Friday, March 20, 2009

He's Too Heavy, Father, and He Ain't My Brother

A recent article speculates that Americans might be acquiring new respect for Big Brother-ism as a result of the economic crisis. Well, yeah -- that's like saying people acquire a new respect for air when they're being waterboarded. But first you have to have a crisis big enough to cause them to forget their traditional "values" -- and the current troubles certainly fill the bill. Then, it's also worth noting that this all plays directly into the hands of liberal "agents of change", who want nothing more than to turn the U.S. into a socialist utopia of gray, faceless serfs ruled by a privileged elite. In fact, that may turn out to be one of the main motivators behind the crisis -- although at present it's greed, stupidity, and negligence that are making all the headlines. But the article claims that "Americans have been skeptical of big government since George Washington's time." Well, I would say that Americans _were_ skeptical of big government up until the New Deal, when the first overwhelming -- and possibly engineered for that very reason -- economic crisis fostered the creation of Big Government as we have known it ever since (but which is going to start looking like Little Government compared to Obama's Utopia). Skepticism about big government is, at this point, confined to a very small remnant of paleoconservatives and libertarians. If you want a measure of what percentage of Americans find big government not to their liking, simply add up all the paleocon and libertarian votes in the last election. You're going to come up with well under one percent. So this notion of hesitancy, or skepticism, about big government has very little foundation -- and, by extention, one can predict that the amount of resistance to the already-underway quantum leap toward socialism, collectivism, and totalitarianism will meet with very little resistance as well. Of course, there will always be a few people who will jump off the train shouting "enough!" -- but those will be in the tiniest of minorities. At best, once the crisis has passed -- or at least we have stabilized at a third-world standard of living -- a few people are going to look back and say, "What happened?" And yes, it did appear that things were going well, with the Dow over 14,000 just a short 17 months ago, inflation low, interest rates low, and only a few low rumblings about the stock market, banks, mortgage brokers, Social Security, Medicare, the wars, and the pinhead in the White House. Compared to now, it was a balmy, pleasant, soothing time. But as you'll recall, the morning of September 11, 2001 was one of the most pleasant ones in New York in months... until the trouble began. You can't say "life is good" while sitting on a nuclear reactor that is about to melt down. Well, I mean, you can _say_ it, but it won't take long before events will establish that you're an idiot. The last truly "good times" were... when? The 90s? The 80s? Certainly any time since the Social Security bubble started to expand exponentially can't be considered "good". But before that we had various forms of uncontrolled bleeding in the form of other wars, "foreign aid", welfare, and so on -- not to mention corruption in high places, which is so chronic a problem it hardly differentiates one era from another. Subjectively, I would say that we could never really relax as long as the Soviet Union existed -- at least in its aggressive internationalist phase, i.e. the 1930s on. I know I was never too fond, as a kid, of all those "duck and cover" drills. After seeing films of the atomic bomb tests, I couldn't quite imagine my grade school standing up to a good blast from the Russkies, even though it was made of brick and was quite sturdy. So in that sense, the 50s were an era of prosperity, but severely tempered by Cold War fears -- both the real ones and the paranoid variety. And the minute that decade was over with we had Vietnam and the draft -- so chalk up another "lost decade". The 70s were half Vietnam and half Jimmy Carter -- and a more grotesque chimera is scarcely to be imagined. I would be willing to say that the 80s -- i.e. the "Reagan era" -- were pretty good, but even they were marred by various unfortunate events, like the child abuse witch hunts that equalled, for sheer viciousness and irrationality and gross miscarriages of justice, anything the Salem Puritans ever came up with. Then, before you know it, we had Bill Clinton, the American Nero, and his experiment with what R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. called "kakistocracy", i.e. "rule by trash". And no sooner were we rid of him than we got President Pinhead, 9-11, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and...

Oy! Were there never any good times? Maybe it's all a matter of perspective. Even in the depths of the Depression there were people driving Duesenbergs around. And really, is "stability" all that important? Some people -- liberals in particular -- consider it boring... "bourgeois"... complacent and smug. And we already know that hard times (war, depression, etc.) are more self-defining for a society than good times are. It's no accident that most "news" is bad. So maybe we should be thankful that we live in "interesting times". But frankly, I'd rather live in any era believing in liberty than in the best of times bowing to Big Brother, even if he is a "brother" named Obama.

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