Free Markets, Free People

The Left’s Meltdown Continues (Update)

Jacob Weisberg of SLATE goes on a rant pretty typical of those on the left these days,  casting about for a reason why his chosen one is having such difficulty changing the world.  As I’ve pointed out before, one of the new favorite words the left has been slinging around is “ungovernable”.   Ungovernable, to mean those of us who resist the left’s attempt to pass legislation which has been their dream for decades.   Centuries even.

As most of us who read pundits on the left have come to realize over the years, they don’t have a very high opinion of the proletariat. In fact, truth be told, they’re pretty sure we should all just be glad they’re around to save us from ourselves and should shut up and let them do it. And when we’re not compliant in that regard, we get rants like this which Weisberg penned entitled, “Down With the People” and which he further subtitles, “Blame the childish, ignorant American public—not politicians—for our political and economic crisis.”

You really don’t need to read the article to understand the thesis involved here. But to give the devil his due, there’s a kernel of truth to it – certainly some of our problems stem from “the people.” The left for instance. Those who don’t pay anything into the system for another. Both of those groups have forever been fans of more government, more spending and more goodies. And those desires have been enabled by their politicians (with, admittedly, help from some politicians on the right).

Anyway, Weisberg tries to justify his thesis on the back of polls he finds contradictory at best. For instance:

Anybody who says you can’t have it both ways clearly hasn’t been spending much time reading opinion polls lately. One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it.

A couple of points here. One – Obviously 41% of the American public didn’t like it from the beginning. My bet is they didn’t represent the left or those who had no tax skin in the game. It’s easy to be for “stimulus spending” when paying for the resultant deficit created by that spending isn’t going to come out of your pay check. And that is a class of people the Democrats have judiciously created, nurtured and expanded over the years. So that is a political result, isn’t it Mr. Weisberg?

Secondly – it became obvious fairly quickly even to the “no tax skin” group that what was being called “stimulus spending” wasn’t stimulating anything. Consequently when they saw no direct benefit coming their way – like that of not having to pay taxes on their income they presently enjoy – they quickly abandoned their support.

Tim Cavanaugh, at Reason’s Hit and Run, has an even more pointed rebuttal:

If Weisberg is looking for consistency, he might look to an earlier debate over massive government intervention in the private sector: the $700 billion bailout plan that eventually became the Troubled Asset Relief Program. A large majority of Americans continue to oppose this bailout, just as they opposed it at its inception — a time when Weisberg, and a good two dozen guys exactly like him, were welcoming the TARP proposal as a respite from the ravages of capitalism.

And the auto bailout. And the Wall Street bailout. Etc. Weisberg, much like the East Anglia CRU, is engaged in a little cherry-picking of data to support his premise. Had it been the majority of the people and not the politicians who had their way, TARP and the “stimulus” would have never happened and GM, Chrysler, Wall Street and a good number of banks (plus Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac) would be emerging from bankruptcy right about now – or not.

Much of the rest of the article is more poll quoting along the same vein and with similar rebuttals. Cavanaugh spends sufficient time properly ripping the arguments apart that I don’t have to waste mine.

All of that is only a prelude to the real reason for the Weisberg article:

The politicians thriving at the moment are the ones who embody this live-for-the-today mentality, those best able to call for the impossible with a straight face. Take Scott Brown, the newly elected Senator from Massachusetts. Brown wants government to take in less revenue: He has signed a no-new-taxes pledge and called for an across-the-board tax cut on families and businesses. But Brown doesn’t want government to spend any less money: He opposes reductions in Medicare payments and all other spending cuts of any significance. He says we can lower deficits above 10 percent of GDP—the largest deficits since World War II, deficits so large that they threaten our future as the world’s leading military and economic power—simply by cutting government waste. No sensible person who has spent five minutes looking at the budget thinks that’s remotely possible. The charitable interpretation is that Brown embodies naive optimism, an approach to politics that Ronald Reagan left as one of his more dubious legacies to Republican Party. A better explanation is that Brown is consciously pandering to the public’s ignorance and illusions the same way the rest of his Republican colleagues are.

You have to love the “pivot” and the projection.  Classic.  Barack Obama and the Democrats have just introduced budgets and deficits which, in Weisberg’s own words “threaten our future as the world’s leading military and economic power” and it’s Scott Brown’s fault. And he has the further audacity to then claim Brown “is consciously pandering to the public’s ignorance and illusions the same way the rest of his Republican colleagues are.”

Really Mr. Weisberg? Are they the ones saying “deficit reduction is important, but not now” as President Obama said in the State of the Union address? Is it Scott Brown and the Republicans who are responsible for the planned deficits we see in the chart below? Is it really they who are “consciously pandering to the public’s ignorance and illusions” by claiming we can have these massive deficits now and our cake later?

