Thursday, January 8, 2009

Same Stuff, Different Year

The holidays are over, and as much as we may have enjoyed the momentary distractions of hearth and home, I know I did, the world at large once again intrudes into our daily lives. Bit by bit, news of corrupt politicians, government “solutions”, and violent police oppression seeps out of our televisions and radios and sour the new year.

Of course, the automobile manufacturers got their Christmas present and may have more on the way, and while we didn't get our money by New Year, congress is still planning on printing those checks. And though I can't take credit for predicting it, the porn industry is also applying for a bailout. While the chances that they will receive anything from the government are slim, they make a compelling argument. After all, if sales really are down more than 20%, hundreds of thousands of “actors,” directors, cameramen, key grips, best boys, composers, networking specialists, truck drivers, and sales clerks may be facing unemployment. If that argument works for the investment banks and the automakers, why isn't it good for the gander?

Then again, with Barack “the future” Obama set to take office in a few days, perhaps this is all idle frustration. After all, he has a plan. He says his plan will immediately help jumpstart the economy by doubling the production of alternative energy within three years, improving the efficiency of federal buildings and homes, computerizing medical records, equipping schools with 21st century classrooms, expanding broadband across the country, and investing in science and new technologies. I'm not sure what computerized medical records and energy efficient government buildings have to do with a global mortgage crisis begun over seventy years ago by the creation of government agencies designed specifically to create the kind of situation that exists today, but I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

By the way, that isn't sarcasm, I do mean that. I'm sure he does know what he's doing. I don't believe these people are idiots. Well, some of them no doubt are, and others are simply along for the ride, but many of them know exactly what they are doing. I saw a liberal propagandist on television the other night who proposed that “only government can save business.” His position was that businesses are crippled by the cost of supplying health care to their employees and that by assuming those responsibilities via a universal health care system, government would unburden businesses allowing them to thrive.

He's not stupid enough to believe this of course. Universal health care would have to be funded, and businesses would fund it through taxation. By putting the decisions in the hands of an organization as inherently and fundamentally inefficient as government costs will increase, meaning that the actual cost to businesses will be higher than if they chose to supply these benefits to their employees directly. And anyone who understands even the basic fundamentals of business economics know that businesses pass operating costs, including taxation, onto their customers, meaning ultimately the customer would pay more for the employees to have health care under a government system than they do now. Which in turn means less expendable income to spend, which means less business growth, not more. Of course, all of this ignores completely the fact that many, if not most, businesses don't offer health care, or have employees who choose not to take advantage of it, meaning that the costs alluded to aren't universal anyway.

The entire position is specious, but it is exactly the kind of argument used by statists to compel free people to relinquish their freedom. By creating a crisis that doesn't exist, “businesses can't succeed because of the cost of supplying health care,” and alluding to the suffering it could cause, “businesses may fail as a result,” they create a sense of desperation. Then they present the only possible solution. Give the government more power, and more money.

Of course at this point, the extrapolation stops. They don't want to discuss the next inevitable question, where will the funding come from, because the answer puts the lie to their position. They also aren't interested in discussion of whether or not their position is valid, or whether or not alternative solutions exist, which is why they spout ridiculous statements like, "the debate is over," or claim that only "ideological extremists" fail to support their position. Just because you arbitrarily call an end to debate doesn't grant you victory be default. In fact, any objective debater would take quite the opposite position. If you must call a premature end to debate in order to declare victory, your position must lack the merit to win when confronted openly and honestly.

The left doesn't own a monopoly on this kind of manipulation of course. Regardless of your position on international terrorism, I defy you to explain any possible situation where overseas adventurism prevents terrorist acts on American soil. There may be perfectly reasonable arguments for armed action in any number of scenarios, even preemptively, but arguing that it somehow prevents acts of violence against innocent people by well funded, creative, determined individual extremists, almost surely already here, and possessing no compunction against taking human lives to acheive their goals is whistling by the graveyard.

But the American public has not been taught much of argumentation. It used to be considered an important skill. It used to be considered an important part of intelligent discourse. Now it has been replaced with ad hominem attacks, argument by uninformed opinion, and a kind of penile comparison of “patriotism” and “depth of compassion” where people justify or dismiss arguments on passion instead of reason. Sadly, many people fail to even realize the difference.

So when Obama calls for “drastic measures” to avert a “crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse,” “intelligent” people beg for deliverance. When a study declares that you are a racist because you are apathetic to the hurt feelings of others, “educated” people fall all over themselves to prove otherwise. When the government, who created the problem in the first place, insists that they can fix it, “free” people are more than willing to make “small” sacrifices today for nebulous promises of some future security.

No, failure here is inevitable. There aren't enough people who can even recognize the problem, and certainly not enough of those even who are equipped to address it. So enjoy the new year. Don't let it get you down. We don't have the power to fix it, not yet, so like a violent thunderstorm it must simply be endured. But with hope. For like the storm, it will pass. The light of freedom will pierce the dark clouds of oppression and someday our children, or theirs, will feel the sunshine on their faces. It will happen. It must. No sufficiently oppressed people will fail to seek their own freedom. No advances in technology are not coupled with advances in liberty. In the meantime, live as free as you can, and find joy where you may.

Of course, the statists know this, and will try to hinder or impede progress as much as possible. But ultimately, they can't turn back the clock. Just as feudalism and tribalism, slavery and serfdom, autocracy and theocracy, slide away into history, so too shall all forms of state authority. They can't turn back the clock, and in the end, it merely counts the seconds until true freedom is achieved.

Music is reversible, but time is not

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