19 February 2008

Thoughts on Government and Learning

Just a couple of quick items to tie together this morning. I always read Neal Boortz’s site one day late, so this morning when I read his “Nuze” I found two related thoughts:

So .. we need another theme. May I propose that we call this the "What can my country do for me?" election?

· Give me health care.
· Give me prescription drugs.
· Make them raise my salary.
· Make them bring my job back.
· Give me lifetime job security.
· Pay my heating bill
· Make my gasoline cheaper
· Pay for my kid's college education
· Give me a comfortable retirement
· Give me free transportation

Just listen to these candidates. They never talk about freedom. They never talk about self-reliance.

(and)

This alert came from a listeners. He was reading "The Bad Boy of Baltimore" a biography of H.L. Mencken by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. On page 409 of that book he finds the following:


"By the mid-1930's, thanks to the New Deal, all that self-reliance had changed, prompting Mencken to declare: 'There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction. Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing to deserve them.' Despite the billions spent on an individual, 'he can be lifted transiently but always slips back again.' Thus, the New Deal had been 'the most stupendous digenetic enterprise ever undertaken by man.... We not only acquired a vast population of morons, we have inculcated all morons, old or young, with the doctrine that the decent and industrious people of the country are bound to support them for all time. The effects of that doctrine are bound to be disastrous soon or
late.

'When someone asked, "And what, Mr. Mencken, would you do about the unemployed?" He looked up with a bland expression. "We could start by taking away their vote," he said, deadpan. Mencken was not surprised when the majority disagreed. "There can be nothing even remotely approaching a rational solution of the fundamental national problems until we face them in a realistic spirit," he later reflected, and that was impossible so long as educated Americans remained responsive "to the Roosevelt buncombe."

Then I read an article from the New York Times (I know…but it seemed like a reasonable read) called “Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?” While the end of that article was not something I would buy into (Ms. Jacoby's views at the end of the article are far too "progressive" for me...she sounds like one of the academics whose education has caused conscious mental regression), what I thought was important to take away from it was the same: a seemingly wide spread desire for dependence on anyone other than the self. At the beginning of the article, there is a reference to "happiness" and its effects on Americans. But this "happiness" is really comfort, or lack of discomfort, not happiness in the Aristotelian meaning. Comfort "happiness" is a way to remain childish, and leads to other like behaviors. Rejecting learning and reason – the easy way to remain dependent – is a simple way to ensure that one is always dependent on someone or something. Mr. Boortz would argue that the keeper is increasingly the government. I would tend to agree, and will even more so if either Senator Clinton or Obama becomes president.

The question then is what to do about the drive to dependence. Mr. Boortz, not prone to the dramatic when it comes to the subject, wrote on Monday, “I'm really sorry to say this, but this nation is in trouble ... much like a beautiful home infested with mold. The mold just relentlessly spreads with no abatement in site. How long before we have to tear things down and rebuild?” Maybe a more appropriate analogy would be a house built on a foundation that has shifted significantly. (But that doesn’t quite get it right, either.) I’m not so sure that tearing the house down is a good option, but something has got to be done to fix the house. The possible irony here is how many folks think the same thing…and want the federal government to take action?

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