Archive for March, 2018

What They Mean by “We”

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

I’ve been complaining for quite awhile about people who go through the motions of presenting coherent arguments, and then when you think critically about what they’re saying you realize they aren’t saying anything because there’s so much that requires further definition and so little definition being done. Now here in California we’re up to our eyeballs in “little laws” — to which, near as I can figure, very few people actually pay any attention, either in terms of compliance or enforcement — and every now & then a debate will erupt in any one from a variety of different forums, about why we have this dumb law. And it has not escaped my attention that there is a thought process of “Let’s just keep passing dumb laws that have no consequence and eventually life will become perfect,” that overlaps almost perfectly with this other thought process of “I want to win the argument without actually arguing anything or even defining what exactly it is I’m saying.”

I guess it stands to reason. My dumb little law will make life perfect…just accept it, I don’t want to have to explain how it works.

Well, I’ve noticed something else…

One of the fundamental concepts that are being bifurcated by this disagreement, is “we.” I, along with other people who are capable of thinking like responsible adults, do not believe life automatically becomes better when we have more rules. I’m more of a believer in what Tacitus said, “The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government.” Gun control offends me, partly because it’s right in our Constitution that we aren’t supposed to have gun control of any kind. But it offends me even more when I recognize what it is: Something bad was done by a bad person, and so we come up with some restrictions to be placed on the ones who did not do it.

The great-granddaddy disagreement that appears to inspire all of the other disagreements, is this: I think life gets better when I’m allowed to do more things. For me, immediately, and if I exercise good judgment, for others as well. And I know my judgment is good. If, in some isolated case it isn’t good, I shall strive to improve.


I’m not sure what, exactly. Seems to be something like “The cause of all our miseries is that we can do too much,” or “Happiness in the future begins with us being stopped from doing things,” or “We need to be controlled.”

It is the difference between the positive and the negative. The difference between hope & fear.

When I use the word “we” I’m talking about some class of person, and I am included in that class. Those people on the other side don’t seem to be going along with this. They say “We need to be stopped from doing things” or “We need to be told ‘no’ more often” or “We are a pestilence upon the planet”…near as I can figure, they are not including themselves in the “we.”

There can be some difficulty in noticing this within certain issues. On the gun-control thing for example, people who want more rules about guns usually have no intention of ever owning a gun themselves. Many of them are protected by armed bodyguards, and intend to continue enjoying the benefits of this weaponized perimeter after they’ve won their latest victory and gotten the laws to work the way they want them to work. But on social justice issues and/or environmental issues, the man-is-outside-of-nature types don’t include themselves in the “we” when they speak of how toxic “we” are. Guilty-white-liberals droning on about white privilege, do not include themselves in the complaint even though I notice many among them are, and have been for awhile, quite privileged.

What’s truly fascinating about liberalism is not just that it imposes more and more rules just for the sake of having rules, while claiming to have derived its name from “liberty.” Although that by itself is sufficiently intriguing that a lot of people who claim to be following the politics, but only casually, should be inspired to ask a few more questions. No, what really captivates me about it is that so much of it — but not all of it — can be blamed on the benefits of technology. Labor could think about organizing and having more of a voice, after a man’s worth came more from measures of his time and less from the acres he owned & plowed. We don’t have to spend fifteen hours a day doing that plowing anymore. And so people have time for dumb ideas. You’ll notice a common theme within those ideas is that we have to give more influence to people who cannot claim products or services in the marketplace, and this is usually — not always, but usually — because they don’t do much to help anyone else. Being a political effort, The Left requires electoral support and so they need underclasses of clingy, desperate people.

