Friday, August 25, 2006

Change versus the Status Quo

As much as some people like to complain about government and politics, they’re actually quite happy with the way things are, and would be very unhappy if there weren’t many things to complain about -- as that is the only way they’ve ever known.

That is the major reason one should choose a representative in these matters with the broadest, most varied experiences and perspectives it usually implies -- rather than one who has only known the one system, the one reality, the "no choice" that life must be a certain way whether we like it or not. And if we don’t like it, we can complain futilely about it -- as long as we continue to do what we’ve always done before, which is ultimately to reaffirm our belief that things that always have been before, must be continued, no matter how foolish it may now seem, even with all the other great choices and options now available.

When “problems” continue to get worse, threatening to consume all our energy and resources, it usually is a sign that a past solution we have chosen, is not the solution but merely perpetuates the problem -- until death is the final resolution. But hopefully before then, a few at the leading edge (the true leadership) will recognize the danger signals and steer society toward a safer, more productive course -- revitalizing society in this way.

That is particularly true of “government” problems that threaten and demand that all available resources must go to satisfying their demands for the highest wages granted to everybody in society -- as their “fair share.” No matter how much more they make than everybody else already, they are insistent that their “fair share” is even more -- and it is the job of their elected representatives to ensure that endless stream of money to pay for it.

The consequence of such a mentality is that ultimately, one demands as much as possible for as little as possible, and preferably, something for nothing. Thus the problems of exploitation and abuse are rampant -- and the categorical imperative is to “do unto others before others have a chance to do unto oneself," and that “everybody else does it, why shouldn’t I?”

Obviously, this is not leadership but the familiar pattern and justification of the status quo. “Yes, things are terrible, but that’s the way it’s always been -- and that too is our fate.” It has been said that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it -- when it is more truthful that those who do not learn that history in the first place, are free to live life in the best way now possible -- as though they were born today, anew, without all that historical baggage.

That is the great significance of 21st century culture and civilization -- the idea that life can be what we choose it to be -- and not what others have chosen for us, which we now have to bear. And we in turn, will place similar restrictions and obligations on succeeding generations -- so that every generation is sacrificed for every other, and none can actualize the greatest possibilities of their own lives and choices in their own time and circumstances. Nobody is really free -- in that way.

3 Comments:

At August 25, 2006 1:22 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZmU4MjM4NmQ1OWU1NTYzMDdiMmJiNjg4OWRmMTU5ZTA=

Snootycrats
Anti-Wal-Mart populism.

By Rich Lowry

Attention Wal-Mart shoppers: Democrats disapprove of your buying habits.

Democrats are fleshing out their domestic agenda with attacks on the company that brings you everyday low prices. The party is divided about how to address the threat of the insurgents and militias bedeviling us in Iraq, but is united by its response to the threat represented by extremely affordable retail goods and groceries. Appearing at Wal-Mart-bashing rallies has become practically mandatory for Democratic presidential aspirants, according to the New York Times.

The Democrats call their broadsides against the super-retailer “populist,” but it’s an odd populism that attacks a company that attracts more than 100 million customers a week with no-frills convenience and rock-bottom prices for everyday consumer goods. If Wal-Mart specialized in selling high-end wind-surfing gear, yes, it might be a juicy populist target. But detergent and toilet paper? Huey Long himself would be mystified at this choice of demagogy.

Attacking oil companies for allegedly price-gouging is unquestionably good (if grossly opportunistic) politics. What Wal-Mart perpetrates, however, is price-gouging in reverse. It sweats every inefficiency out of itself and its suppliers so it can pass those savings on to consumers. Attacking the company for that isn’t populist, it’s perverse. A mom struggling to make ends meet might be angry at spending another $2-a-gallon to fill up at the pump. She’s not going to be so exercised by getting a great deal on diapers.

Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware declared at a recent anti-Wal-Mart rally in Iowa, “I don’t see any indication that they care about the fate of middle-class people.” Who does Biden think is strolling the long aisles of the nation’s Wal-Marts? It’s not the malefactors of great wealth. Wal-Mart prices make the most difference for exactly those families spending the greatest portion of their budgets on the basics. One estimate is that Wal-Mart saves the average household as much as $2,300 a year. That’s nothing to big donors to the “Biden for President” campaign, but for most families, it’s real money.

