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Summer Rerun #2: Where the Left and Right Join Hands

August 3, 2012

While I’m busy vegetating in the wilds of upstate New York, you can enjoy another entry from the first year of The New Moderate. I used to write them shorter in those days, a habit I should probably learn to embrace once again. This column sounded a mildly hopeful note about the future of American politics, and I still hope I wasn’t being delusional.

It would be pleasant, and a bit of a hoot, to imagine our hardened lefties and right-wingers holding hands, swaying in unison and singing Kumbaya. Impossible, you say? Downright silly? Well, yes and no. In the unexpectedly polarized Age of Obama — with its noisy town-hall rants, radio demagogues and fiery online diatribes — such an overripe expression of sociopolitical harmony seems to be out of the question. And yet…

I’ve noticed some striking similarities between certain sectors of the left and right. Of course, you won’t see a HuffPost blogger from San Francisco cozying up to the nearest Wall Street Journal columnist anytime soon. But down in the less exalted regions of our populace, where the money flows less freely and virtuous Americans fret about their futures, a strange and forbidden sort of union seems to be taking shape. It hasn’t happened yet, and it might scare the pants off our more elite commentators if it does. But the vibrations are starting to resound across our suffering republic, and some of us are picking them up on our internal radio receivers.

I’m talking about grassroots populism, a movement that has bubbled up to the surface from the masses of downcast, angry, alienated citizens across the political spectrum — ordinary Americans who want their country (and money) back. This movement is revolutionary, it’s unprecedented in my lifetime, and the elites can no longer ignore it.

Right-wing populists and left-wing populists don’t agree on everything, naturally. You can still find them raging against their own separate and irreconcilable hobgoblins (right-wing populists hate illegal immigrants, left-wing populists hate racism). But their anger merges and swirls like a newly spawned tornado around some important common issues.

The populists from both camps agree that the federal government is spending us into oblivion, racking up debts that even our most brilliant yuppie grandchildren won’t be able to repay. They agree that our elected representatives are essentially puppets operated by the lobbyists who fund their campaigns. And they’ve concluded that our economic system has been rigged, like some great sinister casino, so that the house wins every time. Countless billions of our money to bail out the very banks that decimated our life savings! Eight-figure bonuses for evil investment bankers who masterminded the crapshoot!

Frank Rich, the generally doctrinaire liberal columnist for The New York Times, recently observed that American politics is no longer about the struggle of right versus left, but of ordinary Americans against the elite. Right-wing preachers like Sean Hannity can no longer convince their congregation to support Wall Street, while President Obama can’t seem to persuade his base that his colossal expenditures will halt the Great Recession.

The sages of our public commentariat still prefer to organize our body politic as if they were setting up an orchestra: liberals and socialists over on the left, conservatives on the right, and moderates like us in (where else?) the middle. I confess to the same habit, and I also confess that I’m finding it less and less applicable to our peculiar time and place.

I never thought I’d catch myself agreeing with Frank Rich about anything, but maybe a Great Recession makes for strange political bedfellows. Very strange. (Good night, Frank. Turn out the light, will you?)

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2012 8:07 pm

    Interesting, RIck…. this somewhat confirms for me something that I’ve thought for a while, which is that you have drifted a bit further to the left than you were when you began your blog. I see the seeds of it planted in this post, e.g. equating the WSJ with HuffPo — one an venerable establishment business periodical, the other an unapologetic liberal advocacy journal –and the egregious “right-wing populists hate illegal immigrants, left-wing populists hate racism” (so, by inference, right wing populists love racism?) On the other hand, you appear to have had a healthy skepticism that government spending could get us out of the mess that we are in. whereas more recently you have appeared to advocate that even more taxation and spending are all that we can rely on to get us out of the Great Recession.

    Or maybe I have drifted to the right?

    • August 4, 2012 11:31 pm

      Radley Balko writes for HuffPo. I can assure you he is not some unapologetic liberal advocate.

