When will you make up your mind?
In the 1950s, I fought with my father over a number of controversial issues, he the conservative and I the blooming liberal. In the 1960s, I went to college and stayed for a decade. That set my mind for a while. I became a professor, which required a certain trendy outlook.
I voted for Goldwater because I didn't trust FDR/LBJ. I voted against Nixon twice and for Carter twice. I hated Nixon with a fury. I used to repeat what Nixon's mother said: "He was the best potato masher one could wish for." Later in life, I changed my mind quite a bit about Nixon and changed it even more quickly about Carter. I never changed my mind about LBJ. I was heavily influenced by Iran's reaction to Reagan becoming president and his regulatory pushback.
In the early 1980s, it dawned on me that big government was the problem, not the answer. My non-menu Catholic upbringing kicked in, and I started teaching market economics instead of government economics. My research delved into deregulation. I returned to my roots and discovered that my father was really just an older version of me in many ways. From about 1957 to 1982, I was encased in a moderate left bubble.
My generation failed miserably by sitting back and letting America incrementally slide downhill at an ever rapid rate. I thought Marxist economics was dead, dead, and dead. But as Gene Wilder said: "It's alive!" The antidote was applied in 2016, much too late. The Marxist virus is powerful. To kill it completely requires an upcoming four-year injection and, after that, additional four-year doses for at least several four-year periods beyond.
As long as lawyers exist, some will claim that the Constitution requires equal outcomes, not equal opportunity. Every time this argument shows up in court, it has to be knocked down, or the virus will continue to be viable.
Some people believe we ought to have an open mind on all things new and old. I say that if you haven't formed your world view at age 40, you will simply drift around, trying on one trendy idea floating in the wind after another for the rest of your life. For example, some of you probably think "Imagine" is a beautiful, inspirational song. It is played at funerals, I imagine.
I believe there is truth for the ages — foundational truth, not something cooked up at the moment. This doesn't mean you shouldn't think and evaluate what is new. But if you have no foundation, you won't be able to assess whether the new has value or even whether it is new at all. You'll just have a mushy opinion.
How do you build a foundation? It comes from the basics of history, art, music, economics, literature, math, and science. If you don't know Mozart, Monet, Milton Friedman, War and Peace, Buddy Holly, Thomas Sowell, a bit of algebra, the Bell Curve, All the King's Men, how a drug trial works, where the Hail Mary comes from in Luke's Gospel, and George Washington's place in America, to name a few basics of Western civilization, your mind will be a desert. I've often wondered why Mozart is not played at lunch in our schools.
We ought to have a sport in our youth and one as we grow old. We need good friends and people of like minds to talk to over food and drink. We need to be friends and have polite discussions with those who have opposing views. We need to be tolerant Americans, not a nation of warring tribes. And we need to agree that tolerance is not the same as acquiescence.
Christopher Garbacz made up his mind a while back and is much at ease.
Image: Collage. On the left, Anti-Vietnam war protest and demonstration in front of the White House, by Leffler, Warren K. and O'Halloran, Thomas J., Library of Congress, no known restrictions on publication; on the right, Andrea Widburg's collection.