Santelli vs. Sorkin: A perfect microcosm of left vs. right
Viewers of CNBC were recently treated to something altogether novel: an actual debate over coronavirus policy. The debate pitted Andrew Ross Sorkin, the co-host of CNBC's pre-market show Squawk Box, and Rick Santelli, who reports from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. It was a bracing 90 seconds of TV, and it provided a useful guide to the differences between the way the left and right look at the world.
Sorkin, the perfectly cosseted "liberal," began by stating — as an undisputed fact — that big box stores, which have benefited handsomely from the virus, are safer than restaurants or churches. When Santelli disagreed, Sorkin intoned, "It's science."
"It's not science!" Santelli responded, noting that "500 people in a Lowe's aren't any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600."
In this colloquy, we see immediately two features of the leftist mindset at work.
First, we see that the leftist unquestioningly accepts the authority of the State to shut down millions of lawful businesses and restrict religious freedom, all at the behest of a particular group of experts. Moreover, we also see the preference for big businesses, precisely those with the most political leverage, over the small entrepreneur and individual. "One of the tragedies of COVID," wrote economic historian Amity Schlaes, "is that it has advantaged big business over small (Wal-Mart over florist)." The New Deal, she noted, did something similar by assigning the bigger companies in each industry to write their industry's rulebook during the Great Depression. "Guess who lost[.]"
Second, we see the invocation of science as dogma, rather than the product of the free exchange of ideas. In an article in Mises Wire titled "How Socialist Dogma Replaces Real Science With 'Settled Science,'" scholar Allen Gindler noted that totalitarianism is the end result of a collectivization of consciousness. "One of the consequences of the collectivization of consciousness is that science is restructured from an institution of free thought and the generation of ideas into a servant to the ideological dogmas of the ruling regime[.] ... The exceptional features of science under socialism are the emergence of openly pseudoscientific trends and the accusation of dissenting thoughts as unscientific and harmful to society" (my emphasis). It's worth remembering that the next time you hear a leftist try to silence an opponent by asserting, "It's science!"
Finally, we see the deference to "expert" opinion over individual preference. At the end of the segment, Sorkin accuses Santelli of "doing a disservice to the viewers," adding, "I would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible." Santelli's response was spot-on: "I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own[.] ... I don't think I'm much smarter than all the viewers like some people do."
Santelli's argument, that individuals might be able to assess the risks for themselves and decide accordingly, is heresy to the ruling class, which is hoping to use the COVID crisis to create a global technocracy through the "Great Reset."
You may recall that it was Santelli's famous "rant" that sparked the Tea Party movement in 2009. Maybe this latest rant, long overdue, will spark resistance to the lockdowns that have done so much to devastate small business and may help derail the future plans of the self-anointed experts.
You can follow Nicholas J. Kaster on Twitter.