Pulling to the left?

Re-posted from October of 2011 as a companion to Joe’s post : Time to Leave the Republican Party?

Not the first time the Repulicans wanted to be the popular girl at the dance.

Listening to the Republicans talk about the #OWS movement, I am sorely disappointed that they have started to give in to the rhetoric of the Left. Chris Muir’s cartoon today illustrates the issue.

First of all, agreeing that wealth disparity is a legitimate issue is agreeing to a false premise. I hear the protestors the world over crying for “economic equality” in a classic hue and cry of the “have-nots” vs the “haves”, but in America today, we need to understand why the “have nots”  have not.

To agree that this “disparity” is wrong intimates that there can be a limit set on how much wealth can be accumulated, who can accumulate it and who can decide what that number is. I’ve already called attention to this issue here and here by quoting F.A. Hayek from The Road to Serfdom, but it is worthy of repetition. From the chapter titled, “Who, Whom”:

I believe it was Lenin himself who introduced to Russia the famous phrase “who, whom?”– during the early years of Soviet rule the byword in which the people summed up the universal problem of a socialist society. Who plans whom, who directs and dominates whom, who assigns to other people their station in life, and who is to have his due allotted by others? These become necessarily the central issues to be decided solely by the supreme power.

More recently an American student of politics has enlarged upon Lenin’s phrase and asserted that the problem of all government is “who gets what, when, and how.” In a way this is not untrue. That all government affects the relative position of different people and that there is under any system scarcely an aspect of our lives which may not be affected by government action is certainly true. In so far as government does anything at all, its action will always have Borne effect on “who gets what, when, and how.”

For Republicans to agree to the premise that the #OWS crowd makes a valid point is agreeing that there is some extra-capitalist power that has the right, responsibility and authority to determine not only what each of us can earn but what we have permission to accumulate. This is the same process by which communists implement the labor theory of value to “homogenize” the worth of the individual into the worth of the collective.

To a populist, limiting the “rich” sounds good but a once a government has the power to officially stigmatize an economic class, confiscation and control over the masses is never far behind. Just ask any businessman in Chavez’s Venezuela.

Secondly, accepting this false premise is a failure to identify the true root cause of the issue. Without actually identifying the root cause – we keep recycling “solutions” that never resolve the problems. We only treat the symptoms. The primary scapegoat of these proto-communists is now Wall Street and the financial institutions that operate on that symbolic “street”.

But blaming the financial system is a ruse, a red herring. Blaming “Big Corporations” for making a profit is as well because of one simple fact – the ability for the individual to choose…and that also means that it is possible to choose poorly.

Let’s look at one of the “demands” of the movement – student loan debt forgiveness (but the analogy works for all consumer debt). First, we need to understand how a student can accumulate $150,000 in student debt. I would propose that for many it starts like this:

  1. The student and or parents make a choice that a degree from a college or university that is more expensive than they can currently afford is preferable to instruction at a state college or initial instruction at a community college.
  2. The student chooses a course of study based primarily on what they want to study without a true understanding of the worth of that degree in the open market.
  3. The student chooses to take out federally guaranteed student or private loans to pay for this education.
  4. Student graduates (or doesn’t) with a load of debt.

I would posit that this is pretty much the pattern.

Notice the operative word in each of those steps relates to “choice”. Society does say that you must have a degree to succeed; government has made education loans easier to get based on the premise the every student has a “right” to a college education and “Big Academia” has increased the costs of getting that degree because of the large demand and the loan funds to support it. So who have we identified here? That would be:

  1. The parents and student who chose the path
  2. Government who backed it
  3. Big Academia who set the price

…and what was the financial sector’s role in this? They provided a product to meet the demand. They funded this exercise based on the choices of the parents or student, protected by a government guarantee based on a price set by the college or university.

So tell me again why Wall Street is to blame? They are merely facilitating a choice, not forcing one. The signatures on the loan documents weren’t placed on there by force at the business end of a pistol.

