’s April assaults on Iran’s Oil Ministry and oil-export facilities caused only minor disruptions. The episode led Iran to investigate and ultimately discover Flame. Some U.S. intelligence officials were dismayed that Israel’s unilateral incursion led to the discovery of the virus, prompting counter¬measures.
Rich with innuendo, that passage. It implies:
- Don’t think for a moment that just because the US and Israel worked together on the malware, the US supports Israel’s position on Iran.
- The malware they produced together, though stunningly brilliant, is not really very nice. (“The malicious code.”)
- Those assaults on Iran’s oil industry in April – carried out by Israel, you know? Oh, you didn’t know? …
- Well, actually, they weren’t anything much. As Israel did it alone, it wasn’t too successful, causing only “minor disruptions”.
- What’s more, it’s a pity they were carried out at all, since it was because of them that Iran discovered Flame.
- In fact, they were worse than ineffective; they were positively a bad idea. “Some US intelligence officials” were “dismayed” (annoyed) because Israel’s action provoked Iran (which otherwise has only peaceful intentions towards the US?) into taking counter-measures (not specified).
But wait a mo …!
Flame was developed at least five years ago as part of a classified effort code-named Olympic Games, according to officials familiar with U.S. cyber-operations and experts who have scrutinized its code.
It was started “at least five years ago”? When G.W. Bush was president?
Well, yes (the White house might answer), but the decision to use it had to be made – or at least upheld – by “gutsy” President Obama. Not that they’re saying he is in any way responsible for it if you think it’s a bad thing. If it’s a bad thing, blame Bush, and Israel. If you think it’s marvelous, credit Obama.
Victor Davis Hanson calls this leaking of state secrets by the White House, “Securitygate”. He thinks it is more serious than Watergate or the Iran-Contra scandal.
He writes at PJ Media:
In the Watergate scandal, no one died, at least that we know of. Richard Nixon tried systematically to subvert institutions. Yet most of his unconstitutional efforts were domestic in nature — and an adversarial press soon went to war against his abuses and won, as Congress held impeachment hearings. …
Iran-Contra was as serious because there was a veritable war inside the Reagan administration over helping insurgents with covert cash that had in part been obtained by, despite denials, selling arms to enemy Iran to free hostages — all against U.S. laws … [But] the media soon covered the story in detail, and their disclosures led to several resignations and full congressional hearings.
What I call “Securitygate” — the release of the most intricate details about the cyber war against Iran, the revelations about a Yemeni double-agent, disclosures about covert operations in and against Pakistan, intimate details about the Osama bin Laden raid and the trove of information taken from his compound, and the Predator drone assassination list and the president’s methodology in selecting targets — is far more serious than either prior scandal. …
Here is the crux of the scandal: Obama is formulating a new policy of avoiding overt unpopular engagements, while waging an unprecedented covert war across the world. He’s afraid that the American people do not fully appreciate these once-secret efforts and might in 2012 look only at his mishaps in Afghanistan or his public confusion over Islamic terror. Ergo, feed information to [selected journalists/book writers] so that they can skillfully inform us, albeit with a bit of dramatic “shock” and “surprise,” just how tough, brutal, and deadly Barack Obama really is.
Yet these disclosures will endanger our national security, especially in the case of a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. They will probably get people killed or tortured, and they will weaken America’s ability for years to work covertly with allies. Our state-to-state relations will be altered, and perhaps even the techniques and technology of our cyber and special operations wars dispersed into the wrong hands. …
We all know how the deplorable practice of “leaking” works. But in truth, these were not quite leaks: information was not “leaked” by rogue insiders or hostile outsiders, but rather given freely to the press by administration officials.
That fact alone makes Securitygate different from any other past scandal over publicized classified documents or insider accounts of covert operations.
Following on from this post, see the video immediately above: the singing of an Israeli satirical song, Tell on me.
The presidency of Barack Obama is disastrous for America, and so for the world. Yet it may turn out to be good for America, and so for the world, because it is such a disaster.
Obama coming to power was “progressive” liberalism coming to power. It was environmentalism coming to power. It was a late-twentieth-century revised leftism coming to power – the leftism that had given up on a vanishing proletariat as the target of its ruthless “compassion” and substituted “victims of colonialism, racism, and sexism”. It was multiculturalism – ie sympathy with Islam – coming to power. It was Robin Hoodism – take from the rich and give to the poor – coming to power. It was the Western-academic version of egalitarianism coming to power. All those ideological theories that had been stewing in the skullpots of professors and community-organizers and pacifists and spoilt-kid terrorists ever since the 60s and Vietnam, could now at last be put into practice, and a new Virtuous America would emerge. There would be “social justice”. There would be “free” health care for all and education distributed and quality-controlled by the wise decisions of trade union bosses. Everyone would work – in ever greater numbers for the government. There would be no more fossil-fuel pollution; the sun, the wind and the waves would keep everyone cleanly supplied with light and warmth and transport. No one would eat too much or anything bad for their health. Of course everyone would be less free, but that would be a trifling sacrifice for Virtuous America. All the Left’s high ideals would at last be realized.
