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Taking care of two aging parents, or having too much idle time ... feel free to select a provocation. Regardless, that voice in my head is now unplugged and exposed. Nothing I say here is novel or ground-breaking, rather simply a collection of musings. Periodically, I take some pleasure in this cathartic process. My earlier ‘logorrhea’ on this site was after the so-called stimulus bill. Some may find that these periodic ramblings reveal little interlocution between pensiveness & pen ... so be it! As this is a healthcare network, let me make the obligatory nexus. Take note that I intentionally avoid any discussion of the recent reform legislation. The reader is free to draw his own conclusions as to where I come down on this debate. [Wink: task not exactly on par with dismantling the Gordian Knot].
•In 1776, a Scot, Adam Smith, in ‘The Wealth of Nations’ forwarded the most eloquent argument to date for the power of a free people in a free market to create wealth. Capitalism is without equal in world history in it’s ability to engender stable, peaceful societies. Moreover, though the following notion seems strangely out of fashion these days ... no other social arrangement, no matter how egalitarian the intent, has ever surpassed this system in deriving political or economic justice, not to mention personal freedom.
•Government is thoroughly incapable of forging real wealth. At its best, it can incentivize creativity and risk taking, the results of which are an expanding economy, whose benefits are disseminated across all social strata - another unfashionable notion. Alternatively, it can, and indeed, has become a quite potent engine of redistribution. Worst, government thwarts the very creation of wealth, leaving a residue of widespread destitution.
•In a free market system, winners and losers are culled with ruthless neutrality. The arbiter end-user of product and/or service sets the standard for success or failure. As a result, solutions tend to be malleable, smart, and durable. To the contrary, governments have an abominable record; their choices are rigid & pedestrian, and survive only via public subsidy and taxpayer largesse.
•The frenetic pace of technologic progress in the health sciences sets the stage for another “American Century”. Left to its own devices, our private sector can muster the entrepreneurial will to extend the pattern of US exceptionalism that so manifestly characterized our first 200 years. The formula couldn’t be simpler: 1) trust one’s citizenry, leaving both capital and decision making in their hands; 2) reduce government created uncertainty (legislative & regulatory), and 3) maximize economic reward for those willing to take personal financial risk. On every occasion where this algorithm has been applied, collective affluence (albeit unequally apportioned) has been the result. In contradistinction, history has amply demonstrated that no society can tax/spend/regulate its way to prosperity. One need only look at Greece, Western Europe (and dare I say California) today to extract a portrait of the agonal-stages of the modern welfare state. Government declaring war on the private economy always ends badly. 1 [One wishes that current administration sentiment towards terrorists and international adversaries was as overtly hostile as the vitriol spewed at practitioners of free enterprise.] Nonetheless, off the cliff we appear to head. The choices as a nation couldn’t be more clear ... the ‘ole blue pill vs red pill!
I 2,3,4,5 was simultaneously amused and incensed by the Frank Rich piece in Sunday’s edition of the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/opinion/28rich.html. As the very embodiment of the Mein Kampf “big lie” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie, it is a must-read. In Rich’s universe, he sees Kristallnacht redux in the vengeful (his characterization) response to the Obama political agenda. Since he routinely offers up Nazi parallels in his depictions of tea-party opponents to today’s "progressive" agenda, I find his polemic irresistibly intriguing in its very perversity. In rejoinder to his metaphoric excesses, I counter with a far more credible historical comparison, ie the Feb’33 German Reichstag fire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire. Whether or not one accepts Nazi complicity in its origin, the event became an inflectional pretense to silence the opposition. Within a month, Germany passed the Enabling Act, via which Chancellor Hitler legally acquired plenary powers. Excepting the fearless & heroic Munich Post writers, the remaining German press writ-large did little to counter the falsehoods purveyed by the Nazis in their ascendancy. Similarly, today’s mainstream media suffers from the same severe strain of echolalia. With goose-stepping synchrony, they routinely disseminate a brand of agitprop that would make Leni Riefenstahl beam http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leni_Riefenstahl. [Witness the current ‘party-line’ narrative of a frenzied, hate-mongering serf mob whose primary effrontery is to dare undermine the hagiography surrounding the current ‘overseer’.] One can only speculate whether it is some form of existential guilt or just ideologic bilge that underpins this "weltanschauung", a normative view distorted to Picasso-esque proportions. Fortunately, alternative media outlets (sans Fairness Doctrine) and the internet (sans Net Neutrality) serve as the modern-day analogue of the Munich Post. Like a pebble in the shoe, they are a major irritant to charismatic and "infallible" leaders like Barack Obama, (or Hugo Chavez who just this week jailed the publisher of the sole opposition press in Venezuela), impeding their transformational crusades, which congenitally must transcend the archetypical bickering in which residual mere mortals are forced to engage. Who better for such men of greatness to demonize than those who would dare challenge these utopian quests. We the people are now the very enemy of the glorious state. The oppressors are now the oppressed! ... I give you the "big lie" in full plumage!
1 Ronald Reagan’s allegory describing the futility of liberalism:
A traveling salesman stays overnight with a farm family. When the family gathers to eat there’s a pig seated at the table. And the pig has 3 medals hanging around his neck and a peg leg. The salesman says, “Um, I see you have a pig having dinner with you.”
“Yes,” says the farmer. “That’s because he’s a very special pig. You see those medals around his neck? Well, the first medal is from when our youngest son fell in the pond, and he was drowning, and that pig swam out and saved his life. The second medal, that’s from when the barn caught fire and our little daughter was trapped in there and the pig ran inside, carried her out and saved her life. And the third medal, that’s from when our oldest boy was cornered in the stock yard by a mean bull, and that pig ran under the fence and bit the bull on the tail and saved the boy’s life.”
“Yes,” says the salesman, “I can see why you let that pig sit right at the table and have dinner with you. And I can see why you awarded him the medals. But how did he get the peg leg?”
“Well,” says, the farmer, “a pig like that – you don’t eat him all at once.”
2 I was not a supporter of candidate Obama, but I was truly delighted by the powerful symbolism of the election of the first African-American president.
3 I find Speaker Pelosi to be intellectually vapid or vacant (pick one), but having a female Speaker of the US House of Representatives is an otherwise positive development.
4 I could care not-a-wit about Rep Barney Frank’s sexual orientation or his proclivities.
5 I am not a “tea-party” participant, but I am sympathetic to many of their expressed concerns. In observing it’s self-organizing (bottom-up) genesis, I am impressed by its homage to a 21st century informational model. Moreover in the tradition of Thomas Paine’s ‘Common Sense’, it’s very existence is both salutary and vital to a free citizenry. In the words of Jefferson ... “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny”.