So you weren’t a great risk and the institution still loaned you money? Well, the government has mitigated much of  the risk to many of the institutions by guaranteeing you at the taxpayer’s expense. They merely followed the rules to grant your request for funds…sounds a little like the mortgage crisis, doesn’t it?

As far as I can tell, Wall Street and “Big Corporations” did not play a direct role in this specific process, as a matter of fact; these two entities donate and endow many of these expensive institutions where these students go to accumulate this debt. Nobody forced them to go to Sarah Lawrence and get a degree in Ethnic and Diasporic Studies or Film History. They CHOSE to do that.

Speaking of prices, Forbes just published an article titled “America’s Most Expensive Colleges” that included this nugget:

Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y., has long held the dubious honor of being one of the nation’s most expensive colleges. This year, it tops the list for the second year in a row, with an all-in price of $58,334 a year, or close to $240,000 for a four-year course of studies if inflation in higher ed continues on its current course.

$240K? A simple spreadsheet calculation shows that $240K at 3% interest for 10 years amounts to $2,317 per month. That’s $27,800 per year. To keep this at a manageable level of 20% of net income, this would require a starting net salary of $139,000, grossed up for 35% taxes, that is a starting gross of $187,650. How many Africana Studies graduates do you think are going to command that princely sum?

I’m picking on Sarah Lawrence but the same analogy works for just about any college. I’ll say it again, some degrees you get to get paid, some you just pay to get.

I’m sure that there are some degrees that are offered at Sara Lawrence that would generate some payback on that debt load but about 75% of them don’t have a chance in Hell of doing so. Have a look at what is offered below (from the Sarah Lawrence College website):

Undergraduate Disciplines

  • Africana Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • Asian Studies
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Dance
  • Design Studies
  • Economics
  • Environmental Studies
  • Ethnic and Diasporic Studies
  • Film History
  • French
  • Geography
  • German
  • Global Studies
  • Greek
  • History
  • International Studies
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Latin
  • Latin American and Latino/a Studies
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Languages and Literatures
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Pre-health
  • Psychology
  • Public Policy
  • Religion
  • Russian
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Science, Technology and Society
  • Social Science
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts
  • Women’s Studies
  • Writing

I’ve been wrong. Most of these people aren’t Marxists or communists. They are just simpletons who chose badly and now are looking for someone to blame for their circumstances – anyone but themselves. They don’t want equal opportunity, they just want someone else to pay for their choices. This isn’t communism, it is a tantrum. If it is treated as such, it will pass.

They are just searching for someone else to take the responsibility.

The class war meme that was set up by  President Goldman Sachs and his administration has given them just that.

Republicans had better not buy into this childish behavior or 2012 is lost.

Admiral Smitty, he of the Vanuatu Royal Navy,  gets it.

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14 thoughts on “Pulling to the left?

  1. The tendency of Republicans to ALWAYS give in to “the left” is not that difficult to understand – IF you have read Carroll Quigley’s “Tragedy and Hope.” He has clearly explained that we do NOT have a 2-Praty system. We have a 1-Party system that has deliberately been designed to APPEAR as though it is two Parties so as to leave those of us in “the great unwashed” with the impression that we actually have an ability to “vote the bums out.”

    Quigley was an insider, a member of the self-appointed intelligentsia who has assumed responsibility for the moral direction of all humanity because they have convinced themselves that they have a superior understanding of what must be done. These people have very little concern for the values and principles of the traditional Western way of life, and they truly believe that most any means is justified by their perceived moral superiority of their goal(s).

    So, the Republican Party habitually leans left because IT IS! I have told you this for a long time, my friend, and I’ll say it again: there are Progressives in BOTH Parties, and the Republican leadership are Progressive.

    This is also the reason behind my argument that Rush Limbaugh – whether consciously aware of it or not – has been intentionally placed in the position he holds so as to moderate the conservative backlash that these Progressives saw coming and to keep them on the Republican reservation. I believe this is the true reason behind his refusal to back a 3rd Party movement in direct contradiction to every belief he has ever espoused about ignoring nay-sayers and the conservative majority in this nation.

