Archive for the “Politics” Category

Hmmm … interesting reactions to Arizona’s new immigration law, or anti-illegal-alien law, whichever term you prefer.  Not surprisingly, politicians from my old state of California are up in arms about it.  That’s because they prefer a different term for illegal aliens:  future loyal voters — if only they can push another amnesty bill through Congress someday. Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, has called for a moratorium on city-related travel to Arizona, and several members of the Los Angeles city council have proposed that L.A. stop doing any business with Arizona.

Mexican government officials are also up in arms, labeling the immigration law “abominable,” “a violation of human rights” and “discriminatory.” (Hard to argue with that last one; we do tend to treat criminals differently in America.)

Given all the hubub, I think the only fair course of action is to scrap the Arizona law and replace it with a new national immigration policy.  Here are the provisions it ought to contain:

  • Foreigners will be admitted into the country according to their ability to contribute to our national progress.
  • Foreigners will be banned from interfering in our country’s politics.
  • Immigration officials must ensure that all immigrants have the necessary funds for their own sustenance and for the sustenance of their dependents.
  • Foreigners may be barred from the country if  1) their presence upsets the equilibrium of the national demographics, 2) they are deemed detrimental to our economic or national interests, 3) they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, 4) they have broken any of our laws, or 5) they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.
  • Immigration authorities must keep track of every single person in the country and assist in the arrests of illegal immigrants.
  • A National Population Registry must be established to keep track of every single individual who comprises the population of the country and verify each individual’s identity.
  • A national Catalog of Foreigners must be established to keep track of all foreign tourists and immigrants, and assign each individual with a unique tracking number.
  • Shipping and airline companies that bring undocumented foreigners into the country will be fined.
  • All foreigners with fake papers, or who enter the country under false pretenses, may fined or imprisoned.
  • All foreigners who fail to obey the rules of the country will be fined, deported, and/or imprisoned.
  • All foreigners who fail to obey a deportation order are to be prosecuted and possibly imprisoned.
  • All foreigners who are deported and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization will be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
  • Foreigners who violate the terms of their visas will be imprisoned  for to up to six years.
  • Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visas — such as working with out a permit – will face prosecution and possible imprisonment.
  • Citizens who help illegal aliens enter the country will themselves considered criminals and face prosecution.
  • Any citizen who marries a foreigner with the sole objective of helping the foreigner live in this country will be subject to up to five years in prison.

Yes, yes, I know … it’s not exactly send me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free kind of stuff.  Some of those policies come off as racist, classist, or downright harsh.  So how can I possibly call them fair?

Simple:  those are Mexico’s immigration policies.  If Mexican officials think our laws are abominable and discriminatory, let’s adopt theirs instead.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 12 Comments »

My goodness.  For months now, I’ve written about a variety of hot-button issues — global warming, health-care reform, media bias, taxes — and gotten a handful of replies.  Last week I compared the vegan nutjobs who attacked Lierre Keith to the True Believers described by Eric Hoffer, then closed with one paragraph saying most True Believers in modern times have ended up on the radical left and BANG! — a roiling debate ensues.  I suppose if I’d really wanted to generate some heat, I could’ve just written one line:  Resolved, liberals are loonier than conservatives. 

Well, I happen to like roiling debates, so I’m going to stick my hand in the hornet’s nest again and explain why I believe more True Believers have ended up on the radical left.  It comes down to a matter of intellectual heritage, which I’ll get to in a moment.

But first, let me explain what I don’t mean by a True Believer:  I’m not talking about anyone with strong beliefs.  Yes, some people are close-minded because they’re swept up in a True Believer movement.  As Hoffer put it:

It is the true believer’s ability to shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts which in his own mind deserve never to be seen nor heard which is the source of his unequalled fortitude and constancy. 

But many people have strong beliefs because they’re well-informed and committed to principles.  I was a liberal as a young man, probably because my parents were.  They still are.  It wasn’t a proud moment for me to fly home and see an Obama sign in their front yard.  Now I’m a libertarian with strong beliefs, which I formed after reading quite a few books on history and economics.  I became a libertarian by opening my mind, not by closing it.  My parents, meanwhile, are still mystified as to how they ended up with three “right wing” libertarian offspring.

But even as a committed libertarian, I’d rather discuss politics with a well-read and committed socialist (and I had an actor friend in California who fit that description) than with a wishy-washy moderate.  I can’t for the life of me understand people who voted for Ronald Reagan, then Bill Clinton, then George W. Bush, then Barack Obama.  The media calls them swing voters or moderates.  I call them people with no flippin’ idea what they actually believe.

Some have mentioned religious fanatics as examples of right-wing True Believers.  If they want to impose their religion on others — if they want to kill the nonbelievers, or convert them all, or pass laws requiring prayer in public schools — then yes, I agree.  But I also have friends who are deeply religious and know I’m not.  Guess what?  They’re still my friends, and they’ve never tried to convert me.  Their faith is personal, and they have no interest in using the power of government to impose it on anyone else, or even in convincing their friends to join the cause.  They believe … but they hardly fit Hoffer’s description of True Believers.

I’m also not talking about people who annoy you because they oppose your politics.  If loud Tea Party protesters bother you because you support health-care “reform” and you really, really wish they’d just shut up and go away, fine.  But that doesn’t make them True Believers of the stripe Hoffer described.  They are not trying to impose their vision on anyone; they are protesting against having a trillion-dollar health-care “reform” package imposed on them.  They’re resisting collectivism, not advocating for it.

If you’re more comfortable with a definition of True Believers that includes more right-wingers, be my guest.  But I’m talking about Hoffer’s definition, not yours.  With that in mind, let’s summarize Eric Hoffer’s description, some of which I mentioned last week.

  • They often have low self-esteem and are typically frustrated with their own lives or the world in general.
  • Fanaticism appeals to them because it provides a sense of idealism, identity and certainty.
  • They value the collective more than the individual and believe individuals should be willing to sacrifice themselves for the collective good.
  • They believe that by imposing their beliefs, they can bring about a better future.
  • They can ignore or rationalize away all contrary evidence, as well as logical inconsistencies in their own beliefs.
  • They consider anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs an enemy and want to silence those who disagree.