  2. August 3, 2012 10:14 pm

    PR: I really haven’t drifted to the left… my positions on basic issues haven’t changed. But I’ve definitely become more adversarial toward the right after witnessing three years of conservative opposition to federal job creation, a healthcare safety net, tighter regulations on Wall Street, gun control, letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire… you name it.

    To make matters worse, the elite right has deliberately used guns, religion, patriotism and fear of government to convince the downtrodden right that their interests are one and the same. To me, this is inexcusable, especially during a borderline depression in which those downtrodden conservatives have been suffering more acutely than anyone else.

    So the middle class is crumbling and the rich are buying $50 million penthouses. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Libertarians rail against the redistribution of wealth, but we’ve actually witnessed a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class toward the top. Darn clever, those elite conservatives.

    • August 4, 2012 11:24 pm

      The government has no ability to create jobs – beyond government jobs.
      Your not a teenager, when has unemployment gone up ? When has it gone down ?
      With activist government in the thirties we were trapped in a mess exactly like we have now. Similar government in the 60’s and seventies took us from 5% to over 10% unemployment. When government cut most spending, cut taxes during the early eighties that triggered the longest sustained period of prosperity and low unemployment on record.

      When Obama was elected Summers memo to the president recommended postponing the activism, returning to fundamentals, cutting spending and confronting the deficit.
      Instead the president went on a spending spree.

      Opposing this is what you call obstruction ?
      When times get tough we should just do stupid things we know wont work so that we can feel good about ourselves ?

      Please name a single jobs or spending stimulus ever that has worked ?

      You complain that the wealthy and corporations manage to buy voters who are too dumb to know better, yet you refuse to believe the evidence of you own eyes.

      Elsewhere he some accused me of cherry picking data. I do not need to. It is actually really hard to find evidence that any government programs have ever really worked.

      It is hard to find any prices that have not declined in real terms over the past 30 years, and an awful lot of prices have declined in absolute terms.
      You have to cherry pick to find anything that has gotten worse – and those have government fingerprints all over them.

      Where have you been for the past 4 years ?

      I heard lots of talk about patriotism post 9/11. Sure Rush Limbaugh rants about Partiotism – but the most prominent attacks on peoples patriotism over the past 4 years are from the left. Recently Rep. Pelosi told us that anyone who does not support stealing other peoples money is unpatriotic. Senator Obama called Pres. Bush unpatriotic for running up the deficit.

      The president has claimed that those who oppose him are un american, un patriotic, want to see america lose.

      You are essentially saying the same thing when you bitch about obstructionism.

      I wish I honestly believed that the majority of republicans opposing the panoply of legislation over the past 4 years did so because they truly believed it was wrong.
      Fortunately many do. I certainly do.

      It is patriotic not obstructionist to oppose your government when it is wrong or trying to do the wrong thing.

      If Romney is elected and the Republicans control both the house and senate – are you going to be railing against democrats as obstructionist and unpatriotic when they attempt to thwart the GOP agenda ?
      If you characterize attempts to thwart those polices you favor are obstructionist and unpatriotic, and those to thwart those you oppose are patriotic then all you are is a hypocrit.

      What are you smoking ? Who are you listening to ? The only consequential gun debate prior to Aurora is whether BATF and DOJ were selling guns to drug runners for the purpose of creating the kind of event we just had. At the very least BATF and DOJ were stupid and incompetent. Fast and Furious have been in the news for almost 4 years – yet you have completely ignored it. In fact I can not think of a single issue since the President was elected that you have not taken a liberal stance on, nor a single issue that cast the president or democrats in a bad light that you have bothered to address.

      Criticise republicans all you want – when they are wrong – and often they are, I will be happy to join you. But when you are as totally lopsided as you clearly are – how can you look at yourself in the mirror and call yourself a moderate ?

