Self-Reliance for Dunces
America is divided between those who think her citizens are helpless and stupid, and those who don't. People who need the direction and control of such bright lights as Nancy Pelosi and the folks who okayed the Solyndra and Fast and Furious fiascos, the apparatchniki of TSA , those who destroyed the housing market by jiggering the rules at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stand on one side of the gap. On the other side are those of us who believe we are smarter than the political and media elites and, in any event, think the daily decisions of millions of free people acting in what they believe is their own self interest yields more satisfying outcomes than we get from top down fiats by blinkered cubicle rats, credentialed morons and politicians responding to the wants of connected crony capitalists.
The contrast was in bold relief this week.
(a) Democrats Embrace Freedom From Want of Free Diapers Movement
In Connecticut, worried that those whose financial situation has become so perilous (ironically as a result of failed government programs and actions), Democrats are trying to add to the list of ever expanding but invisible to constitutionalists rights, the right to free diapers. Dan Malloy, governor of the Nutmeg State has decreed Diaper Need Awareness Day with no sign that he recognizes how ludicrous a decree this is. Connecticut Congresswoman DeLauro (who like Michelle Obama is a very fashion forward dresser) has introduced a Diaper Act, stating she thinks a program to provide free diapers to the poor will stimulate the economy. I think this all takes the notion of Change We Can Believe In and free loads a bit too far. I listened to the great Congressman Paul Ryan this week, and I don't think he'll go along with the Connecticut scheme. Just in case in case I'm right and the Act doesn't get enough votes from those tight fisted Republicans in Congress, here's some very neat ideas on how to launder diapers. Consider this my first big self-reliance tip of the week.
To be sure, DeLauro's nonsensical view of how to stimulate the economy has a long history in her party. Seems like just yesterday we were promised that the passage of the huge spending bill ObamaCare would do what we are told diaper handouts would. It didn't work, and -- perhaps this is something we might keep from the opposition -- even their own base no longer believes that law will improve their situation:
Support for President Obama's health care reform law has reached an all time low, in part because of Democrats' diminished faith that the law will improve their lives, a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds.
Only 34 percent of Americans now support Obamacare, a 16-point drop from an all-time high of 50 percent in July 2010. A small majority of Americans, 51 percent, now say they oppose the law.
According to the survey, just 27 percent of Democrats say they will be better off under the law and 55 percent believe it will not impact them. Just last month those numbers were 43 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
I don't know if anyone has polled Americans on the diaper need awareness thingy but I 'm sure that if more of them learn about it the stampede to the exits from the Democratic party will only gain momentum.
(b) The Right To Get You to Further Subsidize Pampered Indebted Students
In Colorado, President Obama, ever the community organizer divisively sowing class resentment, fear and envy, announced that by executive order he is easing the student loan terms for those who entered into their indebtedness since 2008. And in announcing this taxpayer funded new giveaway -- which ends on 2012 -- with his term, he made clear that he sees the federal government as the only way to assure equal opportunity. He urged the beneficiaries of his largesse with our money, that if he is not re-elected we will face a "new era of painful self-reliance." It might be better translated as," This giveaway will end with my time in office so get out there and work for my re-election or the gravy train goes off the rails."
In the hope that this new era of self reliance is just around the corner, let's consider why this new era would be a good thing and how you can get prepared to do those hard things like sewing on your own buttons and buying your own diapers, selecting your own diets, paying for your own housing and feeding your own children, and managing your own assets.
The great American political philosopher P.J. O'Rourke has a lot to say on the subject of self-reliance versus dependence on government and here's a sample:
Under collectivism, powers of determination rest with the entire citizenry instead of with the specific citizens. Individual decision-making is replaced by the political process. Suddenly, the system that elected the prom queen at your high school is in charge of your whole life. Besides, individuals are smarter than groups, as anybody who is a member of a committee or of a large Irish family after six in the evening can tell you. The difference between individual intelligence and group intelligence is the difference between Harvard University and the Harvard University football team. [snip]
Collectivism makes for a very large and, hence, very powerful group. This power is centralized in the government. Any power is open to abuse.
Government power is not necessarily abused more often than personal power, but when the abuse does come, it's a lulu. At work, power over the whole supply cabinet is concentrated in the person of the office manager. In government, power over the entire military is concentrated in the person of the commander-in-chief. You steal felt tip pens. Hitler invades Poland.
Most government abuse of power is practiced openly, and much of it is heartily approved by The Washington Post editorial board and other such proponents of the good and the fair. But any time the government treats one person differently than another because of the group to which that person belongs -- whether it's a group of rich, special-interest tax dodgers or a group of impoverished, minority job-seekers -- individual equality is lessened and freedom is diminished. Any time the government gives away goods and services -- even if it gives them away to all people equally -- individual dependence is increased and freedom is diminished. Any time the government makes rules about people's behavior when that behavior does not occasion real and provable harm to others -- telling you to buckle your seat belt or forbidding you to publish pornography on the Internet -- respect for the individual is reduced and freedom is diminished.
Should you find yourself in an elevator, airplane, subway, prison, or at the dinner table with someone prattling on about income inequality and how important it is for the government to do something about it, it would be well to have fortified yourself beforehand with this brilliant interview with New York University law professor Richard Epstein. Thanksgiving and the in gathering of all your friends and relatives -- including the not so smart ones -- is just around the corner, and you have the opportunity to watch this and be vaccinated from the mental pestilence headed your way.
Of course, as Monty Python's "Life of Brian" reminds us in a clip eerily reminiscent of the occupiers' human microphone shtick, some people just cannot make the leap to independent thinking:
Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
Brian: You're all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Brian: You've all got to work it out for yourselves.
The Crowd: Yes, we all have to work it out for ourselves.
The light breaks through in even the darkest cave sometimes even without any effort on our part as it has to the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Labor donated by chefs, themselves out of work, and food -- mostly organic and all first rate, donated by sympathetic growers -- was the standard fare for those voguing, grubbing it on the streets. In no time at all , as you can imagine, homeless grifters got wind of the sumptuous repasts and lined up for them, too. The chefs grew furious and have cut back to (brown) rice and beans until this outrage stops:
We need to limit the amount of food we're putting out" to curb the influx of derelicts, said Rafael Moreno, a kitchen volunteer.
A security volunteer added that the cooks felt "overworked and underappreciated."
Many of those being fed "are professional homeless people. They know what they're doing," said the guard at the food-storage area.
A good, and absolutely free, learning opportunity , indeed. As Michelle Obama's Mirror notes:
Anyway, here's the education that the chefs got for free: if you give stuff away, there will be freeloaders: more and more each day. That's why collectivism breaks down, and with this group apparently quite quickly. So, if the mostly unemployed chefs take advantage of their free education, they'll all go back and open restaurants of their own where they can charge for their food. Now that they've learned they can't just give the food away for free, they've discovered how capitalism works! Because if you give stuff away, all you'll get are a bunch of free loaders and you'll never be able to pay your bills. Wow, that's awesome insight just for the taking.
I think it's a good day when anyone learns something about human nature -- no matter how late in the game.
(1) Hand out free stuff and ever increasing number of moochers will come.
(2) There are "professional homeless people."
(3) Those sanctimoniously protesting the greed of others fight as hard as anyone to keep their own special privileges even if those are just organic beet salad with goat cheese.
Three more good tips to put in your growing How to Be Self Reliant folder.