Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wacky Liberalism, Revisted

Wacky Liberalism isn't dead - in fact, it is on the rise!

I discussed Wacky Liberals before - along with Wacky Conservatives.  Both annoy the snot out of me, and probably you as well.  They are both classic weak thinkers and emotional thinkers who posit that "if only" their thinking being imposed on everyone else, the world would be a paradise-on-earth.  It is a form of fascism, really.   Yes, both Liberals and Conservatives can be fascists.  The difference is, the Liberals will just force you to drive a steam-powered electric car, while the Conservatives will stuff you in an oven.

Again, there is nothing wrong with being Liberal.  There is everything wrong with being Wacky Liberal.

I recently ran into some examples of Wacky Liberalism that gave me pause.  I mean, I thought this sort of nonsense had been discredited by now!  But it seems each generation grows its own new Wacky Liberals.  What is annoying and scary and dangerous about Wacky Liberals, is that they believe certain things that are just assumed as baseline truths that are never up for discussion and thus you can't talk to them.

Yes, Wacky Conservatives are the same way - that is the subject for another posting.   But in any argument, you have to challenge the premise - and often the premise is just plain wrong.   And it is annoying when you see some "talk show" like The Daily Show or Bill Maher make these baseline assumptions, without really allowing for any discussion.   It is close-minded thinking.

Here are some of the examples of these baseline assumptions that Wacky Liberals make - and refuse to even allow to be debated.   If you challenge any of these assumptions, you are just written-off as a cruel, heartless conservative bastard.   But sadly for the liberal movement, many "middle of the road" Americans don't believe these assumptions either - which does not bode well for the Democrats in 2016.

1.  We can help the poor by giving them money.   Poverty is the absence of money, ergo, if you give poor people money, they no longer will be poor!  It is such a simple argument, and the refutation is complex, but it does illustrate how simplistic thinking work.  Since the response takes paragraphs and the supposition can be said in a sentence, then there is no point in examining the "hard" answer.  I saw this mentioned on one of Bill Maher's shows - and said as if it were an assumed background norm. Everyone on the panel just nodded in agreement.   Scary stuff.

The symptom of poverty is lack of money.   But the roots of poverty go far deeper than that.  It starts with lack of equal opportunities - to jobs, education, housing.   But what perpetuates it is poor decision-making.   In poor neighborhoods (black and white) education is not valued.  In fact, it is treated with suspicion.  Them smart fellers with them there college degrees, they don't know nuthin!  - you hear this all the time in Georgia, from poor people.

And drugs and alcohol are also part of the problem.   Crack in the Ghetto, Meth in the trailer park.  Black or White, poor people chain themselves to the heartbreak of drug use.   And drug use leads to poverty, as it costs a lot of money to maintain a drug habit, and having a drug habit causes people to make poor financial decisions and makes them unemployable.

This illustrates the corollary baseline assumption about poverty - that all of the poor are nobler and better than us by dint of being poor.   As I noted before, Hollywood loves this angle, beatifying the poor and even endowing them with mystical powers (as in the movie, The Green Mile).   Not being tied down with "materialism" the poor are more in touch with things like supernatural powers, or God or whatever.  Sadly, this is not true - the poor are more likely to be sucked up into the materialist consumer orgy that is the United States.   Look at any trailer home and see how many junked cars, four-wheelers, and snowmobiles are parked outside.   And chances are, they have a larger television that you do.

Poor folks make poor decisions - about major life choices, and also minor spending ones.  Check-cashing stores and payday loan places (and thousands of other raw deals) proliferate in the Ghetto - not because "people there have no other choice" - but because they feel these are good choices to make, or at the very least, have no clue why they are bad choices.

Time and time again, lottery winners (and star athletes) have shown us that even giving millions of dollars to the poor doesn't make them "rich" - as they squander it all in short order.

In order to stop this cycle of poverty, we have to change attitudes - not merely give away free money.  And yes, maybe it would be helpful to pass laws outlawing payday loan places and other poor choices.

