Skip to comments.She's Baaaaack!
Posted on 09/26/2011 8:19:38 PM PDT by Sick of Lefties
No sooner does Noman think he's done with Elizabeth Warren than she leaps into the fray with yet more provocative material. This woman is a living, breathing blog-op.
It's worth taking time to address her for several reasons. First, she's a walking compendium of Liberal certitudes whose cocksure righteousness causes her to effuse pristine formulations of Statist credal beliefs. Secondly, she's a Chaired Harvard Law Professor, which attests to her position at the top of the profession's food chain, and highlights the beliefs that animate the nation's preeminent reservoir of legal wisdom. Finally, she's a perpetual menace to society.
Her latest publicized outburst contained the following observations: -$4 trillion of our present financial hole was caused by George Bush --$1 trillion in tax cuts for the rich --$2 trillion in two wars on our children's credit card --$1 trillion in benefit giveaways to the drug companies (applause) -We can fix our problems by not doing those things (laughs) -Nobody in this country got rich on their own -Factory builders, specifically: --Moved goods on roads that the rest of paid for (huzzahs) --Hired workers the rest of us paid to educate --Were safe because of police and fire forces that the rest of us paid for --Didn't have to worry about maurading bands, and to hire someone to protect against them, because of the work the rest of us did. I n sum, her message to factory owners is: "You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea. God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But, part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."
Applause was generous from the exclusively white, middle-age, near-old, or plain-old gaggle of fatsos populating the event, which was held in a suburban indoor patio. The scene transported Noman back to UC Berkeley in the 1970's. He can smell the Birkenstocks now.
The response on Free Republic (www.freerepublic.com)--"America's exclusive site for God, Family, Country, Life & Liberty conservatives"--was immediate and eloquent. To wit:
"You didnt have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory...
While admiring the conciseness, veracity and sufficiency of this riposte, Noman would like to address Professor Warren's ideas at greater length.
They have apparently resonated so well with the public that the President has incorporated them into his talking points. In this stump speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, he echoes Warren's themes and parrots her emphasis on schools and roads that served to help businessmen make their money. The full speech is on C-Span. The leit motif occurs at minute 18, just before the President's making the faux pas of arguing that billionaires should pay taxes at the same rate as Jews. Oh, my.
Noman is willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt. He simply misspoke. He probably was trying to say "junior" or "June bug"--probably not "Junior Senator from Illinois, or Juneral Electric. But, in the spirit of fairness, Noman would like to hear this gaffe droned on about throughout the election season. In a word, Noman would say "Macaca."
While Professor Warren's felicitous formulation omits one social party crucial to businesses success, viz. customers with money in their pockets, her words underscore a venerable principle. Nobody alive is an isolated, autonomous creature. Human beings are social entities.
We do not bring ourselves into being, birth ourselves, raise ourselves, invent our own language and customs, educate ourselves, propel ourselves through forest and jungle, dictate culture, etc.
It would be an absurdity of the highest order, a denial of the indisputable truth that Professor Warren appropriates for her purposes, to claim the individual right as an autonomous actor to kill one's baby in the womb, for instance, or to insist upon self-defining the mystery of life in splendid isolation from others in ways that oblige them contra longstanding cultural understandings to accept one's marriage to a member of the same sex.
Noman is certain that no sane or responsible person would ever suggest such self-absorbed inanities, certainly not Professor Warren.
He thus foresees many avenues of future bipartisan collaboration to redress decades of bad law imposed by Liberal jurisprudes investigating whether an isolated, abstract, individual right existed--to fire a gun for instance--without considering the context of its discharge into another person's body.
With respect to Professor Warren's factual premises, Noman thinks it will be more difficult to find common ground. Her use of the term "we" recalls the joke in which Tonto responds to the Lone Ranger's declaration that "We're surrounded by Indians and in trouble." Tonto replies: "Who do you mean by 'we,' Kimosabi?" Neither are we as tonto (stupid, in Spanish) as she apparently thinks. Nor are we her faithful sidekicks.
Some background might help to explain. Noman is Catholic, and his Country is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution to help him raise his children in his faith. The Supreme Court assures us that it has something to do with a talmudic analysis of the words "respecting an" in the First Amendment.
The wee-ist scintilla of religious taint dispels the State's obligation to include the No-children within Professor Warren's royal "we." Indeed, it obliges the opposite.
Noman provides his No-children with the benefits of a classical liberal education at home and in various cooperatives, which the State will not pay for, and at considerable expense to himself. When he needs help too cover the thousands of dollars of tuition that eight No-children can ring up (tens-of-thousands including the No-children in college), he turns to his parish, not his government. His Church responds with Christian charity; his State with Liberal prejudice.
