It's an interesting comparison: Sweden experimented with the nanny state, learned that it was devastating to the economic and moral health of its people, and is moving back toward individualism. Here in the U.S., we had the world's most dynamic economy, and the lesson we took away from that--some of us, anyway--was that we were doing something wrong and needed to socialize everything. Curious.
It is indeed curious if you have as your assumption that what is going on in the United States right now is actually a logical response to a perceived problem, with the goal of solving the problem. But it is not.
Wretchard actually gets to the essence of what might actually going on in the land of 'Hope and Change' when he dissects whether or not the increasing animosity between left and right is due to a heightened rhetoric; or something else?
This raises the possibility that, despite Nancy Pelosi’s fears, the real cause of increasing animosity isn’t heightened rhetoric: on the contrary, the heightened rhetoric may itself be the result an intensified competition for power. It’s a symptom and not the cause. My guess is that the effect of concentrating wealth and power in government hands has created a prize which is distorting civil relations, like some singularity which is warping the space around it and pulling everything into its maw. When the pot of gold is indivisibly concentrated in one place, a winner-take-all game ensues, or as Collier and Hoeffler put it, “a simple rational choice model of greed-rebellion” is enforced. The trash-talk follows.
Read it all.
With the increasing amount of power being concentrated in the central government, is it any wonder that this "prize" is having a significant negative effect on civil relations. Sadly, it isn't just the Democrats who are seduced by the idea of power and accumulating as much of it to themselves as possible. Both parties instinctively understand that the more laws and regulations they pass; the more legislation they come up with at the federal level, the more power their party will possess.
The only difference between the parties is the degree to which they lust for this power over others.
When it comes to the desire for power, logic and reason always take a back seat to brute force. We are dealing with human nature here; at its worse and most thuggish.
But it is the Democratic Party which has given a prominent place to the ideology of the lunatic left; and who have initiated a deliberate and calculated attempt to manipulate and appeal to one of the worse aspects of human nature--primitive envy--and stoke the fires of resentment and entitlement.
The most advanced and dynamic economy on the entire planet, and for decades the only message we have heard from the Democrats (except, of course, when THEY are in the White House) since the 60's: Things are BAD! Poverty is INCREASING! DOOM DOOM DOOM! You foolish people out there only think you are content!
Don't you know that there are people in this very country who are richer than you are? There are even (gasp!) people who are smarter, more talented, and happier than you could possibly ever be!
Is this fair? Is this something that we have to put up with in our politically correct, culturally diverse, and oh so egalitarian society? You don't have to be satisfied with life, liberty and only the pursuit of happiness-- WE CAN GUARANTEE HAPPINESS FOR YOU!
You only think this is a land of opportunity...but vote for THE DEMOCRATS and you will see how much MORE you will have!
And now we have Barack the Messiah in the White House, who manages to cloak this same old tired egalitarian message in his lovely rhetorical babblings about "hope", and "change", and "yes we can"--as if he were actually appealing to the best, instead of the worst within each of us.
The Democratic Party is there for all you unhappy people who want MORE--but who don't want to work for it. They will tell you that you are entitled to it; that it is your right and that they will get it for you! Yes they can!
Ironically, they can even while they proselytize with their trademark intellectual and moral superiority, against the wickedness and selfishness of our materialistic/capitalistic society.
Only in the incredible wonderland of their benevolent neo-marxist uptopia is it possible to have your cake and eat it too.
So-called "progressives" (I put it in quotes because I believe they are not in the least progressive, but are, rather, regressive) such as Obama, operate under an economic model that is more genetic as opposed to cognitive. They are still functioning with the herd mentality and have yet to embrace modern civilizization or individualism, preferring instead to function on an instictual, rather than a rational level. This is why they find capitalism and market economics so repugnant. It is also why community organizations like ACORN are so appealing to them.
From a recent article by Andrew Cassel:
In other words, to have an intuitive grasp of economics, you might just need to take a step or two up the evolutionary ladder."Finally, it all makes sense!The economic primitivism that is unceasingly promoted by the political left is a remnant of the cave-dwelling days of mankind; an idyllic era of history to which the left desperately yearns to return.The word "progressive" is thus a simple rhetorical manipulation to diguise the essential backwardness of the left's economc thinking.It also might explain the sense of solidarity that many leftists feel with the various primitive cultures still existing in the 21st century. Try as they might, they just can't hide their admiration for cave-dwellers like Osama; or the egalitarianism of the most backward societies on the planet.
The postmodern populists of the leftist Democrats (and there are a few in the Republican Party, also) are always willing to give away other people's money and denigrate other people's success; but you don't often see them living in ordinary homes or taking regular commercial flights to do their politicing. Yet, how is it they always get away with the ridiculous assertion that they are somehow "champions" of all of us little people?
