Setting an example

Many of us of a certain age are increasingly concerned about the growing popularity of socialism among the younger generations.  We rightfully point out that the horrors of communist life in the 20th Century have been minimized in our history classes, so that the siren sound of “equality” has regained some of the appeal it lost amid prior carnage.

The truth, though, is that America has been flirting with socialism for about a century ourselves — we just haven’t called it that.  And while the young may not be as wise as we might hope, they’re not completely blind to the hypocrisy:

…the irony is that these old anti-socialists already live in a wonderland of government generosity that bears a passing resemblance to the socialism they so dread.

The federal government already guarantees single-payer health care to Americans over 65 through Medicare. Senior citizens already receive a certain kind of universal basic income; it’s called Social Security. While elderly Americans might balk at the idea of the government paying back hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt, they are already the grand beneficiaries of a government debt subsidy: The mortgage-interest deduction, a longtime staple of the federal tax code, effectively compensates the American homeowner (whose average age is 54) for their mortgage debt, thus saving this disproportionately old group approximately $800 billion in taxes owed to the federal government each decade. The economist Ed Glaeser has likened these policies to “Boomer socialism.”

In this framing, Sanders is not offering his more youthful constituency a radically new contract. Instead, he is extending the terms of an existing social contract to cover more—and, necessarily, younger—Americans.

Now, while I’m inclined to agree with this diagnosis, I don’t agree with the proposed treatment: “Some, but not all, of the problems facing young adults would be well addressed with an expansion of government.”  The socialism we’ve tacitly accepted since the days of the Progressive Era and FDR has already warped our society and economy in harmful ways.  Government spending in the areas of healthcare and education (much of it debt subsidy in the latter) has allowed prices in those arenas to skyrocket far beyond the rate of inflation (itself a result of government meddling with the currency).  Want to reign in health costs?  Put the consumer back in control by forcing providers to post price lists and compete for business that’s paid for at the point of sale.  When someone else is paying the bill, there’s no incentive to reduce costs, and those who don’t have that “someone else” are left priced out of the market altogether.  Same with education – get the government treasury out of it, and institutions will suddenly no longer have funding for “diversity coordinators” that add little value to the transmission of useful knowledge that leads to gainful employment.

For many years I’ve said I’d love to have the option to sign away my claim to any Social Security benefits in exchange for never paying the tax again.  As I get closer to retirement, that’s obviously less of a good deal for me.  But while I’d love to have the taxes I’ve paid in my private accounts rather than in Uncle Sam’s, the fact is that *if* I draw what Social Security currently projects for me (something I certainly don’t count on), I’ll recoup my contributions in less than 6 years.  So if I live another decade or more after that, where’s the money coming from?

The paychecks of younger workers, that’s where — the very generation that realizes the system will not work for them as it has their elders.  Where their contributions don’t cover it all, Uncle Sam’s uses his credit card, the balance of which is a drag on everyone’s fortunes whether they realize it or not.  For example, Sam is desperate to keep interest rates low, so he can continue to carry that balance (and add to it!).  But in doing so, he robs those who dutifully save of the interest they would normally make as a result of their frugality.  Since the elderly on a fixed income can no longer live on interest earnings, Social Security becomes an essential part of most people’s retirement plans… and the cycle begins anew.

That which can’t go on forever, doesn’t.  Our current structures are unsustainable.  We are at a crossroads: either we double down on what is known to be a failed economic model (planned economies), or we get the government out of the driver’s seat.  We need to find a way to set the sun on Social Security and Medicare (just for starters), while putting consumer protections in place like truthful labeling of medical costs and investment risks.  Government is supposed to police abuses of the market, not become the major provider of a good or service.  I’ve said it before: the worst result of our current hybrid system is that it isn’t true market capitalism in many respects, but is believed to be.  As a result, truly free market economics gets a bum rap.

So it’s worth keeping in mind the difficulty of convincing Bernie Bros not to point our nation toward full-blown Marxism when we’re already relying on programs of which Karl would have heartily approved.

How we became unthinking mobs

The recent rush to judgment over the Covington Catholic High School group’s actions after the March for Life in D.C. is merely the latest in a string of events, including the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that demonstrate far too many of our citizens react to events via emotion and bias rather than reason.  One only needs to spend a brief time on Twitter to realize our national discourse has largely descended to the level of junior high school taunting back and forth.  Insults, rather than insight, is the currency there.

The danger is that these “two minutes’ hate” events have become so regular, that people who should certainly know better–like Disney producers–begin tweeting things like this:

woodchipper tweet

Sure, he “apologized” as the original narrative about what happened utterly collapsed.   That’s irrelevant — the fact many adults thought it appropriate to say such vile things shows how close we are to actual violence breaking out in our country.  These public utterances simply show what is in the heart of far too many people.