      Where is this great religious tirade you are complaining about ? I have missed it.
      I do not recall Speaker Boehner or Minority leader McConnell making a religious argument ?

      I have made credible evidence based arguments against most of your tirades and those of other moderates here. Now purportedly they are “cherry picking”.
      Fine argue back. Don’t lob anecdotes, or black swan arguments, if my arguments are based on cherry picked data they should be trivial to refute.

      You complain that voters wont bother to really look into the issues, that they are mislead buy all that advertising money – yet not only have you not bought any of those adds your think are so heinous, but you continue to believe so much that contradicts common sense and evidence.

      Why do I have to keep telling you have much better things were than thirty years ago ?
      You were there, you should know better. While there is plenty of data to back up my claims – if you are twenty and have no clue what the world was like 30 years ago, but you were there.

      You were alive for all the assassinations and attempted assassinations, for all the rioting, for the war, for the gas lines, for double digit inflation, interest rates, and unemployment, for ….. and yet you want to go back.

      I wish I could send you back.
      You have been here for an endless stream of government failures. Yet still you are begging a bloated and impotent government to do what it has never been able to do before.

      You do not have to be libertarian to see the world as it is and as it was.

      You witnessed no redistribution of wealth.

      Government did not come and take your money and give it to someone else.
      To the extent it did – I will get behind you. Lets eliminate every subsidy, every special preference, lets get rid of every instance where government or the tax code does not treat us perfectly equally. But that is not what you are asking for.

      But you want to take someone elses money and give it to others or yourself.
      Why – because somebody else has succeeded more than you have.
      Life is not fair – get over it. Nature does not care if you are democrat, republican, or moderate.

    • August 4, 2012 11:30 pm

      One moment we are maligning the rich because they are not spending enough to stimulate the economy. The next we are maligning them because they are.

      Which is it ? Is the economy driven by spending ? If you really believe that, then you should be celebrating the wealthy buying 50M penthouses.

      What is not happening is investment. All of us – rich and poor, are paying down our debts and taking no risk with our money. And this is the economy that brings.

      What you want less of tax. Do you really want even less investment ?

      • AMAC permalink
        August 9, 2012 10:04 pm

        Why so angy lately?

      • AMAC permalink
        August 9, 2012 10:05 pm

        *angry*

  3. Rabbiit permalink
    August 4, 2012 9:17 am

    I don’t recognize the WSJ from your description Priscilla. Its editorial (as opposed to news) section has become a Rupert Murdoch creation, like Fox. Its a purely conservative enterprise, varying between conservative and ultraconservative in its opinions. Each day Real Clear politics links to some comically conservative WSJ opinion piece that boldly predicts that Obama has already lost the election or that Global warming is a left wing invention, etc.

    Forbes is a better choice of read, they have the honestly that print a wider range of opinions than the WSJ. The WSJ opinion factory is simply an echo chamber for well-heeled conservatives. It is a different flavor of conservative than the Rush right wing bile factory, but there is plenty of overlap. .

    • August 4, 2012 10:01 am

      Fair enough, but the same could be said for the New York Times as an echo chamber for well-heeled liberals and leftists, and I doubt very much that Rick would compare them editorially to, say, Reason or Townhall. Journalistic integrity is hard to come by these days, and it is certainly true that “the ideology finds the news” on both sides of the political spectrum. I personally find the NYT far more egregious in its editorial bias, but that may be my own biased perspective, and I am willing to acknowledge that.

      Rick, I think you are right, in that what I am seeing is your increasing hostility to the right. But, again, rather than dispute your claim that the right uses “guns, religion and patriotism” to energize its followers (and I do believe that, at least for many of us on the moderate right, that is highly disputable), I will simply say that the left is equally guilty of playing into the blind emotions of its populist supporters with class warfare and baseless accusations of racism, homophobia and warmongering.