The 40% of those who’ve consistently objected to the profligate spending, increased programs and expanding government are those who actually do have “tax skin” in the game. The problem for Democrats and the left is these polls now show that it is they who are gaining allies out here due to their opposition and not the left. That obviously has Weisberg and his cronies all but apoplectic and casting around everywhere for an acceptable scape-goat.

That scape-goat are the people, who don’t know what’s good for them, and the Republicans, who haven’t had the power to even stop the leftist juggernaut in Congress if they tried. Of course the latter is a simple fact of numbers and has been for a year – and we don’t need polls to tell us that.

Perhaps Atlas is finally shrugging. Those that pay the freight – and you see them represented in the tip of the iceberg known as the Tea Parties – are standing up and saying “no”.  No more. We’re done with this.

That means both Democrats and Republicans – even Scott Brown if he can’t figure it out – are starting to be held to account. And while it doesn’t appear that Weisberg understands that building dynamic, it is clear that a demoralized and scared Democratic party heading into midterm elections is beginning too.

I agree with Weisberg in one respect – politicians “who embody this live-for-the-today mentality” need to go. The difference is I see more in Mr. Weisberg’s chosen party than I see in the GOP. Those of both parties need a pink slip.

That said, blaming where we are on the people has some cache – after all, the politicians aren’t in a position to do what they do without the people’s support at the ballot box. And, even when they’re obviously corrupt like Jack Murtha, they’re left in office, year after year after year. That can indeed be laid at the feet of the people, at least in that district. But when he spouts off inclusively about “the American people”, Weisberg ignores a good 40% if not half of this nation which doesn’t, has never and will never support the tax and spend nonsense that has gotten us to this point. Pretending that’s not so doesn’t make it true.

Democratic politicians are now trying to pass legislation that a frustrated Weisberg and the left want but, per the polls he likes to quote, the people don’t. They’ve sent very clear messages to national politicians via votes in VA, NJ and MA to remind them for and at whose sufferance they work. Weisberg prefers to call that the actions of a fickle, ignorant and childish public. Instead, thankfully, it is a system actually working as it was intended to work – and just in the nick of time.

UPDATE: Kathy Kattenburg at The Occasionally Moderate Voice doesn’t appear to understand what’s been written here and thereby gets it wrong – as usual.



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18 Responses to The Left’s Meltdown Continues (Update)

  • I was about half way through this piece “Why are liberals so condescending?” and it reminded me of this conversation from the 1974 movie “Dark Star” …

    Pinback: All right, bomb. Prepare to receive new orders.
    : You are false data.
    : Hmmm?
    Bomb #20
    : Therefore I shall ignore you.
    : Hello… bomb?
    Bomb #20
    : False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.
    : Hey, bomb?
    Bomb #20
    : The only thing that exists is myself.
    : Snap out of it, bomb.

    Does “Bomb #20” remind you of anybody ?
    Keep in mind here that ultimately, this occurred …

    Bomb#20: In the beginning, there was darkness. And the darkness was without form, and void.
    Boiler: What the hell is he talking about?
    : And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness. And I saw that I was alone. Let there be light.

  • Democracy is great……….until the proles vote the wrong way.

    Then the left’s true authoritarian colors come roaring out

    • If you ever get to catch a liberal express such authoritarian sentiments, its an awesome moment – usually you have to set them up for it. I once was hanging out with a couple of Australians, and I got the woman to admit she didn’t think that the “bogans” (rednecks) should be allowed to vote. Her boyfriend looked very surprised.
      I think the urge to control, design, plan, etc. is sort of hardwired in most people due to evolutionary biology and its hard to suppress, so I sort of feel sorry for these people. (Except when their own stupid policy leads to the paralysis against ‘progess’, like endless environmental impact reports halting any nuclear power plant construction, etc.)

      • I think the urge to control, design, plan, etc. is sort of hardwired in most people due to evolutionary biology and its hard to suppress, so I sort of feel sorry for these people.

        I would disagree that the need to control is hardwired into most people. I think it’s more likely that stable tribal agricultural societies required a mix of three basic types: leader/organizers (controllers), hunter/innovators, and peons (the people who planted and harvested the crops, filled out the ranks of the defense forces, etc.)

        For any type of society, there is probably some optimal mix among desirable types. Given enough time, evolutionary biology says that competition among societies will cause convergence towards the optimal mix.

        But I don’t think controllers are a majority. Too many controllers causes instability in a society (probably any society) as they fight each other for control.

        It’s likely that too many innovator/hunter types causes causes instability in a tribal society because they don’t like to be ordered around and you need a certain number of peons to bring in the crops. Too many peons makes for a rudderless, stagnant society that can’t respond to external threats or changing conditions. 

        The real question then becomes whether different societies have different mixes of types. I think it’s a plausible hypothesis that America has a higher proportion of hunter/innovator types because that’s the types most likely to pull up stakes and leave their old society. I think it’s also plausible that a free-market, individualist society can tolerate a much higher proportion of such types than a primitive, tribal, agricultural society; in fact, such a free market society may well thrive with more of those types. 