His government--the one he pays taxes to in order to educate other people's children, inter alia, in beliefs inhospitable to, or openly critical of his faith--has no commitment to him, his No-children or to similarly situated religious families. We educate our children as we choose to, not as bureaucrats choose for us. They consequently refuse to help, and wash their hands of the responsibility to these "next kids who come along."
In sum, we're not entitled. Liberals say so. That's fair. Because Liberals are compassionate. They're for equality. They're against suffering.
Call Noman old fashioned. He wants his children to learn Latin, Logic, Literature, and the like in a way that does not slight the achievements of occidental history or its Judeo-Christian moral foundations.
He does not see the benefit of having Democratic Party apparatchiks and conventioneers teach his children how to use a condom, especially at an age when they are not able to.
On that topic, how might one explain procreation to a five-year old, or why one might choose the activity that brings it about while rejecting the act's full dimensions? How does one explain sexual desire to children? Why should one?
What gives bureaucrats the right to teach other people's children essentially moral doctrines at a pre-moral age, e.g., thou shalt have it as thou pleasest, as long as we permitteth it; and remember, children, Heather hath two mommies? By virtue of what is the State entitled to our children's minds? Secret knowledge?
What debilitating silliness public education has devolved to. And, to Professor Warren's mind, this is how the factory owner succeeded and made a hunk of money? This is what successive rounds of government pork purport to create jobs with?
Noman's plight as one with children that the State will not educate because of his nefarious preferences was underscored the other day by an Asian neighbor in his University neighborhood, which is heavily populated by intellectual immigrants. She approached him to sign a petition calling for reinstatement of school bus service that had been cut from the city's budget.
Noman signed it despite knowing that cuts were necessary, as are an entire reevaluation of the things that government funds, only because he's certain that the city of Ann Arbor didn't cut perks and gravy jobs that it should have, and rather imposed burdens on homeowners like this woman standing before him.
She asked if the No-children also went to the local schools, which are a five-minute drive, or twenty-minute walk away. She seemed surprised to learn--uncomprehending would be a better word--that Noman paid tuition, paid for books, supplies, tech equipment, food and transportation to schools a twenty-five minute drive away, all out of his own pocket.
Noman didn't try to explain why she, a foreigner who could barely speak English, was entitled to a government sponsored education for her children--education that Noman subsidizes with taxes--and he, a natural-born citizen wasn't.
How could he explain that the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" ordain that her children are entitled to free education at his expense, but his children aren't. Perhaps he could merely have said that he believes that all "is" by virtue of participation in the being of God, and that he wants his children to learn it, too, and left it at that.
The salient point for Professor Warren is that there are millions of kids that "we" don't pay to educate who also make the factory builder successful, on her terms. It is fraudulent and offensive to enlist their name and moral authority in her crusade, and adds insult to injury to invoke them in order to increase their taxes, not just the factory owners.' It is raw abuse to increase their compulsory contribution to a benefit they are precluded by the increasers from receiving.
On more general grounds, her terms are contentious. Certainly not in the Keynesian enclaves she frequents. But, where people know the rudiments of the actual economics that have yielded such prosperity in America, they understand: the dangers of rapidly escalating indebtedness; the insanity of treating a debt-induced sickness by prescribing yet more of it; the folly of trying to grow an economy by stimulating demand rather than stimulating more supply to be demanded; that an increase in the wealth of those who under-consume and take risk to create capital in order to produce more of something to consume in the future benefits everyone in an economy--they have already "paid forward for the next kid who comes along," even before paying taxes, which they do in disproportionate numbers; the importance of fomenting savings; that higher taxes inefficiently distort economic incentives and lower taxes do the opposite by freeing people to make their own experiments and reap the rewards if successful; that private enterprise rather than government redistribution better increases society's productive capacity, expands its economy and benefits all who live in it; that private capitalism induces even the greedy to raise other's standard of living; that the rich get that way by offering something of value to others, not by making them poor.
There are alternatives to government's commandeering of resources and control to build roads, educate children and provide security, let alone alleviate suffering and be fair. Government control provides patronage, waste and corruption--and cheap thrills for big egos--not productivity, prosperity and liberty.
There are private ways of compensating for the attendant wealth disparities. That is the role of intermediate associations such as family, church, community associations, foundations.
Mommy government is not the only way to address income inequality or its affects; neither is it the best. It is only the most expensive, and most likely to end in bankruptcy.
Doubt it? Tell Noman, Professor Warren, are the BRIC countries America's new creditors because of the relatively free operation of trade along capitalist lines, or because of United Nations' mandates?
Public problems do not necessitate public solutions. Private solutions to public problems are more intelligent, effective and preferable. So, please, leave us alone with your economic wizardry and superior compassion.
With respect to the rest, even taking President Bush's initiatives on her terms, is she suggesting that the Bush tax cuts didn't benefit the nation's overall well-being after the dot.com crash and 9/11 blows to the economy? Is she denying that President Obama himself declined to reverse them when he had the chance due to the baneful economic affects such a blunder would unleash.
