November 12, 2010
The Power of Negative ThinkingBy John Kelly
Simply put, progressives feel that life isn't fair. True enough, but there are endless other things that life isn't as well. Life isn't carefree, simple, eternal, digitally organized, or purple-green plaid. Yet we live. Most people can accept life's troubles and have come to love life, as it is, including its frightful beauty. Yet for others, life's summary judgment comes up negative, so they seek to force a remedy.
Life's seeming unfairness is felt by young children who are only just sensing its deep, oceanic nature: If only mommy and daddy could always be here to hold me up. If only things weren't so hard...
Maturity involves understanding something about the natural world and realizing one's native abilities. The mature human, rather than fighting nature's forces, learns to swim the seas of life, then to set sail and eventually, with effort and self-reliance, thrive.
Some amongst us conclude that their native ability is to trade on the fears of the immature, discontented, or perilously sedate amongst us. Knowing little of how success and fortune are acquired, such leaders promote the fallacy that wealth is gained unjustly from the failure and impoverishment of others, and they convince those who resent the work of living that some unpaid balance is owed them. Progressives harness the power of negative thinking, becoming the agents of a never-never land form of fairness known as social justice.
Those promoting social justice insist that nature requires correction because she rewards human effort with such cruel and devastating inconsistency. Yet what world would we be living in should nature not reward individual action in some proportion to its value? Most progressives answer this question with nothing better than a scowl.
The progressive feels that free enterprise and property work against the common good and insist that schemes intended to "spread the wealth" should override such individual interests. Yet if the fruits of productivity were seized to supplement the scarcity left by dithering, error, or inactivity, would not human needs naturally run wild and productivity itself become scarce?
Progressives see Western civilization's tradition of promoting stable society via moral self-constraint as producing some stolid Freudian repression -- a denial of the wild self. Yet have decades of sexual revolution, increased promiscuity, and uncloaked pornography created mental health and stability? Apparently not when illegitimacy, divorce, and frustration abound; not when our teachers and clergy exploit their charges; not when criminals' profiles lack normal parentage.
God and Nature may seem like unforgiving masters, at times so gravely cold. Yet they ask only for our fruitful labor and rightful self-constraint, thereby proving mild compared to the uneven human masters who have terrorized our ancestry with their whims and miscalculation.
When we accept freedom, we accept its risk and responsibility. In its pure state, American life is the exchange of historic rights for natural rights, of royal fealty for individual liberty, and of the king's protections for self-determination. This wholly natural equation means that to be free, we accept responsibility for our own survival and practice self-constraint. To thrive in America, one employs the power of positive thinking.
The more humans can accurately describe nature and seek natural accordance, the higher their standards of living become. This concept has proven to be humanity's most precious intellectual treasure.
Shakespeare foretells the rise of natural law in the play Cymbeline (written between 1608-10). The character Belarius, in a forest far from courtly halls, honors nature with reverent bows previously reserved for royalty:
America's attempt to accord nature means its history is necessarily speckled with imperfections and unevenness. As certainly as nature abhors a vacuum, all natural systems contain risks and pitfalls. The world is a teacher encouraging mature self-determination, not a protector shackling its subjects in safety.
Nature rarely forewarns of or forgives error. Something so natural and steadfast as hemoglobin, a constituent of all mammals' blood, will turn into a mortal enemy when in bad company. Science states that "[t]he primary function of hemoglobin (Hb) is to transport oxygen." Yet "[t]he affinity between hemoglobin and carbon monoxide is approximately 230 times stronger than the affinity between hemoglobin and oxygen." That which nourishes also abides treachery.
One could say that the function of the human body is to work and the human mind to reason. Yet the affinity between ourselves and laziness or misconceived belief is vastly stronger than the affinity between ourselves and honest work or reason.
The negative forces of old-world tyranny fell to our positive-thinking WWII generation. Many of that generation's children, denied similar triumphs, rebelliously negated parental directives. Entranced by their mirage of unrealized potential and innate fear, these children drifted like Flying Dutchmen on natural currents they impulsively declined to acknowledge. Thus began our post-'60s era of incontinent complaint.
For a long time, America had a need to expand its populace. We did so by encouraging immigration from cultures that shared with us the natural roots of our moral and civil traditions. The progressives of the 1960s, assuming that our Western culture seized as much as created wealth, started the historically unprecedented practice of encouraging immigration from cultures most desperately lacking that which Americans allegedly owed. Such demographics electrify progressive destiny.
Reaching for more wealth-sharing entitlements, '60s progressives added Medicare and Medicaid to Social Security, the national retirement system. All of these unnatural contrivances decreased financial preparedness, discouraged health maintenance and left treatment options unfettered. What you need, you get, with little concern for thrift or repayment. Demand mushroomed for the most supply-regulated, code-compliant, licensed, and legally exposed products and services in existence. Should it surprise anyone that prices soared?
Along came a strange and insidious symbiosis. Sometime after the Reagan revolution, the Republicans promoted compassionate conservatism so as to diminish the progressives' charge of stinginess. In spite of private Americans being the champions of charity, conservatives bought into progressives' poverty protection racket. Bush and Rove promoted low-document home mortgages favored by the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act. Market chaos and asset toxicity ensued.
Another insidious symbiotic brew exists in the form of manufacturing globalization and lax American border and trade policy. Libertarian conservatives love open markets and hate laws. Progressives love foreign demographics and hate America's concentration of power. The outflow of manufacturing jobs to cheaper foreign labor markets, the inflow of illegal, entitlement-seeking laborers, and pacifistic trade policies have quickly discharged the batteries of American economic might.
America stands on a precipice overlooking a death valley of deep economic, political, and military weakness. We have descended well below the ragged edges of America's plateau of greatness and are offered by Washington only more of that which brought us down. The desperate expenditures of both political parties are indicative of ongoing attempts to wrench Americans from their naturally balanced cradle. Our choice is to turn back and rebuild the positive strength of our natural origins or fall more deeply into a helpless global oblivion.