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October 15, 2012
Watching Joe Biden play Willy Loman
I've always had a bit of anger about Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, the 1951 play about the emptiness of the success culture. What's the point about success, says lefty Miller, when Willy Loman's life as a salesman ends in failure? And what's the point of high-school athletics, when athletes like Willy's son Biff end up as thieves and drifters?
You have to hand it to Arthur Miller. He got his play in under the wire just before the golden age of sales, when salesmen spent half a century happily selling Chevrolets so Americans could see the USA. Who could have foreseen in 1951 the golden age dawning for high-school and college and professional ath-e-letes? And don't get me started on selling real estate.
But liberals have been trotting out to endless revivals of Miller's play in the 60-odd years since Death's debut. What a grand old time they have had shaking their heads at the emptiness and the superficiality of profits and business success.
Imagine my shock when I got to see Joe Biden channeling Willy Loman on TV last Thursday! Was he auditioning for a part in Death of a Liberal? No, wait. It's obvious that the new Willy Loman character is a composite, with Joe Biden trying out for the manic side -- "Attention must be paid to the middle class!"--and President Obama playing the depressive, just churning out the progressive patter because that's all he knows how to do.
You need the composite character because the moribund liberalism of today's educated ruling class features two stock characters. There is the old-style machine pol, the class warrior still ranting away about good jobs at good wages to his union hall buddies, or his modern race warrior variant frightening blacks with nightmares of a return to Jim Crow. Then there is the stock urban liberal smoothly imagining well-run administrative programs that will deliver affordable something or other: housing, health care, education, day-care, contraception.
So here we are in the fall of 2012 with these stereotypes ranting or muttering away with their tired clichés while the nation gets flushed down the toilet.
Death of a Salesman told us about the cynicism of liberals that wanted us to abandon the stupid optimism of the American Dream for a life of government dependency.
Death of a Liberal is telling us about the terminal pessimism of today's liberal elite. Just like Willy Loman, liberals are about to go out and crash the national car in the hope that the insurance will pay out to the survivors.
But really, there is a path for liberals other than suicide, and it starts with fixing the central liberal mistake of the last half century. Liberals have insisted on explaining away, rather than trying to understand, the meaning of Ronald Reagan and the 25 years of economic boom that began in 1983 when Reagan's tax cuts and his spending cuts fully took effect.
No it wasn't really a boom, liberals have insisted, it was all an illusion. No, the average person didn't really benefit: real wage rates peaked in 1973. No, supply-side economics doesn't really work: remember the high growth in the 1950s and its high taxes. All they have ended up proving after 30 years of denial is the truth of Poor Richard's maxim: "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."
"Where shall I go? What shall I do?" That's what liberals will be whimpering in the weeks after the election. Only we conservatives do give a damn, because we want liberals to get straight on things, get past their anger and denial and come to acceptance that their governing philosophy and praxis absolutely stinks. It's because we care.
Isn't it helpful that the 21st century edition of George Gilder's Wealth and Poverty is coming out? Here's where to go, liberals: click over to Amazon. Cheapskates can take the cycle lane down to HalfPriceBooks. Here's what to do: read, learn, and inwardly digest Wealth and Poverty. Liberals that just can't wait can start with the Gilder "Uncommon Knowledge" interview on NRO.
Here is a Gilder quote to get you all started.
Capitalism is the supreme expression of human creativity and freedom, an economy of mind overcoming the constraints of material power.
There's a sentiment to mix with your granola in the morning. Want some more?
All economic growth comes from human creativity, that always comes as a surprise to us. It's the ideas in peoples' heads that makes the economy thrive.
Let's move on from the empty idea of a wise and beneficent educated elite guiding us all on our way. Hayek showed half a century ago that it couldn't work.
Please, liberals. Get a clue before it's too late!
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.
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