Feelin’ vindicated here. I’ve been saying, ever since this issue took center-stage that gay marriage is not a civil-rights issue, it’s a freedom-for-everyone-else issue.
Find someone who is actively keeping gay people from being together, or trying to at least, then we can have a different conversation. But when we start talking about freedoms being taken away, the first thing we have to do to assess the situation as it really exists, is to look at who’s trying to stop who from doing what.
People who say gay marriage is a civil rights issue, haven’t done that. Or, if they have, they’ve been making up stuff that hasn’t actually happened, while denying other things that are really happening. Like this…
It’s only fair to ask what’s next. Litigation? A church getting sued for not holding the ceremony? When it comes to that point, and it looks like we’re practically there — keep tellin’ yerself that you’re free, little man. Aren’t businesses in America allowed to refuse service to anyone?
Same-sex marriage is a personal thing. So is the decision not to be a part of it.
And regarding the woman at 0:57…I must say I’m getting tired of hearing that. “This community will not allow.” That’s the kind of nonsense people say, when they think they can speak on behalf of such a community.
Buckley was right; they claim to tolerate other points of view, and then are shocked and offended to discover there are other points of view.
Given the choice between a sound knowledge base of verifiable & verified factual information, and the ability to think logically, I would choose the latter.
If I have a good understanding of how to figure out what a fact means, but my head is crammed chock full of silly “factoids” that aren’t really true even though they may be repeated by others verbatim, I should be able to ultimately determine some of these conflict irreconcilably with others. From there, I should be able to figure out which ones are suspect and, eventually, which ones should be questioned, and then reconsidered.
If I have a good solid repository of verified fact, but I don’t know how to figure out what these facts are really telling me, I might as well have nothing.
Fact is merely foundation. You can’t live in a foundation.
One of the most widely appreciated denizens of my blog goes by the name of Severian; no one has a clue who he really is, which is just the way he likes it. All I personally know of him is his first name, and I suppose if I bothered to check, his apparent IP address. This tells me nothing useful, save for that it’s probably safe to use masculine pronouns to refer to him.
The rest of us learn much, perhaps more than any of us would like to admit, when Severian engages those who are progressive of mind who have also seen fit to participate in greater frequency this summer. Out of the resulting fireworks, two observations have become eminent.
First: Many among those who are so passionately devoted to modern liberalism, especially those who claim to be able to provide logical support for the points they seek to make and then resoundingly fail to do so, are virtue junkies. The term means exactly what it seems to mean. You discuss the merits and possible pitfalls of a voter ID law with them, and things get strange when you ask them to describe reality as they perceive it. In our case, number of legitimate voters potentially “disenfranchised” by such a new law, ONE MILLION — in a single state, while the number of fraud incidents prevented or stopped, ZERO. And, the interested observer picks up the vibe: Hey why stop at a million? But reality, once measured reasonably, is probably not that way. The virtue junkies do not care, they want their fix. If you quibble about the million, all you get back is a bunch of tear-jerking prose about old ladies in wheelchairs who’ve voted non-stop since FDR, et cetera…
I warned you, things get strange. The virtue junkie, like all other junkies, has an unstable, flickering relationship with reality itself. He experiences the reality that you’re not open to the emotional arguments, and he reacts the way you should’ve expected: He doesn’t. He just recites the same arguments he just got done reciting. He’s tying it off, slamming it into the main vein. Not really discussing anything at all. All the impulses of a wild animal, with none of the comprehension of real objects and real events that all wild animals must acquire and sustain, in order to survive. The worst of both worlds.
The second thing to notice is a bit more complex, and is going to require a few more paragraphs. It is derivative of the first. The virtue-junkie is hooked on this virtue, which is actually a cosmetic display of virtue and not the real thing; this is to be concluded because the virtue is relative, not absolute. Example: Two election cycles ago, democrat presidential nominee and Massachussetts Senator John F. Kerry said something awkward about voting for an allocation before he voted against it…he was pilloried over this all summer long, mostly because it fit into the ongoing narrative that he’s a flip-flopper who cannot be relied-upon to stick to a position. During the first of three presidential debates, he acquitted himself of this in a most remarkable way:
…when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war, but the president made a mistake in invading Iraq…Which is worse?
Now, one may argue all sorts of things about this. Kerry lost the election, narrowly, and it’s certainly plausible that the mistake talking about the war was a deciding factor, so this defensive remark didn’t get the job done. One may further argue that presidential elections are all about highlighting differences. To those of us who are experienced in arguing with left-wingers, such objections, while legitimate, do not distract from the main point which is: Our friends on the left, far, far more often than those on the right, are seen to seek shelter through the exploration of personal virtue as measured in relative terms — when, according to logic and reason, it is not germane to the discussion at hand, and does very little to add persuasive weight to what they’re trying to argue. But they don’t care about any of that. They just keep doing it. Reflexively.
Very much like vampires retreating from sunlight.
It’s worse than losing track of the discussion, it comes across as an abandonment of it. After all, what does Kerry’s mistake-magnitude-comparison exercise do, to clarify his position on the $87 billion? You have no idea where he stands at the beginning of the debate, and certainly you haven’t learned a thing about it at the end. Also, when we vote for presidents, we are not trying to vote in the guy who’s been caught making a less-glaring, or less-damaging mistake. We’d prefer not to, anyway…and we’re not trying to vote in the guy who can, given a few months to mull it over, come up with a cutting, if childish, remark to throw down in defense of his mistake…we’re not supposed to vote that way, anyway…
This thing we’ve noticed is a problem that comes from measuring the virtue in relative terms. Severian, in an off-line e-mail to me, recollected a work of fiction he’d once read about vampires that made this point. I Googled and found a page that explains it over here: “The vampire population increases geometrically and the human population decreases geometrically.” I’ll try to summarize it briefly: The vampire, feeding on a human, changes the human into another vampire, and after a relatively brief time another feeding will be required by both the old vampire and the new vampire.
The vampire, by feeding, not only incrementally depletes the food supply, but in so doing manufactures a new competitor for consumption of this limited supply. That’s at each feeding. There isn’t any way for the math to work in the vampire’s favor, none at all. All scenarios considered, lead to an all-vampire-no-human planet, on which the vampires are starving to death.
Thus it is with our friends, the liberals. They have to get their virtue-fixes — which means, virtue in relative terms, playing up the fact that they have ascertained and asserted themselves to be morally superior to some “control” specimen. An act which is forbidden when a fellow liberal is the control specimen, just as vampires cannot feed on other vampires.
They enter these “discussions” supposedly to coolly, logically and rationally exchange ideas and win converts. They’re sincere about the “win converts” part of it, at least. But, vampire problem: What if it actually works??
This is exactly what I was noticing shortly after Obama was elected President: Liberals get a lot of ego gratification out of being superior, in their own definition of “morals” and their own definition of “education,” compared to others, and it is also part of their vision that all of the “others” should eventually be converted. Converted, or…well, let’s not go there. They want everyone, everywhere, to be like them. This represents a doublet of mutually-exclusive goals. They cannot both happen. It isn’t logically possible.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no one is.
Syndrome: Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat you! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that *everyone* can have powers. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone’s super…[chuckles evilly] – no one will be.
That’s the trouble with everybody possessing some nifty new attribute…which is measured relatively and not absolutely. If everyone’s got it, then nobody does.
And then, the planet full of vampires is doomed to stagger around, starving to death.
Most problematic for them, the most likely outcome by far is that both objectives will fail: They won’t convert everybody, and in spite of this they still will be doomed to painful withdrawal symptoms. Because, it seems, deep down they understand the terrible truth that a virtue fix is not duly shot up, until the other party acknowledges this measurement of superior virtue.
Eventually, they will have converted everyone who might have been converted, leaving only the hardcore sloping-forehead types who aren’t going to grant this implicit-permission, this acquiescence of “Yes, you’re ethically better than I am and/or more truthy,” even in a sarcastic, “whatever” kind of tone.
And then, their frustration will be complete. They’ll be surrounded by, and very often outnumbered by, all these walking, talking unfinished-conversion tasks…and…starved for a fix, in an addiction from which there is no cure.
Perhaps our society has been in that state for quite some time now. Perhaps that is the real reason why they’re so agitated.
The case against Obama’s re-election, in thirty-eight words:
If the economy improves, people prosper. If people prosper, Barack Obama sees them as the problem. If a leader thinks people are the problem when they’re making the economy stronger, clearly the economy cannot improve under His leadership.