To that summary, I’ll also add more quotes from Hoffer himself:

Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.  (But enough about my decade in Hollywood.)

Their innermost desire is for an end to the “free for all.” They want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected in a free society.

Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden.

The explosive component in the contemporary scene is not the clamor of the masses but the self-righteous claims of a multitude of graduates from schools and universities. This army of scribes is clamoring for a society in which planning, regulation, and supervision are paramount and the prerogative of the educated

We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.

The real “haves” are they who can acquire freedom, self-confidence, and even riches without depriving others of them. They acquire all of these by developing and applying their potentialities. On the other hand, the real “have nots” are they who cannot have aught except by depriving others of it. They can feel free only by diminishing the freedom of others, self-confident by spreading fear and dependence among others, and rich by making others poor.

Doesn’t exactly sound like a left-wing philosopher to me.  But what raised such a ruckus was my opinion that most (not all) True Believers in modern times have ended up on the radical left.  (Please note that modifier “radical.”)  Here’s why I believe that’s true:

I’ll start with most destructive True Believer movements of modern times:  Nazism, Fascism and Communism, which together killed more than 130 million people in the 20th century.  One or two commenters raised Nazism and Fascism as examples of right-wing movements.  Historical revisionists have a done a bang-up job of associating Hitler and Mussolini with some kind of right-wing ideology, but it simply isn’t true.  They both had legions of fans in the U.S. before World War II — nearly all of them members of the “progressive” movement.  FDR and Mussolini exchanged letters of mutual admiration for their economic policies.  Before becoming Il Duce, Mussolini was a socialist agitator and a journalist for a socialist magazine. 

As for Nazism … right wing?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Hitler’s aha! moment came when he attended a meeting of the German Workers’ Party and listened to a lecture titled How and by What Means Is Capitalism to Be Eliminated?  He grew to despise bourgeois capitalism and declared that “Basically, Nazism and Marxism are the same.”  He only disliked the actual Marxists because too many of them had Jewish names, and because Nazis and communists were competing for supporters among the same groups.

Even culturally, the Nazis were hardly what anyone would consider right-wing today.  Many Nazis were artsy-fartsy types who considered themselves mystics.  Hitler hated Christianity and railed against religion’s restrictions on sex.  He saw nothing wrong with out-of-wedlock birth and encouraged it.  He was a vegetarian, a nature enthusiast, and spoke at length about the wonders of organic foods.  Heinrich Himmler even supported animal rights — kind of like the nut-jobs at PETA.  Take away the racism and the anti-Semitism, and a young Nazi could get together with a Sixties radical and have a real meeting of the minds.

The Nazi party platform proclaimed in 1920 contained, as you’d expect, a lot of demands to rid Germany of non-Germans, Jews, and other undesirables.  But it also contained several other gems, such as:

  • We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and a way of life for the citizens.
  • We demand abolition of unearned income (rents).
  • We demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
  • We demand the nationalization of all previous associated industries (trusts).
  • We demand a division of profits of heavy industries.
  • We demand an expansion on a large scale of old-age welfare.
  • The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education.
  • The state is to care for the elevating of national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.

Crazy right-wing stuff, huh?  Those idiots carrying the Bush = Hitler signs a few years back sure knew their history.

I suppose you could call the Nazis and Fascists “right wing” because they were militaristic and nationalistic, but by that definition, the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega would all be right-wingers.  Funny how they didn’t have any fans among the American right wing … but they had plenty in Hollywood.

Now, let’s return to Hoffer’s description.  We’ll start with dissatisfied with themselves or the world in general.  I noticed years ago that my libertarian and conservative friends seem happier in general than my liberal friends.  (Yes, I have friends of both varieties.)  Before you protest with tales of all the happy liberals and miserable conservatives you know personally, keep in mind that polls have shown the same thing many times:  self-identified conservatives are happier on average than self-identified liberals.  When I look at what my liberal and conservative friends believe, it isn’t hard to figure out why:

Economic Opportunity
Liberals:  Big corporations are screwing us, markets don’t work, the good jobs are all being outsourced to India, the little guy doesn’t stand a chance anymore, and the rich (be sure to sneer when you use that term) are the “winners of life’s lottery.”
Conservatives:  Work hard, study hard, take risks, be disciplined, and you can become a success because this is a land of opportunity.

Global Warming
Liberals:  We’re approaching runaway global warming.  The ice caps are going to melt and New York will end up underwater.  Millions will be displaced.  Deserts around the world, hurricanes and tornadoes and floods, oh my.
Conservatives:  The earth warms and cools in cycles and always has.  Stop worrying about it.

Health Care
Liberals:  We have one of the worst systems in the world.  Castro provides better health care than we do.   Insurance and drug companies are screwing us.
Conservatives:  We have the most advanced system in the world, and most people can afford a policy.  Get the government out of the health care business, repeal laws barring competition in insurance across state lines, and the cost will come down too.

Now, I’m not asking which world-view is correct.  But pretty please, try to be objective about this question:  which world view is more likely to produce or attract satisfied people?  Which world view is more likely to attract or produce dissatisfied people?  And which world-view is more likely to attract “we must save the world even if it means taking away some freedoms” types?

As for valuing the collective more than the individual … do I even have to debate that one?  Do conservatives write books with titles like It Takes A Village?  Other than the occasional anti-war sentiment, the American left’s primary pitch to the voters for the past 70 years can be summed up in two sentences:  “Vote for us!  We’ll give you a bunch of goodies and make someone else pay the bill!”

Earlier, I said the far left is more prone to a True Believer mindset than the far right because of the differences in intellectual heritage.  In his book Explaining Postmodernism, philosophy professor Stephen Hicks recounts that heritage. 

What was once called “liberalism” but is now called libertarianism or small-government conservatism (not the same as religious conservatism) traces its roots to the Enlightenment thinkers, most of whom were British:  Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes (not British), John Locke and Adam Smith.  Their works emphasized rationalism, objectivism, the scientific method, and individual freedom — most importantly, freedom from government coercion.  (Thomas Jefferson was deeply influenced by Locke.)  As Hicks explains:

Individualism and science are thus consequences of an epistemology of reason.  Individualism applied to politics yields liberal democracy … individualism applied to economics yields free markets and capitalism.