The left is so immersed in class envy and socialist rhetorical bullshit, they haven't seemed to notice that this is the same bankrupt ideology that could never deliver on any of its promises in the last century; and will never deliver in this one either (just ask the people of Sweden who have had a wakeup call about taxes; or watch as Hugo Chavez continues to take the economy of Venezuela (not to mention individual liberty of its citizens) down the proverbial toilet).
But hey! Class warfare is a well-trod path to power. Look at Hugo Chavez. Having duped the peasants of his country into a state of perpetual envy and entitlement, and won a "democratic" election, he instantly conned them into and endless, perpetual Hugo-ness by making himself their Dictator for Life! I mean, isn't that the perfect power grab, after all? Get yourself elected democratically; then ensure that you will be in power for life!
No wonder the left loves him so. He's very good at what he does. They undoubtedly envy him and wish they had his cojones.
Thomas Sowell wrote in a one of his many columns on the subject:
People in the media, in academia and among the intelligentsia in general who are obsessed with "disparities" in income and wealth usually show not the slightest interest in how that income and wealth were produced in the first place.Sowell is absolutely correct. As I have said multiple times, poverty has a cure and it it capitalism. But for the left--those "progressives" that Sowell identifies, to embrace that cure would require letting go their death-grip on an ideology whose economic redistribution plans have repeatedly been shown to be catastrophically ineffective and oppressive in the real world.
They are hot to redistribute the existing income and wealth but seem wholly unaware that how you do that today can affect how much income and wealth will be produced tomorrow. Any number of schemes for redistributing wealth have ended up redistributing poverty in a number of countries.
"Progressives" in the media and among academics and intellectuals claim to be interested in ending poverty but the production of more output is the only way to end poverty for millions of people.
It not only can be done, it has already been done in many countries, for all countries were once very poor by today's standards. But most self-styled "progressives" show virtually zero interest in economic history or in economics in general.
Indeed, their "progressive" ideology has, in fact, caused all the societies which believed in it to regress economically and politically; causing misery and despair for many millions of souls.
If trillion of dollars in investment and aid hasn't been able to raise economic output in such countries, then what can? It turns out that democratic institutions and economic freedom have been shown to be the key determinants of growth and have "a positive influence on economic growth, while foreign aid does not."
In other words the alleviation of poverty is directly linked to economic freedom. The more liberty; the more people are free to pursue their own happiness, the less poverty.
And, needless to say, the LESS government interferes in economic matters, the more freedom each individual has to pursue his or her happiness.
It is economic freedom that is the true cure for poverty. Not taxes. Not regulation. Not government control of the economy and redistribution of wealth; but capitalism. And, it is important to note that economic freedom is unachievable without political freedom. That is the link between poverty and governance. It is not enough to have a superficial form of democracy like the Palestinians, Iranians or the Venezuelans. The proof of a free country is more than just getting to vote for various thugs and criminals once in a while. It is in being able to pursue your own, individual goals and happiness freely without interference or contrary demands from the state.
Programs that originate with the "best of intentions" end up doing exactly the opposite of what was intended. Yet, many people are so ideologically committed to one way of thinking, and so committed to getting and expanding power over others, that they not only refuse to change, but keep pouring money into programs that can be shown to actively harm the people they are meant to help--encouraging dependence rather than autonomy; a sense of entitlement, rather than a sense of personal accomplishment; and reinforcing stereotypes they were meant to end.
What makes matters worse is that the "champions of the poor and oppressed" (as progressives of the left like to think of themselves) then virtually demonize anyone who suggests an alternate strategy-- even when that strategy has been proven to work.
We see this time and again in their portrayal of conservatives or Republicans as people who "hate the poor"; or eve as as "racists"--whenever it is suggested that pouring money into some programs has not worked or even worsened the problem of poverty; or when the idea of cutting taxes is proposed. If you want to cut taxes, you must want to kill babies and little puppies, by their crazy economic "logic".
For them, it is a radical --and simply unacceptable--idea that maybe there may be other solutions that encourage independence and self-sufficiency. Such ideas are reflexly deemed as insulting, demeaning, or damaging to the self-esteem and fragile feelings of the poor.
Their programs are basically all show and no substance. They make the people who propose and maintain them feel good, but do little to change the underlying causes of poverty and, in fact, reinforce the dynamics that perpetuate it.
The true believers of the political left become hysterical and incapable of reasonable discussion at this point; and psychologically it is apparent that their beliefs on this subject serve an intense psychological need. They need to portray their enemies as racist, sexist etc. as a way of deflecting awareness from their reprehensible thoughts and behavior, which cannot compare with their glorious rhetoric.