I started with fifty words over at The Hello Kitty of Blogging…this drew more responses and “likes” than I expected, so I resolved to improve the wordsmithing to whatever limited extent I’m able, and move it over here.
You’re either on the side of human progress, or you aren’t. And Pharoah Barry is all about “you didn’t build that”…
We’ll shelve this whole issue, until such time as some other aspect of it becomes worthy of discussion and has not received that discussion…right after we get done discussing those aspects worthy of discussion that have not received the discussion. Really, promise, a break is coming. “Passing Lane, One Mi. Ahead.” But it isn’t here quite yet…because there is still one undiscussed aspect. We’ll fix that puppy up right now.
“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
The Zachriel then expounds, or at least allows the Presidents words to get that done…for our further enrichment…
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.
I went back and counted, and you have used the “individual initiative/also do things together” quote 9 times…including twice in one comment…It seems to me as if this quote is this thread’s version of that .gif you kept linking, or maybe “3°-5°C in the upper range.” You just repeat it mechanically as if it proves your point, instead of being the point of contention.
Top of the hour, The Zachriel clarifies what exactly it is they mean to prove, by doing this…
Just to be clear, we are the only one who pointed to context for the first two days of the discussion. And no one has bothered to explain how the context is consistent with the original post’s interpretation.
“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
The Zachriel fail to understand the point of a “point.” Let’s look it up. Defs. #15 through #17 are applicable, I should think…
15. An objective or purpose to be reached or achieved, or one that is worth reaching or achieving: What is the point of discussing this issue further?
16. The major idea or essential part of a concept or narrative: You have missed the whole point of the novel.
17. A significant, outstanding, or effective idea, argument, or suggestion: Your point is well taken.
Now, we could quibble endlessly about whether The Zachriel are intending this to be taken as Definition #16, when The President actually meant #17, or so on and so forth…I notice all three of them leave some room for subjective interpretation. In #15, how do we define “worth reaching/achieving”; in #16, how do we define “major or essential”; in #17, how do we define significant, outstanding, effective. These are important questions to ask, when we are considering the words of a President who is clearly sorry and regretful — well, as much as it is possible for Him to be any of those things, I suppose — wishes He could take back what He said, and is, it’s painfully obvious to see, in full-bore damage-control “what I meant to say” mode.
I have a good way of defining points, I think: A point can be Pillar II or Pillar III; the inference or opinion, or the thing-to-do. If you arrive at one of those, it can be compellingly asserted that you have made a point. If you do not, then this would have to be called into question.
The key is actionability. Have you made a point that prevails on us, or somebody else, to do something…or, at the very least, to conclude something. Something that might ultimately translate into a thing to be done, or not done.
According to this test I have devised, which I am not devising specifically to damage Him or the “point” He has sought to make, but rather to meaningfully address the question at hand “what is a point?”…the President’s “point” fails. But it doesn’t have to. It meanders off into the direction of making a real “point,” it’s just that a gap remains. What do we need, to close the gap? All we have to do, is infer something meaningful, or figure out that something has to be done.
The business owner did not “build that” all by himself or all by herself…”the point is, that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together”…what are we to conclude from that, to make an actual point?
Inferences/opinions…well…we are capable of success. We are capable of individual initiative. We are also capable of working together. Those things are undeniable, but I’m not entirely sure what good they’re going to do anyone. I mean, once people have done it, does it really have to be pointed out they’re capable of doing it? Seems to me, the successes should stand on their own.
Things to do: Something is owed! Those businesses have been gettin’ away with shenanigans. Ah, now this is much more convincing…and, if you listen to the murmur of the crowd, you will notice, this intended meaning seems to fit right in. Like a good rhythm fitting a good melody.
YEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!! They didn’t do that on their own! They had help! Somebody else made it happen! YAAAYYYY!!!
Here we come to an other point: For this other work to become relevant, for it to become a “point,” we need something that tends toward actionability. What we need, is an unpaid bill. Those businesses, they made use of this labor and they haven’t made recompense. Relief is owed, and sought.
President Obama, the lucky stiff, cannot be burdened with such an albatross around His neck, because He didn’t actually say this. But the crowd certainly is energized by the sentiment, make no mistake about that. And seriously, to cut through the crap, to acknowledge even for a moment that the businesses paid for the products and services they used to realize their success, provided and manufactured by others — why, that reduces the President’s remarks to just so much hurr durr derp. “The baker didn’t harvest the wheat to make the bread, the farmer did that” — eh, yeah, like freakin’ duh. And, once the baker gets done baking, it is the baker’s product because the baker paid the farmer. That’s how it works, and that is how it’s supposed to work.
So the other point is, capitalism is a great economic model and the President is wrong to try to inflict damage on it. If His speech has any other “point” to it, it is that the farmer deserves credit for the bread…which, through the magic of capitalism, he receives in the form of payment for the grain. The same is true of the teacher, and the construction workers who built those “roads and bridges,” along with the boss of the construction company that received payment from the city, county, state or federal government, and met payroll and bought the equipment and supplies to get those roads built.
The point is — the other point I mean — no economic model can succeed over the long term, unless it provides a sustaining reward for the credit that the President says all these people are due. Which the free market does, and has done long before President Obama ever came along. No “change” needed.
And there is, yet, another point to be made. Marxism is lately resurfacing, in the form of some desire for a compromise between the free market, and other things that are not the free market. When this desire solidifies itself into recorded speech, there has to come soon afterward, as we’re seeing now, a follow-up spin-control effort of “I/he/she/they didn’t really mean to say that.” It is a fairly consistent pattern…which is a defining attribute of a bad idea.
See, the whole argument is bad, because it has to keep shifting from foot to foot and back again, to keep from falling down. The compensation for these services that other people provided; either it was paid in full, or it was not. So the Marxist’s answer to the quandary, is to “strobe” the issue, to talk it up under terms of “it is relevant and worth talking about when I say it is.” The business wouldn’t succeed without a bridge! That is relevant! Okay…so the business paid for the bridge. Not relevant! And this is an enduring weakness with redistributionist economic models, and the propaganda that surrounds them: Is something still owed? They have to keep tap-dancing around it. They can’t address that question head-on, and discuss it honestly. They’d lose if they did.
So now, the President-didn’t-really-say-that, and what He really meant to say was, when success is realized, a lot of people had a hand in it. They worked together. He meant to say that, and nothing more…so anybody who says He meant to say something else, I guess we can call ’em racists or whatever.
But then that leaves the question:
So, what? A whole bunch of people did something — so what? If I’m to conclude anything from that, it is that we’d better keep this free market capitalist system around, since we rely on it to deliver things that, were we to try to acquire them through some other means, would just lead to cynical comedy at best and disaster at worst.
At 2:58 Stewart uses the word “narrative.” Let me go down a bunny trail here, I think it’s worth it.
This is an absolutely correct use of the word, but we probably need a new word because this one doesn’t describe enough:
a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious. [ital. emphasis mine]
We have a whole lot of these “narratives” going around right now; it’s an election year. We need a new word that offers greater precision, drawing a periphery around those situations which together constitute a subset of situations for which the actual “narrative” word would apply. That is to say, all of the situations I have in mind, would be described accurately by the word “narrative,” but all of the situations described by the word “narrative” would not necessarily fit into the definition of this new word.
What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.
This is the crux of the distinction between him and the liar…A [liar is] responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it…For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
This is really good for our purposes, because it’s a great point. A liar has to show some interest in what is true, and the bullshitter is distinguished from the liar because he maintains little to none. From all I can see here, that’s the Brian Ross story in a nutshell.
Still more definitional work remains to be done, however, after these two concepts of “narrative” and “bullshit” are melded together, for a bullshit narrative does not precisely describe what we are targeting. Which, in turn, has to do with a great deal of passion aroused toward the objective of reciting something, late in the narrative, which provides fuel for the fire that is the bullshitter reciting the earlier items of the narrative. A true “bullshit narrative” may lack this passion. Example: I work for a newspaper, boss wants a story all set to go for the evening edition, so I threw together some bullshit narrative. Such a situation would be excluded from what we are trying to define here, although it would make effective and accurate use of such words, in the way we have defined them here. Since — again, I’m speculating this about Mr. Ross, but it certainly is not going out on a limb by any means — there was a desire here to connect such senseless violence with the Tea Party. The lazybones trying to make a deadline would lack such a desire.