Post-modernism, which inspired much of the modern left’s thinking, began as reaction against the Enlightenment thinkers — ironically, in part to save religious faith from the onslaught on science and rationality.  Immanuel Kant was a major influence, as were a lot of other Germans (surprise):  Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg W.F. Hegel, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (not German), Martin Heidegger, and of course Karl Marx.  They specifically rejected reason and logic in favor of subjectivism.

Simply put, an objectivist thinks this way:  If it’s true, I believe it.  A subjectivist, however, thinks like this:  If I believe it, it’s true.  According to Heidegger, for example, reason tells us nothing important, and logical inconsistencies are not a sign of intellectual failure.

Now, once again, try to be objective (there’s that word again) while answering this question:  who is more resistant to pesky things like logic and reason, an objectivist or a subjectivist?  Who has an easier time ignoring logical inconsistencies in a belief system? 

As Hicks points out, only a subjectivist could believe that:

  • All cultures are valid and equally deserving of respect, but Western culture is really bad.
  • Values are subjective, but racism and sexism are really, really bad.
  • Technology is destructive and bad, but it’s not fair that some people can afford more of it than others.

The post-modernists were also collectivists.  Here are few relevant quotes:

The state ought to have a universal compulsory force to move and arrange each part in the manner best suited to the whole.  – Rousseau

All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the state … this final end has supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be member of the state. – Hegel

A single person, I need hardly say, is something subordinate, and as such he must dedicate himself to the ethical whole. – Hegel

Hegel, by the way, was a big influence on Karl Marx.  I’m pretty sure we can agree Marx was a collectivist extraordinaire, and it’s not even debatable that Marx has far more fans on the political left than on the right.  One of my left-wing college professors even had a poster of Marx on the wall of his office. 

Someone commenting on last week’s post pointed out that “left” and “right” aren’t always accurate labels and suggested I refer to them as collectivist-authoritarian and individualist-libertarian.  Fine, I’m cool with that.  “Left” and “right” don’t always fit.  I once saw William F. Buckley argue against anti-drug laws, which isn’t exactly a right-wing position. 

But at the same time, I don’t know how anyone can deny that leftists tilt towards a collectivist-authoritarian belief system.  In the past year or so, I’ve been treated to these statements while debating liberal friends:

  • You only have the rights the government grants you.
  • How can you call high taxes legalized theft?!  It’s not just your money!  We let you make the money!  (I’m assuming he meant no one tried to arrest me for selling my software to people who wanted to buy it.)

By contrast, take a look at this quote from a rather famous individualist-libertarian named Thomas Jefferson:

A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

In the modern era, does that sound like something you’d hear coming from the left or the right?  Is it what the fanatical Obama supporters believe?  Is there any evidence whatsoever Obama believes it himself?

Post-modern leftists also have a different intellectual heritage when it comes to language itself.  Since reason doesn’t tell us anything real, the post-modernists taught that language isn’t a tool for seeking the truth; it’s a weapon to wielded for the purpose of acquiring power.  Don’t like what some objectivist-individualist wrote, but having a hard time disputing it?  No problem.  Declare logic a “white male construct” and apply the principles of Deconstruction … otherwise known as “If you can’t debate your opponent’s ideas, label him a sexist or a racist.”  I see that one in action every time a conservative justice is nominated to the Supreme Court.

If you don’t think Deconstruction as a form of analysis was intended to be political, here’s a quote from Jacques Derrida, the father of Deconstruction:

Deconstruction never had any interest or meaning, at least in my eyes, other than as a radicalization, that is to say, within a tradition of a certain Marxism.

Saul Alinksy, whose Rules for Radicals was the subject of Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis, exhorted his readers to pick a target, attack relentlessly, and make it personal … and it’s okay because the ends justify the means:

Whenever we think about social change, the question of means and ends arises. The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work.

Gee, that sounds kind of like it would be okay to label your opponents as racists and sexists if it helps you win a political fight.  I can see why some on the left found Alinsky so inspirational.  As professor Hicks writes early on in his book:

A related puzzle is explaining why postmodernists — particularly among those postmodernists most involved with the practical applications of postmodernist ideas, or putting postmodernist ideas into actual practice in their classrooms and in faculty meetings — are the most likely to be hostile to dissent and debate, the most likely to engage in ad hominem argument and name-calling, the most likely to enact politically-correct authoritarian measures, and the most likely to use anger and rage as argumentative tactics. 

Whether it is Stanley Fish calling all opponents of affirmative action bigots and lumping them in with the Ku Klux Klan, or whether it is Andrea Dworkin’s male-bashing in the form of calling all heterosexual males rapists, the rhetoric is very often harsh and bitter.  So the puzzling question is: Why is it that among the far Left — which has traditionally promoted itself as the only true champion of civility, tolerance, and fair play — that we find those habits least practiced and even denounced?

As for who has a greater desire to actually stifle ideas (as opposed to merely labeling them as racist or sexist to avoid debating them), I’m sure that debate could go on forever.  Some of you cited news stories about conservative groups shouting down or even spitting on liberal politicians.  Okay, it happens, and it’s disgusting when it does. 

But I don’t see many left-wing speakers being shouted down on campuses or having pies thrown at them.  I haven’t heard of any cases of liberal college newspapers being shut down or having their entire press runs stolen by hostile students.  I haven’t heard of any liberal college students being brought up on “hate speech” charges for expressing their opinions.  I also don’t read many news stories about violent right-wing protesters, but you can pretty much count on violent left-wing protesters showing up any time there’s an economic summit. 

Maybe that’s my own selection bias.  But as far as who is more likely to be dissatisfied with the world and demand we change it, more likely to reject logic and reason, more likely to believe the collective is more important than individual rights, more likely to fear free competition, more likely to support regulation by an educated elite, more likely to believe they can gain only by taking from others, more likely to want public cures for private ails, and more likely to support using government coercion to impose its preferred way of life on others — in other words, to act like Hoffer’s True Believers — sorry, the radical left wins hands down.

