Monday, July 28, 2008

Typical Midwesterners and the Dark Side of the Force

I have a friend -- same friend who is hopelessly infected with Bush Derangement Syndrome, use a term this weekend about "typical midwesterners" -- and it was not meant as a compliment.

Her husband ... born and raised in the midwest. Me ... raised in the midwest. My wife (whom she was talking to at the time) born and raised in the midwest. And her birthday party the night before where her house was filled with family and friends, all of whom live in the midwest. Many born and raised there.

In my book, it was a house filled with "typical midwesterners". I kind of shook my virtual head -- the one inside my head. Imagine saying "typical woman", "typical Black", "typical Arab". But "typical midwesterner" is fine. Cling. God. Guns. Superstitions. Not progressive. Unlike me. Can I get an Amen here?

This woman -- nice and well-meaning as she may be, is a dyed in the wool progressive. And I got to thinking about that kind of thought -- the kind of thought where you take a whole class of people based on geography and use them as a foil to let people know what you aren't by contrasting your self-image with what that group, supposedly is. And I thought ... what drives that? What need does it fill?

The answer is, of course, that it is a need to feel "special". And knowing what I know about her I know her childhood wasn't excactly a praise-fest from her parents. Mine wasn't either, but there was some modicum of balance -- plus, I had religious teachings to fall back on when I needed to gauge how decent a person I was when I was feeling inadequate. She did not.

There is an acknowledgement void in her life that has never been filled. That kind of void can never be filled from without, it can only be fed. It's a temporary satisfaction, but it always leaves the recipient wanting more.

Not all, but I'd say most "artists" fall into a category of people who have that void to some extent. Actors, especially. (Hollywood).

And what is the easiest place to to go to -- to fill the "feel good about myself" void?

The trough of Progressive Politics.

Progressive Politics lays out problems that everyone acknowledges and provides flowery generalized psuedo solutions that typically pay homage to some utopian ideal but have little or no substance to them.

Feed the babies who don't have enough to eat.
Shoe the children with no shoes on their feet.
House the people livin' in the street.
Oh oh, there's a solution.
(don't get me wrong ... great song, but it's a song.) How are we going to do all that? We're going to:

fly like an eagle to the sea
fly like an eagle
let my spirit carry me
fly like an eagle
till Im free
oh, lord, through the revolution

Which all sounds good, but what "solution" have I provided here? None. I've used flowery words and expressed a desire for change. I've brought it to society's attention, and I want something done about it. And that is the extent of my responsibility.

I bought a T-Shirt. I went to a concert. I scolded my neighbor for throwing that shopping bag away. I chained myself to a fence. I painted my face and shouted people down with a slogan-filled sign on a stick. I voted for the candidate that said he/she would fix it. How? Doesn't matter. I did my part, and I feel good about it.

Progressivism is the dark side of the force. The dark side is the seductive, easy side. It requires no thought, no discipline, only emotion. You give yourself to it. You feed that emotion to something that has the power to feed off of it, to use it, and your responsibility is done. The higher powers will now take care of it.

Every socialistic revolution got its power from the hawking of these quick and easy emotional "solutions". Be careful what you wish for when you wish for a revolution.

One of the last things she said as we left was "I wish we could sue these oil companies for making so much money" when we were expressing a preference for lower gas prices.

How many "amens" do you suppose she gets in an average day saying stuff like that? High gas prices? Sue the oil companies. I'm paying too much, they're getting too much - 'cause I say so and it'll make me feel better.

And of course that's the kind of solutions progressive politicians offer. So people vote for them. With no understanding of what the economics of oil actually are -- or for that matter, the economics of anything. Suing oil companies (for something that isn't illegal ... but suppose "we" win anyway) ... raises the cost of oil companies doing business.

You wanted lower gas prices. That won't get them for you. You might feel like you "stuck it to 'em", and they might even make less money because of it. But you won't pay lower prices. If anything, you'll pay higher prices so they can cover the cost of the lawsuit.

They make about an 8% profit margin, from what I understand. They make the money they do because of volume, volume, volume and the security of increasing demand. Suppose we cut that profit margin down to 4%. New exploration, new production is less worth the cost. Supply goes down. Price goes up. Oil company employees lose jobs. Who wins?


But progressive politics doesn't have to go into studied detail about things, only provide a flashy veneer of "truthiness", and people are all over it.

It is much harder to study and learn the ways of the Jedi, the mechanics of economics, the dynamics of human nature than it is to say "education is important!" and vote for the candiate who promises more "support" (whatever that means) for public education. Never mind how badly public education is failing us. Never mind how public education is now one of the top preachers and purveyors of the ideals of progressive politics.

You can talk about Hope™ and Change™ and Real Solutions™ until your face turns blue, but until you incorporate a knowledge of how things actually work into your solutions to bring about the change you hope for ... rather than try to dictate or force the change by fiat ... you'll only make things worse.

I realize that Misha long ago published a convincing dissertation on why the Imperials were, in fact, good and the rebellion bad in the Star Wars series. This is why he calls himself the Emporer. But that's one valid analogy. Mine is a different one. Different take. His is worth a read, and I'd link it if I could find it again. I'll give it a little more effort later. Update: Misha was kind enough to send me links to his essays: part 1 and part 2.

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