Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some Inconvenient Truths

It's hard to not be in the protesting spirit this time of year. Firstly, it's tax time, which means we once again get to painfully reflect on just how much of our hard earned money is being taken away from us to fund extraneous wastes, or even worse, to pay salaries for people who would take away our freedoms and liberty. Second, we're in the midst of what will likely be at least the second worst recession in modern America (since the Fed was founded, which may be related), and "hard time", perceived or just rumored, do wonders to stir the protesting spirit. Third, our country is being run by a socialist, and a lot of people are waking up to the fact that it might be nice to maybe try to educate their fellow voters on how not to vote socialist, lest you wake up in Communist America in a few short years. And while I think there's a lot of value in making the voice of reason heard, there are a few inconvenient truths which are hard for me to ignore.

First, and probably foremost, is the problem that the current protests are based on an amalgam of various gripes and special interests, fueled by general discontent, which although can be well-stocked on anger and outrage, will likely lack the staying power to accomplish real change. For example, the government is spending away the country's future economic prosperity on frivolous agenda special-interest items, yet I'd bet you'd be hard pressed to have even 50% of the protesters be able to explain why that's bad. Moreover, the real subtle root causes of economic problems, like the systemic under-calculation of inflation or misrepresentation of unemployment, are not only not well understood, but not even "hot button" issues. Sure people are upset, but I get the feeling it's a lot of "bandwagon" frustration looking for something to attach to, rather than a real core understanding of what's really wrong. And let's face it: bandwagon frustration got a socialist into the presidency of the US, so it doesn't have a stellar track record.

Second, there's the problem of demographics. There are three types of people who are most injured by socialist policies and mortgaging our country's future for short-term waste, broadly speaking: responsible parents, who care about their children, want to take care of them, and aren't just popping them out for welfare or otherwise abdicating their parental responsibilities; entrepreneurs, who want to start businesses, work hard to grow them into profitable entities, and reap the rewards; and hard working skilled workers, who practice a trade for which they have studied or trained hard for, and are consequently compensated. What do all those types of people have in common? They are all likely to be working, in one form or another, on any given day, rather than having lots of free time to stand around waving signs and shouting slogans. That's not going to work out well for continued protests; unlike some groups of people (*cough*unions*cough*), those people cannot afford to stand around for days at a time, not working.

Third, there's the problem of goals: that is, what do the people protesting want? It's hard enough to get our government "representatives" (as an aside, is there a more incorrect term in politics today than that? I don't think so) to pay attention to anyone not waving lobby money in their faces like they were crazed strippers; but even assuming you could, what specifically do the people want the government to do? Some people want the Fed abolished: a noble goal, but I doubt you could get a 50% vote for that. Some people want reduced wasteful spending, but you probably wouldn't get agreement on what to cut out, beyond the obvious (eg: Polosi's jaunts around the country on Air Force jets). Many people want the banks to not get bailouts, but I don't think many people are smart enough to craft a plan to pick up the pieces if that happened; not saying it's not possible, just saying it's not easily expressed on a protest sign. The best outcome would be to get some smart, preferably non-socialist people running the country; but if the majority of the country really wanted that, they wouldn't have elected (and re-elected) the idiots we have. In short, I don't see the uniform thing the protesters want to achieve, and without that, it's likely just a lot of well-meaning noise.

That said, I'd say I support the protests: even though most people probably don't understand why what the government is doing is wrong, they come out for their own reasons, and that's a good thing. Hey, the news media caught on, and the government noticed enough to get the propaganda machine saying the protests were just partisan politics, so at least they are a little concerned about a possible uprising. At the end of the day, the more people who show up, and the more press they get, the slightly more likely we'll get better leadership eventually, so that's good too. Let's just hope it's not too little too late in the Obamanation.

1 comment:

  1. It’s hard to be two responsible parents and two entrepreneurs at the same time. Now we contribute to scholarship funds to take people to demonstrations we would have gone to. Fundraisers take some of the place of demonstrations on the street.

    Political ideology (i.e. ostensible “socialism” and “fascism”) is separate from the issue of mortgaging our future. If it involves fighting, facile constructs of good vs. evil, stoking vague fears, and punishing people, rightwingers are the people to go. If it involves helping people, sometimes helping people who’d be better off helping themselves, the leftwingers have it covered. Either way we mortgage our future because nobody wants to pay for any of it today.