This is a very convenient psychological ploy that prevents these progressives from ever having to acknowledge their own innermost prejudices and biases, and hence they can easily convince themselves that their own racist, sexist behavior is appropriate--or even serves some "higher good". In the psychiatry business, we refer to this psychological maneuver as "projection". It requires considerable self-deception and this is usually achieved by "talking the talk" of equality, but "walking the walk" of egalitarianism.
That is how "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has slowly morphed into "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs" as the mantra of the Democratic party.
"From each according to their ability blah blah blah.." has NEVER worked anywhere it has been tried. The only result has been dragging everyone down to the level of poverty and misery and keeping them there. There are many people --both Democrats and Republicans-- who genuinely want to end racism and poverty. Many sincerely want to help the poor to have better lives. So, the question is: why not go with what works, instead of what doesn't and has never worked?
Redistributing wealth--the method of choice promulgated by the political left--is a scam that so-called "progressive" con artists have played for many decades now. What they actually do is redistribute poverty because their goal of the scam, as Sowell brilliantly notes, is to give themselves "sweeping powers to control other people's lives, in the name of curing the ills of society."
Scratch a progressive leftist, and you will see that underneath the caring, compassionate exterior he or she presents to the world, is the con artist/tyrant whose primary desire is control over others.
And, the more charasmatic the progressive; the more they can disguise their desire for power in some sort of "selfless" desire to lead you to the promised land where you will all be above-average and rich like they are--the more dangerous such a person is to the real American dream.
Leszak Kolakowski, a Polish philosopher expelled from the Communist Party in 1968 for his heretical views made the following keen observation about the morality of socialism (from My Correct Views on Everything:
Socialism as a social or moral philosophy was based on the ideal of human brotherhood, which can never be implemented by institutional means. There has never been, and ther will never be, an institutional means of making people brothers. Fraternity under compulsion is the most malignant idea devised in modern times; it is the perfect path to totaltarian tyranny.
One of the most important intellectual breakthroughs I had while studying economics in college, was the realization that the social engineers of the political left, motivated as they are by their creative utopian aspirations--expressed by the desire to impose (forcibly, if necessary) universal peace, social justice and brotherhood upon humanity--are completely oblivious to the malignant side of their own natures. Both they and the capitalist entrepreneurs of the right who they despise so vehemently are driven by the darker human emotions: envy, greed and a need to dominate others.
However, there is an extremely crucial difference between them:
The do-gooder leftist in all the various ideological incarnations--the antiwar crowd, the environmental crowd, the communists, socialists, and assorted collectivists--offers the rationale that he does what he does for the "common good" and for "social justice", "peace" and "brotherhood". His high-minded, self-righteous rhetoric justifies (to him anyway) imposing his will and beliefs on others for their own good; and he will not hesitate to use whatever coercive capablity he has at hand to get others to do what he wants and what he says.
The capitalist, on the other hand, is overtly out to pursue his own selfish profit, and understands he must use persuasion. That is, he must convince people that his ideas and the products of his mind are better than all the rest so that they will be willing to part with their hard-earned money to possess them. His desire for power over others is manifested in an indirect manner because people must want what he has to offer and believe that they will benefit from an interaction with him.
There is no parallel social limitations on the behavior of the leftist. This tyrant wannabe does not feel the need to convince others of the veracity or even the effectiveness of his ideas; nor does he accept defeat when others are not interested or resist their implementation. He knows in his heart what is best for everyone, and he will use coercion if necessary. He will not allow options; nor will he permit others do do what they think is right for themselves. Their feelings or concerns are a matter of complete indifference to him. Only his own matter.
The leftist's desire for power is direct and absolute; and this is a direct consequence of his utopian ideology.
And there is no area of your life which will escape his intrusive psychopathology, because he justifies it by saying he is really doing it for your sake.
The clever leftist always manages to hide these darker motivations--the envy, greed, and desire for power--and pretend they don't even exist--even to himself. He tells himself he does not possess such dark motives; that his motives are pure and uncontaminated by the kind of self-serving goals the selfish capitalists pursue. The banal platitudes and silly slogans he chants during his protest marches make him feel oh so good about himself--and if he is charismatic, he will make you feel good about yourself. Experiencing too much knowledge and insight about his inner state would make him extremely uncomfortable; perhaps even causing him to question some of his basic assumptions about himself or his beliefs.
This is the essence of the "dilemma of the utopians". They see themselves as so pure and righteous; so correct and virtuous; how is it possible that their beautiful utopian dreams always turn into such horrible human nightmares?
You can then count on the true leftist believer to close his eyes not only to his own internal reality, but also to the external reality that proves the uselessness of his beliefs in the real world.
But in the end, reality is too logical an argument to have much sway with the man (or woman) of the left anyway. Like Alice, we find ourselves in an Obama Wonderland where nothing makes sense anymore. Curiouser and curiouser.