2012 May 16, Wednesday

WARNING: This piece turned out longer than I expected it to be. My original point was short and sweet about liberals today not having a claim on past liberal achievements. But there are so many areas of hypocrisy that belong here and I know leaving some out implies some kind of consent about how they're being handled today.
     There's an awful lot of bullshit going around in politics and a lot of bad people are making life miserable for a lot of good people. While one may speculate where these terrible ideas came from or why anybody would believe them, I'd like to take a moment to debunk their historical claim. The message is that there were liberals back then who did some terrific things, there are liberals now, so the liberals now must be terrific people. As the reader might surmise, I disagree with both this logic and its conclusion.

     Ah, here it is, from a Facebook post I got recently:


1) Got women the right to vote.
2) Got African-Americans the right to vote.
3) Created Social Security
4) Lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty.
5) Ended segregation.
6) Passed the Civil Rights Act
7) Passed the Voting Rights Act.
8) Created Medicare.
9) Passed the Clean Air Act
10) Passed the Clean Water Act.
Never mind the tragic economic and social costs of (3) and (8) that much more than mitigates any claim on (4), which isn't true anyway, most of these are good things that were done by people called "liberals" at the time. (They don't mention prolonging the 1929 depression eight years, putting yellow-skin Americans in concentration camps, our involvement in Vietnam, and turning the 2006 economic downturn into a disaster, but we'll let those slide for this essay. I'm not endorsing these liberals, only comparing them with today's liberal crowd. They did some terrific stuff and there's always something bad to pin on anybody.) Today's similarly-named "liberals" share the name and not much more.

     I'm not talking about the name hijacking where political liberals liked the name so much they "borrowed" it from classical liberals, who are now "libertarians." I'm talking about the evolution of the liberal platform from the hard-work-and-freedom platform of 1962 to the whiny, take-what-you-can platform fifty years later. If you have a so-called liberal friend, then the "litmus-test" to see if he's one of the real, 1962 class is to ask his opinion of Ron Paul. I find the people who's politics I respect but disagree with still agree with me on Ron Paul being the best choice for 2012.

     I'll ask liberals this: Which side are you on?



     It must have been great to be a Trolley Dodgers fan, "back in the day." Spending the afternoon at Ebbets Field watching the game with the smells of Coney Island and Nathan's hot dogs and listening to the fans with Brooklyn accents. There are Dodgers fans today and I suspect many of them are fans because of the rich traditions that ended in 1957.

     Three or four "Star Trek" spinoffs have done much to dilute the "Star Trek" name for those of us who enjoyed the 1966-1968 television show with that name. It's a common post-modern technique (more of a trick) to present something that sounds like or looks like or smells like something real. A neighbor's roofer put a pointy roof on her house so it would look like she had cathedral ceilings. It's not exactly a lie, but it's not exactly the truth, either.

     Liberals circa 1960 believed in choice.
• When women and minority-group members were restricted in various ways, liberals fought for those people to have the same opportunities as white guys.
• When opinions presented in schools were too narrow, liberals fought for alternative viewpoints to be presented.
• When people couldn't choose their employers, liberals fought for workers to have more options.
• When pollution became a serious urban problem, liberals fought for city people to have clean air and water.
• When medical regulation and litigation was putting health care costs out of reach, liberals fought for lower-cost, simpler options to be available.
• When the news media were presenting the same point of view, liberals fought for alternative viewpoints to be available.
• When monopoly providers narrowed consumer selection of products, liberals fought for more consumer choices.
• Liberals fought for choice. People should be responsible for their own destinies, and responsible for the consequences of their choices.

Think how those liberals would feel about affirmative action, Title IX, political correctness, union advocacy, eco-scare science, global warming politics, government health care, and what passes for news coverage today. Other than the "liberal" name, there isn't much in common between these people and those who call themselves "liberal" today.

     Nobody is making me cheer for the Dodgers, nobody is making me watch "The Next Generation" or "Deep Space Nine," and nobody is making me put a pointy roof on my house. But today's liberals not only expect me to participate in their party, they insist I pay for it. They want me to pay not just my share of it, but all of it, for no reason other than I'm willing to work and to be productive.



     Never in my experience have all the vectors pointed so much the same way. The historical, legal, ethical, economic, and social choices all point the same way while today's liberals go the other way. America was founded and has prospered specifically on the principles these people actively reject while they actively choose to enjoy the benefits of living here. (There's something really wrong with choosing to live here while working to undermine the principles and institutions that made this an attractive place to live.) They have news and entertainment media on their side and the support of enormously wealthy and corrupt institutions. Some of us speculated on the impact of liberal choices in 1962, but it was mere speculation, kind of like global warming is today. Now we have fifty years of proof.