But enough about health-care “reform.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 30 Comments »

I received an email today that recounted (supposedly) some correspondence between the State of Pennsylvania and a citizen.  Whenever I see TRUE STORY! in an email like this one, I know it’s probably not.  I then confirm my suspicions by visiting the sites that debunk urban legends, internet legends, etc.

Well, at least according to TruthOrFiction.com, the email I received is almost real.  I say almost because apparently the correspondence took place 13 years ago … and in Michigan, not Pennsylvania.  TruthOrFiction also posted what it claims are the original letters, as opposed to the enhanced versions making their way around now.   I’m pasting the letters below, but removing the names in case even TruthOrFiction was hookwinked … hey, it could happen.

Enjoy — and even these letters aren’t genuine, I wish they were.  A libertarian couldn’t ask for a better exchange.

From Michigan to the Citizen:

GRAND RAPIDS DISTRICT OFFICE
STATE OFFICE BUILDING 6TH FLOOR
350 OTTAWA NW
GRAND RAPIDS MI 49503-2341
RUSSELL J. HARDING, Director

December 17, 1997

CERTIFIED

Mr. Ryan DeVries
(Address, etc.)

Dear Mr. DeVries:

SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm County

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files show that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301,. Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the strewn channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.

Failure to comply with this request, or any further unauthorized activity on the site, may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

(Name of some bureaucrat)
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division

 

The Citizen’s Reply:

(Name of the Same Bureaucrat)
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division
Grand Rapids District Office
State Office Bldg., 6th Floor
350 Ottawa, N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2341

Dear Mr. (Bureaucrat):

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N, R10W, Sec 20; Montcalm County

Your certified letter dated 12/17/97 has been handed to me to respond to. You sent out a great deal of carbon copies to a lot of people, but you neglected to include their addresses. You will, therefore, have to send them a copy of my response.

First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at [the address] in Pierson, Michigan – I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, nor authorize their dam project, I think they would be highly offended you call their skillful use of natural building materials “debris”. I would like to challenge you to attempt to emulate their dam project any dam time and/or any dam place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no dam way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your dam request the beavers first must fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity, my first dam question to you is: are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or do you require all dam beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, please send me completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated. My first concern is – aren’t the dam beavers entitled to dam legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said dam representation – so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.

The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing dam flooding is proof we should leave the dam Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling them dam names. If you want the dam stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition – contact the dam beavers – but if you are going to arrest them (they obviously did not pay any dam attention to your dam letter — being unable to read English) – be sure you read them their dam Miranda first.

As for me, I am not going to cause more dam flooding or dam debris jams by interfering with these dam builders. If you want to hurt these dam beavers – be aware I am sending a copy of your dam letter and this response to PETA. If your dam Department seriously finds all dams of this nature inherently hazardous and truly will not permit their existence in this dam State – I seriously hope you are not selectively enforcing this dam policy – or once again both I and the Spring Pond Beavers will scream prejudice!

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their dam unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I to live and enjoy Spring Pond. So, as far as I and the beavers are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more dam elevated enforcement action now. Why wait until 1/31/98? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no dam way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem; bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the dam beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!)

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.

Sincerely,

(Name of a Citizen — and my hero if this is all true)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 3 Comments »

“Step up on the scale, Mr. Naughton.”

“Sure, Doctor. I’m looking forward to seeing this myself.”

“Let’s see … slide this over a bit … hmm, pretty bad. Your weight is up again.”

“Uh … Doctor, you mind getting your foot off the scale?”

“Oh, okay.”

“So … you want to weigh me again now?”

“Sorry, I’ve already recorded the results. You can step down now.”

“But–”

“Just as I predicted. Man-made body enlarging. I told you to stop consuming so much animal fat.”

“There’s nothing wrong with eating–”

“If this keeps up, you’ll weigh 650 pounds by the year 2030. It’s a looming disaster.”

“Doctor, excuse me, but there’s no way I’m gaining weight. Look at me. I had to buy a smaller belt last month.”

“That’s a temporary anomaly. I’m more interested in the long-term trend.”

“I’ve been shrinking for two years now. I’ve also been eating more animal fat. So it can’t be making me fatter. Your theory doesn’t hold up.”

“Do you weigh more than you did 40 years ago?”

“Yes, I was a skinny runt 40 years ago.”

“And did your fat consumption go up during the past 40 years?”

“I was 11 years old 40 years ago! Of course I eat more now.”

“Aha! So you agree there’s a long-term trend in your body enlargement.”

“Those are natural forces at work. I’m pretty sure that’s been happening forever.”

“But the rate of the enlargement has accelerated. Look at your weight chart. See there? All nice and even for two decades, then it shoots up here at the end. It looks like a hockey stick.”

“That chart is bull@#$%!”

“It can’t be. I showed it to a bunch of doctors who are friends of mine and they agreed: it looks like a hockey stick. We even wrote a paper about it.”

“Look, Doctor, I went through a period in my thirties when I was fatter than I am today, and I wasn’t eating animal fat because I was a vegetarian. Now I’m experiencing a thinning trend, even though I eat a lot of fat. So obviously, fat isn’t the problem, and that chart is bull.”

“I see. So you’re a denialist.”

“What?!”

“I suppose you don’t believe the Holocaust happened either?”

“No! I mean, yes, I believe it happened. There’s evidence it happened. But there’s no evidence that I’m gaining weight!”

“Who’s paying you to say this? The dairy industry? The cattle ranchers?”

“Nobody’s paying me! Just use your senses! I’m smaller!”

“This is the worst case of denial I’ve ever seen. I’m afraid we’re going to have to institute a fat-and-trade system. Every time you consume fat, you’ll need to pay me a stiff fine. Or you can buy a fat credit from another tubbo who’s willing to go without butter for a week. It’s the only way to stop you from getting larger.”

“I AM NOT GETTING LARGER!”

“Yes, you are. It says so right here in my computer data.”

“Let me see that.”

“No. I will not have you second-guessing my data. I don’t have to show you anything.”