Giving away free money to the poor has three fundamental problems:  First, it doesn't un-poor the poor.    Second, that money has to come from somewhere and that means from someone else.   Third, it trains people to expect free handouts, which erodes our society.  The bonus fourth reason is this:  Our "poor" are richer than about 95% of the rest of the planet.   You can't be "poor" and own a car, a microwave, and a wall-screen television.   Well, in America, you can.

But the bottom line is this:  There will always be people at the bottom of the totem pole.  There will always be someone willing to waste their life on drug abuse or other forms of stupidity.  Yes, a solution needs to be found, and a safety net provided.   But you can't cure poverty just by handing out cash.

2.  Money spend on anything is wasteful, as it could help feed the homeless.  You see this all  the time online.    According to these folks, all progress in science, art, literature, architecture, and even humanity, should cease altogether, so long as even one person is homeless in America.   Any money "wasted" on things like art museums, new factories, office buildings, a subway, a public park, or a satellite landing on a comet should be spent on soup-and-blankets for the poor.   Anything less than this is criminal and inhuman.

If mankind had followed this "logic" however, nothing of consequence would ever have been accomplished in the history of man.  The Renaissance?  A waste of resources which could have been better spent feeding the poor!  The moon landing?  Think of how many homeless shelters we could have built!

The problem with homelessness is akin to that of the poor - the solution isn't simply throwing money at people.   Give money to a homeless person, they will still likely end up homeless.   Rather than appeal to emotional arguments ("children are starving in the streets!") you have to look dispassionately at the real facts.

And the real facts are, the majority of homeless have mental health issues, drug or alcohol issues, or both.   Very few homeless are just "economically disadvantaged" and those few that are, are working to get their way out of homelessness.

In order to "fix" homelessness, you would have to intervene in the lives of others and get them off drugs and into rehab, or make sure they take their medications.   If you just gave them money, they would spend it on drugs.  Give them soup and a blanket, and they just sleep in the park.   Build a homeless shelter, and well, you've created a make-shift mental hospital that makes the horrors of Bedlam look like patty-cake.

And this is, in effect, what we have done - closed the mental hospitals, discharged the patients, and then put them in homeless shelters, where anarchy reins.

So if you really wanted to take an individual homeless person and get them out of homelessness, you'd have to get them sober, on their "meds", cleaned up (and get them to clean themselves daily), provide them with a bedroom and three meals a day, and then train them for a job.  We used to call this institutionalization and we deemed it too expensive and inhumane.

And guess what?  The homeless don't want that level of intervention.  In fact, they don't want your busybody do-goody anything - just cash, please.    Many prefer the life-under-a-bridge and being shitfaced or zonked out as much as possible.  Since you can't force them to get sober and take their meds, well, you can't really change their behavior.

And we've all seen this firsthand.  Someone has a sign that says, "I'm hungry, please help!" and you offer them food or offer to buy them food, and they refuse.  "Just the money, thank you" they say.  Because they are not so much hungry as they are just beggars, making a makeshift living off of your sympathy.

There is no easy answer to this problem.   But simplistic thinking of Wacky Liberals says, "if  only we spent all that money..." (meaning YOUR money) on some bum, the world will be a better place.

Oh, right, we can't call them bums, because they are "economically disadvantaged" and have their "dignity".  That is part-and-parcel of Wacky Liberalism - the beatification of the Homeless, who they do not view as dangerous, mentally ill, drug-addicted bums who will steal from you and possibly assault you, but rather saintly harmless folks who are better than you because as Hollywood has taught us, the poor are more spiritual and often have magical powers (I kid you not, watch the Green Mile sometime).

But right, you can't say that, either.   You see, debate on the issue is just cut off - by Wacky Liberals.  You are evil for "having money" and a job and a house and a car, and the homeless deserve it all.  That is their starting point and end point.   It kind of makes me ill.

Here's the real truth about homelessness:  It will always be with us (Jesus even said this).   We don't have the money or the willpower to reopen mental hospitals and commit the more crazy of the homeless people to them.   Ain't gonna happen.   We don't have the money for all the rehab centers in the world, and rehab, by and large doesn't work - even though it costs a lot of dough.

