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Groundhog Day

February 25th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 11 Comments · Politics

In my day job I heard syndicated morning show host Tom Joyner say, “I’m just a DJ, but I don’t understand how tax cuts will stimulate jobs.”

This is the statist mentality. It’s the same mentality that thought the west was doomed when the Soviet Union announced their five-year plan for the economy. They had a plan. All we had was economic anarchy.

Tom sees the government announce that it will create more jobs by spending money. There is a central power directing the economy, so Tom is assured that something is happening. But there is no central voice for the hundreds of millions of American taxpayers — no controlling authority, no economic dictator. Those people can do whatever they want with their money, without guidance and without a central purpose. How can their money possibly be put to better use than what Obama would do with it?

History and good economic theory tell us that in fact central planning does not work. Letting people keep their money and run their own lives creates more wealth and is the most efficient use of that money. In 1981 Ronald Reagan cut taxes in a recession and laid the foundation for a quarter century of prosperity.

The statist mentality is remarkably non-abstract and concrete bound. Only the plans of the state seem to have metaphysical reality to these people. At the root of this thinking is economic, political and philosophic ignorance. These people have accepted the welfare state propaganda they learned in public schools, and that is where their learning ended. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but it’s even worse to see it destroyed by bad education.

I think it was Thomas Sowell who said that being liberal means never having to learn from your mistakes. Statists are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again, like Bill Murray stuck in Groundhog Day. The Obama Administration is a replay of every mistake made by the liberal-left in the 20th century.

How do we get out of this endless repetition of ever growing government? Two things look key to me: freedom of speech and the spreading of good ideas, and reclaiming American education from the left. The left understands the importance of these issues. They understand that they must keep their monopoly on indoctrinating young minds. It will be a hell of a fight.

11 Comments so far ↓

  • Mark V. Kormes

    I have a post over at my place on just how far Sowell has fallen. I am afraid that even people I once considered the “best” of the conservatives, like Sowell and Limbaugh, are increasingly prone to cranky non-intellectual ranting.

  • Burgess Laughlin

    Myrhaf, thank you for another perceptive and encouraging essay. Ideas are the cause of actions. Objective ideas can replace nonobjective ideas. To do so will require a lot of work from a lot of individuals over many years. It can be done.

    Anti-intellectualism won’t do it. Emotional venting won’t do it. Studying, thinking, discussing, and then widely proclaiming the better ideas will do it.

  • Madmax

    Creationists believe that without a designer there would be no life in general and no human life in particular. Random genetic mutation could never have produced life they scream. Human life is far to intricate to ever have emerged without a central creator/designer. Without the designer there would be nothing but random chaos and only secularists could believe such a foolish thing.

    Socialists believe that without a central planner there would be no orderly market. The market is far too complicated a phenomenon to leave up to free – and selfish – individuals they scream. In order to have a fair, orderly market there needs to be a central economic planner. Chaos would ensue without one and only free market ideologues could ever believe otherwise.

  • Harold

    That’s a really good point. And of course the religionists don’t stop there. This designer entity also issues commandments which they must follow (or else), rewards the virtuous (faithful), and punishes the evil (non-believers, other faiths, etc.). In the same way, the central planner issues regulations, hands out subsidies, and punishes the bad (men of productive genius) through taxation and other coercions.

    In both cases, it’s the unproductive or meek who are esteemed. Interesting.

  • Myrhaf

    Mark, way back in the 80’s George Reisman wrote a review of Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions in The Intellectual Activist that took the author to task for trying to get around philosophy with the vague idea of “visions.” Still, every now and then Sowell comes up with an acute observation.

    Burgess, thanks. It will be a long struggle, but not, as Whittaker Chambers or James Burnham might have had it, a “twilight struggle.” Instead it is a darkness before the dawn struggle. 45 years ago Ayn Rand famously wrote, “It is earlier than you think.” It still is.

  • Jim May

    Mark makes an interesting observation.

    Many times I have noted that while conservatism is anti-intellectual at root, conservatism seems to have surpassed the degenerating Left in that department.

    If that trend is reversing, then it means that the religious fundamentals of conservatism are asserting themselves.

    If so, it means that the growth of anti-intellectualism in the culture as a whole might start picking up speed as both “sides” move away from the intellect.

    It’s good in terms of the opportunity that exists for us to fill the void — but bad in terms of what that portends for the culture at large.

    It means we’re the only ones who are in a position to stop it — and time is growing short.

  • Mike N

    “All we had was economic anarchy.” I’m glad you mentioned that. I just want to point out that there is no such thing as economic anarchy as you no doubt know. Anarchy is a political concept and has no place in economics.

    It would be like studying geologic health care. Except that rocks don’t get sick or break limbs or feel bad. Sound stupid? Sure. But no more stupid than ‘political economics’.

  • Bill Brown

    Another data point:

    … to just ignore all that and just say “government is the problem, corruption, earmarks, wasteful spending,” it’s just a form of nihilism.

  • Myrhaf

    If the word conservative had any meaning, then David Brooks would be considered the purest conservative in America. He wants to conserve the status quo, big government. What we need is radical change, not conservation of the welfare state.

    To equate liberty with nihilism is so loathsome it could only come from a conservative.

  • Madmax

    “If that trend is reversing, then it means that the religious fundamentals of conservatism are asserting themselves.”

    If the religious fundamentals of conservatism start to assert themselves aggressively we will see this through the massive cultural movement of Christian and religious literalism. This is starting to happen but I still think it is in its early stages.

    The conservatives are really divided here into two main groups; the *fundamentally* religious and the *predominantly* secular. The secular faction – like a John Derbyshire and David Brooks – are basically skeptics. They share the same philosophical bona-fides as the left. They are totally beholden to pragmatism and thus are intellectually impotent.

    But the religious faction, on the other hand, rejects pragmatism, egalitarianism, relativism, etc. They are aggressively medieval. This is the movement of Russel Kirk (and sadly to a lesser extent of Edmund Burke which is unfortunate as he himself was a Classical liberal) which hates secularism, classical liberalism, individualism (which it sees as ultimately subversive) , evolution and personal freedom in the sexual realm. They also tend to be either soft or hard racists (the soft version would be the kind that champions the “European peoples”.)

    These conservatives are not for the most part mainstream conservatives, but they have a growing internet presence. Charles Johnson of LGF has been exposing them and they hate him for it. When we see this branch of conservatism with its dark age mysticism become noticeably visible then we will have another beast on our hands. Also, if that should happen I suspect we might see a cultural civil war; secular vs religious. We, of course, will be clumped in with the “liberals”.

    So many storm clouds on the horizon…

  • Richard

    Madmax that is such a great comparison (your first comment). The similarities could go point for point on so many levels it’s marvelous.