“Yes, you do, Doctor. And if you don’t, I’ll call my lawyer and have him file the papers.”

“Damn! I was hoping you didn’t know about that law. Now I have to destroy the data.”

“What?!”

“Nothing. I didn’t say anything.”

“Give me that book!”

“Hey! Give that back!”

“Back off, Doctor, or I’ll smack you. Let’s see … Hey, what’s with all the emails and notes?”

“Nothing. Just doctor’s notes.”

“Nothing, my @##. Look at this: ‘James – I figured out how to apply Mike’s trick of mixing belt-ring data with actual weight measurements to hide Mr. Naughton’s mid-thirties fattening period.’  What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It doesn’t mean anything! ‘Trick’ is a common term in medical research. Give me that back!”

“And here’s a coding comment from the guy who designed your computer program. What does he mean, he’s having a hard time writing code that produces the results you want?”

“You know … just programmer lingo. That’s how they talk.”

“And this one: ‘James – Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues to boycott medical journals that publish articles by doctors who have seen people lose weight on high-fat diets. By the way, please delete this after reading.’ And you printed it out? What are you, an idiot?”

“Oh, I see. Already reduced to resorting to attacks on my character, huh?”

“And what’s up with this one:  ‘James. The fact is that we cannot account for Mr. Naughton’s failure to gain weight in recent years, and it’s a travesty that we can’t.’

“Well, uh …you see, the theory is still correct, because uh … I mean it’s not like we have anything to hide!”

“Let me get this straight … you wouldn’t give me your data, you threatened to destroy your data so I wouldn’t see it, your programmer was upset because he was having a hard time producing the data you wanted, you applied ‘tricks’ to your data, and in spite of all that, your colleague thinks it’s a travesty that you can’t explain why I’m not actually gaining weight. I’d say you were hiding something, Doctor.”

“But the theory is still correct! I’m sure of it!  To hell with your annoying weight loss.”

“No, to hell with you, to hell with your theory, and to hell with your fat-and-trade fines. I’m leaving.”

“Don’t go outside while you’re angry, Mr. Naughton! You’ll get heat exhaustion!”

“It’s snowing, you moron.”

Some articles on the climate research scandal:

From Heritage Foundation

From Forbes

From the UK Telegraph

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 29 Comments »

When I was still living near Los Angeles, a guy who parked in our neighborhood had a bumper sticker on his car that read: DON’T MOVE HERE.  Heck, I did him one better.  I left for Tennessee.

Now that I’m here, I’ve received a couple of emails and blog comments similar to this:  “Tom, welcome to Tennessee.  You seem like someone who belongs here.  But do us a favor.  Don’t tell the people in California how great it is here.  We don’t want them all moving here and turning our state into another California.”

I fully understand the fear.  California was ruined by big-government leftists, who all seem to share a peculiar trait:  they have an amazing inability to recognize the damage they cause.  Worse, they always believe the damage was caused by someone else.  They’re like the kid who pees in a wading pool, then complains that the water is a weird color and doesn’t smell so good, then blames the lifeguard and finds another pool.

For example, a friend of mine sent me this article from the Los Angeles Times, written by a woman who is mad at California for no longer being a paradise and is leaving for greener pastures.  Here are some choice quotes:

For 18 years or so, I can honestly say that I was truly in love with you, but then came your first major transgression: Proposition 13.

Oh sure, you tried to tell me that property taxes were bad for our relationship, but I knew you were lying. Low taxes, you said, would bring us closer together. You wanted to have your cake and eat it too. You said we could build schools and roads and parks without that tax money, but even back then I knew you were in denial.

Newsflash … California didn’t go broke building roads and schools and parks.  It went broke building a huge government bureaucracy that allows state workers to retire at age 50 or 55 and draw full pensions – paid for by taxpayers who will continue working at least another 10 years to support the state-government retirees.

Proposition 13 limited property taxes so longtime homeowners wouldn’t be forced to sell their homes when property values in California skyrocketed.  It’s insane to force old people to sell their homes to pay their taxes.  And despite what Miss Goofy thinks, California has one of the highest tax burdens in the country.  A lack of revenue isn’t the problem.  Runaway spending is.  Property taxes in Tennessee are low, but (amazingly) there’s no shortage of roads, schools and parks here.

We can’t pay our bills, and the phone is ringing off the hook with creditors calling from all over the world. Children across the state are losing healthcare, more than 766,300 Californians lost their jobs in the last year, and we’re at the top of the foreclosure charts. You need to change, and you refuse to admit it.

I realize most leftists have never read a book on economics, but it requires truly stunning ignorance to chide a state for going broke, not spending more on welfare programs, and losing jobs all in one paragraph.  Yes, it’s a shame that 766,300 Californians lost their jobs last year.  Perhaps that’s because big companies like Nissan (and small companies like mine) finally got tired of California’s punitive taxes and anti-business regulations and decided to relocate to Tennessee.

Newsflash number two … when employers are deciding where to do business, they don’t say to themselves, “Hmmm … I wonder if there’s a state where we could pay through the nose to support a huge bureaucracy … preferably one that requires us to provide health care for illegal aliens and build apartments for the homeless … and if we had to pay workers compensation claims for ‘stress,’ that would be awesome!”

Based on her reasons for being mad at California, it’s clear Miss Goofy is a big-government liberal.  That means she voted for exactly the type of economic illiterates who scared away employers and drove the state to the brink of bankruptcy.  And now, clueless that she was part of the problem, she’s moving to Washington state, where the economy is healthy.

By the way, Washington, like Tennessee, is business-friendly and has no state income tax.  I’ll give you 10-to-1 odds Miss Goofy’s brain isn’t capable of connecting that fact to the healthier job outlook.

So again, I understand the fears of my new neighbors.  If enough Miss Goofy types move here, pretty soon they’ll be voting for bigger state government and the higher taxes to pay for it.  Then the employers will go away, or at least stop locating here.  Then the Miss Goofy types will wake up one day and say, “What the @#$% happened to this state?!  Why did it go bankrupt?!  To hell with this, I’m leaving!”