      And, as far as distributrion/redistribution of wealth is concerned….well, I think it is very dangerous to believe that one side of the political spectrum has a vested interest in protecting your money. At this point, I think it is pretty clear that while the GOP may have a vested interest in protecting the rights of businesses and entrepreneurs, the Democrats have an equally vested interest in expanding entitlements.

      The polarization, I believe, stems from the fact that 50% of the population believes that it is paying for 100% of the government pie, and that the other 50% believe that it is not getting enough from that pie. The “paying” 50% (using round figures here, for expediency) believe that they have played by the rules and it is unfair to take more and more of their money to give to the 50% that have chosen not to work for it. The “needy” 50% believe that they have been unfairly kept down by the system, which has benefitted others, and they are therefore entitled to a redistribution. The so-called “safety net” is waved around by both sides like a bloody flag, when, in reality, it is those most in need of it that are being ignored.

      • Rabbit permalink
        August 5, 2012 9:17 am

        Well, it was all tongue and cheek, so if there is any intellectual dishonesty it could only be found in the overly simple world view I was making a parody of.

      • Rabbit permalink
        August 5, 2012 9:38 am

        I have avoided the NYT just about since 911 because of their bias, as well, some of their columnists, Krugman and Dowd, are beyond the pale for me, they are repulsive in their fanaticism and narrow mindedness, the truly ugly side of liberalism.

        I have avoided the Boston Globe for even longer, probably since two of their columnists, one was Bella English, made a crusade of the theme that men deliberately give women breast cancer, breast cancer is a male plot. Their columnists were so far to the left that the me of 15 years ago, who was much more liberal than I am now, could not read them without gagging

        At the same time the NYT employs the estimable and decent David Brooks as a hefty counterweight to its ultra liberal drivelers. As well it prints the opinions of many writers as guests who offer perspectives other than liberal.

        Does the WSJ do the same? I truly do not know, I don’t read it very often, I have the impression that its editorial page only prints right of center, and often very right of center, opinions. Let me know if I an in err and they provide balance in some way.

        While I have no doubt that a good 50% of those who will pull a lever for a GOP candidate have economic reasons for it and do not share the ugly habits and beliefs of cultural conservatives, there is that other huge chunk of the GOP core, who are every bit as bad as liberals and many of us in the center fear, they are racist, homophobic, intolerant Christians on a holy crusade to bring back 1920. Think Michele Bachman and the five GOP members of congress who recently tried to tie former Rep Wiener’s long-suffering wife to some kind of secret Muslim takeover at the state dept through Hillary Clinton. Could it get any worse? Many of us do not want these people to have the unfettered access to power that would come from a GOP sweep.

        It leaves me as usual hoping for a split decision in Nov so that the kooks on each side do not get the keys to the car.

        As a parting thought, won’t it be ironic if it Turns out that Mitt himself is one of those 50% who are getting a free lunch? Do you think he needs it or could he afford to pay something for living the USA, as I do?

      • August 5, 2012 12:50 pm

        I meant no disrespect,Ian…I probably should have worded my remark differently,as I knew you were being tongue-in-cheek. It was well-done.

        And, I do not for even one second believe that Harry Reid (who btw, refuses to release any of his own tax returns) is telling the truth about Romney not paying any taxes. It’s just sleazy politics – it’s the same as demanding Obama to release his school records. I’m sure that, because Romney’s taxes have been primarily on capital gains, like Warren Buffet, Nancy Pelosi and virtually every other wealthy US citizen, his tax rate is lower than those who pay on earned income. No point in going into the very valid reasons why cap gains are taxed at a lower rate, but the overall ignorance of the electorate regarding tax policy would make Mitt’s returns a delicious distraction for the Dems.

    • August 4, 2012 4:10 pm

      I have my own problems with the WSJ. They are more corporatist than free market.

      But labeling them “ultra-conservative” does little beyond demonstrate that you have fallen off the left edge of the earth.

      WSJ frequently runs editorials by members of the current adminstation.
      Pretty much any cabinet member will get anything they submit printed.
      they have run editoricals by Goerge McGovern – even recently.

