“Who's In Charge?” - Part 3 - March of the Penguins... er, Progressives
In 1914, Woodrow Wilson was asked "can't you let anything alone?" he answered with, "I let everything alone that you can show me is not itself moving in the wrong direction, but I am not going to let those things alone that I see are going down-hill." These Elites, now calling themselves “progressives”, imagined themselves the world's best examples and dreamed big dreams of establishing order, justice, and peace at home and abroad (under their control, of course). This meant they needed power. Real POWER.
Wilson was the first American 'statesman' to argue that the Founders were wrong to deprive the U.S. government of the power to reshape American society. Nor was Wilson the last to invade a foreign country (Mexico) to "teach [them] to elect good men." World War I and the chaos at home and abroad that followed it showed the Progressive's international schemes required blood and promised more to be shed. Their domestic management had not improved Americans' lives, but given people a taste of arbitrary government, e.g., Prohibition. Any difficulties with their plans and programs were written off as the result of the American people's backwardness - and the Elites decided there was something deeply wrong with America. Progressives began to look down on the masses, saw themselves as the vanguard of the future, and began to look abroad for examples to emulate.
Many Progressives joined the "vanguard of the proletariat," - the Communist Party. Many were deeply sympathetic to Soviet Russia, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Progressive were united, however, in being bitter about America and its attitudes. In 1925 the ACLU sponsored a legal challenge to a Tennessee law that required teaching the biblical account of creation. The trial, broadcast nationally on radio, as well as the movie Inherit the Wind, allowed the Elites to drive home the point that Americans who believed in the Bible were willful ignoramuses. World War II was on the horizon, and Progressives agreed on one thing: the approaching war should be blamed on the majority of Americans, because they had refused to lead the League of Nations properly (i.e., let the Elites rule).
Franklin Roosevelt began the process that turned the Elite class into rulers. America's problems would be fixed by a "brain trust" (picked by him). His New Deal's solutions turned the Progressives in charge into powerful bureaucrats and (later) into powerful lobbyists. In the old saying: they came to Washington to do good, and stayed to do well.
Recently, Barack Obama described his opponents' clinging to "God and guns" as a characteristic of inferior Americans. He justified himself by pointing out he had said "what everybody knows is true." Confident "knowledge" that "some of us, the ones who matter," have grasped truths that the common herd cannot, truths that direct us, truths the grasping of which entitles the Elite to discount what the common folk say. Instead, we (the Elite) are to to presume what they mean and act accordingly. After all, The Elite are the only ones worthy to lead, and are - in fact - destined, to rule.
The Elite has a single agenda - accumulating POWER for itself. Despite claim of intellectual superiority and public mandates, it stakes it holds power the oldest technique: patronage and promises thereof. Following what has become SOP - Standard Operating Procedure - for the Left, is maintains a political machine focused primarily on providing tangible rewards to its members. They often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods, and substantially enhance the upper levels' wealth. Regardless of whatever else they may do or accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges (civic, as well as economic) to the party's clients, directly or indirectly. The Elite's standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government . This means those who run it (the Elite) will profit by paying for political support with privileged jobs, contracts, etc. The Elite use this approach not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.) and environmental concerns (climate change, species extinction, etc.). There can be no doubt that control such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it.
By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, the Elites have made themselves the arbiter of wealth and poverty. The economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force. However, modern government is about nothing if not tampering with civil equality. By using this power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices - or even to buy in the first place - modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. If you are not among the favored guests at the table, you are on the menu.
Modern laws and regulations are hideously long because wordiness and length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally. The Obama health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others (because their senators offered key political support), but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass those indirect taxes onto the general public. The financial regulation bill of 2010, instead setting unequivocal rules for the entire financial industry in few words, spends some 3,000 pages (so far) tilting the field exquisitely toward some players and away from others.
These and other products of Democratic and Republican administrations and multiple sessions of Congress empower countless boards and commissions arbitrarily to protect some persons and companies, while ruining others.
In 2008, the Republican administration first bailed out Bear Stearns, let Lehman Brothers sink in the ensuing panic, but then rescued Goldman Sachs by infusing cash into its principal debtor, AIG. Then, in 2009, its Democratic successor used similar discretionary power (and money appropriated for another purpose) to give major stakes in the auto industry to labor unions that support it on election day.
