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Monday, October 31, 2011

HAL NEFF: LIBERALISM, RELIGION OF THE MUDDLE MINDED?

Why do I do it? I sign onto the Bismarck Tribune on-line site to read and to comment on news articles, opinion letters, and Op Ed pieces. This has the sound of serious business, but it is not. Let me explain with a recent example, and there are lots of these: a letter to the editor from a writer who is very shrill and outspoken about what he calls America’s Oligarchy, a term which he broad-brushes upon the whole of America’s corporations, business and industry. The writer says we are ruled by this Oligarchy: Oligarchy is defined as a government where a small group exercises control for selfish or corrupt purposes.


This Oligarchy acts as follows: they take the wealth from us, they buy the politicians with money, and they get federal money in return--which they use to buy the politicians. The writer sees the lobbying activity going on in Washington D.C. as a complete purchase of our government. Lobbying is a lawful activity; money for favors is against the law and to say this is an organized conspiracy is a stretch. There is a kernel of truth here as it does happen. The writer has constructed a tight and cozy argument that, in the writers reasoning, cannot be refuted. Thus it becomes “fact”.

The writer continues. The only recourse to this Oligarchic rule is offered as follows: these robber barons should be taxed and taxed heavily by the federal government, and any and all corporate welfare (subsidies) they get should be taken from them. How this would be done when the politicians are bought and paid for by the Oligarchs is never explained. The rant then shifts into high gear and really gets on a roll; it now goes into the “fact” that corporations don’t pay taxes because reports are that General Electric somehow paid no taxes last year; therefore, it follows that all corporations have evaded taxes. The writer may not recognize the difference between evading taxes which is illegal, as opposed to avoiding taxes as allowed in the tax code. Again, the solution is to raise the taxes on the corporations and businesses. It is simple; take their money.

We all have politically Liberal friends, and these liberal thinkers all seem to be cast from the same mold; they have this “conspiracy” thinking in their head that links one conspiracy to another in a seamless harangue. Somehow this free enterprise capitalist system is one big chain of conspiracies, and it is all rigged against us little people. Once this harangue is started it flows on and on: It’s the rich who take our money; it’s the corporations who have shipped our jobs overseas; it’s the corporate welfare that robs us of our money; the corporations and the rich want president Obama to fail; then they will take over the country; they want to keep us poor so they can lower our wages; Bush cut taxes and that is why we are in debt; the rich should pay into social security on all their income, no matter how much; the rich should not be collecting social security because they don’t need it; etc. Then their litany leaps into a whole new dimension: how arrogant of the U.S. to think we are the world’s policeman; the 9-11 attack was our making because of U.S. imperialism in the middle-east; we are imperialists; look how we took the land from the Indians (Native Americans); and so on.

President Obama gets on this roll in many of his speeches: our unemployment is high because the rich corporations are sitting on their cash; they are shipping jobs overseas rather than investing in America; the rich corporate jet owners need to pay their share; there are people in congress who are blocking our progress; there are people who let our schools go without teachers; there are people standing in our way to stop progress; and on and on.

People hearing this stuff respond to the emotional words and don’t think about the logic, if any, that is behind it. People respond to emotion, and the Liberal politician is a master at the language of emotion, no hard thinking is needed. How do we counter this stream of unconnected pieces of half-truths which are mixed with fantasy? There seems to be little gained in talking logic to them, or the use of facts to make a logical case; often facts and logic do not connect because they know what they know.

An interesting book on the Liberal and Progressive thinking, “The Secret Knowledge” by David Mamet, a former Liberal in his working days as a writer and director in Hollywood. The movie “Wag the Dog” was his work, among others. In his words, “The essence of Leftist thought is a devolution from reason to belief”. As Mamet writes he explains Liberalism as a form of religion; they believe in government: a little government is good, and more government power is even better. If a government program is failing to achieve its intended purpose (and most of them do fail) the Liberal will defend the program with the excuse it is under-funded, or that the opponents sabotaged it. Sound familiar? The book, “The Secret Knowledge” with the sub-title, “On the dismantling of American Culture”. It is worth the 200 pages written from the perspective of a former Hollywood Liberal.

Another book that helps a lot in answering questions (accusations and indictments)) about the capitalist and free enterprise system may be explained by Thomas Sowell; the writer for the conservative point of view and a defender of American free enterprise. His recent book, “Basic Economics” is in layperson’s language with ample explanations of a broad scope of topics. It’s nearly 800 pages so be prepared to make a commitment of time to the task. After reading this I cannot help but wonder-- President Obama is an educated person, has he read this stuff? If he has, how can he and his army of advisers keep messing up and messing with our economic system? Is it the muddled thinking that occupies the Liberal mind? Is it the religion of “Big Government”, and they want that religion for all of us? Their Liberal agenda appears on television day after day: we see President Obama stick out his jaw and raise his voice as he lays the fault for his economic mess at the doorstep of “those fat cats with the corporate jets”. His audience, as muddle-minded as he, shout and clap in their approval. They got “religion”!

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