I think all you can do is offer people who really want to change the opportunity to change, and let it go at that.   You can't forcibly make people change, and in the case of homelessness, people have to want to change.

But alas, the Wacky Liberal thinks that "just regular folks" somehow end up homeless by dint of losing their homes (lost the keys or what?) and it "just happened" to them, and they have no way out.   This might happen to a small minority of people who become homeless.  Those folks don't remain homeless for long.  (But it begs the question:  How do you screw up your life to the point where you have nothing to fall back on and no place to live?   And whose fault is that when it happens?).

So the question becomes this:  Is the purpose of our civilization to work and strive so that mentally ill people and drug abusers should have a really nice place to live?  Do we just put off or abandon all plans for anything in this world in favor of creating free apartments, free meals, and free clothing for drug addicts and the mentally ill?   There are some among us who would say "YES" and that such a plan would be the highest achievement of mankind.

Others, including myself, don't think that our civilization will be judged by how we treat our bums.   I am all for getting the homeless off the street and into institutions where they belong.   Drug addicts and crazy people need help - and by living on the street they have demonstrated they are not capable of taking care of themselves.   In the past, a compassionate society would have intervened and had such people institutionalized involuntarily - for their own good.   In today's "free society" we can no longer do that, so we create this cruel system of homeless shelters, revolving-door outpatient clinics, and soup-kitchens.

The homeless "problem" today is one largely caused by Wacky Liberals.   We all saw "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and decided that de-institutionalization was a wonderful thing.  Now we reap what we have sown, and the same Wacky Liberals want to blame everyone else for the problem they caused!

3.  Minorities are Always Disadvantaged and Need Special Treatment.   This is another baseline assumption that is also a bit of paternalism.   The great white man will help all those little people who don't know any better and need a leg up in society.

Again, what galls me is not whether this creed is true or false but that discussion is not even allowed.

Yes, in the past, many racial minorities were subject to discrimination, and beatings, and hangings, and worse.  Our nation's history of the treatment of minorities is nothing to be proud of.   Then again, it is not too different from how minorities are treated anywhere in the world (be it religious, racial, sexual, or whatever - look around you) today or historically.   This is not making an excuse, just pointing out that the United States of America doesn't have a monopoly in horrifically bad deeds.   Minorities are being slaughtered in the middle-east and Africa as we speak, and yet our real outrage in America is over far more trivial things.

The issue with regard to discrimination and racial quotas and other things designed to "fix" past abuses, is that there has to be a legitimate discussion as to when such quotas and fixes should end.  And there are two scenarios where such things as "affirmative action" should be examined and evaluated and possibly retired.

The first is where they are no longer needed.   I am not saying this is today, or even tomorrow.   But eventually, if these programs work as intended then there should come a time when they are no longer needed - by definition.   This is not an emotional argument, or a racial argument, but just a logical one.   In 10 years, 100 years, or 1000 years, eventually there should be racial equality by dint of races perhaps disappearing due to interbreeding.   At such a time, racial preferences shouldn't be required, right?

But to even ask this question is to be called a racist - mostly by white liberals, ironically, who tend to think emotionally and thus think they are being egalitarian by castigating anyone they think isn't politically correct.  And being "politically correct" is ironically to believe that minorities will always need special help.   But there has to be an end game to affirmative action or other racial quotas, and it is a perfectly legitimate thing to argue when this should happen as opposed to just saying that one is not allow to even discuss it.

And speaking of which, we are not even allowed to discuss whether affirmative action does equate to racial quotas.  Wacky Liberals shout "these are not quotas!" but then don't provide a logical, cogent argument as to why setting aside a certain number of seats isn't a quota.   Again, even trying to discuss the issue is to be called a racist - and that is not constructive.