To do this Obama was elected.
He has made America poorer and weaker.
Will the lesson be learnt?
If the Obama disaster doesn’t bring the ideology of the Left into derision forever, it should at least keep a few generations from trying the failed experiment again.
Victor Davis Hanson is thinking along the same lines as we are. He writes at PajamasMedia:
Barack Obama has done the United States a great, though unforeseen, favor. He has brought to light, as no one else could, many of the pernicious assumptions of our culture from the last half-century. He turned theory and “what ifs” into fact for all America to see, experience, and, yes, suffer through. …
As a young, post-racial, first African-American president — glib, hip, cool, charismatic, with unapologetic Chicago hard-core leftist roots and Ivy League certification — Barack Obama was right out of liberal central casting. He would do what no other liberal had done in fifty years: prove to America that it really, really was left-of-center by ramming down its throat both a liberal agenda and thousands of left-wing facilitators. … Obama arrived with a super-majority in the Senate, and a large majority in the House: anything was now possible and almost everything was thus tried. …
At last we sheep got the messianic prophet to deliver the divine message. When he was declared a “god,” with supernatural powers that sent tingles up journalists’ legs, we were at last to climb the mount into the Promised Land. Electing him was the trick; simply enacting his redistributive agenda would be easy … now the people’s money could be at last directed to saving the planet, helping mankind, and bringing heaven to earth. …
What of the Obama effect on the outer world – of the weaker America?
I don’t think another president will ask the Arab League and the UN — but not the U.S. Congress — whether he can lead from behind France and Britain in bombing an Arab oil exporter on behalf of “rebels” who promise Sharia Law. “Putting light” between America and Israel earned us this week’s charade at the UN, and a new Middle East war on the horizon in the manner of 1967 or 1973, but this time with new enemies on the periphery like Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan in addition to a hostile Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. “Reset” won’t be used any more, and the idea that friends like Britain, Israel, Eastern Europe, etc. were to be shunned while rivals and enemies like the Palestinians, Russia, and the Latin American communists were to be courted is over also. Friends are friends for a reason, and enemies the same …
And of the poorer America?
After $5 trillion in borrowing and 9.1% unemployment, Keynesian economics has been slain by Obama. Oh, Obama may crisscross the country demanding just one more chance to borrow another half-trillion to “grow jobs,” but no one is listening any more. “Shovel ready,” “stimulus,” “investments,” and “infrastructure” simply have been redefined by Obama as euphemisms for wasteful borrowing. I doubt they will regain currency for a decade or so. And thanks to Obama, a billion is now a passé noun, and trillion has been reduced to the status of monopoly money. …
The old welfare state after Obama will soon be addressed as never before. With almost 50 million on food stamps, and record numbers on new extended unemployment insurance, with Medicare and Social Security nearly insolvent, the Obama boilerplate remedies of making “millionaires and billionaires,” “corporate jet owners,” and “fat cat bankers” pay their fair share won’t nearly be enough. Obama demagogued the “fair share” issue to the death, and it cannot be demagogued much longer since the money is about gone. …
Of nationalized health care?
For much of the 1950s and 1960s, we were told that we lacked a British-style National Health Service, thanks to all sorts of devilish AMA conspiracies. JFK, LBJ, and Carter could not get passed what we all secretly were supposed to have craved. Hillarycare failed. But Obama alone brought us federalized health care, a trillion-dollar borrowing plan that will supposedly streamline care, save us trillions in the long term, and cost less in the here and now, as state GS-20 doctors attend to us, in DMV lines, far better than their greedy counterparts. Despite all the noble lies, no one believes that. After 2012, ObamaCare will be repealed in short order, and there will be no more fantasies about economical cradle-to-grave health care denied us by conspiratorial doctors and greedy insurers. …
Of race relations?
The public thought, with their first “black” president, they would be hearing even-handed lectures, as one week Obama explained why the federal government had to ensure equality of opportunity in a multiracial society, while on the next he gently warned minorities not to rely on government to ensure parity when success or failure for all Americans far more often hinged on personal choices, discipline, and sacrifice. Instead, Obama voted present while his surrogates ensured that America is more racially polarized than any time in our history [recent history, anyway - JB]. But this too was cathartic. A majority of the population of all races has simply tuned out the now near meaningless charge of “racist” and sees the real danger to America in racial tribalization and balkanization rather than classical racial discrimination. We will see another black president some day, but race will be incidental not essential to his or her character.