      In economics they routinely run anything by Blinder and many other far from conservative economists. Pretty much any Harvard or other ivy league economics professor will get printed.

      On AGW they have run several editorials by Prof. Mueller explaining why he is/isn’t a skeptic/warmist or whatever his flavor of the day.

      So who are these ultra-conservative comical op-eds on WSJ ?
      Larry Summers ? George Schultz ? Robert Barro ? John Taylor ? Greg Mankiw ? Andrei Schleifer ? Thomas Sargent ? kenneth Rogoff ? Gary Becker ? Peter Diamond ?

  4. Rabbiit permalink
    August 4, 2012 9:44 am

    That upward wealth redistribution is just a healthy natural process, Rick, that enriches everyone. As long as you can buy yourself a plasma TV for less than last year as a fraction of GDP the system must be working, Pay no attention to those increasingly unaffordable healthcare and education costs, you see, there is a funny inverse relationship at work here, it turns out the lower your family income is the less your need is for those things because of your increase in freedom. This has been conclusively proven by Austrian-Libertarian economics Mountains of cherry-picked statistics will descend on you and bury you if you wish to question this fact, so don’t.

    Also, joblessness and underemployment are just part of the great cycle of life, yin and yang, so to speak so they are also to be embraced with the proper reverence for our freedom; many people have much more free time since they don’t have to work and freedom is always a good thing.

    • August 4, 2012 11:30 am

      Snarky and intellectually dishonest, but funny nonetheless……

    • August 4, 2012 3:54 pm

      All the problems you see – education and health insurance and healthcare prices, unemployment, … have all been better the less government has been involved and gotten worse the more government has tried to do.

      The examples you pick are many of the same ones I would chose to demonstrate how government fails.

      You say I am cherry picking statistics – pick your own.
      Nearly everything that you can buy that has little government regulation, is cheaper today than it was thirty years ago. In many instances it ic cheap even without adjusting for inflation.

      The fact is the lowest quintile possess twice as much real wealth today as they did in 1980.

      Further those prices that have increased in real dollars, health insurance, health care, education, are among the most highly regulated. Prior to PPACA government owns or controls the largest sector of health care and insurance.

      If you think I am cherry picking – find anything that government is heavily involved that is cheaper today than 30 years ago. There must be something, but I can’t think of anything.

      Then pick half a dozen things that have minimal government involvement and compare them to their 1980 prices. There must be something that is more expensive today in real dollars – but again I can’t think of anything.

      Even in the auto industry – which is highly regulated, The cost of a ford focus today is just about the same in real dollars as the cost of a ford pinto.

      The real price of a gallon of gas is the same or lower than in 1970 or 1980.

      You can go to http://www.nber.gov and look up the prices of most everything at most anytime you wish.

      As to joblessness – we have not had sustained unemployment levels this high since the 70’s. While unemployment tends to spike briefly with recessions, long term high unemployment universally coincides with activist government.

      Again don’t trust me – go bother to look at the actual data.

      I would also point out that “mountains of cherry picked data” is an oxymoron.
      How can their be mountains of it, if it is cherry picked ?

      I would strongly suggest that those of you whole beleive that government intervention is successful more often than it is harmful, are the ones cherry picking – and even then the data just is not there.

  5. August 4, 2012 11:43 am

    Both left and right are convinced elites are in control and screwing them over. They mostly just disagree on who those elites are and the best way to address it. And there’s the rub: their proposed solutions are so radically in opposition to each other.

  6. August 4, 2012 3:15 pm

    So reduce the power of government and it does not matter

  7. August 4, 2012 7:23 pm

    The spate of recent remarks about “ultra-conservatives” makes an excellent point about TNM and so called moderates – basically that “your not”.

    Ultra conservative seems to mean anything slightly to the right of yourself.