The second scenario where racial preferences, quotas, or affirmative action might be abolished, is if they are shown not to work.   Again, this is an issue to discuss not a conclusion.   One could make valid arguments that affirmative action has worked to improve equal access in our country.   And those may be valid arguments - go ahead and make them.   However, the opposing side is not allowed to even raise the issue without being shouted down as racist.   This is not intellectual thinking, it is dogmatic ideology.

We should have a healthy discussion as to whether things like affirmative action are working - and whether other things should be tried, or modified or whatever.  Maybe something else would work better.  For example, here's  an idea - instead of cramming standardized tests down everyone's throat, why not provide a more level playing field for primary education, and encourage education among minorities?   It seems to me that the real problem isn't setting aside a number of seats at Harvard for minorities, but rather getting enough qualified people to fill them.   For some reason, we want to do set-asides at the college or job level, while not leveling the playing field at grade 7.

And if someone wants to embrace a "culture" that denigrates education, whose fault is that?  Frankly, that is the thing that really has to change in America, if minorities are to advance.

And it is funny, once you become one of these "minority" groups, you can appreciate how the paternalistic thing works.   Suddenly, you are viewed as "disadvantaged" or "damaged goods" and it is tempting to sign up for your quota of free swag.   As a government contractor, I can list myself as a "disadvantaged minority business" or some such nonsense.  I choose not to.

It is also funny when people come up to you and, trying to be supportive, say things like, "Well, I support gay marriage!" and then get upset when you tell them you don't.  You can appreciate how black conservatives feel when White Liberals call them "Uncle Toms" - they are not allowed to think for themselves, and if they disagree with Wacky Liberalism, then obviously they are just toadies for "the man."

Wacky Liberals love minorities, unless a minority decides to vote Republican - and then Wacky Liberals show their true racist colors.  Obviously, the minority in question must be stupid or dumb, to have an opinion that doesn't conform to Wacky Liberalism!  If a minority strays from the party line, they are called every Goddamn name in the book.   Ask Clarence Thomas about that (not my favorite Supreme Court Justice, of course, but Liberals are the first to sling the "Oreo" moniker at him).

And you see this all the time, too, with these racially charged incidents, whether it is Ferguson or Treyon Martin - events with ambiguous evidence and murky circumstances, and no one party being clearly 100% innocent or guilty.  Yet Wacky Liberals always immediately assume that the black person was right and the white person was wrong - there are literally no shades of grey here (and that is no pun!).   It is like with the homeless - they are all saints and we are all sinners.  End of discussion.

And this is extended to even less important matters.  Someone says a wrong word or does a wrong deed, and if they stepped on a cultural landmine, well they are toast.   Forgiveness and rehabilitation are out - and once again, these things are not even up for discussion.

And that's what irks me - that people just want to shut down discussion, rather than raise a cogent argument.

* * *

The common denominator of these three issues is that they are social hot-buttons.   Just by making this post, I am sure some whack-job will flame me calling me a heartless racist bastard - likely without actually reading all that I have written.   They will scan a few lines and go "hrump!  He isn't following the party line here!  Someone needs to be taken to task!"

So what's the danger of Wacky Liberalism?   Well, Wacky Liberals will derail real Liberalism in two ways.  First, since nothing any regular Democrat does is "liberal enough" for them, they will shout down any candidate or elected official and refuse to vote or provide financial support.   Wacky Liberals abandoned Bill Clinton and Barack Obama because they thought they were too conservative.   I guess they think Mitt Romney or Ted Cruz are more to the left?

Because those are your choices - the Democrat or the Republican.   But Wacky Liberals - like Wacky Conservatives, love to support "spoiler" third party candidates, like Ralph Nader (who got Bush elected) and Ross Perot (who got Clinton elected).

This does not bode well for Hillary Clinton, who is actually quite conservative.   This is what scares me - that the Wacky Liberals are getting louder and louder, and shouting down moderate Democrats just as the tea partiers shouted down moderate Republicans (which nearly destroyed the party).  During the primaries next year, the candidates will pander to the far left, and the election could go to the GOP.

THIS is what the Wacky Liberals have wrought!

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