Granted, so does Brian Ross, from the way things have been presented by Jon Stewart. But that’s the point. I don’t think Stewart nailed everything here. Great job, but he missed a spot. I don’t think Brian Ross…or, whoever put this bit of information in his hands…was lazy. I think he was the opposite of lazy. He was anxious.
Not so much hyper or sweaty. But…and this is key to this new word I’m trying to define…already many steps into this narrative. You get halfway through a book that’s good, you want to finish it. Eat half a candy bar, you wanna eat the other half. That’s the way a lot of people do their “thinking.” They pursue narratives. Some bit of inconvenient evidence from reality, comes knocking to throw things off track, and they’re just not ready to accept it. The bits of fact that do make it into the pleasure dome, all have it in common that they elicit this response of “Ah ha!! The narrative continues!!”
Maybe what we need to be naming, are these bits of evidence that throw the narrative off track. This other thing we used to call “science,” is made up of such things. These two stars are so many degrees, seconds and minutes apart in September…the angle is discretely different in March…and so, we discover parallax. Like that; that is how science works, that is how all disciplined thinking is supposed to work. Discard the overly simplistic theories by way of inductive reasoning, and exclude the inapplicable possibilities by way of deductive reasoning.
Of course, you could say a reporter’s job is not to reason, but to bring the facts — and you could further say, in fact, Brian Ross did exactly that. Problem was, the fact Ross reported was unhelpful in the extreme. He got himself into a spot of trouble…or rather, should have, and we’re still trying to find out if that’s the case…because he went chasing off after these facts in order to help flush out one of these bullshit narratives.
That is not research, that is telling a story. We’ve got a lot of people doing that lately.
Even squirrels know enough to store nuts, so that they will have something to eat when food gets scarce. But the welfare state has spawned a whole class of people who spend everything they get when times are good, and look to others to provide for their food and other basic needs when times turn bad.
The welfare state we know, is a government-sponsored, long-term, inter-generational effort to tilt the balance of Architects and Medicators. “Architect,” used here, refers not to the profession but to the personality type; it is a reference to the Code of Hammurabi, specifically Law 229 which says a bad architect who builds a house that falls down upon the family living in it, should be crushed to death. That is what Architects do; their efforts are toward building houses that will not fall. They think ahead. They perceive the world around them in terms of the complex systems contained in that world, and the simpler parts that make up those systems. They therefore make it their business to figure out how those parts fit together, so they can gauge how well the system is likely to work, whether it be built by someone else or by themselves, whether it’s already in operation or in the process of being constructed.
Medicators are stewards of their own emotional state, in the moment. They enjoy a much keener insight into the emotions of other people who are in proximity to them, but they fortify this at the expense of their own grasp on reality. They do not see the world as made up of complex working systems made up of simpler parts, instead they see it as a big, universe-wide blob, which is then divided conveniently depending on the situation so that good things can be separated from bad things. Once that’s done, it becomes a universe-wide monolithic blob all over again. Medicators, for all the talking they do about the bad things, don’t have much of an opinion about where the bad things are supposed to go; they just want them gone.
Medicators medicate. That, as I’ve written before, is what they do. They participate in politics to medicate themselves. If their children require better discipline, they literally medicate the children. They shun details. If you have a rash or a burn and you put a medicinal balm on it, you don’t need to concern yourself with what the balm is doing to that part of your body; you just put it on, it feels good, you get relief, and you take it as a given there’s some kind of healing going on. A perfect encapsulation of the Medicator’s solution to every problem. Apply X to Y, some big ol’ mystery thing happens, things get better.
So, yes. Saving for bad times is not the Medicator’s thing. They tend to live in the moment. I’m hungry, what’s for lunch? — without a single thought about tomorrow’s lunch, or tonight’s dinner. It isn’t first-&-foremost a discipline thing, or an intelligence thing. It’s got to do with how the world is perceived. For the purpose of going about the business of living in it.
Architects think and Medicators feel. Out of all of the vexing human conflict and dysfunctional relationships, most of those problems come about when Architects and Medicators come in contact with each other. They aren’t really supposed to.
Medicators have their own justice system, one based on “toddler’s rules.” And they have their own economic system. When the miscreant who’s stolen something that someone else “wouldn’t miss,” and didn’t pay his child support, ends up in front of a judge — what you are seeing there is a conflict between worlds, with the trouble-maker representing one world and the judge representing the other. It’s chaos versus order. Each of these “worlds” could be justified, and seen to be working just fine, if only spared from the angst of coming into contact with the other. The only real difference is that the Medicator’s world is not self-sustaining.
Our free market system depends on an Architect mindset, by which the protagonist views himself, and the thing he wants to get, and then the system of transactions, with legal tender and products and services changing hands, all as objects that should interact in some way, with a vision toward him getting hold of the thing he wants or needs. It is wholly inadequate for the individual who views all of the universe as a warm gooey mess. And so, if we get some more new individuals coming to “maturity” dedicated to this Medicator mindset of “I’m hungry, what’s for lunch?,” then we have a very effective Cloward-Piven strategy in place, fit to bring the whole capitalist system crashing down like a house of cards.
The irony is, this would rely on focusing human thought on imminent wants and needs, with such intensity and such popularity of parallel thought & desire, that such individuals will, through their actions, destroy the economic system that has shown the greatest promise for fulfilling those wants and needs. Even squirrels know how to store nuts, but these people don’t; and, too many among their number don’t seem too enthralled with learning how.
It is hard to blame the people themselves, since so many are born into it. But we certainly should blame the politicians who spend so much effort and energy trying to make it happen.
…if you have the, er, audacity to notice and say something about the inimical attitude the President has against small businesses. Three Pinnochios is the verdict:
Romney immediately began jabbing Obama on the campaign trail and the Romney campaign rushed out an attack ad focused on Obama’s words — though, as we shall see, it sliced and diced the president’s quote to make it seem much worse.
: The Facts
The president, during a campaign speech in Roanoke, tried to make the case that wealthy people need to have higher taxes in order to help serve the public good. Here is what he said, with the words used in the ad in bold type:
“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
The biggest problem with Romney’s ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama’s words — such as a reference to “roads and bridges”— so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative. The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away.
How awful of Mitt Romney. Here is President Obama trying to play down the credit that should be given to the businesses and their owners for their success, and Romney makes it look like Obama’s playing down the credit that should be given to the businesses and their owners for their success.
Let’s inspect this: In spite of the fanfare we’ve heard over and over again about President Obama’s oratorical skills, there is open question about the “that” in “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.” Perhaps that means the business, which would mean Romney’s summary if dead-on accurate, and the Washington Post Fact Checker has been taken for a ride. Or, perhaps that means roads and bridges, and Romney’s ad does take the quote out of context…because the point, as we’ve been reminded repeatedly, is that “when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
How to figure out which one it is?
The Fact Checker’s solution is pretty simple. Wait a couple weeks for President Obama to figure out how damaging this is to His campaign, by way of the media flap that followed as well as by way of Romney’s attack ad; and then, y’know, find out from Him what He meant to say.
Oh, miracle of miracles. He was really talking about roads and bridges! The whole point of His speech was to let the small business owners He has their backs, or something…by…reminding them not to get too big for their britches. You didn’t do that on your own. “You didn’t build that.” Oh, but Let Me Be Clear…roads…bridges.
As Boortz said: “‘roads and bridges’ aren’t a ‘that.’ They’re a ‘those.’ If Obama was directing his comments to the roads and bridges he would have said ‘you didn’t build those.’ Obama is, they say, the smartest man ever to hold the office, so certainly he can handle simple grammar.”
I’m not sure how people miss that clear and obvious point; there is singular, there is plural. That, and those.
We do have a gadfly who’s seen fit to paste and re-paste the thing about “the point is…blah blah blah do things together” ten times or thereabouts. This doesn’t address the singular versus plural issue, which proves that the sentence is functionally stand-alone. “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”
President Obama wasn’t letting the businesses know He was standing behind them and ready to help them. He was delivering a beatdown. Opening up a can. You didn’t do it on your own!
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler is apparently so good at his job, that he was actually able to climb into the mind of Barack Obama and determine exactly what he meant by his comments. Amazing! Who knew that Glenn Kessler was capable of reading Obama’s mind and interpreting his thoughts as facts? This guy should be getting paid the big bucks.