Does President Bush's $2 trillion on our children's credit card trouble her less than the $5 trillion (more than twice as much in half the time) that President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and Democratic governance ran up between 2006 and 2010? Or did they get a forbearance from new creditors?
How does President Bush's $1 trillion dollar giveaway to drug companies in return for a senior's benefit that many Democrats supported compare to the Pharmaceutical Industry's expected payoff for conspiring with President Obama and Democrats alone to impose an unwanted, unpopular healthcare regime on the country?
Does the money thrown at an entire productive industry trouble her more than the $500 million thrown away on Solyndra, merely one Green plunderer of the nation's Treasury in a sea of so many on Democrat's watch?
By virtue of what are we to trust Professor Warren to fix these problems and not committ them herself to the Nth degree? Her intellectual modesty? Certainly not the track record.
Professor Warren, please review these questions regarding your philosophical anthropology, your notions of who deserves to be considered in the social compact, your ideas about how money is made, and your views of recent government history. Then, please contact Scott Brown's campaign to challenge him to a debate. I know you're good at it. But, Noman is dying to see you in action outside of your element.
The rich are those who have made a lot of money. There are many ways to do that, especially in our system, and not all of them are crooked. Some are, few, I think. It’s the government route—the well traveled path of public servants—that troubles me the most. Just my predilection.
All people are flawed, rich and poor alike. We’re all sinners born with original sin. We all have our fights. Some fight better, or worse, than others, regardless of money. Wealth just accentuates the struggle, and draws attention to it. It doesn’t change the primordial fact; it just raises the stakes.
Ayn Rand saw one thing clearly: government compassion is tyranny. Thomas Aquinas anticipated her by a millennium: Justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice is corruption.
She suspected, perhaps rightly, that at the root of government compassion lied the self-interested action of people seeking to instrumentalize collective power in order to line their pockets.
I never had much time for objectivism, or the notion of selfishness as a virtue. She didn’t understand the social nature of man.
She had grave kinks. That her passion scenes were bloody and violent seemed indicative to me. She referred to herself as “men like me.”
She was woman ahead of her times in ways I wish temporality had never caught up to.
With respect to learning, I’m always open to it. Quite often I have reason to thank others for their help.
All the best. Thanks for the praise.
And surely you know I'm not nitpicking. I think it matters -- alot -- and for the reasons I stated.
Here's the irony of Rand, that I doubt you'll hear anywhere else: Marx argued that man's lower nature would doom capitalism to be overtaken by communism, with socialism as an interim stage on the path.
Rand espoused a vision of capitalism that barred the very virtues given us to master the lower nature. And her ideas were deeply revered by influential people, and more widely so than probably acknowledged.
She propagated the very form of secular capitalism that Marx said would doom capitalism to socialism, and then communism.
Rand had her day. And here we are.
There's one major flaw in Warren's argument -- it doesn't explain business failures.
If a business' success isn't due to the owner's efforts so much as it is from externalities such as police, fire protection, infrastructure, education and so on, no business would fail, since all businesses use them fairly equally. But the fact is, every day, there are businesses that do fail. If what Warren said was true, these same externalities would have to be responsible for those as well. Though, I doubt that people like Warren are willing to accept that part of the bargain.
That means that something other than these externalities must be the deciding factor. The owner's efforts.
Great point. Wish I’d thought of it.
I’ll grant that she’s right that nobody succeeds in a vacuum. We’re all social creatures. That is insufficient for business success, as you point out, however.
The galling point is that her Party is the party of the isolated, autonomous individual. She’s a hypocrite to rediscover man’s social nature when it’s time to pay the bills for her autonomous decision-makers on the government dole in the various states.
Unfortunately, “moderate” Scott Brown lacks the moral authority to point it out, as he’s bought into her premises.
“was the remark about the rich not getting that way by stealing from others (I paraphrase from memory) — which I believe is true in the large part but can by no means be accepted as unchanging truth”
That’s about it. In a capitalist economy, people get rich by satisfying other’s needs and expanding productive capacity, not by making them poor so as to prey on them more easily. That’s what Statists do through the agency of big government, which is why the USSR collapsed and why the USA will too if we don’t change.
I realize that there are many caveats and limiting variations on this theme, e.g., scammers, cronyism, cabals, corporatism. It was just the tag end of sentence meant to underscore a general truth, not the proclamation of an unchanging truth.
“Marx argued that man’s lower nature would doom capitalism to be overtaken by communism, with socialism as an interim stage on the path.”
Marx was not a prophet. He was an astute critic (and an impudent one at that). The accuracy of his predictions might have as much to do with the attractiveness of his ideas (to a certain type of person) for political rather than technological solutions to man’s social problems, and to the machinations of the Communist Party (and offshoots) that his Manifesto inspired, than to his prescience or analysis.
