Politics (TQP0112)

Posted: November 10, 2008 in Braak, Politics
Tags: ,

Okay, okay, look…I’m almost done.  I got (mostly) what I wanted out of the election, and I am just about ready to stop talking about it–for a while, anyway.  I think it’s important to talk about politics a lot, because I think that one of the interesting things about America is that we’re never allowed to forget about what the government is doing.  We’d like to, I know.

We’ll, I’d like to.  I am definitely part of the crowd that is going to spend the next couple weeks pretending that Barack Obama is going to just undo a bunch of executive orders, sign a couple papers, and then POW! the economy is back on track, student loans are all forgiven, solar power, sunshine, unicorns, rainbows, la la la la I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!


I know that this is not what’s going to happen.  So, please, indulge me.

Moff pointed me towards this nonsense by John Derbyshire over at the Corner on the National Review Online, and also this nonsense.  I don’t know what this “The Corner” is, actually, but I hear about it a lot.  John Derbyshire is some math guy, but I guess he gets to have a column here.  These columns together only prove to me that understanding math isn’t the same thing as not being an idiot.

Here, look what he says in the first one:

Sour? You bet Im sour. Where was conservatism in this election? Where was restraint in government? Where was national sovereignty? Where was liberty? Where was self-support? And where are those things now? Where are they headed this next four years? Down the toilet, thats where. Pah!

Now, look what he says in the second one:

We are long past the point where classical Marxism has any application. Obama can’t incite the workers to seize control of the factories: the factories are all in China. He can’t consolidate peasant small-holdings into communal farms, because there aren’t any peasant small-holdings; and if he tried anyway, no one would notice, farming being the occupation of less than half of one percent of us.

Ha ha, right?  “Where is self-support?”  You’ve answered your own question.  It’s in China, you moron.  In these same articles, John Derbyshire demands a restrained government, and criticizes Bush for allowing the erosion of mortgage lending restrictions.    He wants national sovereignty AND economic liberty.

John Derbyshire just wants it all!  It’s a question, unfortunately, that he and his buddies are going to have to answer, because it’s going to continue to come up as a glaring contradiction every time they write one of these opinion pieces:  Nationality is the opposite of Capitalism.  That is to say:  Capitalism (big “c”) doesn’t give a rat’s ass about nations, borders, trade agreements.  If it’s cheaper to build the factories in China, then that’s where the factories will go.  If that puts a million American workers out of a job, then they’ll learn to work for less, or they’ll die.

In fact, it’s purely a mistake to think that “Capitalism” and “Socialism” are at opposite ends of some kind of spectrum from each other–Capitalism is the situation we exist in, now, forever, all the time.  It is the situation in which power is exploited, assets are managed, value is accrued.  It’s called “Nature.”  Things take what they have, and use them to get what they want.

“Socialism,” “Marxism,” “Nationality,” “Government,” are all things that exist within a capitalist system.  They are a product of capitalism–complex systems designed to amortize short-term needs into long-term gains.  “Government” provides useful things, like a common currency, a stable trading environment, happy, contented workers.  Nationalism provides the psychological capital necessary to hold that government together.

All of these things necessarily require that certain freedoms are sacrificed.  You cannot have any kind of stability, in any way, without accepting a certain loss of freedom.  Every single complex system is built on this principle.  Every law that we have is the exchange of freedom for security.  There is no way around this.
Republicans have become a bunch of crybabies, recently.  I don’t know what the deal is.  I don’t know if they think they’d be able to do whatever they wanted if there wasn’t a government–that’d be crazy.  Why?  Because “Marxism” is not utterly wrong, as John Derbyshire suggests.  What John Derbyshire thinks Marxism is is wrong, because he thinks it’s about things like nationalizing the means of production, or else he thinks it’s about all of the nonsense that years of supplementary literature have attached to the idea of Marxism.

This is what Karl Marx did:  he sat down and sifted through every financial transaction in the history of money, and found out that people with resources exploited people without them.  I defy anyone to tell me that this isn’t true.  Of course this is true; the whole point of having money is that some people don’t have it.  If everyone had plenty of money, nothing would be worth anything, because you couldn’t get anyone to do anything for it.

So, how do you solve this problem?  You find a way to tie the whole thing in a knot–find a way to shuffle the money that your business or factory is producing back down towards the people that don’t have any money.  Marx envisioned an ultimate revolution that would see all these power structures destroyed, and I agree that this is probably unrealistic.

Our Founding Fathers, on the other hand, recognized that it is in the nature of governments to oppress, and so managed to tie the top tier of government down to the bottom tier.  This was not to eliminate government–that would be retarded.  Because they could have easily created a government that didn’t exist, and they didn’t.  This is because they recognized that the exchange of liberty for stability was inevitable; the question is, how do we manage it?

We’re in economic trouble right now.  So, what do we do?  It seems reasonable to shift the tax burden towards people who are better able to bear it.  This is ideologically repulsive to some people, but you can’t run a country on ideology.  Shifting the tax burden frees up disposable income for the huge chunk of people in the middle of the bell curve.  They can pay off their loans, buy more of the things that need to be bought for the country to run.  Once the economy stabilizes (and we start paying off this mind-bogglingly huge deficit), that’s when you shift it back.

Just for fun, here’s Dick Armey, crying about the cruelty of government.  I like this line the best:

[Ronald Reagan] didn’t feel a need to qualify the meaning of his conservatism. He understood that big government was cruel and uncaring of individual aspirations.

Of course, this is one hundred percent correct, and also one hundred percent idiotic.  The Federal Government is, sometimes, uncaring of individual aspirations.  Yes.  That is because sometimes there are more important things than your individual aspirations, Dick Armey.  The Federal Government’s mandate is to provide for the common good, for the general welfare, not for each person’s individual good.

This isn’t cruelty.  This is the basic compromise that comes with living in the world.

Here is my impression of Dick Armey:

“I want to pee on the cat!”

“Dude, Dick, don’t pee on the cat.”

“But I WANT to!”

“You can’t pee on the cat, Dick.”

“But I WANT to!  Why can’t I do what I want?”

“Just don’t pee on the fucking cat, man!”

“I hate you!  You’re CRUEL!  I’m going to start my OWN party, where people can pee on anything they want!”

And then what happens?  Sure, at first only the responsible pee-ers join the party, peeing only in toilets and on cats.  Then, eventually, people that want to pee on dogs, and other people’s shoes, and in the kitchen sink join up, the whole place smells like pee, and everybody’s fucking miserable.

  1. Jeff Holland says:

    Obama posing in front of Superman made me remember the joke he made at that fundraiser about his father being named Jor-El, and all I can do is smile at what a neat guy our new president is.

    It’s been a week, and seeing Barack Obama still makes me smile goofily. That can’t be good for anyone.

  2. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Oh, to read entries written by people who can thread together coherent arguments…and apply meaning to words that have otherwise become hazy, blog-culture accessories. Words…that have…meaning. People that write stuff for the rest of us to read…in such form to imply other people will be reading it. Odd. Does this mean that some people should be writers and others shouldn’t?

    Is it possible that some people have extraordinary talent in political leadership and communications, while others flounder in a sea of “blah-blah-gobboldy-gook?” Am I a communist? Save me, Capitalism!

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