    Rush Limbaugh is pretty far to the right – though I would not label even him an “ultra-conservative”, yet he has 30M regular listeners. That is 10% of the population. There are more people who regularly listen to Rush Limbaugh than self identify as liberal.

    Do you grasp where that places the center of american politics ?
    Clearly you don’t.

    Romney as an example is barely to the right of center politically. In fact it can be argued that he is slightly to the left of center.

    Yet many here would call him “ultra-conservative”

  8. August 4, 2012 7:25 pm

    What to you call someone who supports equal rights regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation – or pretty much anything else ?
    Who would legalize drugs ?
    Who would substantially cut defense spending and only go to war when our nations interests were directly threatened ?
    Who is opposed to all corporate welfare ?
    Who beleives that when a person or business harms others, pollutes their air, or water or otherwise harms others they are obligated to pay for the harm they caused and/or repair the damage ?

    At TNM you calll them – “Ultra-conservative”

  9. August 5, 2012 1:07 pm

    Rabbit;

    Well atleast you appear to be judging NYT by the same standards as WSJ.

    But given those standards – i can not think of any of the media that would survive.

    For some times WSJ had a regular columnist in the vein of Krugman and Fowd. But he left and has not been replaced.

    Beyond that most of the regular columnists or more in the vein of Brooks, than Dowd.
    But I do not think anyone reads the WSJ editorial page for the regular columns.

    The important WSJ OP-EDs are contributed. WSJ routinely prints opinions from any of a large body of the most prominent economists, businessmen or politicians. A plurality of those reflect a right moderate view, but editorials from prominent leftists and current and former administration appear regularly.

  10. August 5, 2012 1:21 pm

    Rabbit;

    You seem to think that every republican fits neatly into the lefts caricature of Rush Limbaugh.

    I was in the south recently and encountered an interesting quote.
    Southerners are prejudiced against minorities as a group, but not as individuals while in the north they accept the group, but not the individual.

    You have labeled nearly half the nation as racist, homophobic, intolerant, …
    I seriously question whether you actually know a republican ?

    If you do not want the GOP to have the unfettered access to power that might result from he upcoming election – then maybe you should think seriously about limiting the power of government. I can not understand why the left does not understand that power that can be used to advance your causes can also be used to destroy them.

    Pres. Obama famously said “elections have consequences” and “we won”.
    By that logic and by your logic whatever person or party the majority of Americans are willing to elect is entitled to do as they please. This is precisely the means by which Hitler took over the machinery of Germany.

  11. August 5, 2012 1:24 pm

    Helvering v. Gregory

    “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as
    possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the
    treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.
    Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister
    in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone
    does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any
    public duty to pay more than the law demands.”

    Judge Learned Hand

    • August 5, 2012 2:11 pm

      Better tell that to Joe Biden. He thinks it’s unpatriotic to not want to pay more taxes.

      • August 6, 2012 5:54 pm

        That can’t be true. Democrats would never accuse someone of being unpatriotic. Only those ultraconservative bitter republicans clinging to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them would uses patriotism as a political weapon.

  12. August 6, 2012 6:03 pm

    pearows;

    Capitol gains, and income taxes should probably be at the same rate.
    But doing so requires completely eliminating corporate taxes otherwise you are taxing the same money twice. Worse you have doubled the effective tax rate on capitol and investment. Conversely upper margin tax rates need to be low – because taxes on high incomes is indistinguishable in effect from taxes on profits from capitol and investment.

    Particularly at high incomes, wages are essentially a return on entrepreneurs invested time into the business they are building. The “income” of small business owners is significantly different from wages, even though it is taxed the same. It is a return on an investment that is at risk and often quite volatile. I will be happy to see the tax rates for middle and low incomes reduced when they are regularly facing income changes of 300% or more.

  13. August 6, 2012 6:40 pm

    I am constantly suggesting wariness about extending government power, that all the means you employ to advance your favored agenda can be used against you.