I found Pope Benedict’s discussion of Marx’s influence interesting in points 20, 21 of “Spe Salvi” (Saved in Hope (2007)). You might, too (see, www.vatican.va). He concludes on this note: “[Marx] forgot that man always remains man. He forgot man and he forgot man’s freedom. He forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil. He thought that once the economy had been put right, everything would automatically be put right. His real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favorable economic environment.”
It appears that Marx made the same mistake as Rand.
I take your point about Rand’s incapacitating the virtues necessary to forestall evil. We agree. She made a virtue of vice, selfishness specifically, which is a losing proposition in the long run. Character is with us always. Nobody can be a pig in his business life without consequence to his life overall. And pigs, just like Orwell’s, are more suited to power lust than to freedom.
That is not to say that the pursuit of self-interest makes one a pig, which is why I’m a capitalist despite Rand’s excesses.
There are things about her I like. Her critique, like Marx’s is devastating. Perhaps we could say that the negative sides of each one’s oeuvre is penetrating. The positive sides are flawed, incomplete and dangerous if taken as gospel.
As an aside, your remarks suggested a different way to look at her, and Marx: through the lens provided by Alasdair MacIntyre in “Whose Justice? Which Rationality?”
Victory vies with Excellence as alternative grounding concepts for human action and moral evaluation. Each provides meaning to virtues such as justice or temperance. Both systems make reference to those words; they simply mean different things in each system. What is a virtue in one may be a vice in the other.
He argues that Excellence is the appropriate grounding mechanism, and that traditions arising out of Victory-centeredness are problematic on several grounds. Both Rand and Marx arise out of the latter.
Anyway, look, capitalism is just another "ism." The right for freely consenting adults to own and dispose of private property according to their own lights is quite provided for by "thou shalt not steal," and insisted upon in the declaration of independence, and probably in some other places like the Magna Carta that you'd know about but I wouldn't. An "ism" can't even approach it, and only diminishes it by reducing it from what it really is -- a dimension of liberty.
Capitalism -- imho -- is an ideal at best, an abused buzzword at worst. All ideals are imperfect and limited. Like "Darwinism," it's an attempt to secularize a law of nature -- to dethrone God. I think its time for thinking people to acknowledge that.
Atlas Shrugged woke me up when I was 21 -- right about the time it was waking everyone else up. It was good for that.
Rand was, like so many "atheists," obsessed with Christ, whether she knew it or not. Her hero was Christlike. Her Utopia was a 'promised land.' Unfortunately, ideals -- unachievable paradigms necessarily limited in dimension and therefore unreal -- are all atheist have. Marx was an idealist, too. Idealists always lead astray. Malcom X was an idealist. So was Hitler. Idealists are currently destroying America.
The real world is so much more cooperative to human welfare, if only they'd get their idealistic boots off its neck.
Glad to trade ideas with you. I never read long posts -- yours was an exception. Well done. The articulation of the argument about who pays for and who benefits from education was brilliant and needful.
“gawd you’re deep. Ouvre?”
Naw. I just know a few foreign words.
“Anyway, look, capitalism is just another “ism.” “
Fair enough, as will all that follows it.
Capitalism is the economic ordering of social life that corresponds to the political ordering of Liberty. Michael Novak wrote cogently about the third leg of this tripod, a Pluralistic cultural-moral sphere. Over the years, I have come to appreciate his position, and to think of these three legs—Capitalism, Libety, Pluralism—as delimiting American exceptionalism.
I read Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead in my teens and was profoundly influenced by them. I remember feeling swelled up with the sensation of a Francisco D’Ancona or Howard Roarke, even as I joined the sexual revolution, decried my evil, racist country and bought into every communist idea the zeitgeist was pedaling. The decades, life, etc. have taught me the dual folly of my youth.
“Glad to trade ideas with you. I never read long posts — yours was an exception. Well done. The articulation of the argument about who pays for and who benefits from education was brilliant and needful.”
It’s been a pleasure dialoging with you. Thanks for the compliment.
I see myself more as Ragnar Daneskjold these days.
OK, without recanting the more mysterious view of economics that I posted, I understand that it can be useful, oh, I suppose it's necessary, to expound the concept and offer an intellectual rationale for it. But that process is a derivative of the thing itself, a snapshot, a static representation. I guess like the Bible is -- it's a static articulation of The Living Word. And as we know, subject, in its limited nature, to infinite interpretations and misunderstandings.
But the real thing is alive, has a reliable, unchanging character, but is ultimately never fully grasped rationally.
The outlaw who becomes the policeman out to rob the thieving poor to restore the productive rich.
It took a Robin Hood President and Congress to make many feel that way.
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