But then there are aspects of liberalism that have nothing to do with technology, that have taken root in mankind’s inherent flaws, in man’s propensity to sin. I imagine if some strain of liberalism could have gone all the way back to the stone age, with cavemen coming together to share a kill, the liberal caveman would’ve said something like “Og killed the animal, Blorg skinned it, Iggy built the fire, and my contribution to the feast is to come up with some rules about who gets how much.” And if he claimed this “job” just in his capacity as a peer, not as the tribal leader, I suppose he would have worked this little scam — easily, maybe — by way of guilt. “We aren’t worthy of this.” Eh…maybe not. Maybe the cavemen had to spend their fifteen hours a day hunting the wild boar, and so such thoughts wouldn’t take root back then like they do today.

But we do know if it didn’t happen then, it came along a little later, well before Karl Marx was born. “We’re not worthy!” — not in a Wayne’s World, genuflecting kind of way, but rather in more of a “false we” kind of way, in a “we means you it does not mean me” kind of way. “We” are a pox upon the planet, and so me & my friends get your stuff!

The false promise they hold for the rest of us, is the peace that is to come at the end of whatever mini-revolution they’re proposing to have at any given time. The Left cannot deliver us to any kind of Nirvana, and the rocking of the boat they want to do is always going to be the initial salvo in an extended and unnecessary era of turmoil, not the climactic engagement at the end of such an era that will unfold into a lasting calm. The logical reason for this has to do with this exclusion of themselves, from the “we.” They have to have some reason to stand on the pedestal. What is it about that caveman that entitles him to say this other caveman can only have so much meat, and some other caveman can have more? When they get elected to things, they can avoid this because they have a fake answer…but they don’t always win elections, and when they don’t, they want to keep imposing rules on the “we” that doesn’t include them.

And that’s when the real answer to the question rears its ugly head: They expect to have the final word on who gets how much, because…they simply haven’t ever bothered to expect anything else.

They are the inept caveman-hunter, who was never guided by reality to understand he needed to get better at hunting. This makes them think they are entitled to enjoy privileges. In a rougher, less forgiving environment, it is the opposite that is true. They are continually proposing and advocating for strange, new unproductive rules — so that they can avoid learning new things. That’s the point and that is how the rest of us should be treating these proposals. They are cries for help, from people who haven’t often had to significantly change their worldview, and they want to enjoy the luxury of humming along through the daily routine, receiving benefits and protection and privilege, again still without changing that worldview.

Which is exactly the caricature they draw for us of their opposition. The over-privileged aristocracy and middle-class who don’t want to change their worldview even when reality requires it.

Blame Duck

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Seeing some progressively-inclined people coming up with some proposed moments of torch-passing, before which President Trump should be properly redirecting credit for any positive economic signs to his predecessor, and after which he truly owns the economy. It’s interesting that this is precisely what I saw these noble thinkers avoid doing during President Obama’s two terms in office — the hour grew quite late, and they were still blaming anything that went wrong on George W. Bush. But apart from being inconsistent, I find this to be rather insincere.

Whenever I burn off a few minutes on social media, where the feedback & criticism is instant in both directions, I find I seem to be coming up with a new catchphrase of sorts: “As always, if we’re going to argue about it, then let’s do it honestly.” And let’s. There is no set time period after which some torch is passed. It’s a year, it’s all eight years, or it’s a day, whatever it takes to make liberals look good — and it takes a lot. A good thing that happens in the final moments before two-term Trump is obliged to watch the swearing in of his successor, on January 20, 2025, should be credited to Barack Obama. That weird thing the Dow did last month, is to be blamed on Trump. And the various plunges it did throughout 2016 in Obama’s last year in office, are to be blamed on George W. Bush. Who saw the economy crash during his final year in office, of 2008…but if anything cheerful ever happened during that time, the credit for it would rightfully go to — Bill Clinton.

My point is, if we came up with some reasonable time interval to make the liberals happy, they’d just change it like a too-modern National Anthem singer changing pitch during one of the long notes, to make their side look good. Oh, it’s eight years. Oh no, it’s eight minutes. Because that makes our side look good…and we say so. Since we say so, you know we’ll never let it go, so give us what we want. Why even bother with the exercise?