I’ve often noted how close we are to violence now, or the need to defend our freedoms by force.  And while I’ll admit to occasionally thinking like Han Solo, the truth is I’m well aware of what such circumstances would mean.  As a military veteran of multiple deployments, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when the last veneer of civility is ripped away.  And it’s the last thing I want for the country I love and pledged my life to defend.

How did we get here?  Not by accident, that’s for certain:

In terms of communication, people will say what they think. The problem with the sad state of civil discourse today occurs because people are mostly really bad at thinking. The dismal failure of the education system is what created our poisonous public discourse.

This degeneration of the public’s ability to think did not occur instantaneously. The destruction of reason and logic was a gradual process, spearheaded by the adoption of postmodernist subjectivity in the late 1960s and pushed into the American schools since then.

Those of us who are partial to objectivity are instinctively aware that classroom methods of encouraging feelings and emotion are fundamentally problematic. Children are encouraged to express what they feel when it comes to understand the world around them. For example; climate change feels bad because humans are destroying the planet. Capitalism feels bad because we are exploiting the poor. Masculinity feels bad because males oppress women. Environmentalism feels good because we are saving the planet. Socialism feels great because we take care of the poor in society. Feminism feels wonderful because girls are empowered against male oppression.

The method of teaching students to “feel” (i.e. perception from senses) instead of to “think” (i.e. conception from judgement) is the problem with education. It is the reason why Johnny can’t think. Johnny’s mind hasn’t been trained to think in integrated concepts because he has always been taught to rely on his feelings. Johnny’s world is presented to him in a fragmented chaos of sensory perceptions.

It is quite an interesting exercise to note how most people are unable to think in concepts. Take for example, when a criminal kills with a gun, someone who is incapable of thinking in concepts can only see the instrument of murder and thus mobilize against banning guns because they think that it is the gun itself that is responsible of the crime.  The same lack of conceptual thinking applies to those who are incapable of seeing a successful white male for his character, skills and habit as the factors shaping his success because their thinking capacity only allows them to see his gender and race as the factor which determines his success.

The American schools has succeeded in reducing the public’s intellect to the level of the perceptual beast. …they do not know how to put together the data they observed into structured logical thoughts. And like a lost animal incapable of making sense of the world around it, that person lashes out like a beast because the world is unintelligible around them.

These are excerpts from a much lengthier piece I encourage you to read in its entirety.  It goes far to explain how a sitting member of Congress can wonder aloud why people might be more concerned about “being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right.”  This is not a new development.  Back in 2004 the New York Times actually ran a story about alleged records (proven to be forgeries) of then-President Bush’s service in the Guard that had the headline “Memos on Bush are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says.”  (But whatever you do, don’t call the New York Times “failing” or “fake news!”)

Emotions have their place.  But they must be kept in their place.  That place is not the drivers seat of law and policy.  Our compromised public schools, though, have taught multiple generations to “follow your heart” regardless of any inconvenient facts (example: the 100 million body count Marxist ideology racked up in the 20th century).  So now we have a body politic where one side thinks the other is stupid for ignoring reality, and the other responds by thinking the rationalists are uncaring and evil.

That kind of divide is not likely to end well.

Les Deplorables

Little mainstream media attention has been focused on events in France, but they are well worth noting:

Millions of French citizens have been violently demonstrating across France for the last month.  They are known as the gilets jaunes, or “yellow jackets”. The protestors wear the yellow high-viz jacket, that is common on building sites and airports.  It’s a powerful totem for the French deplorables, a unifying symbol of ordinary, working class folk across the nation…

Many still understand France through the lens of Vogue magazine covers: a nation of affluent, happy people who live in elegant homes, with endless holidays, wine and food.  A 24/7 utopia of chic, elegance and style.  Important to note: that France does exist. It is the world of the French ruling class, less than 1% of the population.  This small group of citizens have dominated the business, banking, legal and political scenes for decades.

The ruling class comes from a small group of grandes ecoles, or elite colleges. There are only 3 or 4.   …These people are arrogant. But they are also ignorant. Raised in very wealthy families and cosseted in the networks those families are part of, they have no understanding of ordinary people and their real lives.

Arrogance and ignorance is a very toxic mix. 

What makes the gilets jaunes protests unique?  Their main gripe?  Elites blaming ordinary people, for problems that the same elites have caused.  Elites never being held accountable for their incompetence. And elites never having to experience the conditions, that their failed ideas cause.  French people are sick of being held in chains by a ruling class. They are sick of being poor and unemployed.

They want a new direction for their beloved nation.  Sound familiar?