Boortz also has a link to Weasel Zippers, where there is a hilarious mash-up of the media coming out and slipping on their shit to get the wagons properly circled…
At 0:17 Chris Matthews claims to have heard this the first time essentially the way Obama now wants it to be heard, punctuating this now-popular narrative with “the reference is clear” — eh, no Chris, that’s a fail there pal. We may disagree on what Obama meant by “that,” and we may disagree with legitimate points made on both sides…and that is being exceedingly charitable toward your point-of-view, you should accept that intellectual compromise…but, that there is any ambiguity at all, is proof that the reference is not clear.
In fact, I will go further on that. The reference is not clear — and, the cloudy grammar is only part of the reason that the reference is not clear. There are other reasons why the reference is not clear. Primarily that, when Obama gave His speech, He was not using words to communicate clear thoughts. If there was a “point” to His speech at all, the point was discontentment. It was the same ol’ Marxist drivel…lots of rumbling, lots of “Yeah!” and “Right!” — watch the videos, this stuff doesn’t make the transcript. Lots of peevish resentment from the proles. Those darn businesses! They didn’t make it without us!
They owe us! That was the real “point.” Those business have been making use of things we built, for which they have not compensated us.
And that’s what makes this kind of rhetoric so inherently dishonest. The point to it is that there is remuneration that has not been done, and therefore, it has to get done, because it’s due. But, on the way there, these other points are conveniently brushed aside, that the businesses do pay for the things they use. And that includes the use of the roads, bridges, et al. Businesses pay taxes. Arguably, more than their “fair share” of taxes, depending on how you want to define that…so the point is, there is no point.
Could the whole discussion be somewhat more productive if we take the President’s words at face-value, that “when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together”? Well, you tell me. Let’s do that thought experiment. We succeed because we do things together — and, everyone involved in this business, has been fairly compensated. So, what? What’s the point of this?
There must be one. The crowd surrounding President Obama seems pretty enthusiastic!
And peeved. Like a Marxist marching mob, demanding “social justice” or some such. So, how were you planning to channel all that…uh…energy, Mr. President? I see by this video your campaign put together that you’re really all about helping the small businesses…eighteen tax cuts (1:03) or some such.
Was that the point of the speech You were making? More tax cuts for small businesses…because they need to be reminded they didn’t build roads and bridges? Huh, funny, that really doesn’t come across in the video, or in any of the transcripts, no matter which ones I read, or what they choose to leave in or throw out. In none of those versions does it appear, even remotely, like you’re championing the cause of small businesses, or trying to lower their taxes. Not even close.
You’re supposed to be some kind of great orator, huh?
Context, my left nut.
And The Washington Post owes the country an apology.
Pretend Congress appointed you U.S. Supermarket Czar charged with making all the arrangements for Americans to have…bananas. How will you get people in Costa Rica, some of whom may not like Americans, to work hard to grow, harvest, and ship bananas? What are all the arrangements necessary for the shipping crates? Do you know how to make a chain saw or axe to chop down trees for the wood to build crates? What’s necessary to mine iron ore so as to make nails and wires for the crate? Then we have to keep in mind that the bananas have to get from Costa Rica to the supermarket. That means ships and trucks are needed. What do you know about truck and ship building and navigation?
There are literally millions upon milloins of inputs and people cooperating with one another to get just one of those twenty thousand items to your supermarket. Somehow these inputs show up to do their job at the right time and right place, as if, to use Adam Smith’s phrase, they are “guided by an invisible hand.” All that good effort occurs without lovve and caring. The Costa Rican farmer, the crate manufacturer, and the ship captain don’t give a hoot about you but you have the bananas as if they did.
The coordination that makes all those other items available at your supermarket is nothing short of a miracle. To think that one human being, or group of humans, can possess the knowledge and information to accomplish the task is the height of human arrogance and conceit. That knowledge and information is widely dispersed across society in bits and pieces. That’s why top-down central planning always produces disappointments, shortages, and bottlenecks. The banana czar might have remembered everything except a compass and the banana boat is lost at sea. Think back to the 70s during our government-sponsored energy crisis. Our energy czar had some parts of our country awash with gasoline and home heating oil while other parts were dry. Better yet, how would we like our groceries to be delivered by the same people who deliver our mail?
When Elizabeth Warren went and said her dumb thing there was a lot of enthusiasm about it, as I recall.
…the high level of exuberance that swirls around this little observation she has made, creates another question. Like, why? Why the excitement? What makes people so enthused about noticing how hard it is to acquire a little prosperity anymore, without government interference?
And it seems the bulk of this enthusiasm was clustered around the part of her quote that says…”There is nobody in this country that got rich on his own. Nobody.”
We’re seeing a relapse, because President Obama has said a dumb thing very much like Elizabeth Warren’s dumb thing. We’ve examined the context in detail over here, and then we have one of our favorite liberal gadflies “educating” us about that context, as if we didn’t already understand it, over here. The rules from Planet Liberal apply: Liberal gadfly repeats the same morsel of information over and over again, ad infinitum, as long as everyone else hasn’t come around to the liberal gadfly’s way of thinking. After all, lack-of-comprehension, due to inadequate repetition, is the only possible problem!
As I was noticing yesterday, liberals are frequently caught using an opinion as a metric to gauge all kinds of things…character and personal integrity, intelligence, the ability to think logically, quality of information used in making decisions. There is something fair about this — these things do all factor into the making of opinions. The problem is, you can’t use the output as a metric to gauge the input, when there’s more than one input. You can be a brilliant logical thinker, and if your facts are messed up, then in the end your opinion is going to be hosed. It works the other way, too; your facts can be accurate, verifiable, even complete, but your opinion will end up being a bad one, or a good one only by good fortune, if you are missing the ability to think things through logically. These are all vital ingredients, so if the opinion is a bad one, it only says something is missing, it doesn’t say what. Therein lies the leap to conclusions displayed by our liberals when confronting those who dissent. It is the extravagant leap taken by the fool, who is not accustomed to testing things systematically, and thinks an optimistic vision is all that is needed.
Very often, I notice they fancy themselves to be experts…instant experts…on what the disagreeable person does & does not know. Perhaps conservatives do this as well. But not nearly as often.
In leaping to such a conclusion, they communicate unmistakably, if unintentionally, that their own ability to think things through logically must now be called into serious question. Because they’re failing to do it — and then bragging about failing to do it. That, in turn, calls their opinions into question. Which, in turn, tends to magnify the blight placed on their own positions, since they are frequently caught repeating this sin in the opposite direction: “Whoever agrees with me, must be well-informed, gifted at thinking logically, and have lots of character and personal integrity.” That’s worse than being merely mistaken, or needlessly insulting. It’s reckless.
But I’m interested in this enthusiasm — again. It merits study, maybe even some formalized research. As a psychological phenomenon, perhaps. Anyway, I simply don’t understand it, and after all this attention paid to “What Obama really meant to say, was…” the time has probably come to shift attention, slightly, and figure out what parts resonate, and how, and why. I remember when Prof. Warren’s quote was going around, out on the liberal web sites if you looked up the posts about it, and skimmed over the comment threads, there was this huge swelling of excitement. As in, oh, she is just so, so right about this!
Right about what?
Take a look at Obama’s speech on video.
At 0:56 to 1:00, He makes the point that “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own” and there are these multiple, affirming cheers. Some of this enthusiasm I wish to study, exists there, I think…of course it’s lacking in the spontaneity you would expect of real crowd enthusiasm. Sounds like it’s paid-for. Maybe it is. “There are a whole bunch of hard working people out there” at 1:19, huge uproar…”YEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! (applause applause applause)” The “great teacher somewhere in your life” comment at 1:33 gets a “Yeah!” Some “Right” and “Yeah” at the notorious “If you’ve got a business…you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen” (1:46).
Lots more wild cheering at the end, where He makes the point about building the Golden Gate bridge, going to the moon, “you’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
What’s going on in my mind, is: How inexperienced and ignorant do you have to be, of this kind of technically-demanding problem solving, like the calculations involved in going to the moon — to think it’s some kind of committee project? I realize He doesn’t come out and say that, but there is no mistaking that there is a lowering of a beatdown here, and the beatdown is being lowered upon the ingenuity of the individual.
Go back through the clip and listen to the cheering again. You’ll notice it has a particular crescendo to it during the parts where Obama gets tough with the businesses, lets ’em know that this isn’t all theirs. There is an unmistakable anti-business pattern to it all.