I see Neo Neocon has put up something lately that addresses this directly, so I’m guessing she’s run into this experience as well.

Simply put, it is the assertion that economic effects are delayed in a very special fashion with Obama. Everything bad that happened to the economy during the 8 years of Obama’s presidency was Bush’s fault and was blamed on Bush, including the slowness of whatever recovery there was.. And everything good that might happen to the economy during Trump’s presidency is to Obama’s credit, not Trump’s.
Obama was the first president in my memory to blame his predecessor—pretty much incessantly—for what went wrong during his own tenure. It was actually one of the first things I ever noticed about Obama, back when he was campaigning in 2008, and it seemed unusual to me at the time, although now (unfortunately) we’ve gotten very used to it. In fact, I even coined a phrase for Obama back then: “the blame duck.”

Of course, anyone looking in from the outside, or grappling with this mindset for any length of time, can see what’s going on here even if the liberal can’t: The liberal doesn’t want to have to re-think anything, doesn’t want to admit he got something wrong. This is a useful metric for assessing maturity, figuring out when it’s missing: The recalcitrance against admitting mistakes, or that a re-think is necessary.

I should add, it’s useful although there are some problems with it. Some people, along the way to acquiring this maturity, use this as a litmus test. “You never admit you’re wrong because I’ve never seen you do it.” Some errant individuals go so far as to make mistakes on purpose…I think…at the very least, apply far less intellectual discipline to one challenge than they would apply to other challenges that have aroused a more sincere concern. So that they can make a big show of admitting they were wrong at a later time, thereby fulfilling the litmus test. Suffice to say that this is not how I think the metric should be applied. Those who apply robust, responsible thinking to whatever comes their way, if they do it right, should be called upon less and less often to admit they’ve made mistakes. People often forget, this is what we should expect to see. In fact, if the challenges aren’t meaningfully changing across time, you’d have to be some kind of idiot to not show some statistical improvement as you continue to deal with the same ones over & over again, right?

But, all that having been said. If you find yourself talking to someone who’s willing to stretch and twist and distort reality, move goalposts around, come up with “constant” time intervals that aren’t really constant in order to methodically sort out credit & blame just to avoid admitting he got it wrong about something or somebody — that’s when you know you’re talking to someone who should not make meaningful decisions that actually affect other people.

It is the Dullard’s Credo:

1. If I don’t see it, I don’t believe in it.
2. If I don’t believe in it, I don’t want to know about it.
3. If I’ve already made up my mind I don’t believe in it and I have to see it, that is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad!
4. If it’s funny but it makes me or my political compatriots look bad, it isn’t funny.
5. If it isn’t legitimately funny but it makes my political opponents look bad, you’d better laugh and laugh HARD or else you and I can’t be friends anymore.

It’s a failing I see more and more often in these times, and it’s not all on the liberal side of the fence I’m afraid. It does appear to have something to do with age. People, unacquainted with a particular issue and not previously exposed to the position statements available on either side of it, initially learn about it through one such position statement. Stating it more concisely: They learn about it for the very first time, through propaganda. If the propaganda stirs up emotions, and if it’s good propaganda it will…there is a bonding, and from that moment forward they won’t even make the slightest motion toward reconsidering. There’s no further indoctrination needed, they’re already in the Confirmation Bias feedback loop.

If I am accurate in my perception that something has changed here, and this emotional-attachment gutter-balling is much quicker and more efficient than it used to be as people willingly abnegate their critical-thinking faculties…this would have to mean propaganda, as a market commodity, is currently skyrocketing in value. Yesteryear it worked a fifth of the time, now it works three quarters of the time, that’s a meaningful increase in value.

I really don’t know where things go from here. But it can’t be good.

Perhaps it would be better for everyone if people went back to occasionally admitting their prior decisions were made without benefit of all the meaningful facts, and now that said meaningful facts have emerged, honestly re-evaluating. You know, learning. That stuff. That’s how people get smart and form opinions that are respectable. After the learning.