With that in mind, here are a few reasons I would urge Californians not to move to Tennessee:

Your driving skills will plummet. The first day after moving in, I was driving in the left lane on a busy road and realized I needed to make a right-hand turn at an upcoming intersection. I put on my signal and prepared to do battle with all the me-first types who would surely attempt to speed up and get past me.  I also took the safety off my middle finger and cocked my wrist.

Then a weird thing happened:  the drivers behind me slowed down and let me in.  It’s happened again since then.  If this keeps up, I’ll lose my ability to make NASCAR-worthy maneuvers.  If I ever drive in L.A. again, I’ll probably get myself killed … or at least sit in the same spot on the freeway for several hours, waiting for someone visiting from out of state to let me change lanes.

You’ll feel no sense of victory when you finally get a table at a restaurant. When we first arrived we had no internet connection, so I went to a local Panera that offers free WiFi.  It was the lunch hour, and I felt myself tensing up as I approached the door.  What if all the tables are taken?  How long do I want to wait?  Do I really need to check my email right now?

But it turned out the place was only half-full.  I felt no great satisfaction when I sat down … next to an outlet where I could plug in my laptop.  I was also able to look up when I felt like it; no need to avoid eye contact with people glaring at me, wondering when the heck I’d pack up the laptop and leave.

You’ll feel no sense of victory when you get your kid into a good school. I know it’s a lot of fun to apply at several magnet schools, volunteer for committees and schmooze with members of the school board, hoping to earn enough points to get little Johnny or Jane accepted a few years down the line.  But really, that’s just wasted effort here.  The schools are all good.  In fact, when we walked unannounced into our local grade school (ranked 10 out of 10 on state scores) to see how to get our daughter into first grade, the principal came out of her office and gave us a tour, assigned our daughter to a teacher, then took us to meet the teacher.

You will lose your anonymity. A friend of mine who’s lived here for 25 years warned me that everyone I deal with will expect a bit of conversation.  And it’s true.  When I called the cable company to get set up, I ended up spending three or four minutes discussing “True Blood” with the nice lady who answered the phone.  (She thinks Bill the Vampire is hot, by the way.)  By the time I left the bank today, I knew the account manager’s husband collects rare knives.  And she knows I once received a baseball autographed by Sandy Koufax as a gift and, being a stupid kid, played baseball with it.

You won’t be able to feel righteously indignant when you fill up your tank. Since gasoline taxes here are low, the prices at the pump won’t make you angry at Exxon.  Likewise, you won’t be able to hate the auto insurance industry (my rates dropped by half after moving here) or the realty industry (homes and apartments are cheap compared to California).

There are Christian churches all over the place. If you watch a lot of TV shows and movies produced in Hollywood, you know that nearly all Christians are buffoons, killers, or hypocrites.  The only people more likely to commit murder, in the opinion of Hollywood script-writers, are rich white businessmen.  Since this is a prosperous area with a church on every other corner, it must be full of rich white businessmen who are also Christians.  I haven’t checked, but the murder rate here has to be astronomical.  (Although I assume the killers have a nice, leisurely chat about collecting knives with their victims before stabbing them.)

You don’t want your family anywhere near these chatty, conservative, anti-tax, well-educated, polite-driving, church-going fiends.  Keep your kids in Los Angeles, where they’ll be safe.

DON’T MOVE HERE.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 10 Comments »

Jimmy Moore posted this YouTube video on his blog yesterday.  It’s a wonderful reminder of how America came to be an independent nation – which is a miracle in itself, considering that the colonists took on the mightiest military of the day.

Hearing these words spoken aloud is also a reminder of the brilliance of Thomas Jefferson, who is likely the most intelligent man ever to occupy the White House.  You could speak to Jefferson, and he could simultaneously write out what you were saying in Greek with his left hand and in Latin with his right.

I’ve heard revisionist historians describe the Founders as “rich guys who didn’t want to pay taxes.”  Yeah, right. 

Many of the Founders were indeed rich, which means they were thriving under the British system and could’ve lived comfortably and happily without changing anything.  They chose otherwise.  Some of them spent their entire fortunes on the war and died penniless for their efforts.  And of course, had the war failed – which was the most likely outcome – they would’ve all been hanged.

I know my country has flaws.  All countries have flaws.  But I have no patience for people who claim to love America, yet always seem to focus exclusively on her flaws. 

I love my wife.  Do I think she’s perfect?  Of course not.  But when I’m talking about her with other people, I don’t jump at every opportunity to criticize her.  I don’t point to other women and say I wish she was more like this one or that one.  I don’t blather on and on about mistakes she made as a teenager.  And I certainly don’t blame her for problems she didn’t create. 

(You think that doesn’t happen among so-called patriots?  I once heard one of those “I criticize my country because I love it so much and that’s the truest form of patriotism, blah-blah-blah” types blame America for poverty in Africa – which was colonized by the British and Dutch, and has been the recipient of American generosity for decades – most of it wasted by dictators.) 

So as you’re enjoying the fireworks tonight, here are a few good things to keep in mind about your country:

  • There were no democracies in the modern world until the Revolutionary colonists created one.  Their efforts and sacrifices inspired the modern democratic movement.
  • When President John Adams lost the election of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson, it was perhaps the first time in history that power was transferred to a fierce rival without anyone being killed in the process.
  • In most countries throughout most of history, your prospects for success were largely determined the day you were born.  Class was destiny.  America’s emphasis on freedom eventually made success an attainable goal for all people of all backgrounds, which is why millions of people chose to emigrate here.  Whatever your opinion of President Obama’s politics, the mere fact that he is the president is a stunning testament to how little class actually matters here.  (And if you can think of another country where the people freely elected a member of an ethnic minority as their leader, please let me know.)
  • Nazism, Fascism and Communism all began in Europe.  They were all defeated in Europe thanks largely to the sacrifices of Americans. Without America, more than 200 million Europeans would still be living under the jackboots of dictators.  Instead, they are free to criticize us without fear of waking up in a gulag.
  • Americans give more of their incomes to charity than people from any other country in the world – better than double the percent given by the Brits, who rank number two.  I’m talking of course about voluntary giving, which is the only true form of charity … not the “charity” of government programs, in which people vote to give away their neighbor’s income.  After the Asian tsunami, our government gave $900 million in relief … but American citizens gave $2 billion. 
  • You are also free to criticize your country without fear of waking up in a gulag.  But at least for today, I hope you’ll choose to give it a rest.