The U.S. can relate to this more than many people realize.  The current Supreme Court is composed entirely of graduates from either Harvard or Yale.  The four presidents immediately prior to Trump studied at either Yale, Harvard or Oxford.  Chuck Schumer, the current Senate Minority Leader, is a Harvard grad.  In fact, nearly every headline-making political figure these days can be traced to one of the eight “Ivy League” schools.

That’s highly problematic, given the track record of those schools.  Harvard and Yale both earned “D” grades over their graduation requirements (or lack thereof) concerning seven core subjects: composition, U.S. government or history, economics, literature, college-level math, science and intermediate-level foreign language.  These are the foundational studies of a ‘university’ model, as opposed to vocational or technical training.  Yet a 2007 report found that Ivy League graduates actually knew less about American history, government and economics after their four years of allegedly elite education.  This goes far in explaining the lack of respect for the genius of the Constitution as written, and the value of longstanding American traditions.  Indeed, many of these grads consider themselves ‘citizens of the world,’ viewing patriotism merely as something to steer the rubes in ‘flyover country’ with, and national identity as a threat to their globalist agendas (spoiler: it is).

These schools are not imparting the very knowledge one would expect of an entrenched governing class.  Worse, despite their cheers for “diversity” in society, they fail to practice what they preach, with the result students are not forced to develop critical thinking skills by being exposed to a range of ideas and opinions.  In short, they are enormously expensive echo chambers of indoctrination, whose only apparent practical value is in building up networks with other chosen insiders.

Is it any wonder, then, that many Americans — like their French counterparts — feel completely disconnected from their self-appointed betters, who largely aren’t affected by the ill-advised public policies they pursue?  As the main linked article notes, national identity and character doesn’t die easily.  That’s the primary reason why the elites around the world have been encouraging mass migration, the dilution of nation-states, and the constant creation of extra-national entities like the European Union and the recently-renegotiated North American Free Trade Area.  It is a literally diabolical agenda.

After years — decades, really — of observing how the policies of the various elite university cohorts fail the commoners, it appears the long-suffering but newly militant “normals” may finally be reasserting themselves.  It’s about time.

But isn’t it interesting to note that after a month of “yellow jacket” protests put Macron and the French elites on the defensive, that a “known Islamic radical” with a lengthy criminal history suddenly shoots up a Christmas market and somehow escapes the police (some 89,000 of whom had been deployed to counter the anti-government protests across France?

It’s not as if those in power want to change the subject, right?

So what was the point?

A couple centuries from now, historians may well summarize the Civil Rights Era as a justifiable struggle for equal access to mainstream society… that eventually led to some of their grandchildren willingly withdrawing back into their own isolated communities.

I just can’t see this being the future Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was “dreaming” of:

Harvard University will host a graduation ceremony exclusively for black students, organisers have announced.  More than 170 students and 530 guests have signed up to attend the event, which will be held 23 May.

The event was crowdfunded by students who raised over $27,000 (£21,000). This year, the all-black ceremony is open only to graduate students, but organisers hope to open it up to undergraduates next year.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s black excellence and black brilliance,” Michael Huggins told The Root website.

Mr Huggins, who is graduating with a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, added: “It’s an event where we can see each other and our parents and family can see us as a collective, whole group.  A community.”  ((A ‘separate but equal’ community? — Jemison))

Another organiser of the event said the ceremony would also draw attention to the experience of black students at Harvard and other elite institutions.

“Harvard’s institutional foundation is in direct conflict with the needs of black students,” Courtney Woods said.

“There is a legacy of slavery, epistemic racism and colonisation at Harvard, which was an institution founded to train rising imperialist leaders. This is a history that we are reclaiming.”

If Harvard is so in conflict with the needs of black students, why didn’t they attend some other prestigious school?  You can’t tell me in this day and age that every single elite school is somehow biased against minority students.  I strongly suspect in many cases this is simply code for “they expect too much of us.”  And yet, given what I know of the “education” that occurs in such places, I seriously doubt that’s the case, either.

If the quoted Courtney Woods is a graduate of Harvard, it confirms yet again there is woefully inadequate humanities instruction there.  Harvard was founded to “train rising imperialist leaders?”  Overdose on Marxism much?

If I were one of those who’d faced the water cannons or Bull Conner’s dogs, I’d be tearing into these kids.  Their grandparents literally fought for them to have a place at the table, and now they’re pulling away from it again.  Worst of all, they’ll take it as confirmation of their own warped perspective when others take offense at their slapping away of the outstretched hand of fellowship.

I’ve said it before, and will keep saying it: you cannot simultaneously obsess about race, and create a color-blind society.  Pick one or the other.

