A Bit of Irony…

“I just want to be clean.” — Jim Carroll, from The Basketball Diaries.

A facebook friend (and former classmate) of mine posted the following as her status a few minutes ago, with regard to the debt ceiling debates:

Text, tweet, email, call, yell, send smoke signals; let Washington know that WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO SIT BACK AND SAY, “PLEASE, SIR, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE.”

Although she’s talking about the ongoing political quarrel, the irony here is that this is exactly the request that got us into this mess. We’ve been begging for “some more” at the expense of our neighbors for decades, now, and by refusing to take “no” for an answer, we’ve mortgaged  our kids’ futures. We’ve done this both on the individual and corporate levels, deciding that banks and corporations that fund politicians (and/or the unions that transfer money from those corporations to the politicians) are “too big to fail” (This just in: The Brontosaurus wants a recount.), while on an individual level, what was once charity or the embarrassment of being “on the county” is now an entitlement (with all the connotations that come with that.)

We demanded more for the poor — we now bemoan “food deserts” and underclass obesity, and we expect government to spend someone else’s money to fix that as well. We expect government to subsidize television (remember digital converter box vouchers?). We not only have wanted “some more”, we’ve insisted on it and rewarded the tin gods and their functionaries who have supplied it.

Screw Marx — government has become the opiate of the masses, the panacea we expect to make our lives pain-free. We shouldn’t look at Washington as if we were children, terrified that if Mommy and Daddy keep fighting, we may not get our milk and cookies tonight. We should look at it as a chance to detox — it hurts, but when it’s over, we can be clean.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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19 Responses to A Bit of Irony…

  1. majormaddog says:

    How do you get around the fact that maybe (if you’re lucky) 1/3 of Americans hold opinions such as what you set forth above and, 2/3 really want Medicare and Social Security to be there for them (in one form or another)? We’re all just a bunch of addicts to be looked down upon by you and other pure conservatives? Your 1/3 should trump my 2/3 and how dare we propose otherwise?

  2. majormaddog says:

    If by mathematics you’re talking about my 2/3 – 1/3 split, I’m not going to die on my sword defending that, but I think I’m pretty close. If you’re talking about entitlements, though, there are ways to make the math work. It’s just that your side opposes increases in revenues under all circumstances and has completely outplayed the politicians on my side in making the rhetorical argument of increasing revenues in order to fix the deficit and reform entitlements.

  3. majormaddog says:

    The expropriation argument only works if you’re going from zero taxes to “look ma, we’ve got taxes now.” Since we already have taxes, it’s pretty arbitrary to say what we’ve got now is acceptable, but then that little extra bit of taxes, that there’s just something which I just cannot abide. This line here and no further. I’ll refer to my fuzzy numbers and point out that over half of Americans will be just fine with a little more expropriation from the rich in order to keep SS and Medicare.

    • profmondo says:

      OK, so by your argument, then it’s perfectly OK to entirely confiscate everyone’s income, because we’re already taxed anyway? Whose money is it? And again, even if we accept your claims of mass current support for big government, that doesn’t make it right — merely popular. Finally, I’m going to put on my Scruton hat for a moment (or my FLG “Time Horizons” hat if you prefer) and point out that a civilization or culture is not merely composed of the current inhabitants — it also comprises the dead who have gone before and the unborn that are to come. Your hypothetical present generation is betraying the ideals of the past and the opportunities of the future for present comfort.

      • majormaddog says:

        It’s not my argument, you’re the one calling seemingly any amount of taxes expropriation. Either you accept that the government will need some revenue or you don’t. Everything else is a matter of where the line is drawn. Your necessary evil line is a cop out because you know there will have to be some amount of revenue but you want to be able to criticize anything and everything without having to make the hard calls. I sometimes think you conflate the call for lower taxes with the call for getting rid of things you don’t think the government should be doing. Seemingly you’d be willing to pay even higher taxes than you do now if those taxes were going to the things you believe in – defense, police, fire, etc. So, this whole thing is about your ideological belief that government should get out of certain areas

      • profmondo says:

        It never ceases to amuse me that your side considers only your opponents to have an ideology. And yes, I think some things are necessary — and the role of the government, so don’t bother with your incipient Somalian argument. The fact is we have fundamental differences about the role of government. My position is based on human history, the fact that life contains pain, and the knowledge that we (as a general rule) are individuals capable of making our own decisions, for good or ill. Your position is based on the idea that other people suffering makes you sad, and you want someone else to fix it. I say you can’t fix it, but you can sure as heck bankrupt yourself trying.