What I’m picking up here, is a conflict between brain and brawn. Someone figures out how a light bulb could work, and after a number of failed prototypes, comes up with a working model. This is put into mass production, and a town is illuminated — hey, he didn’t build that!
Dozens, maybe hundreds, of dedicated assembly line workers translated his working design into reality! That’s the message. And, it is a valid one…they did do that, and the town would not have been lit if it were not for them.
But, on the other hand, the town would not have been lit if it were not for him, either. Our friends from the left side of the aisle seem to be forgetting that part of it; rather habitually.
And so I’m picking up something else here: That the committee project is being used as a sort of a bully pulpit. Or, rather, a decoy. A horse-blinder. You see, it is undeniable that the illumination of the town depends on a successful design, just as much as on the brawn…and so, we have the “we’re all in this together” to help blind us to the contribution of that one guy, who figured out if it would work, and how. You didn’t build that! Somebody else made it happen! We’re all in this together!
It is a conflict, being triggered by the one side that cannot be too forthcoming about what its position really is. It’s a conflict between the brain and brawn, which translates into — the individual, coming up with a complex, capable design, and the group, which…well, doesn’t. Groups don’t do that. Groups arrive at compromises, groups reconcile competing desires and competing interests. And groups fund.
But they’re not so good at experimentation, and they don’t design.
And, let us not forget, this is ultimately about the final conflict: Higher taxes versus austerity. I said some of those cheers & yelps sounded paid-for, and that I think this is likely. But I don’t wish to pick on the labor unions. They do have it coming, but anybody who isn’t aware of their influence by this time, isn’t interested in finding out about it.
There is an amateur part of this enthusiasm, about which I have a much greater interest in doing my learnin’s. The psychology behind it. I don’t think the enthusiasm is about “let’s all participate in this together” — if that’s the motivation, then the planning isn’t very effective because our system of taxing and governing doesn’t do that. Quite a few people who are part of this “everybody” don’t pay any taxes into the system at all, and of those, not too many of them are actually working on building these roads and bridges.
So. Getting “everybody” to do their part, is not the objective. There’s way too much of the real “everybody” being excluded from the semantic “everybody.”
I think the motivation is denial. This is the only viable explanation for the enthusiasm: Somebody designed the light bulb, or a part of that rocket, and that means there is an individual doing remarkable things — we are individuals, but we’re not doing remarkable things as individuals, so we don’t want anybody else doing anything remarkable either.
Not unless they are part of a big, big group. So that we can take all the human effort that goes into something noticeable, and safely anonymize it. So that no one single person can put his name next to something that is good, and receive credit for it, on an individual basis. We’re opposed to that.
There’s an uptick lately in their activity on my own site, as they head to the comment form and enter their…ah…their counterpoints let’s call them. Good, this is an opportunity.
Thought it might be good to get a list going of questions I have never been able to have answered in any meaningful, coherent way, by liberals — anywhere. Maybe I’m not asking these questions right, but it’s more likely that the questions themselves are the problem. The responses consistently lead off into some kind of monologue about “There’s no use discussing such an issue with a person such as this,” or some such…with the ultimate result that the questions remain unanswered. That situation has been going on for awhile, with all ten:
1. What is “middle class”? Specifically.
2. What is “fair share”? Numbers, please.
3. What does it mean to have a “strong” or “robust” or “vibrant” middle class? Does this refer to people in the “middle class” making more money, such that they stop being middle class? How does that work, exactly?
4. How big should our government be, in terms of the resources we allocate for it, per year, per capita…? Is there a limit at all? Should there not be one, especially if the livelihood earned by the taxpayers is to be limited?
5. If a woman has absolute control over her body, and the rest of us have an absolute right to vote in whatever way we see fit, do I then have a right to vote in politicians that will make abortion illegal?
6. I’ve heard several times of this test for premature babies, that if they’re capable of “surviving outside the womb” then fine, they can be people, and if they aren’t then they aren’t. Um, what is the rationale for this? Does this not conflict with that other acid test, that it becomes a “baby” and stops being a “fetus” when it is delivered?
7. This country has gone full-tilt on left-wing big-government solutions before, quite a few times in the last century. So if it works so well, how come the country didn’t say to itself “Golly! That works really well!” and just stick with it? How come we keep doing this sixteen-year merry-go-round of right, left, right, left…President Obama was supposed to be this unstoppable political juggernaut, His luster has clearly worn off, needs all this money raised just to get re-elected — is that what we should expect to see happen, when the left-wing ideas work so undeniably well? Looks to me more like, young voters taking awhile to learn something, learning it, and then being outvoted by the next generation of young voters that need to learn the same things again. How would you explain it? Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, George W. Bush, the midterms of 1994, 2010…this is all Diebold tampering with voting machines?
8. How are voter ID laws racist? What color is voting-legally?
9. How is English-as-official-language racist? What color is English?
10. What is exceptional/remarkable/superior about Hillary Clinton? Nancy Pelosi? Barack Obama? Elizabeth Warren? What are their unique skill sets, and how do these skills benefit the country…or, show promise of providing a benefit to the country? Specifically. Can any one among that whole sorry lot point to a uniquely wise decision that changed the outcome of a situation for the better, that someone else wouldn’t have succeeded in making?
Update: A bit more of a “discussion” proceeds, reminding me of a recurring theme. The theme is that personal opinions, off in Planet Liberal, are very simple things. Therefore, they can be used as metrics. Think of the thermometer you hang outside to tell you how cold it is; ideally, the outside temperature and only the outside temperature drives the reading. Any other variables factoring in would bollux up the measuring process. You can do the measurement because there is one variable working on the readout, one and only one.
Here on Earth where all the normal people live, an opinion comes from many things, to wit: A rational thinking process, a good source of relevant information, personal biases that come from prior experience. You would never think to yourself “I can trust this complete stranger with all kinds of stuff, because he or she agrees with me on X.”
Our left-leaning friends do this — or represent themselves as doing this — without a care in the world about it. And I am reminded of 11 and 12 which I have also posed on occasion, and repeatedly failed in every possible way to extract a rational answer:
11. Is there anybody who dissents from the liberal’s summation, even in just an arcane, nearly-microscopic way, who knows what they’re talking about — actually, scratch that, is such a thing possible?
12. The reverse. Is it possible for someone to agree with the liberal, and not know what they’re talking about. To reach the so-called “correct” conclusion by way of incorrect thinking?
President Obama, one week after his controversial “you didn’t build that” remark, claimed Friday that the criticism he’s taking from Republicans is “bogus.”
Though Republicans say the president was implying that business owners didn’t build their businesses, Obama said he was just talking about roads and bridges.
In an interview with WCTV-TV in Tallahassee that aired Friday, Obama said: “What I said was together we build roads and we build bridges.”
He added: “That’s the point I’ve made millions of times, and by the way, that’s a point Mr. Romney has made as well, so this is just a bogus issue.”
As Charles Krauthammer points out in the clip, it’s completely obvious from watching the original video from a week ago as well as from seeing the statement in print — the President was not talking about building bridges.
If He isn’t out-and-out lying (and it’s difficult to see how a man possessing any intelligence at all would think He could get away with such a fib), then He sure is good at rationalizing. In our elected leaders, is there any practical difference between those two things?
Another thing to be explored in this you-didn’t-build-ism, which I was going to tack on to the end but I decided it’s worth a post of its own…Thomas Sowell, as he very often does, states it better and more clearly than anybody:
People who run businesses are benefitting from things paid for by others? Since when are people in business, or high-income earners in general, exempt from paying taxes like everybody else?
Since everybody else uses the roads and the schools, why should high achievers be expected to feel like free loaders who owe still more to the government, because schools and roads are among the things that facilitate their work? According to Elizabeth Warren, because it is part of an “underlying social contract.”
Conjuring up some mythical agreement that nobody saw, much less signed, is an old ploy on the left — one that goes back at least a century, when Herbert Croly, the first editor of The New Republic magazine, wrote a book titled “The Promise of American Life.”
Whatever policy Herbert Croly happened to favor was magically transformed by rhetoric into a “promise” that American society was supposed to have made — and, implicitly, that American taxpayers should be forced to pay for. This pious hokum was so successful politically that all sorts of “social contracts” began to appear magically in the rhetoric of the left.
If talking in this mystical way is enough to get you control of billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money, why not?