    Virginia has enacted new regulations targeted at improving abortion clinic safety. These regulations are just “common-sense” rules. While the motives of those imposing them are in-arguably ideological – how are the motives of those imposing similar costs on other businesses any less ideological ? These regulations are proving exorbitantly costly to businesses that already have excellent safety records – despite the periodic high profile disaster. But in truth the “cost per potential life saved” is lower than is typically used to justify similar regulations against businesses disfavored by the left.

    http://reason.com/archives/2012/08/06/abortion-debate-skewers-political-pietie

    Recently several mayors vowed to use their regulatory power to prevent chic-fil-A from opening franchises in their cities. While I will fully support anyone who wishes to exercise their right to purchase or not from wherever they chose for whatever reason they chose If you permit government the discretion to use the law to punish based on your ideology, you have no basis to cry foul when the same strategy is used against your favored causes.

    Government power is not benign just because you have been fortunate enough to have it directed in the past by those whose ideology correspond with yours.

    Many including some here speak of republicans motivated by hate. It is no more or less hate when you use the power of government to punish others based on your ideology.

    Religious fundimentalists like to say “love the sinner, hate the sin”. That is a philosophy the left could learn something from.

    • April 24, 2013 8:34 am

      That many of the Bolsheviks and other assorted Socialsits (see my eairler post) had Jewish roots, which of course they either denied, ignored or reviled, is tue, but so what? Many people with Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant backgrounds, even some Muslims, also became ardent Marxists. By self-definition, if you are a true Marxist, you are not a Jew, except by accident of birth. Marx himself came from a Jewish background and was famously anti-Semitic, hating all religions, but singling out the Jewish one more than any other, considering its close association with capitalism to be especially galling.

  14. August 6, 2012 8:21 pm

    Getting to the core of “you did not build that”

    http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/08/why-david-brooks-can-look-forward-to-old-age/

    Much has been said about this but Mr. Murray touched on points that others missed.
    It is not about roads and bridges – as the president claims.
    It is not about the luck of circumstance, or even the luck of our DNA, of being born into this society.

    It is that in the end what we accomplish that is important, supersedes that.
    Whether it is the successful entrepreneur or the paraplegic who makes the Olympics.
    Whether it is the big triumphs of celebrities or the invisible triumphs of an anonymous individual overcoming some crushing disability, discrimination or circumstance.

    Those things that truly matter were the result of enormous effort – force of will. Going on when it was hard, even impossible.

    There is no moral merit to choices that were not free, there is little merit to what comes easily. Many of us are talented and fortunate, that is insufficient. No one climbs Everest easily.

    When you take credit – whether for yourself or for society as a whole, for what someone else had to fight for, you steal the most precious thing of all. You steal the only accomplishments that each of us is rightfully entitled to.

    We are not all equal. But we have all faced difficult and costly choices. Sometimes we say no, more rarely each of us sucks it up and pushes through. We are all equal in our ability to strive for our best. We are all entitled to the credit for those few times we have reached it.

    • August 6, 2012 8:29 pm

      As we watch the olympics, we expect our athletes to humbly acknowledge all those who contributed to their success.

      But we grasp that it is crass and false for any coach, family member or other to come forward and say “they would not be here but for me.”

      “You did not build that” belittles not only the accomplishments of entrepreneurs, but of anyone who has ever once struggled to do their best at anything.
      We all depend on others, but our best effort comes from us alone.