For the foreseeable future, “millions of green jobs” and “cap and trade” are also the stuff of comedy. Thanks to Obama we’ve been there with Van Jones, Solyndra, and EPA hyper-regulations, and done that. I don’t think Al Gore will be any more quoted or EU policies emulated. More likely we will go back to finding new fossil fuel sources as private technology keeps improving on alternative energy. Fairly or not, “green” conjures up everything from Climategate to Solyndra, and suggests an entire class of elite academics, financiers, and activists who wished to follow the oil companies’ crony-capitalist business plans of the 1940s and 1950s without the basic truth that oil is a logical energy source and so far a windmill isn’t.
Of socialist idealism in general?
After Obama, I don’t think there will be any more John Kerry or Al Gore sermons about the superior Europe model either. A disarmed, undemocratic, insolvent, shrinking, and increasingly polarized continent is now a model of what the United States should not be. There simply have been too many California as Greece stories for any politicians to advise us with the old admonition: “But In Europe, they….”
Obama thought that he would replicate the EU paradigm. He would bring in properly certified technocrats from academia or government like Chu, Geithner, Goolsbee, Holder, Orszag, Romer, and Summers to oversee massive new regulations and taxes that would dictate from on high how the ignorant masses must be protected from everything from cheap gas to old-style light bulbs. In less than three years, they all proved far more ignorant about what makes America work than the local car dealer, welder, or farmer. After Obama, Americans will not be fooled for a generation or so into thinking that a Harvard PhD or Berkeley professor “really” knows that borrowing is prosperity …
Had McCain been elected, or had Obama proved a canny Clinton triangulator, we would never have gotten out of the bipartisan rut of massive borrowing, growing government, higher taxes, and unionized public employee regulators. But with Obama as the great liberal deliverer and with the masses scared to death of Him, the next president will inherit an America in catharsis. The future is uncertain, but at least now, after our cauterizing, we have some sort of chance to return to the old principles that might save us.
Our view of the upheaval in Egypt, how the new technologies of personal communication have played a vital part in its causes as well as its spontaneous organization, is endorsed by Victor Davis Hanson, who writes in a must-read article at PajamasMedia:
So what’s the matter with Egypt? The same thing that is the matter with most of the modern Middle East: in the post-industrial world, its hundreds of millions now are vicariously exposed to the affluence and freedom of the West via satellite television, cell phones, the Internet, DVDs, and social networks.
And they become angry that, in contrast to what they see and hear from abroad, their own lives are unusually miserable in the most elemental sense. Of course … their corrupt government is in some part a reification of themselves, who in their daily lives see the world in terms of gender apartheid, tribalism, religious intolerance, conspiracies, fundamentalism, and statism that are incompatible with a modern, successful, capitalist democracy. …
Instant global communications have brought the reality home to the miserable of the Middle East in a way state-run newspapers and state-censored television never could even had they wished.
In reaction, amid this volatile new communications revolution, the Saddams, the Mubaraks, the Saudi royals, the North African strongmen, and all the other “kings” and “fathers” and “leaders” found an effective enough antidote: The Jews were behind all sorts of plots to emasculate Arab Muslims. And the United States and, to a lesser extent, Great Britain were stealing precious resources that robbed proud Middle Easterners of their heritage and future. Better yet, there was always a Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, or, for the more high-brow, a Jimmy Carter to offer a useful exegesis of American conspiracy, oil-mongery, or Zionist infiltration into the West Wing that “proved” Middle East misery was most certainly not self-induced. … The more we promised to pressure Israel, the more we could ignore the misery of Cairo, and the more a thieving Mubarak could perpetuate it. …
He concludes for the moment as we do, though with slightly less optimism:
Watch it play out with encouragement for those who oppose both Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood — hoping for the best, expecting the worst.
Even if the Egyptian revolution is aborted now, how long will the despots be able to resist the transformative power of the new technologies?
It’s in the lap-top of the gods, so to speak.
Hanson does not believe, any more than we do, that if America “lets” Mubarak go, an Islamic fanatic will take his place as happened in Iran when Jimmy Carter abandoned the Shah and welcomed the Ayatollah Khomeini – with what appalling results to this day we know all too well. True, the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood strains to take power in Egypt, but has no Khomeini-like figure ready to implement instant oppression. Besides which, the causes in Egypt are different. The world has moved on since the Iranian revolution.
It is this new world which is making the prison-walls of the Arab states crack and crumble.
It may burst the Islamic theocracies too.
It may render all religion obsolete.