Prof. Sowell discusses this Croly character, in the context of these invented mythical “social” obligations, on p. 89 of his book Intellectuals and Society under “Intellectuals and Social Visions.” You should run out and snap up a copy if you don’t have one yet. It is a critique sited in on a very specific target:
Jonas Salk’s end product was a vaccine, as Bill Gates’ end product was a computer operating system. Despite the brainpower, insights, and talents involved in these and other achievements, such individuals are not intellectuals. An intellectual’s work begins and ends with ideas, however influential those ideas may be on concrete things — in the hands of others. [emphasis Sowell’s]
The unstated question that repeatedly bobbles up to the surface is, how might the intellectual’s idea change if the intellectual were to assume personal responsibility for implementing it, and then availed of the opportunity to revise the idea with the lessons learned from toiling away within that unforgiving plane of reality.
Some of this “social construct” stuff might end up on the cutting-room floor, I think. It’s rather easy to speak of magical, here-from-nowhere contracts when it’s the other guy who has to meet them.
Enrollees over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging, who happen to be friends with Don Surber, were given a real treat this morning. Call it a “column prototype” of sorts, it was going to be going into the paper, but Surber decided to commit it to that medium instead:
EVERY politician says something stupid in any campaign. Usually people give them a pass. President Obama recently said that if people feel faint in the heat, they should call a paralegal.
Amusing but no big deal. It sits besides his 57 states comment as something conservatives drag out now and then to mock him.
What scored was his statement in Roanoke, Va.: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”
That line marked a turning point in the 2012 election just as John Kerry’s statement that he “actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” turned the 2004 election around.
Of all the dumb things Kerry may have said that year, that quote because it revealed something about Kerry that a majority of voters had suspected all along: that he is a sneaky opportunistic politician who always has his finger in the wind.
His supporters argued that it was taken out of context in the speech. Perhaps.
But voters put the quote in the context of the character of the man himself — the Vietnam War hero who then turned on his fellow warriors in false testimony to Congress.
In that context, Kerry was untrustworthy. His statement confirmed that.
Liberals have argued that Obama’s words are taken out of context. They argue that he was making a point about no man being an island, even though he said no such thing at all.
Voters, again, are putting the politician’s words in the context of his actions.
Americans gave Obama $787 billion for a stimulus. He spent it on government programs. The unemployment rate went up. Slowly it has come down, but it is still higher than when he started spending the stimulus.
“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that” confirms for many people — a majority of voters, I believe — that [this] president is a big government blowhard who does not understand business and is to blame for the lack of a recovery from this recession.
Context is not simply reading the whole speech but placing the speaker in context.
If your preacher says, “you didn’t build that,” you agree because you know and I know that God created the universe and we should humble ourselves before the Lord.
But when a smarty pants who just graduated from an Ivy League school says it, you and I know this kid has a lot to learn.
I like those last two paragraphs because they highlight a differential between classic Judeo-Christian teachings, and modern liberalism. Both of which, by the way, seek to tone down the credit claimed by the mortal builder for the glory of his creations, but for very different reasons. The religion says the glory should go somewhere else, the modern libs essentially say the glory itself is a problem, and should just go away.
Of course, like any other contaminant, the glory can’t just “go away,” it has to get sucked up somewhere. That’s why we capitalize the H in pronouns like “His” and “He” when we refer to President Barack Obama: Liberals honor Him exactly the same way the devoted honor their deities. Glory should not go toward ordinary mortals, no matter what, so it should go to Him instead. He’s like a vacuum-cleaner-bag for glory. All the rest of us are essentially just the same, all milling about pointlessly in this lower layer of human strata, in which nobody really built anything; only The Obama is on a different plane.
The “you-didn’t-build-ism” is an example of the endless battle between “architect” and “medicator” personality types. The difference between these types is the source of most human conflict. Architects flesh out details and get them defined, not as an end but as a means toward an end; Medicators, in turn, are threatened by this process of definition. That’s what President Obama was doing; it was not His intention to insult the business owners, nor was He really trying to give credit to the “someone else” people who did the real building or whatever. What He was trying to do was erase the distinction.
I’ve disagreed with Rush Limbaugh about this part of it for many years now — NO, these people we call “liberals” do not see government as the source of all good things. They don’t really like government any better than most conservatives…They see it as a great anonymizer, like an IP masking service on the Internet. The function provided by government, the way they see it, is the same as the function of distributing blank bullets among a firing squad so nobody knows who really killed the guy standing in front of them.
They don’t want to believe in God — because, they don’t want to believe in anything good. In their world, stuff just kinda happens.
That’s what you-didn’t-build-ism really is: It’s just simple fear. Fear of acknowledging a detail. “So-and-so built such-and-such” is the loathed, feared detail.
For the record, no, this was not a winning move for the President; it was a dumb stupid thing to say. And I mean that purely in the practical sense. Yes, some people were very enthused about it, but those people were going to vote for Him in November anyway. Contrasted with, there were people who were purely undecided about which way to go, who will never support Him now, certainly not if they care about what’s going on with jobs, and the economy. Because now it’s revealed, this is a guy who not only didn’t start a business, probably doesn’t know anybody who ever did, but wouldn’t.
Like Cylarz said under the other post I put up about this…
This is nothing new. Back in the 90s, Clinton was always talking about “government giving people the tools they need to succeed.” The man was such a skillful liar that I never knew for sure what he really did or didn’t believe, but I wrote back in college, “Like any good liberal, he has it exactly backwards.” It probably never even occurred to him that maybe it was the people who give the government the tools IT needs to succeed – they fund its operations and its powers derive from “the just consent of the governed.”
Yes, there are customers. Yes, there are employees, and roads built by other people, and bridges. But the guy starting the business has to carry all of that. He takes out the loans. He pays the employees, along with the taxes involved in hiring them. Secures the permits, rents the space, pays the taxes that get those roads built and maintained. When customers give him money, he sees to it they receive a greater share of product & service, and if he fails to do that then they stop being customers. Everybody else involved in the building of this business, has to be compensated at a profit for their involvement or they cease to be involved. The people building the businesses have to see to all that, or the business goes un-built.
Just statin’ the obvious, here…although, looks like it isn’t obvious to everyone…
Commenter Severian posts some thoughtful remarks that inspire more thought. And I’m thinking…I still don’t have liberals figured out, and Sev’s comment does not get them figured out for me, nor do they go too far in that direction. But, they inspire what might be the correct question to ask.
Let’s see if I can jot this down.
A Socreatean syllogism, posed from their point of view…let us say, I am a liberal and you are not.
1. I’m a better person than you are, in all kinds of ways.
2. (Underpants gnome missing step)
3. Therefore, we need a purely-collectivist system of exchange which, among other things, conceals the disparity among individuals in terms of their virtue and worthiness of their habits & efforts.
Item #3 summarizes the “Elizabeth Warren” ethos: President Obama put it very well, I thought, if you’ve done something good then you didn’t really do it. Somehow, there’s a lot of enthusiasm around for the idea that no individual does anything for which there should be any enthusiasm. My observation is that #3 seems to be in conflict with #1…problematic, since both #1 and #3 seem to be ever-present in all this liberal monologuing. I don’t see any liberals discarding one of those for the other. In fact, #1 and #3 appear to be engaged in some kind of symbiotic relationship with one another.
The thing I cannot quite grasp is, of course, #2. It can be:
2a. I love you with the love of a soldier who lays himself down on a grenade for the other members of his platoon, and only want the best for you…or…
And, for reasons that will be obvious to all others who’ve similarly “discussed” things with their liberal friends and neighbors — into which I shall not go, here — I’m ready to discard 2a as a possibility. Think it’s pretty safe to eliminate it.
So, I think, “What t’heck is going on in 2b?” is the appropriate question to ask. Liberals think they’re better, evidently just because they’re liberals…be that the case or be it not, they definitely think they’re better. And so, because of [blank], they have all this passion for a new, better society in which it doesn’t matter who’s better than who, a future in which relative individual merit becomes pointless.
It seems, once that future comes about, they’re still better than everybody else, that part of it will not change. And since they have so much identity invested in that truism, that they’re better because they’re liberals — in this envisioned future, that remains their purpose in life. Or, at the very least, it matters to them, is fulfilling to them, that they’re still better than you, and you are not as good as they.
Which remains true. But has become entirely irrelevant. Or not?