  4. Jeff says:

    Although the conventional wisdom this week has been to “tell Washington you’re mad as hell!”, this sort of crisis is one of the rare times I’m almost sort of proud of my elected officials. They’re working around the clock, their own futures are at stake, and all of them, from the most liberal Democrat to the Tea Party freshmen, are staking out legitimate points of view that represent a proportionate segment of the American public. Plus, we, the people, get to see how our president and members of Congress handle a legislative crisis, information that will be far more valuable than next year’s promises and speeches.

  5. dave schutz says:

    In my view, Maddog and Mondo have pieces of the elephant well in view. It’s a big elephant. There’s lots to see. Some smart people say you can overspend the amount you take in in taxes by about the percent the economy is growing without disaster – that would be one to three per cent, at this point, and we are overspending our intake by seven percent. I’m a simple guy, and I tend with Micawber – “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” Maddog wants to raise the income, Mondo wants to cut expenditure, but my guess is neither thinks we can go on overspending by seven per cent.

    If I ran the zoo? If I were Obama, I would let both the middle- and high- income tax cuts expire in 2012. I’d propose a carbon tax. and I’d get rid of the mortgage tax credit for any amount over a $150000 house. That would bring in some more income, not enough to cover every nice-to-do thing we have been funding. There’s no particular reason that current tax or spending levels are optimal – they’re just were the opposing forces fell on the field of battle last time. But the more you raise taxes, the more you discourage people from working for money. Surgeons should not be doing their own sheetrock! Given the results of current rates with monor adjustment as a ceiling on Federal income, I would look to find cuts to bring spending down to that. How to do it? A committee like the Gang of Six, or Twelve, seems reasonable.

    This doesn’t seem all that awfully far from what is likely going to happen, here, so I’m not too unhappy with where we seem to be going.

    • profmondo says:

      I really have no doubt that the Major and I could hammer out a compromise, because we know, love, and trust each other, and I know that if I gave him revenue increases, he’d give me real spending cuts. However, I see no reason to trust the representatives on his side, and I’m sure he’d say the same of mine. There’s the problem.

  6. majormaddog says:

    I think the Professor has it right here. He and I could get a good compromise. Better watch out though ’cause compromise has turned into a dirty word, at least the Right.

  7. Joe says:

    Just for the record, I’m a military pensioner and I won’t be ashamed of that….not ever! I want what is rightfully mine from the gubment by contractual agreeement.

  8. dave schutz says:

    I realize you don’t want name-calling around here, Mondo, but – I think you are a Nozicker. And, that Maddog – he’s a Rawlsite. I suggest it is probably easier to talk to each other, rather than past, if you identify your assumptions.

    • profmondo says:

      Nozick’s obviously a big influence on me, but so’s Nock, and as I occasionally joke, I want a Nozickian world in which people make decisions that Russell Kirk would have been OK with — which is pretty Quixotic. Don’t know if the Major has read Rawls, but yeah, I think you’re right.

  9. dave schutz says:

    A pox on the Nozickers, and on the Rawlsites too. I am far closer to Nozick, but I see flaws: Rawls’ famous thought experiment is What Would You Want From In The Womb? and his assumption that everyone would want a situation in which the lowest and least are doing pretty well, compared to the top dogs. Assumption is that there will be lowest & least, and that it is fated that some people will be L&L. Nozick has a much more egalitarian going-in assumption, that folks make their lives and fortunes, and that it is grossly unfair to pick one’s pocket to enrich the one who has made life choices that send him into L&L. I kind of buy the Rawls assumption, that some people come with equipment – mental strength, stamina, focus on the future – which leads to success. So I sort of don’t think people are the authors of their own fortune, as much as Nozick does. But though I sort of buy Rawls’ assumptions, I don’t buy the prescription – if you redistribute hugely, people will see that their efforts are for nought, and they won’t make efforts. And my view is that the choice from behind the door of the womb can well be that you want to go into a world in which diligence is rewarded, etc., even though you have a chance of being one of the L&L in such a world.

  10. Pingback: A Little Late to the Party… | Professor Mondo

  11. dave schutz says:

    Better watch out, Major: there’s another Maddog out there! See comments – http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/08/16/blue-partisans-shorten-the-lines/#comments

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