Happy Fourth of July.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 5 Comments »

Just when you though the United States was finally going to get serious about protecting the planet from an atmospheric buildup of perfectly natural gases, it turns out we’re ignoring one of the biggest threats of all: gassy cows.

When a friend of mine sent me this article, I thought it must be a parody of real news from The Onion.  But nope … according to the article by the Associated Press (which they apparently expect us to take seriously), cows produce more greenhouse gases than coal mines and landfills.  Here are some quotes:

One contributor to global warming – bigger than coal mines, landfills and sewage treatment plants – is being left out of efforts by the Obama administration and House Democrats to limit greenhouse gas emissions: Cow burps.

Belching from the nation’s 170 million cattle, sheep and pigs produces about one-quarter of the methane released in the U.S. each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That makes the hoofed critters the largest source of the heat-trapping gas.

Heat-trapping gas, hmmm … Considering that animals who burp and fart have been around for millions of years, you’d think this information would prompt intelligent people to wonder if the whole global-warming theory is a lot of cowpie.  But that’s not how our friends at the Associated Press reacted.  The article is clearly lamenting the fact that Congress is too afraid of the farm lobby to include cow burps and farts in legislation “to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

But of course, that legislation isn’t really about limiting greenhouse gases; it’s about collecting new taxes in the form of “air pollution” permits.  If you have a functioning brain, you ought to be suspicious when natural gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are labeled as “pollutants” – especially when plants and animals have produced the vast majority of those gases since the dawn of time, at least among living creatures.

Normally, politicians can barely contain their excitement  when they realize they’ve found something new to tax.  If you’re a Monty Python fan, you may recall the sketch in which members of her majesty’s government were trying to figure out how to tax sex. So I believe the Associated Press when it says politicians are sidestepping the gassy-cow issue because they fear the farm lobby.  But that misses the point.  The intelligent reason not to tax this form of “pollution” is that it’s a deeply, totally, and unbelievably stupid idea. 

In fact, the idea is so completely and utterly stupid, greenies and vegetarian activists couldn’t stop themselves from supporting it.  The greenies love it because they tend to be scientific illiterates who believe natural gases are imperiling the planet, and the PETA crowd loves it because it punishes people who eat meat. 

(If you want a good laugh, check out Penn & Teller’s Bull@#$% episode on environmentalism.  They got hundreds of greenies – including supposed experts on the environment – to sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide … otherwise known as H2O … otherwise known as water.)

Well, I have my own proposal to limit greenhouse gases.  If we’re going to tax methane, then to be consistent and fair, we need to tax all sources of it – including humans. As anyone who has worked in an emergency room near a college fraternity during initiation week can tell you, humans produce a form of methane that’s not only a greenhouse gas, but highly combustible as well.  One flick of a Bic and POOF.

However, some humans produce more cubic feet of methane than others, so the relevant question is: how do we measure the emissions?  The cheap and easy way would be to employ some sort of listening device – but that would place a disproportionate share of the tax burden on men, who tend not to be very subtle about these things.  My junior year in college, I shared an apartment with three other guys in a cheaply-constructed building. One Sunday, the morning after we’d hosted a kegger, the cranky girl next door accused of us illegally keeping ducks.

Women, on the other hand – and I’m not mentioning any names, because she proofs my blog posts – produce methane that rivals ninja assassins for its ability to sneak up and kill you without being seen or heard.  Clearly, we need an equitable form of measurement.

So I’m proposing that some government contractor produce a Toot-O-Meter that would precisely measure human methane output.  Then all we’d need is an army of methane officers to follow people around and take readings.  We can even sell the idea as another example of “creating green jobs.” 

I don’t actually believe governments can create jobs, as I explained here.  And as anyone who reads this blog knows, I think high taxes are destructive and man-made global warming is an inconvenient myth, as I explained here.  But in this case, I’m supporting the whole ball of wax … the new taxes, the increase in government employment, everything. Why? One word: revenge.

For years, vegetarian wackos such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have been agitating to slap high taxes on the foods they don’t think we should eat:  fatty foods, fast-foods, animal foods, big foods, and pretty much everything else most of us enjoy.  They also propose one stupid, expensive regulation after another, without ever concerning themselves with the cost to consumers, who ultimately bear all costs imposed on businesses.

But with my plan, I believe much of the burden and the cost will, at long last, fall largely on the vegetarian activists themselves.  To explain why, I must first recount my run-in with a can of vegetarian chili.

Some years ago, I flew from Chicago to Las Vegas for an acting job.  It’s not a long flight – at least not under normal circumstances.  But this flight seemed to take forever, thanks to the can of vegetarian chili I consumed just before catching a taxi to the airport.

The first belly-rumble began just before the drink cart came around.  I asked a flight attendant if they kept any antacids on board.  She said sorry, we have Bufferin for headaches, but that’s it. 

The next rumble was louder and actually hurt.

By halfway through the flight, I was literally holding onto my aching, bloated guts.  Yes, I should’ve visited the restroom, but I couldn’t predict what the result would be.  And worse, there was a line.  That meant someone would be 1) standing just outside the door, which wasn’t soundproof, and 2) entering the bathroom as I exited.  Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, but I didn’t want people pointing at me and whispering.

So I clenched my aching guts for the rest of the flight … and while waiting for my bags … and while waiting for a taxi … and while waiting to check in at the hotel … and I was growing ever-more bloated and miserable the whole time.  The desk clerk even asked if I was okay.

Finally, in the sanctity of my room, I un-clenched my guts, at which point I produced the longest continuous methane emission of my life.  I had to re-hitch my belt twice before it was over.  My nether regions grew numb from the prolonged vibration.  The planet was unaffected, but the hotel room definitely underwent a climate change.  And yes, the ice in the nearby ice bucket became thinner.

The culprit, of course, was the vegetarian chili.  It was full of beans – one of the few sources of protein vegetarians can eat without facing a moral crisis. 

