Friday, February 11, 2011

A Tough Question to Answer

Robert Reich poses an excellent question on his blog:
Quiz: Which of the 2012 presidential aspirants delivered the following words at the Conservative Political Action Convention, now underway in Washington?
We have seen tax-and-tax spend-and-spend reach a fantastic total greater than in all the previous 170 years of our Republic.

Behind this plush curtain of tax and spend, three sinister spooks or ghosts are mixing poison for the American people. They are the shades of Mussolini, with his bureaucratic fascism; of Karl Marx, and his socialism; and of Lord Keynes, with his perpetual government spending, deficits, and inflation. And we added a new ideology of our own. That is government give-away programs….

If you want to see pure socialism mixed with give-away programs, take a look at socialized medicine.
If you guessed Jim DeMint, you could be forgiven. He talks a lot like this. But you’d be wrong. Newt Gingrich didn’t utter these precise words, either, although he uses much the same language and offers the same themes.

You’d also be wrong if you guessed Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Tom Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Haley Barbour, John Thune, Mitt Romney, or Mitch Daniels. (Sarah Palin isn’t attending.)

But again, your mistake would be understandable because these words sound a lot like theirs. Any of them could have delivered this message – and all of them have, over and over again. It’s the Republican message of 2011.

The perfectly correct answer is Herbert Hoover.

Herbert Hoover delivered these words at the Republican National Convention in Chicago on July 8, 1952.

That was almost sixty years ago.

Republicans haven’t come up with a single new idea since. They haven’t even come up with a new theme.

Herbert Hoover, you may remember, didn’t have a sterling record when it came to the economy. As president, he presided over the Great Crash of 1929 and ushered in the Great Depression. He had no idea for what to do to help the nation out of the Depression except to balance the federal budget. By the time he was voted out of office in 1932, one out of four Americans was unemployed.

By 1952, Hoover had been proven irrelevant and hidebound.

After Dwight D. Eisenhower won the 1952 Republican nomination and went on to become president, he wisely disregarded everything Hoover had advised.

Under Ike, the marginal income tax on America’s highest earners was 91 percent. Eisenhower also commenced the biggest infrastructure program in the nation’s history – the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act, which replaced America’s meandering two-lane roads with 40,000 miles of straight four and six-lane highways. He signed into law the National Defense Education Act, which trained a whole generation of math and science teachers, and upgraded American classrooms for the future. The Federal Housing Authority subsidized home ownership. The Defense Department spawned future technologies in aerospace and telecommunications.

Did the U.S. suffer fascism, socialism, deficits and inflation, as Hoover predicted? No. The U.S. economy soared. The median wage rose faster than ever before. And the incomes of America’s working class and poor rose at the fastest pace of all.
Rest assured that no Republicans are going to be disturbed by the above. First of all, they don't know the relevant history. Second, they refuse to read anything not written by an approved author and any writing which is not on the approved reading list. Third, if they knew that a liberal had written the above, they would gag and gasp, wretch and scream. This is mental poison for them. They are fanatics and already know the truth. There is no need to look in the history books. No reason to go back to the arcane past of Eisenhower's Republicans. They have the truth and it was brought down from the mountaintops in 1776 and 1789 and there has been nothing written since that deserves a second glance.

When I read about the Egyptians dancing as a united people, when I hear that Christian Egyptians protected Muslim Egyptians as they prayed in Tahrir Square to return the favour of Muslim Egyptians who used their bodies to build a protective shield around the Copt Christian churches in early January when unknown fanatics where bombing churches, when I see people dancing for joy, then I find it sad that America is burdened by narrow-minded bigots who as "social conservatives" want a Christian-only America, who want to constrict the rights of a woman to fit their narrow view of morality, then I am sad. I see one country opening up to the world. I see another country closing down. I see one country trying hard to join the modern world. I see another country deciding it wants to go back to its Puritan past when you could be put in stocks for "shameless public behaviour" as defined by the town prudes, a group that willinging burned "witches" and who were happy to declare that the only book to be read was the Bible and that all the rest should be burned.

The world is wide. It is a shame not to embrace the marvels of creation, the limitless variety, all the possibilities. It is a shame to not let individuals explore the possibilities but instead declare that everything was defined once and for all over 2000 years ago in God's word written on pages in one leather-bound book from one small corner of the world. It is a shame when the Pope refused to look through the telescope to see the moons revolving around Jupiter because he knew that the Bible had no mention of moons of Jupiter and it would be a heresy to claim such knowledge because all knowledge was already in the Bible.

I watch one group celebrate freedom with great joy. I watch another country closing its windows, turning its back on the world, and declaring that it has the Truth and has no interest in the world, its peoples, the future, its possibilities because they already know everything worth knowing because it is all written down in one book, a book written by near illiterates roughly 2500 years ago. One group is a from a civilization nearly 6000 years old that is dancing with joy tonight. The other is a civilization 225 years old that has decided that public health care is an abomination because it would require you to help fund medical care for another and everybody knows that Jesus forbade "loving the other as oneself" and that his economic principles were based on libertarianism which says "all government is bad" and "deregulate, deregulate, deregulate".

Yes... the world is a wondrous place.

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