Demonstrating all that’s wrong

…with America today, college students at Oberlin (annual tuition: $49,928) are demanding the school support their careers in activism by abolishing midterms and giving no grade less than a “C.”  Seriously.  (Be sure to read this story in the New Yorker as well, to get a sense of what “higher education” consists of these days.)

Makes me wonder how many of the violent demonstrators in Albuquerque yesterday were college students who have no business going to college at all.  There seems to be a lot of those these days: self-absorbed, petty little brownshirts and mentally maladjusted misfits who spend more time trying to shut out and shout down any idea they don’t like than they do studying and learning concepts that might make them more successful in the world they find so all-oppressing.

The Left likes to accuse traditionalists and conservatives of being violent, but it’s increasingly clear that’s just psychological projection.  They have gotten away with it for a long time, because by nature traditionalists and conservatives are loathe to go that route unless absolutely necessary.

What these radicals fail to realize is that their deranged and increasingly violent action is causing more and more of their foes to conclude it may just come to that.  And woe unto them if it does.  They will quickly find out that facing midterms in college was a privilege, after all.

What can Brown do for to you?

The Ivy League brand is the only reason anyone would pay $65,000 a year to experience this nonsense.  But with any luck, the past year or so of public attention to what is really going on at these campuses will irrevocably destroy that brand — and good riddance!

“There are people breaking down, dropping out of classes and failing classes because of the activism work they are taking on,” said David, an undergraduate whose name has been changed to preserve anonymity. Throughout the year, he has worked to confront issues of racism and diversity on campus.

His role as a student activist has taken a toll on his mental, physical and emotional health. “My grades dropped dramatically. My health completely changed. I lost weight. I’m on antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills right now. (Counseling and Psychological Services) counselors called me. I had deans calling me to make sure I was okay,” he said…

Justice Gaines ’16, who uses the pronouns xe, xem and xyr, said student activism efforts on campus are necessary. “I don’t feel okay with seeing students go through hardships without helping and organizing to make things better.”

In the wake of The Herald’s opinion pieces, Gaines felt overwhelmed by emotions flooding across campus. Students were called out of class into organizing meetings, and xe felt pressure to help xyr peers cope with what was going on, xe said. Gaines “had a panic attack and couldn’t go to class for several days.”

And these are the well-connected supposed leaders of tomorrow?  Consider the irony of ‘students’ (can we call them that if studying isn’t the top priority?) who rally to decry “privilege,” while constantly seeking Dean’s notes that extend their academic suspenses so they can be disruptive crybullies (a recently coined term I find to be spot on) at campus speaking events featuring opinions with which they disagree.  What, exactly, are they paying exorbitant tuition for — the latitude to make public nuisances of themselves?

This surrealistic nonsense has gone on long enough.  It’s time to stop pretending these institutions produce anything but confused and quite possibly mentally damaged permanent adolescents who are incapable of dealing with reality.  These ‘future leaders’ are steeped in the warped worldviews of the self-professed ‘social justice warriors’ who now infest everything from Twitter and other tech industries to entertainment outlets and educational institutions, and who use their influence to enforce a velvet-glove version of fascist thought control.  It’s long past time to return the favor and begin the process of ostracizing anyone who supports this insanity.  Aside from social networking and trying to signal some sort of liberal virtue, what possible value could be had by hiring someone whose ‘education’ consists of the Red Guard indoctrination described in Brown University’s own newspaper?  Any business owner with a smidgeon of sense would be well advised to simply drop in the wastebasket any application from an Ivy League graduate, and to make it known they place no value on a diploma from these cesspools.  No high-performing company or organization has time for such drama queens and distractions.

And considering their behavior in recent years, it’s not as though any of “xem” have a leg to stand on to claim viewpoint discrimination.  If they want to break the truce of civility, so be it – let xem reap what they’ve sown.  Those of us who live in the real world don’t need xem… they need us, just as a parasite needs a host.

The hosts, as our current politics show, are getting a little tired of the non-productive bloodsuckers…

Every Kid gets a trophy

Indeed

Today’s read:

“It’s disheartening that an avowed socialist is a viable candidate for president of the United States. Socialism is a dead end. For hundreds of years, it has failed everywhere it’s been adopted. The enthusiasm of our youth for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is a symptom of our failure to educate them, not only in history, government and economics, but also basic morality…”

Read the entire thing.  Even as our nation reaches $19 trillion of acknowledged debt, too many people still seem to think it’s the best source of lots of goodies.  We’ve reached a point today where in education there is emphasis on science, technology, computing… but not on the lessons learned from basic human experience over 4,000+ years of recorded history.  And we wonder why we’re repeating mistakes that should have been proscribed long ago.

Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it