Side note: On envisioned futures. A couple weeks ago I came up with a definition for people with a certain problem here, whom I described thusly:
These are the people who take:
1. What they perceive to be likely to happen
2. What they perceive is merely a remote possibility
3. What they would like to see happen
4. What is certain to happen
and, like a toddler clutching milk duds and jelly beans too tightly for too long on a hot summer day, smoosh them all up together.
My son and I were talking about this yesterday, about his antipathy for the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT). Aside from being anti-human, VHEMT’s mission statement pegs the organization as being deeply mired in this “future fondue” problem; in fact, it ranks among many other left-wing anarchist organizations, sharing this attribute that its members are “activists” who are active first and foremost in the action of envisioning something. Hmmm…nice gig if you can get it. Wonder what the hourly calorie expenditure is on that.
I also recall the twenty-dollar chocolate bar, imported in all its carbon-neutral glory, by means of sail-powered cargo ships. The spokesman of the company operating said cargo ships, making this jaw-dropping remark, revealing his company’s mission statement to have much to do with this future-fondue thinking:
“This is only a beginning. The next step is to build a much larger sail-powered cargo ship, a 3,000 tonne EcoLiner equipped for container traffic and fully competitive with the oil guzzling competitors”, says Fairtransport director Jorne Langelaan. “We want to re-establish sailing ships as a natural alternative to an anti-ecological culture. We want to see a revival of the great age of sail, as a means of Fair transport for cargo around the Atlantic”.
Nevermind the idea itself — there is something going on with how it is envisioned. The future-fondue people have a most peculiar understanding, one that belongs solely to them and is all their own, of this simple human-thinking concept of doubt.
As I’ve written many times in many places, since our most educational exercise about the matter: They speak of future events, as if they have occurred in the past. The very word “envision,” applied to future situations and future events, seems to have a very special, and peculiar, meaning.
You and I envision future events with hope, or dread, depending on whether our vision is inspiring or dark. But they don’t dread. Even when they’re warning about bad things, like the Earth ceasing to support life as we know it due to our pollution, or terrorist attacks due to our bad behavior or failure to provide foreign aid, they’re still full of hope. Or, their words have dread, the lilt in their voices is full of what could not be described as anything but real hope. That’s when it gets creepy.
Only they would say something like “There’s a serious problem, the world might not be ending,” or “not to worry, we’re still doomed.”
Update: A further thought. Perhaps we can achieve much illumination of thought with very few words of prose — not historically my forte, but let’s give this a try nevertheless, shall we? — to sum it up this way:
This lately-popular “Elizabeth Warren economics” brand of modern liberalism simply seeks to make definition and personal excellence mutually exclusive things.
What the President is saying is, when you have a successful business, you have this definition. Therefore personal excellence is simply not to be allowed, hence the “you didn’t build that, somebody else made it happen.” His fabulous remarkable campaign from four years ago, on the other hand, is the opposite. Personal excellence without definition. “He’s the real deal, I’m telling you! There’s just something about Him! I can’t explain it!” Barry’s personal wonderfulness is to be permitted…even obligatory, in classic affirmative-action style…because the definition has been reduced to nonexistence. Berry is elected President, Barry wins the Nobel Peace Prize — for nothing in particular. If there was definition, the individual exceptionalism would be prohibited. But there is no definition, therefore acknowledgement of this undefined excellence is required. It is demanded. Just like the praise for the Emperor’s new clothes.
Team Obama and all the little OFA lemmings are out in full force crying “context! context!” over Obama’s ridiculous comments last Friday. For the sake of sanity, and to provide you with an easy way to combat their latest attempt at damage control, here’s how Obama’s comments were wrong, no matter how you look at it.
First, the comments… in full context.
We’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make some more cuts in programs that don’t work, and make government work more efficiently…We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more …
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. You didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
Obama’s first mistake was erecting a gigantic strawman to knock down…“Limited government” has never meant, nor does it mean now, “no government.” It’s a ridiculous argument used by those who wish to pretend that conservatives, who favor limited government, are really anarchists, who favor no government.
The second mistake was this notion that business owners (aka “the rich”) aren’t paying their fair share for the stuff tax payers pay for, like roads, bridges, etc…
The third mistake Obama made was revealing his government-centric view of the world. In his mind, government is the innovator and people simply do what the government instructs them to do. It’s profoundly unamerican. This country is great because of the ideals upon which it was founded: Life. Liberty. And the pursuit of happiness. Obama thinks that is only made possible by government. It’s exactly backwards.
There’s a very cool graphic to go with it, “People in this income group, make this much of the national income, and pay this much in taxes.” I’d embed it, but the exact numbers are likely to change while the overall trend is not so likely to change…
There is a certain symmetry that is lacking here. It has already been asked, repeatedly, who else might have “helped” in the case of businesses that were not so successful; is someone going to help that poor business owner as he deals with the resulting personal and/or business bankruptcy?
Liberals have such a funny idea of numbers. Ed Darrell, for example, is out there trumping up a purely emotion-driven argument in favor of foreign aid. His argument all comes down to, and I quote, “That’s a pittance.” Well, I’m not so much against foreign aid, so I shall not examine the merits of it (since he doesn’t) — I’m more interested in the argument resting entirely on the numbers, the numbers, the numbers, they should be higher, higher, higher. Ever try to corner a progressive on the other end of it, though — how much should the federal government be spending, on everything? Either in a net dollar amount, or per capita. How much is too much?
Quicker than you can say wham, bam, thank you ma’am…the numbers, the numbers, they lose all meaning.
In truth, the numbers never had anything to do with anything in the first place. This “Elizabeth Warren” part of modern liberalism, is just a well-organized and well-funded attack on individual accomplishment. This is why I think Obama’s third mistake was His biggest one; He tipped His hand.
One of my “Hello Kitty of Blogging” friends posted an Atlas Shrugged excerpt that concerns itself with this…oh yeah, probably not paying a decent respect to President Obama’s intended “context”…
“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”
“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”
She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”
I think there is a Republican mole in Obama’s inner circle. This is devastating because it fits easily on a bumper sticker: “You Didn’t Build That.” And as an election-year issue, it is viable. Now we can have an election between the “Yes You Built That” people and the “You Didn’t Build That” people.
It’s so sad that, even with the conflict crystallized in those terms, the year-end outcome is still difficult to predict. Of course, there was difficulty involved in predicting 1980, and the difficulty proved to be illusory; perhaps that is the case here. If not, that’s a sign that we’ve lost our bearings. We really have that many voting people who are passionately stirred up against the understanding of human achievement, of identifiable people accomplishing things? That much enthusiasm for burying constructive work beneath a permafrost of anonymity?
Attention ladies, particularly the young ladies: This…
…looks…bad. Bad with a capital B. That thing with the pockets. If it’s in fashion, it should not be.
I guess I’m just not very well-educated about this stuff. I always figured, these young ladies made themselves some cut-offs for the summer months, failed to calculate the lengths of the pockets, didn’t want to do without ’em and figured they had themselves a garment for hanging around the house casual-style, maybe possibly hauling the trash out to the curb.
Yesterday morning at brunch I saw a youngish type walk into the restaurant with accentuated pocket liners, with glitter. Oh, so that’s intentional now? Turns out, it’s not only a feature and not a bug, but a highly desirable one…so says somebody somewhere.
I struggle to imagine what other things a girl-woman could wear that would look more hooker-ish. And to think, somewhere, there’s a mother allowing her to go out of the house like that.
Update: I spent all that time waiting for the never-ending so-called fashion of “guys pants sagging down around their underwear” and this seems to be just a continuation of it.
We seem to be living, in real life, the imaginary fashion world depicted in this highly forgettable Ryan O’Neal movie. Images associated with the idea that the wearer forgot to clothe him- or her-self somewhere around the pelvic region…suggesting lack of competence in attending to personal tasks dealing with attire, and probably hygiene I suppose, that’s desirable in some way?
Once again, we are not as wealthy as we thought we were. And there really is a significant structural component behind today’s sluggish labor market.
…leading to higher unemployment.
Paraphrasing Yglesias’ response: Yes, it’s all true, we’re not as wealthy as we thought and yes, the labor market is sluggish, but…blah blah blah demand-side blah blah blah reserve wage blah blah blah shouldn’t be happening blah blah blah China.