The Elite will even admit that they do not read the laws. They don't want to. They don't have to. And they don't want the governed to have the slightest clue what its rulers are doing. This is because, under the Elite rules, laws exist for the sole purpose of granting POWER, and all anybody has to know is who gets the benefit (i.e., the Elites, one way or another). By making economic wealth and power dependent on regulation, the Elites teach the common folk that personal wealth and prosperity *must* be bought with the coin of political support.
For the last twenty years, as Democrats and Republicans joined forces to force banks to make loans for houses to people and at rates they would not otherwise have considered, builders and investors had every reason to make as much money as they could from the ensuing inflation of housing prices. When the bubble burst, only those connected with the ruling class at the very bottom and at the very top were bailed out - the middle (and subsequent generations of them) were left to pay the bill.
Similarly, by taxing the use of carbon fuels and subsidizing "alternative energy," the Elites are busy creating the world's biggest opportunity for making money out of things that few (if any) would buy without government intervention and largess. Example: the U.S. ethanol industry exists almost exclusively because of subsidies. The prospect of legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions and allot certain amounts to certain companies set off a feeding frenzy among large companies to show support for a "green agenda," because such allotments would be worth tens of billions of dollars. That is why companies hired some 2,500 lobbyists in 2009 to deepen their involvement in "climate change." At the very least, such involvement profits them by making them into privileged collectors of carbon taxes. And, you will note, that the programs, economic objectives and political desires have very, very little - if anything - to do with addressing or “fixing” any technical aspects of energy production.
Any "green jobs" created in this environment are creatures of subsidies. The end result of these actions upon “climate change” is debatable. I can argue that there is NO WAY to accurately measure the short or long-term effects of current political proposals. And I'd be right, because virtually all the scientific research in this area has been focused on creating POLITICAL JUSTIFICATION for 'action'; not on making sure we “fix the problem.”
The one KNOWN effect of all political proposals to address climate change is simple: it increases the number of people dependent on the Elites, and teaches Americans that satisfying the desires of the ruling class is a safer and more certain way of making a living than producing goods and services that people actually want to buy. Having the Elite ruling class pick economic winners and losers redirects the American people's energies to tasks the Elites deems more worthy than what Americans might choose for themselves. Thus the Elites achieve what they want: power and control.
According to the Elites, if left to themselves, the average American will do the wrong thing.
They will use land inefficiently in suburbs and exurbs, making it necessary to use energy to transport them to jobs and shopping. Americans drive big cars, eat lots of meat as well as other unhealthy things, and go to the doctor whenever they feel like it. Americans think it's OK to spend the money they earn to satisfy their own private desires even though the Elite knows that correct motivations lie in improving the community and the planet. The Elite knows that Americans must be forced to to live more densely and closer to work (as assigned to them by the Elites, where they will be 'most effective'). Americans must drive smaller cars and change their lives to use less energy, their dietary habits must improve, they must accept limits in how much medical care they get, they must divert more of their money to support people, cultural enterprises, and plans for the planet that the Elites values higher. So, ever-greater taxes and intrusive regulations are the mechanism the Elite use to 'improve' the average American (and, coincidentally, allows the Elite cadre to feed and grow itself).
The 2010 medical law is a template for the Elite's economic modus operandi: the government taxes citizens to pay for medical care and requires citizens to purchase health insurance. The money taken and directed is money that the citizens themselves might have used to pay for medical care. In exchange for the money, the government promises to provide care through its "system." The boards, commissions, guidelines, procedures, and "best practices" that constitute "the system" become the arbiters of what any citizen ends up getting. The citizen might end up dissatisfied with what "the system" offers. But when he gave up his money, he gave up the power to choose, and became dependent on the bureaucracy his money pays for and which raises the cost of care. In 2008, the House Ways and Means Committee began considering a plan to force citizens who own Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to transfer those funds into government-run "guaranteed retirement accounts." If the government may force citizens to buy health insurance, by what logic can it not force them to trade private ownership and control of retirement money for a guarantee as sound as the government itself? Is it not clear that the government knows more about managing retirement income than individuals?
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Coming next time in the “Who's In Charge?” - Part 4 -