Wal-Mart’s attackers say that its low prices come at the expense of its 1.3 million wage slaves who are denied decent pay and health benefits. But the wages and benefits offered by Wal-Mart are comparable to those of other retailers. The stumbling automaker General Motors has, in contrast, engaged in a long experiment in paying wages and benefits that are unsustainably high in its industry, and it hasn’t been a happy one. If retail-level wages and benefits are unconscionable in America, perhaps we should shutter the entire sector and ship it overseas. Then, of course, Democrats would complain about the loss of jobs.

Wal-Mart shouldn’t be romanticized. It doesn’t deliver low prices from the goodness of its heart, but because it’s a way to thrive in a competitive economy (nor does it pay relatively low wages out of malice). Its ruthless efficiency drives competitors out of business. This is painful, but there is no reason to believe that America was a better place when it bought retail products from Ames or Caldor, extinct discount chains that never developed a business model successful enough to be pilloried by politicians.

Why do Democrats target Wal-Mart? As in so much else in Democratic politics, from trade issues to the minimum wage, part of the answer is to follow the unions. When Wal-Mart began to sell groceries, it ran afoul of the unions that dominate supermarkets, and they have made Wal-Mart a hate-brand on the left. Something deeper is at work, as well. In Democratic politicians’ contempt for Wal-Mart, there is an element of snobbery. They have a distaste for such a down-market, lumpen-bourgeois operation where few of their voters shop (one poll found that 76 percent of weekly Wal-Mart shoppers are Bush voters), let alone anyone they socialize with.

The Democrats’ anti-Wal-Mart campaign ultimately represents a politically unappealing snooty-populism. Their rhetoric is with the common man, but their noses are in the air.

— Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.

 
At August 26, 2006 9:08 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Some people have this irrational fear that if they “let go” of all their memories, habits, traditions, their conditioning (indoctrination), they won’t have any idea what to do, how to respond. Life is a lot more wise than many give it credit for. What truly has survival value, will be rediscovered in the present challenge, and those responses, which are unproductive and dysfunctional, are not revived and reinforced -- just because it is the conditioning (education) to do so.

At that point, education begins to address the challenges of the present moment and times -- and not just be a repetition of the past, as though that was the great value of any culture. The value of any culture is the ability to adapt to the challenge of the present times -- and not just to perpetuate the responses of one hundred, one thousand, one million years ago -- which ensures the destruction and extinction of that culture and society.

That is just the fact of life -- and history, progress, evolution; culture has value because it proves its value -- and not just because it becomes an obsessive-compulsive ritual. In a previous time, it might have been necessary to band tightly and obediently together in ol’ boy networks for sheer survival -- but we live in a better time that allows people to differentiate and individuate -- which is the logical next step in the evolution beyond sheer survival.

But many of the tactics adopted when sheer survival was the issue, becomes the hindrance to greater evolution and progress. That is the situation in our public schools, in which the greatest complaint is the lack of individual freedom to run the classes as best each instructor sees fit and can determine -- because they have ceded that power to the collective bargaining process, by which one person decided for everyone, what is to be done, and exactly how it must be done. And so the bureaucratic rules overwhelm the education process -- which has always remained incredibly simple, and the natural human impulse and instinct.

Implied in that kind of education, is the increasing reliance on somebody else to tell one what is true and correct -- rather than the individual discovering that for themselves -- which is the whole point of education, government and society. And so there is increasingly great debate over what is taught in the public schools as the (politically) correct curriculum -- rather than that it should be a choice among the many alternatives. Not to be presented with this recognition of the full range of possibilities and options is indoctrination -- which predictably causes a rebellion as soon as the students learn that they haven’t been told the whole truth about anything.

And so they don’t believe their teachers when they say that drinking and driving is bad for them -- if they mention such things at all. They’re “too busy” teaching them about survival strategies one hundred years ago.

 
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