        If I had time, I’d like to do a whole, cohesive blog post on this. I have no idea when that might happen, though.

        • The key to America is the dispersion of economic decisions over the broadest possible network. Obama is making every effort to centralize those decisions. That causes the anticipated economic landscape, where individual plans unfold, to become blurred. The individual nodes in the vast complex economic matrix are blinded. It’s the way you destroy a productive society and make it poor.

          It is not, of course, Obama who laid all the groundwork for this. That’s been happening for decades. There is a way out. It’s not the people who are stupid. It’s the politicians. People are fully capable of acting on the knowledge they have and acquiring more knowledge as needed. It’s the government taking those decisions away from them that causes the wreckage. We have perfect demographic evidence of this: where the government is more deeply involved in individual lives there is greater and greater wreckage.

          It’s the politicians who are stupid because they believe that they can know more than it is possible for them to know, and virtually everything they touch gets worse or falls apart. There are many examples but probably the worst is the black family. You can draw a line directly to that from Lyndon Johnson’s presumptions.

  • Just wanted to comment on a specific part of your post:

    That said, blaming where we are on the people has some cache – after all, the politicians aren’t in a position to do what they do without the people’s support at the ballot box.

    I don’t think citizens have control over their officials yet. Even voting or not voting a Senator in for another term may not really “control” the situation when the newly elected or re-elected just goes in a different direction than what was promised during campaign time.
    Accountability is a buzz word. But it has not been realized. At least not yet. We hope to achieve or at least further measurement of accountability with
    Imagine 10 million citizens voting an a bill and thier Senator Voting clrearly against them. That’s what Votetocracy is meant to surface. Perhaps then “accountability” will become more of a reality.
    Please check the site out:

    • I don’t think citizens have control over their officials yet. Even voting or not voting a Senator in for another term may not really “control” the situation when the newly elected or re-elected just goes in a different direction than what was promised during campaign time.

      >>> That’s kind of true – see the NY-23 winner who proceeded to break 4 or 5 major promises in his first hour.  The answers (outside of instituting recall – is that even legal for federal office?) are limited. Basically do what they did in the health debate – make their lives as miserable as possible when they show their faces in the district. Poor Ben Nelson can’t even eat a meal w/o getting heckled now.

  • I thought it interesting that in the case of HCR, our representatives seem to be pushing a “goodie” that the majority (according to many polls) don’t want.  This is far and away much different than those who are constantly looking for a “free lunch.”

  • I think Weisberg’s article is drivel overall, but I have to grudgingly agree with one point he makes.  If Brown really thinks that the existing budget deficit can be lowered/eliminated simply by cutting a few taxes and then letting the increased revenue take care of it, he knows waaaaay more about economics than I will ever pretend to know.  At some point some fiscal conservative is going to have to take an unpopular stance and actually name an entitlement to cut.  Whether it’s increasing the age when Social Security benefits are available or increasing the income limit for Medicaid eligibility, something’s going to have to give.  I can’t imagine there’s enough activity out there to incentivize with lower tax rates to make up $15 trillion (or however scarily high that number is) in unfunded liabilities.

  • Hard to tell for sure but it looks like this graph fails to account for the fact that prior to FY 2010, the cost of our two wars was not included in OMB deficit numbers.  Also remember trick the Bush administration used, cutting the estimate horizon down to 5 years from 10…  These two things combined to vastly under-represent the major costs caused by Medicare expansion and the Tax cuts.
    Even adjusted, Obama is spending a good deal more, but I take issue with anyone portraying Bush as having had fiscally sound policies.  Keeping near zero central bank rates when you have solid growth and near full employment!  They were practically begging for a major asset bubble.

  • In addition to all the drivel in his hit piece, Weisberg cites the classic liberal (sorry, “Progressive”) argument, which displays without question his (and their) breathless lack of economic understanding, when he says “Brown wants government to take in less revenue: He has signed a no-new-taxes pledge and called for an across-the-board tax cut on families and businesses.”  How many times does it need to be said (no; demonstrated conclusively) that lowering tax rates actually leads to GREATER tax revenues, through increased economic activity and general prosperity?  I thought liberals were supposed to be the “fact-based” community.  Why then do they refuse (like children hearing bad news they don’t want to acknowledge) the clear evidence as shown by the Kennedy tax rate cuts, the Reagan tax rate cuts, the Bush II tax rate cuts?  Let’s get it straight, folks: immature tantrums from nasty people should not be the basis of government.  The sooner the centrists/moderates realize how pathologically unstable and destructive those on the left truly are (and thankfully, the moderates appear to have come around, if VA/NJ/MASS are any indication), the sooner sanity – and grown-ups – can take control.