     Not counting all the other mismanagement, the Obama presidency has expanded government from one-third to one-half the US economy, if I read my figures right. Not counting any bad effects of more regulation or massive corruption or Obamacare, that's taking one-quarter of the US private sector away, or six percent of the world's productive economy. It's millions of additional Americans unemployed and tens of millions more underemployed. Much of the blow has been softened by China's willingness to fund our mistakes, but they could turn around and cash in their markers. Obama supporters say it would have been worse if McCain won, maybe there would have been earthquakes or tornadoes or something, but the direct impact of the Obama "hope and change" is what has happened, a serious loss of economic productivity in the United States.

     As our Old-Testament wisdom tried to tell us, social welfare programs don't help people. They move income from poorer to less poor and from working people to idle people with an army of bureaucrats taking their tithe and more. (Until 1962 the liberal welfare programs created jobs rather than handouts for poor people.) These programs break up families and create a culture of dependency. That these programs make the people who vote for them feel good (but not those stuck paying for them) doesn't make the victims any better off. Our constitution forbids these programs at a federal level, but states may still engage in this idiocy.

     As our black leaders tried to tell us, "reverse discrimination" programs don't help people either. At best, they create a culture of legitimized discrimination and, more often, create a community of less-competent people with their own, separate subculture within a workforce. The quest for equality usually ends up bringing good people down rather than helping the receiving class. Title IX didn't help women's sports as much as encumber money-making sports like football and basketball and eliminate men-only sports like wrestling from college athletics. The Civil Rights Act (6) above forbids these programs, but there are some lawbreakers still promoting them.

     The idiocy of eco-scare movements like the impending ice age, the ozone hole, and global warming would horrify our half-century-ago liberals if they could stop laughing long enough to believe it. A "Cash for Clunkers" program took older, cheaper cars off the market so lower-income people no longer could buy them for transportation. (The joke says at least that program got rid of all those Obama-2008 campaign stickers.) Diverting corn crops that used to feed hundreds of millions of Latin-American people to make ethanol that consumes more oil and creates more CO2 and reduces gas mileage and rots our hoses and gaskets would be comical if it weren't so tragic. Again, our constitution clearly forbids most of the federal activity in this area, but there are still state organizations that might be tempted.

     Yesterday's liberals felt no topic was off limits. Only by discussing the hard issues of the day were we likely to solve any of them. When I asked a twenty-first-century liberal why he thought blacks were unable to reap the benefits of four decades of affirmative action push, whether it was genetics or cultural limitations, he exploded and informed me that these topics were off limits. I find similar sentiment on many social issues today. I believe today's position is not to solve things, just to complain about them.

     The effect of socialized medicine is to reduce the amount of medical care available and to increase its cost. Is anybody disputing this still? So when people post signs of "Obamacare got me this operation I needed that didn't want to buy insurance to pay for," shouldn't they identify the operations other people needed that they paid for but they didn't get? Without the government intervention of the AMA monopoly and the trial lawyers, human health care should be available as cheaply and safely as veterinary care is today, as our old-liberal friends tried to tell us back then. Today's liberal position of whining when rich people get better care is not only pathetic, but costly.

     When people have choice, they don't always choose wisely, but they reliably tend to do a whole lot better than having despots and bureaucrats choose for them. The 1962 liberal vision was choice, the 2012 liberal vision is tyranny. So I'll ask again: Which side are you on?

     What about the social issues of abortion, gay marriage, drug-legalization, et cetera? Any libertarian (such as myself) would cheerfully agree that the liberals are on the right side. So howcum the liberal leaders still haven't done the right things? The same goes for repealing the Patriot Act and closing Gitmo and making our lives less miserable during airline travel. (I would point out that, never mind the anti-tea-party hype, the Tea Party movement did nothing I saw to dilute their single message of making American government smaller. They took no position on social or economic or religious or moral issues and resisted vigorous attempts to bait them into doing so. They conducted themselves with dignity, not so their detractors.) Instead of actually doing anything useful, liberals are using these morally-and-socially-correct issues as distractions, misdirection, and smokescreens to hide their failures on the more-important issues above.

     The New Yorkers I know have an expression for this kind of post-modern counterfeiting of good things: It's not the same.




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