Victor Davis Hanson has a good article at PajamaMedia on how socialism – or “statism” – is failing all over the world (as it must: what cannot work will not work), just as America is being led on to the socialist ramp down to poverty and serfdom.
We agree with much that he says – as we often do with this insightful and well-informed writer – but there is one point on which we take issue.
Here’s part of what he writes:
Survey the world’s statist systems of every stripe, from soft to hard. One sees either failure and misery or stasis and lethargy. At the most extreme, a North Korea is turning into a Neanderthal society where subjects eat grass. Castro’s Cuba is imploding, and the Great Leader in his dotage is now renouncing his communist catastrophe. Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela proves that an even an oil-rich exporter can destroy itself with self-imposed socialism.
India progressed only when it adopted free markets. People do not outsource 1-800 numbers to socialist paradises. No need to review the Soviet collapse or the change in China from a peasant to a wealth-building capitalist society. Europe for a while longer works despite (rather than because of) democratic socialism. From Germany to Greece, Europe is moving away from the encroaching public sector that has nearly destroyed the European Union.
So the trend of the world — even after the meltdown of September 2008 — is away from statism, except in the United States. I don’t say that lightly or as a slur, but empirically. The Obama administration has absorbed large sectors of the auto industry and some segments of banking and insurance. The student loan program is federalized. …
The percentage of GDP that is government-run will markedly increase; the trillion-plus annual deficits, in gorge the beast fashion, will force higher taxation to pay for redistributive payouts and entitlements — or inflate the currency to erode saved capital. The UN is worshiped and reported to. Allies are now neutrals, and enemies are courted. We seek to prove that we are not “exceptional,” but simply one among many — a sort of socialist approach to foreign policy where all nations are the same.
Symbolically the president, before and during his tenure, has called for “redistributive change,” “to spread the wealth,” and openly suggested that, at some arbitrary point (known to him alone, but apparently sufficiently high enough to allow Costa del Sol and Martha Vineyard vacations) one need not make (as in, keep one’s earnings) additional income. I could go on, but you get the picture: Obama would like to take us down a path that leads inevitably to a Greece, even as the world is racing away from it.
He goes on to list five dangers of socialism.
One of them is under the heading of Demography. It suggests how socialism may explain shrinking populations.
When one demands cradle to grave care, a classical (now scoffed at) reason for childbearing (to change diapers for those who might one day change your own in gratitude) is destroyed. And if there is no struggle to create income and savings (the state provides all needs; the state ensures against all risks; the state takes away most income; the state gobbles most inheritance), why worry about transcendence or passing anything along to children — or why children at all?
So far, so good. If people are supplied with everything they need to survive, what should they strive for, what do they live for? Some might set themselves their own purposes, but many may be content to lie in the lap of the state and purr. And growl and grumble too, of course.
But Hanson goes on:
Agnosticism leads to a shrinking population and vice versa. If the state is the god, and defines happiness as social justice in the material sense, then the here and now is all that matters. The state defines morality as the greatest good for the greatest number — as it sees it.
Lost is a sense of individual tragedy, self-sacrifice, personal accountability for sin and transgression, and appreciation for a larger world beyond and after this one. A society that does not believe in a hereafter will be sorely disappointed that the state never quite satisfies its appetites. We see that hedonism well enough from Greece to California. “Never enough” (Numquam satis) is the new de facto motto.
No sane person loses a sense of individual tragedy. Everyone is doomed to die. Everyone, from the moment of his birth, suffers. And everyone in the course of his life does harm to other people, strive though he might not to. We are all hurt, and we all inflict hurt. An apt title for a biography of Everyman would be Poor Bastard!
Everyone endures disappointment. No appetite can ever be completely satisfied. Everyone has longings that are not material.
Almost everyone suffers remorse – which is an acceptance of personal accountability for wrong-doing. (Maybe not the Christian torturers and burners of heretics, and other such tyrants defending The Truth, religious or political.)
There is no world beyond or after this one. Death is the end of life. Death defines life. That is the meaning of “mortality”. A being can only be said to be alive if it can die.
The universe is a thing. No mind exists in it except the human mind, which is to say successive multitudes of mortal human minds. Only in each of us, embodied by the same dumb stuff as everything else, is there a self-conscious, reasoning, inventing “mind”. Strictly speaking, mind is a verb; it is an activity of the human brain that emerged at this end of an immensely long process of evolution.
The realm of the mind is infinite. Forever discontented, the uniquely human imagination roams wide. It discovers galaxies and electrons. It tries socialism and regrets it. It invents gods and heavens and hells – but they remain imaginary.
Unless someone can prove otherwise.
Jillian Becker September 15, 2010