American Elephants


Politics and Promises of Equality, When What the People Want is Their Freedom Back. by The Elephant's Child

We are in an election season, so politics dominates the news, with ideas devised, not necessarily to improve anything at all, but to get votes. The season of promising big giveaways to the voters on the one hand, while promising to slash budgets on the other, with no apparent awareness that the two are incompatible. (Are you all conventioned out? And are you prepared for another one next week?)

Thomas Sowell, who always has his eye on basic common sense, addressed “the dumbest idea in politics,” which plays a very large role in political conversation. Dr. Sowell’s nomination for the most stupid idea in politics would be “the assumption that people would be evenly or randomly distributed in incomes, institutions, occupations or awards, in the absence of somebody doing somebody wrong.”

Political crusades, bureaucratic empires and lucrative personal careers as grievance mongers have been built on the foundation of that assumption, which is almost never tested against any facts.

A recent article in the New York Times saw as a problem the fact that females are greatly underrepresented among the highest rated chess players. Innumerable articles, TV stories and political outcries have been based on an “underrepresentation” of women in Silicon Valley, seen as a problem that needs to be solved.

Are there girls out there dying to play chess, who find the doors slammed shut in their faces? Are there women with Ph.D.s in computer science from M.I.T. and Cal Tech who get turned away when they apply for jobs in Silicon Valley?

Well yes, and the claim that the candidate will demand equal pay for women is loud on the campaign-trail, despite the fact that unequal pay for the same work has been against the law since 1963. Inequality comes from different career choices. Men and women make different choices. It’s quite natural—way back when humanity were hunter-gatherers, men were the hunters and women the gatherers. Human nature.

There are countries where children are expected to follow in the same trade as their parent. There’s no real opportunity to do something different.There are many countries where women are expected to care for home and children, and any other choice is unthinkable.

Discrimination plays a large part not only in politics, but as employment for attorneys. “Billions of dollars, in the aggregate,  have changed hands as a result of individual lawsuits charging discrimination,” Dr Sowell added.

The Left is deeply enamored with the idea that everyone should be equal, (except themselves of course). They welcome change in the interest of equality and individual liberty, although equality doesn’t really go with individual liberty. You have perhaps noticed that in their drive for equality, equality is supposed to come from vastly increased government regulation. Forced equality goes with their push for control of everything, which comes from lots of regulation from the wise and superior people in government agencies.

Why anyone would believe that would increase individual liberty is a mystery. The thing is, they just don’t like human nature  either, and want to fix it.  And they don’t like actual liberty at all.. They hate the First Amendment, the repeal of Citizen’s  United is in their platform, as is silencing anyone who ‘denies’ catastrophic global warming that is threatening our very survival, or at least the survival of Manhattan with the rise of the seas. Trouble with that is that some very important figures in the catastrophic global warming movement have revealed that their real goal is a vast transfer of wealth from the rich nations (us) to the poor nations, in the name of  — (of course) equality.

I think most Americans would rank freedom above equality. It’s freedom that allows people to have ideas and take it out to their garage and struggle to make it develop and grow, and in America there has usually been the possibility to take that idea and open a business without too much fear of government regulation and too much fear of endless red tape that makes a start-up impossible. The folks on the Left insist that they want new businesses and new jobs, but they cannot understand that the controls and regulation and requirements and fines and inspections that they find essential for control — kill the businesses they claim they want created.

When they have controlled and regulated ordinary people into more satisfactory people, and they have devised better rules for everyone to follow and better laws — we will have a better chance of reaching “that world as it ought to be” that the Obamas speak of. “The world as it is just won’t do,”they say, and they consider that a proper goal. They believe they have an obligation to strive for a brave new world.  Oh yes, that was the name of a book, wasn’t it? Oddly enough, writers of science fiction cannot stop demonstrating the dreadful results of trying to fix humanity. But then, we’ve had some real-life attempts as well — Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mugabe, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Mao Zedong, Saddam,  Assad — the list goes on and on.

Set free, ordinary people can do some pretty amazing things, like building a free country, and inventing all sorts of advancement in human life, curing disease and creating great works of art  and writing marvelous books to warn us about what could go wrong if we are not paying attention.



Sometimes You Have to Do Hard Things. No Pain, No Gain. by The Elephant's Child

Walter Russell Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest, a man of the Left, but modestly so. In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, he gently chides the president for his ambitious foreign policy goals, but unusual parsimony in engaging with them. The president, he says, isn’t satisfied with he world as it is, and wants a world fundamentally different from the one we live in.

He wants a world in which poverty is on the wane, international law is respected, and the U.S., if it must lead, can do so on the cheap, and from behind.

To get to this world, Mr. Obama wants nuclear proliferation stopped, new arms-control agreements ratified, and the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons. He wants a tough global climate treaty that will keep carbon emissions at levels low enough to prevent further global warming. He wants the Arab-Israeli dispute settled and a new relationship with Iran. He wants terrorism to be contained and Afghanistan to be stable when the Americans leave. He wants to reassert U.S. power in the Pacific, and to see China accept the territorial status quo. He wants democracy advanced, human rights protected, poverty reduced, women empowered, and lesbians and gays treated better world-wide.

Professor Mead suggested that this paradox arises from Obama’s channeling the voters who want to eliminate the budget deficit without cutting the programs they favor, and a more peaceful world without so much effort on our part.

We also hear this week about American University students who couldn’t manage to name one senator, and were clueless about how many senators there are.

Makes you yearn for a poll-test. You don’t get to vote unless you know a few basic facts. But that is the job of candidates and political parties, to inform voters before they go to the polls. Yes I know that’s absurd as well. Civilization is messy at best. We are multitudes who have trouble getting along with members of our own family. let alone the guy across the street, and creating a more felicitous state of the world. Some of us are very smart, which doesn’t necessarily mean we know much about many subjects.

Our schools are failing our kids, not because we don’t want good schools, but because the goals of others trump educational excellence. Our colleges attract students from all over the world, yet our graduates can’t name a single senator, can’t locate Florida, and are unqualified to work in today’s world.

The free market recognizes the failures of individuals and companies, but relies on the wisdom of the multitudes, who, of course, can be easily swayed by glamour or charisma, bad information, and conspiracy theories.

Americans, however, have a sort of genius for muddling through. We make dreadful mistakes, and then turn around and try to fix them. Americans all, in one generation or another, gave up everything known in their home country packed up their belongings and set out for an unknown new world. There’s a kind of fearlessness there, that seems to be an inherited characteristic, a genius for risk-taking and adapting that has served our country well for almost 500 years.  Mr. Mead says:

Mr. Obama came into office telling voters what they badly wanted to hear, which was that on foreign policy, they could have it all. No risks to be run, no adversarial great powers to oppose, and no boots on the ground. Now he must tell them that he, and they, were wrong, and he must choose. Does he give up on some of his dreams for improving the world, or does he begin to urge the country to pay a higher price and run greater risks to make the world better and safer?

The truth is that he—and we—will have to do some of both. As a country we are going to be working harder than we wanted in a world that is more frustrating than we hoped.




%d bloggers like this: