August 4, 2011
To see what notions the statist destroyers of America are hatching to ensure that prosperity and individual liberty never rise from the dead, I listen to both leftist and rightist media.
Leftist television was all aglow recently about our munificent and benevolent president giving women free birth control, although it is free stuff that has bankrupted the nation.
Naturally, rightist talk radio was aghast about this latest giveaway. But a drive-time host on Arizona’s most popular rightist talk-radio station found time to also rant about local school districts charging a fee of around $100 for kids who participate in organized sports. He didn’t see his intellectual contradiction, although it was just as obvious as Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain.
When everyone has a sacred cow, no one has any meat to eat. Or stated differently, when no one wants to cut his pet program, subsidy, entitlement, handout, or defense contract, the nation will never climb out of bankruptcy.
It probably takes an intellectual to recognize an intellectual contradiction, and the talk-show host, a former high school jock, is anything but an intellectual. That’s a compliment, for as history shows, intellectuals have inflicted great harm on the world and nation.
Karl Marx was an intellectual. Woodrow Wilson was an intellectual. The pampered leftists who run America’s universities are intellectuals. Our president is an intellectual. His advisors are intellectuals. Ben Bernanke is an intellectual. His predecessor Alan Greenspan is an intellectual. Many of the heads of America’s financial industry are intellectuals and graduates of the Ivy League.
It makes one wonder if “intellectual” is synonymous with “dumbass.”
It was intellectuals,
after all, who thought that easy money was the foundation for a strong economy. It was intellectuals who did away with the tradition of banks being owned by
partners who would suffer personal losses if they took on too much risk and
leverage. It was intellectuals who thought that everyone should own a house,
that house prices never went down, and that it was not financial lunacy to let
numbskulls put five percent down on a house they couldn’t afford and then to
take out a second mortgage to buy stuff they couldn’t afford. It was
intellectuals who encouraged Fannie Mae to be overleveraged and to slice bad
mortgages into bad notes. It was intellectuals who watched banks package the
bad notes into tranches, put a pretty bow on them, and sell them to widows and
European banks. And it was intellectuals, including Ben Bernanke, who claimed
that a 40% rise in home prices was not a bubble, even though there was no other
explanation for the rise.
A friend of mine
believes that intellectuals are not dumbasses--that they know exactly what they
are doing. He says they are oligarchs who know that the masses won’t rise
against them and their stealing as long as the rabble has plenty of food, booze
and sports. His comments are troubling, because he is one of the few
intellectuals I know who is not a dumbass.
My father-in-law is
not a dumbass, either, although he doesn’t have a college degree. After a
career working for a savings and loan in a rural town in Northwest Penn., he
knew that the newfangled practice of giving mortgages to numbskulls and then
selling the mortgages to people who never met the numbskulls was lunacy.
Like many towns across
the nation, my father-in-law’s hometown has been undergoing economic decay for
decades. It has lost much of its timber, oil and manufacturing industries, due
in large part to greedy unions, high taxes, and selfish environmentalists. It
now survives largely on government money, not only from Social Security,
Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare; but also from a federal prison and a campus of
the University of
Pittsburgh that the town
fought to get, thinking that the institutions would change the town’s fortunes. Well, the prison did attract the wonderful relatives of incarcerated criminals.
Three or four
generations ago, unskilled and uneducated but smart immigrants from Italy and
Sweden immigrated to the town and worked for low wages in factories, mills and
oil fields. Somehow they managed to keep their houses clean and neat, to keep
their kids on the straight and narrow, and to save money. Today, many of their
descendants can be seen wandering the streets aimlessly, waddling from obesity,
showing off grotesque tattoos, and sitting on filthy sofas on the porches of
their dilapidated houses, smoking, drinking, and watching their broods grow up
to be like them.
Their forebears left
their mother countries and families to improve their economic prospects,
carrying all of their possessions in a valise. Now, a few generations later,
their progeny won’t move to places like N. Dakota that are booming and where
unemployment is low. Attached to the anchor of welfare, they won’t even move 50
miles to work in the part of Penn. that is booming from the mining of
shale. However, they will waddle to the Post Office to wait in line for their
monthly SSI and welfare checks.
Tellingly, a park in
the town is named after the head of the local housing authority, as if she built
public housing with her own money and was not given a nice salary, pension, and
perks. Even more telling, the local high school recently spent $1 million to
redo its track and to carpet its football field with artificial turf. As with
many parts of the country, education spending in the area has skyrocketed while
economic prospects have plummeted, along with industriousness, virtue, and
academic achievement. Yet our intellectual president says that more education
spending will save the nation.
The rightist talk-radio host mentioned at the beginning of this commentary would probably think that spending $1 million on artificial turf for a football field in a dying town is money well-spent. Like many others on the right, he’s not an intellectual but thinks like one.
“Mencken’s Ghost” is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.