Imagine a reverse situation. A town full of working-class people sees its unemployment rate suddenly shoot up from 11 percent to 27 percent. Concurrently, it turns out that the town’s residents were much wealthier than they thought they were—each one of them actually had a check for $1 million sitting in their pockets. We might say it’s pretty clear what’s happened here. These folks are wealthier than they thought they were so they raised their reserve wage. But then suppose it turns out the checks were fraudulent and they all bounce. The reserve wage should fall and joblessness should decline. That it seems to me is the supply-side story about the relationship between wealth and employment.
It’s certainly not systematically true that richer countries have low unemployment rates—if that were right the United States would have less unemployment than Germany, and Chinese unemployment would be through the roof.
It seems there are two things going on here. One, this notion of “sticky” wages, which I understand to mean a negotiated price for labor that is resistant to change, for whatever reason, therefore it can have a disruptive effect on the supply/demand signals communicated within a free market. Seems to me to be a simple concept: The compensation is frozen, or “stuck,” but the commitment is not, thus the entire deal becomes a take-it-or-leave-it. Firm price, no haggling, do you want it or not? So, not. That’s what I’m getting out of Sonic’s ten-step “help” for Mr. Yglesias. And the other thing is: Reality is upsetting the theory, so out comes the blah blah blah, and the reality must yield. Why, how dare it.
It’s a form of Red Dot Science, these left-wing liberal economics. Let’s all just close our eyes and wish with all our might, as hard as we can. We can beat this sluggish employment!
I like to say that people who are, while educated, lacking in real wisdom, are educated beyond their hat size. What I mean is that they do not possess the ability to apply their education to the real world. They are, at times, lacking common sense, and do not, apparently have the capacity to accept simple truths. These people are too enamored with nuance. I have worked with such people. Yes they are intelligent, well educated, but they can never seem to grasp that the solution to a problem, or the answer to a question might be the simplest one available. Maybe to them, simple always equals stupid. Their addiction to over thinking and over analyzing everything prevents them from accepting that some things just are what they are.
This is not to say, of course, that every answer or solution is simple, but often times they are. Our Founders had great wisdom. Yes, they were thinkers, that IS part of being wise. But wisdom also comes from accepting simple truths. Truths that are self-evident. Truths like we are created with certain rights, and simple truths like people are best left to do for themselves in most situations.
The entire science of economics seems to be educated beyond its own hat size, at least the kind practiced by Yglesias & friends. When the people educated in the theory struggle to reconcile it with the reality that has just dealt it a blow, and the people not so versed in the theory (or who don’t give a rip about it) are left on the sidelines, like me, going “Yeah, that’s what I’d expect to see happen, what’s the problem?” then the theory is not only ripe for a re-think, but it’s getting in the way. Yeah, less wealth, lots of people less wealthy, wealth has to do with the ability to afford something — so there’s less affordin’ goin’ on. Uh, like duh…so now, you’ve got some economic theory that says it shouldn’t be happening? Well, go off in your garage and twiddle with that there, Sparky.
It seems there is a blind spot with regard to the “free” in free-market. This is the dangerous thing about red-dot science; this notion of “If I wish for it hard enough, it will happen that way” contaminates not only the unified, big conclusion to be drawn about something, but the finer, more detailed conclusions as well, like transactions within the market. What’s truly worrisome is the realization that the explanation is immediately available to anyone experienced in buying things. What can stop the sale from being made? Lack of money is only the first of many things; once you have the money, or credit, there is a level of need to be evaluated. The proposal may involve an expenditure that is low, and therefore affordable, but if there is some alternative available then there will be a path-of-least-resistance factor. The liquidity of the cash reserves is an asset, just like any other, so that may factor in. And last but not least, there is consumer confidence.
The science of economics being evolved and refined as it is, it takes all this stuff into account. But these fine educated minds drawing their conclusions about will happen, don’t necessarily weigh it all correctly — it is, when all’s said & done, a science dedicated to predicting what total strangers will decide to do. Therefore, there will always be doubt in this particular scientific discipline. It’s not like astronomy, or history, in which there is some precise truth to be measured and the thing being refined is our measurement of it; economic theory either takes all the meaningful variables into account, or else it does not, and if it does not then it’s worth about as much as that wet paper filter I have to go change out of the coffee pot in the kitchen just now, and maybe the used coffee grounds within it.
And when reality steps in to let them know they biffed it, which should mean something…it is reality that must yield, say they.
People educated beyond their hat size scare me, especially when they turn their enthused scrutiny and loud opinion-making toward economic matters. It tends to emerge that they have this weird vision of employment: Good things come after it, but the employment itself, in turn, comes after bad things, so if we want more of this employment we have to make bad things happen, like Godzilla wrecking an entire city or something. The excessive “super-practical” education, if you will, seems to interfere with envisioning employment as what it really is, which is services activity associated with an ownership entity attempting to fulfill some kind of a mission…the mission being either obligatory, as is often the case in the public sector, or creation of wealth (and/or hedging against the loss of said wealth) as is generally the case in the private sector. There’s something in the over-educated mindset, that they just can’t see it that way.
John Hawkins briefly summarizes each of the five, in reverse-order Letterman style, kicking off each tiny essay with a salient quote.
Commenter suz summarizes even more briefly, one line apiece:
5. they’re horny, they know everything and their [sic] going to live forever…so that works out;
4. the inability to see themselves as flawed;
3. lazy and whining snot-nosed punks;
2. their inability to know the difference between having a free mind compared to sound policy — it’s all one and the same to them; and
1. completely void of all moral code.
To which commenter Carlos7 replies…
It all starts with #4.
And, based on my experiences “discussing” things with some of the more intransigent ones, I would have to agree. That isn’t true of your beloved politically-uninvolved politically-unaware “Aunt Mabel” who just wants to do right by the impoverished and disenfranchised, and just hasn’t thought things out. But it’s true of the younger airheads registering for their wedding gifts at Obama’s web site; they, unlike you, were not descended of Adam and Eve who ate of the fruit, therefore they’re not flawed. You’re flawed because you cling to your guns bitterly, and believe in angels and what-not — they’re part of an evolutionary process gliding toward perfection a micron at a time.
The irony is, that while they’re running around being so much more science-y than you are, they’re missing out on a basic key component to evolutionary theory, which is: The progress is achieved solely by means involving birth and death. Each organism, and that means people, has its associated evolutionary stage carved into its DNA, flaws and all, and it carries those flaws from womb to tomb. That necessarily means that, no, sorry, Barack Obama did not become more “evolved” when He made up His mind that gay marriage was alright, and liberals don’t grow bigger brains with extra lobes the day they decide to become liberals, so you can’t transform overnight into the Jetsons, or the X-Men, or those aliens from Star Trek with extra big mushroom-shaped brainy veiney heads.
I think, deep down, they realize this already. That’s the source of the bile, the nastiness; they can’t separate from the riff-raff by means of this overnight-evolution, even though they’d like to, because they’re not happy with themselves the way they are. So snarking at those around them who don’t “believe,” is the next best thing.
Your Aunt Mabel who bakes the yummy sugar cookies, she’s a different story altogether. She doesn’t want this separation, she wants the opposite. But she’s not on topic because the subject is destroying virtue, and bless her heart, she still has tons and tons of it. She just has no idea what she’s talking about, that’s all — no way of knowing what a higher minimum wage or a stricter gun control law really does, and no way of ever finding out.
I thought there was something else special about #4, it’s the most quotable part of Hawkins’ column:
Liberals begin with the proposition that conservatives are unwitting dupes at best and evil at worst while other liberals are on the side of the angels. This leads them to excuse just about any and every behavior from killing cops, to terrorist bombings, to treason as long as the perpetrator has the right beliefs and is useful to the movement. When you think that the only real crime is disagreeing with your ideology, you can make a hero out of a drunken, disreputable coward who left a woman to die in a tidal pool or even come up with justifications for why it’s fine for the Department of Justice to help Mexican cartels get weapons they used to kill more than 300 people as part of some misguided political stunt to encourage gun control.
When a liberal does something wrong, you can probably find lots of other liberals who will say “that was wrong,” but to a man, they’ll all insist on sticking that word “but” after the word “wrong,” followed by some obfuscating and distracting filibuster. That’s a consistent formula: Fellow liberal + “that was wrong” = filibuster. They can’t ever, ever say “that was wrong” and just end the sentence right there: end of sentence, dot, new paragraph, new topic. That’s completely out of the question. Against the rules.