    It also explains why, no matter which President we elect since Reagan, we STILL head in the same general direction.

    And it explains why, no matter who we send to Washington, they STILL seem to vote for things that take us in the same general direction.

    I like simple explanations that explain everything we observe, and Quigley’s explanation does this. Unless and until someone can provide an equally or even a simpler explanation that explains all of the same things as eloquently and easily as Quigley’s, I’ll accept what he tried to tell us because it is the most rational of all available.

    Respectfully.

  2. Folks, your rights and freedom are being taken from you everyday. What makes me cry is that this OWS joke is avoiding the very thing that is destroying freedom, and that is the regulatory, unconstitutional, and illegal take over of WE THE PEOPLE. This is accepted by and promoted by the current administration and career politicians. They take an oath before God and our nation, in sworn oath, to uphold the Constitution, only to spit on it and rape it for their own personal gain and ideology. WE MUST NOT SIT BY AND WATCH THIS NATION BE DIVIDED BY THOSE WHO WANT US TO FALL. To much blood has been lost on the battlefields of history, and too much blood WILL be lost in the name of TYRANNY, IGNORANCE, and HAND WRINGING. Now is the time for action and education. I, as a parent, taxpayer, and proud American am ready to do whatever is necessary to keep my God and Country as one, to give my family THAT which those braver than I have died for, free! Free of tyranny that ignorance has brought upon other nations. The time to get active is NOW! God bless this nation and may God keep it safe from destruction. – Lisa

  3. Isaiah 59:2-8

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
    And your sins have hidden His [a]face from you so that He does not hear.
    3 For your hands are defiled with blood
    And your fingers with iniquity;
    Your lips have spoken falsehood,
    Your tongue mutters wickedness.
    4 No one sues righteously and no one pleads [b]honestly.
    They trust in confusion and speak lies;
    They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.
    5 They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web;
    He who eats of their eggs dies,
    And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth.
    6 Their webs will not become clothing,
    Nor will they cover themselves with their works;
    Their works are works of iniquity,
    And an act of violence is in their [c]hands.
    7 Their feet run to evil,
    And they hasten to shed innocent blood;
    Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,
    Devastation and destruction are in their highways.
    8 They do not know the way of peace,
    And there is no justice in their tracks;
    They have made their paths crooked,
    Whoever treads on [d]them does not know peace.

    Can you think of any examples in our current society that might fit any or all of the reasons for condemnation listed in that lament?

    To me, this explains why the Republican Party has lost its way, as well as how America drifted from what our founders hoped for us.

  4. Aside: I just heard Obama wish Boehner a happy birthday, and watched Boehner squirm.

    On the upside, Obama said he will pursue a balanced approach on the fiscal cliff summit. I wonder if that means balancing spending and revenue.

    • On the upside, Obama said he will pursue a balanced approach on the fiscal cliff summit. I wonder if that means balancing spending and revenue.

      Justin,

      This will sound flippant and harsh — until you realize it is also true.

      To a Progressive, “balanced” = I get what I want, you give up what you want.

      There you go: “balance” and bipartisan compromise explained — all in one lesson.

      • Why does my humor fall flat? I thought that was hilarious.

        Picture this:

        Title: Fiscal Cliff Summit

        Obama and Boehner at the top of the cliff, holding hands. Obama confident, smiling, “time to move forward.” Boehner looking nervously off to the side.

        The base of the cliff: “common ground,” vultures picking away at skeletons.

        Little Paul Ryan character off to the side, looking at balance sheets with lines going in opposite directions, saying, “there’s nothing balanced about this!”

        Is there an artist in the house?

  5. “Republicans are learning how to be Democrats”

    Yeah, right, Joe. ‘Cuz we all know that Republicans don’t normally have sex scandals. Well, other than Mark Sanford, David Vitter, John Ensign, Larry Craig, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Christopher Lee, etc.

  6. Pingback: Life Imitating Art Imitating Life | The Rio Norte Line

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