Based on this experience and a few others from my vegetarian days, I’m pretty sure vegetarians emit more greenhouse gases than the rest of us, and they should bear the cost of all that extra pollution.  Since we know they’ll never resort to eating meat instead of beans, we could even design a methane cap-and-trade system.

Revenue benefits aside, this would provide the rest of us with some serious entertainment value.  Imagine how much fun it would be to see a bunch of self-righteous PETA wackos gather for a protest in front of a meat-packing plant, then scatter like rats when a Toot Detector van screeches onto the scene. 

In fact, I’d volunteer to be a methane officer myself, as long as I was guaranteed to be personally armed with a Toot-O-Meter and assigned to monitor Michael Jacobson of CSPI.  I’d love to see his face when his own dietary choices cost him some extra dough.

“How was your lunch, Mr. Jacobson?  Yes, I hear the vegetarian burritos are quite good.  Would mind stepping over to the curb for a moment, sir?  No, no, please remain clothed.  Other people are still eating.” 

As an added benefit, Jacobson would have to control his excitement upon discovering that yet another food contains saturated fat.  Otherwise, when media dutifully assembled to record his outraged comparisons to a stick of butter, the performance would be marred by the sound of my Toot-O-Meter ringing up fresh charges.

The only real problem I see with my proposal is that it would be expensive, burdensome, difficult to implement, inconsistently applied, prone to corruption, and ultimately useless.

Which means it would probably sail through Congress with overwhelming support.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 24 Comments »

Riiiiing.

Riiiiing. 

“Hello?”

“Hey, Son.  Glad I caught you at home.”

“Hey, Dad!  How’s it going?”

“Well, it was tough for awhile, but things are great now, thanks to me.  I enacted my own stimulus package, and it’s working wonders around the neighborhood.”

“Stimulus package?  What are you talking about?”

“You know … stimulus.  I’m pumping an extra $50,000 into the local economy.”

 “Geez!  I didn’t know you had that much cash sitting around.”

“Don’t be silly.  I opened a new credit-card account in your name.”

“What?!”

“Now, don’t try to thank me.  This is what wise fathers do.”

 “You took out a credit-card in my name? You can’t do that!”

“Sure I can.  I’ve got your name, address, social security-”

“But you didn’t even ask me first!”

“I had to act quickly, Son.  Our new leaders made it crystal clear that if I didn’t act right now, the entire economy could crash.  Times like these call for bold, immediate action.  Plus the big-screen TV was only on sale for a couple more days.”

“Wait a minute!  Your definition of a stimulus package is to run out and buy something you’ve always wanted and then stick me with the bill?”

“Good lord, no.  I’m saving jobs and then sticking with you with the bill.  And believe me, it’s working.  The guy who sold me the TV was so grateful, he didn’t even pitch the extended warranty.”

“Now, hold on a second, that’s just-”

“My popularity in the neighborhood is off the charts.  I’m seriously considering running for city council.”

“I can’t believe you did this.  We’ve been saving to buy a house.  You’re the one who told me it’s foolish to pay rent month after month, and now-”

“For Pete’s sake, Son, don’t buy a house!  That’s what got me into this mess.  See, I bought a two-bedroom house I could actually afford, so I had some money left over.  But our leaders in Washington convinced me that wasn’t fair, so I bailed out this guy down the street who bought a four-bedroom house at a teaser rate and couldn’t handle the balloon payments.  Did my heart good to see him take down that FOR SALE sign.  I expect him to say thank-you any day now.”

“You’re telling me you gave money to a moron?”

“No, I think he sells insurance.  Plus I gave a few bucks to my banker, my broker, and the guy who runs the local GM dealership.  I’m saving a lot of jobs, here, Son.  In fact, I even created a brand-new job for a global-warming researcher.”

“There’s already six billion dollars per year spent on global-warming research!  What good is one more researcher supposed to do?!”

“Son, you’re not grasping the economics here.  It’s all about the new jobs.  A couple of weeks ago, this poor sap was unemployed.  Now he steps outside every day and decides whether or not it feels warmer to him than it did when he was a kid.  Then he writes up a report, and I give him a few thousand dollars.  Then he uses that money to buy some new appliances from Sears so they can afford to hire another salesman.”

“Then why don’t you just give the money to Sears?”

“Good grief, Son, I thought you were smart.  If I do that, I only create one job.  This way, I’m actually creating two jobs.  It’s called the ‘multiplier’ effect.  FDR knew all about it.  That’s how all those New Deal programs lifted us out the Depression.”

“Now, waaaaait a minute!  You’ve told me more times than I can count that FDR started all those spending programs in 1933, and we were still in the Depression ten years later, long after a lot of industrial countries were back in full recovery.  If anything, all that federal spending prolonged the problem.”

“Well, that’s what I used to think, but our new leaders convinced me that being in debt is the key to prosperity.  I mean, look at what happened after the war.  Talk about a boom.”

“Of course there was a boom!  All of our competition had been blown to bits!”

“Yeah, I thought about that.  But the gun control laws out here are pretty strict.”

“So let me get this straight.  You now believe that massive spending on credit is good for the economy.”

“Of course I do.  All the smart people say so.  Heeeey, I’m going to have to re-think all those billions Bush gave to Halliburton.  Turns out he was probably stimulating the economy the whole time.”

“Okay, Dad, let me try explaining what’s wrong with this theory:  you’re going to run up my credit-card bill so you can give money to your banker, your broker, the GM dealer, the global warming guy, not to mention the moron who bought the house he couldn’t afford, and that’s going to save a lot of jobs.”

“Multiplier effect, yes.”

“But when I have to pay off the credit card, that’s money I won’t be able to spend.  I won’t buy able to buy a house, or a car, or a big-screen TV, so I won’t be supporting the people who work in those industries.  You’re just making things better for yourself now by making things worse for my generation a few years from now.”

“Well, no, it’s … see … we have to save the economy right now because … uh … hey, listen, it sounds like you’re on your cell phone, and I don’t want run use up your minutes.  You’re going to have some big bills to pay, kid.  Love you.  Bye.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 5 Comments »