  15. AMAC permalink
    August 9, 2012 9:54 pm

    I have many times made it quite clear that I am not planning on voting for Obama. I am not an Obama supporter. That being said (again), I think the “You didn’t build that” campaign is more political knee jerk reaction garbage. If you look watch the speech, as I have, you can understand what was said. He was not attempting to belittle the accomplishments of individuals or groups in this country. It is an attempt to by his party to frame the debate of class warfare, that is overtaking the country. Both parties are going to take anything said and blow it up into a huge issue. I like to think most of us can look past this. As I have said before, I believe Romney and Obama are fairly close ideologically. If you look at recent statements and speeches, the two candidate look very far. Most of us understand the the two will try to position themselves as far from each other as they can to generate the bases of their respective parties. Closer to the election, they then appeal to the center. It’s the same old game every four years, with a few exceptions. I don’t see this election as one of those exceptions. A Texas Senator whom I have supported (both financially and with my vote) has recently joined the “I started that” campaign. I have sent two letters to each of his official offices (in state and in Washington) to voice my disaproval. The only return is that I have been taken of the monthly newsletter distribution! In politics, open minded and reasonable debate is bad for business. This is my cynical view. That is why so many of the traditional news outlets have drifted to the left and right. Hopefully, views and moods towards politics and ideology will change. Hopefully people will find that it is ok consider and agree with views originating from outside of their own affiliation(s). I agree with many views from asmith, pearows, rob, and Rick. That does not mean I do not have my own opinions and ideas, it means I can be open minded, and reserve the right to change my views based on newly incorporated information. That does not attract a lot of attention. It can be attacked as “flip-flopping”. It won’t sell nationally as a radio/television show or publication. Not now, but maybe some day.

    • August 10, 2012 11:34 am

      I think that the “you did not build that” is an important argument. No one got anywhere by themselves….obviously, someone had to care for you as a child, someone had to educate you, etc…….But what Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama are saying is different than that. They are claiming that, without taxpayer funded services, no entrepreneur or businessman would be successful. I listened to Obama’s speech in its entirety – he said that successful people “think they are smarter than you” or “work harder than you.” ::crowd booed:: Then he said that there are a lot of hard working people….clearly making the point that successful people are either lucky or selfish.

      I found it very disturbing, the way I find much of Obama’s leftist rhetoric. I do not find it moderate in the least. What I do see is a herculean effort by liberals to spin his divisive talk as something other than what it is, while attacking anyone who states the obvious, which is that this sort of “economy based on social equality” is nothing but corporatist/socialist.

      • AMAC permalink
        August 10, 2012 11:51 am

        As I said, I do think it was an attempt to frame the debate of class warefare that is out there. It is a popular and effective tool right now. To an extent, their is a war of classes. I think their has always existed a struggle between the classes. During rough economic periods, it is usually exagerated. I think that the speech was an attempt to capitolize on this. We all benefit from many government programs including businessmen and women. That is accurate. I just was trying to explain that I believe this is more positioning for the upcoming election. More political gaming that I do not like. The government has helped many businessmen and women start business’ through grants, low interest loans, roads, direct funding, etc. I just don’t think this speech indicates distaste for small or large business, or socialist tendencies. It was a poorly executed speech and nothing more. Romney has and will do the same, the democrats will run with it while they can. This is just more of the game I dislike.

      • August 10, 2012 7:03 pm

        I do hope you are right, AMAC, and that it was merely a poorly executed speech, not an ideological rant against “the rich.” I might be more easily persuaded to that opinion had the President not included the whole “they think they’re better than you” component to the speech, which struck me as disturbingly demagogic.

        The government can and has helped businesses grow. And government funded research has helped lead to private sector success. But it makes me queasy when the POTUS claims, however awkwardly, that individuals are not responsible for creating their own success, or that sharing the wealth should go beyond a fair and reasonable tax code.

        Of course, with the president of France announcing his plans to tax the rich at a 75% rate, I guess we can consider ourselves lucky that Obama is only talking about 45%, lol. Perhaps all the French millionaires may move here and add to our tax base!

  16. AMAC permalink
    August 10, 2012 11:57 am

    By the way, there is a petition circulating No Labels. I have not signed yet, but it is interesting. It deals with changing some of the political appointment confirmations, face to face meeting between party leaders, etc. I am still reading through some of it, but it is interesting so far. It might be worth posting or discussing.

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