Menckens Ghost

More About: Philosophy: Conservatism

Conversations with Two Blinkers

By Mencken’s Ghost

blinker ‘blin-ker n (2012) : A person who blinks repeatedly in befuddlement when queried about his strong political and economic beliefs, because the beliefs were acquired without much thought from the mainstream media, from public school teachers or professors, or from parents and friends.

Blinkers come in all political persuasions and races and genders.  Below are recaps of conversations I had recently with two left-liberal blinkers.  I’ve had similar conversations with conservative blinkers, but on different subjects. 

First Conversation

A smug-looking 50-something guy is putting groceries in his car, which has three Obama/Biden bumper stickers pasted on the trunk, along with a sticker that says, “Tea Party:  Just another term for homophobe and racist.”

“Excuse me,” I say, “but I want to compliment you for taking an interest in politics and having the courage of expressing your views.”

Beaming, he responds, “Thank you.”

I continue:  “You seem like a smart guy, so I was wondering if you could help me with something that I struggle with.”

“Sure,” he answers.

“It seems to me that both political parties, and both liberals and conservatives, have the same belief in statism but just express it differently and try to achieve it differently.  What are your thoughts?”

Blink, blink, blink.

The blinking could have been due to him not understanding the word “statism.”  More likely, it was due to him being trained by the two ruling parties, as most Americans are trained, to see politics in terms of the standard left-right dichotomy; that is, in terms of Democrat vs. Republican, or liberal vs. conservative, instead of entertaining the possibility that where it really matters, both sides are one and the same and the truth might lie on some other scale.

He finally responds, “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I mean that it seems that both parties believe in a big centralized government that subjugates the individual to the state.  In other words, the individual is of secondary importance to some sort of collective or political organization.”

Blink, blink, blink.

He still didn’t understand, but this time I could sense that gears were turning in his head.

Whrr, whrr, whrr.

“But Republicans are the ones who want to deprive people of their civil liberties and want to bomb other countries,” he says.

“I’ll accept your expert opinion on that, but if I’m not mistaken, Democrats took us into four wars in the 20th century, have beefed up domestic police agencies, and want to take people’s money and other property for the so-called common good.  From where I stand as an individual, it seems that Democrats are just as statist and coercive as Republicans, albeit for different ends.”

The gears began turning so fast that they were melting from the heat.


With acrid smoke coming out of his ears, he huffs, “Well, I don’t agree with that.  Republicans are a bunch of right-wing extremists and religious nuts and can’t be compared to the progressives and moderates that make up the Democrat Party.”

Realizing that I had taxed his brain too much, and hoping that I had planted at least one seed in his scorched head, I end by saying, “Fair enough. Thank you for your intelligent thoughts.”  

Second Conversation

“Those goddamn capitalists!  Look at what the f*****g, greedy bankers have done to the country in the pursuit of profit.

My foul-mouthed neighbor, who gets all of his news and information from CNN and PBS and the New York Times, was on one of his anti-capitalist rants again. 

“Yeah,” I respond, “the bastards should be tarred and feathered.” 

I decided not to ask him for his definition of capitalism or to point out that banks are a franchise of the government and thus don’t operate in a true free market. 

Instead, I ask, “So you think that profits are bad?”

“Absolutely,” he answers.

I didn’t point out that profits across all businesses average only about 6% and are a small price to pay for the benefits of competition.  I chose to fib instead.

 “Frankly, I haven’t given much thought to profits, but I think your point might have merit. 

He smiles.

I continue:  “Please explain, though, how wages and prices would be set in the absence of profits or losses, how resources would be allocated, and how manufacturers, retailers and other businesses would know what to produce and stock to meet consumers’ changing tastes.”  

Blink, blink, blink.

“Well . . . uh . . . ah . . . supply and demand would determine all of that.  If consumers demanded more of something, the supply would increase to meet the demand. “

“I see.  So if the demand for okra went up, okra farmers would invest in more farmland to grow more okra?”

“Exactly,” he responds.

“But why would they spend their money to expand production if they couldn’t earn a return, or profit, on the capital?  Likewise, why would Apple ever bring an innovation to market if there were no profit incentive for them?”

Blink, blink, blink.

“I . . uh . . . .“

Blink, blink, blink.

“What I was really talking about was obscene profits and pay.  That’s what needs to be reined in.”

“Oh, you mean like the profits and pay of Wall Street bankers?” I ask.

“Yes, indeed.”

“Okay, but what about the profits and pay in professional sports?” I ask.

“That’s different because they compete and deserve what they get,” he responds without hesitation.

I respond to his response:  “Yes, and isn’t it also true that other than local governments building stadiums at taxpayer expense, the government doesn’t get involved in athletic competitions?”

“You got it,” he answers.  “The better team or player gets the bigger reward.”

“But the government does get involved in commercial and retail banking,” I say, “not only in licensing banks but also in regulating them, in virtually guaranteeing their profitability through the cartel of the Federal Reserve, and in bailing them out when they are too big to fail.”

“Don’t remind me of the goddamn crooks,” he responds angrily.

“I’ve enjoyed speaking with you,” I say in conclusion.  “You’ve made me realize that obscene profits occur when the government controls an industry and doesn’t allow true competition.”

The look on his face was priceless.

Blink, blink, blink.

Whrr, whrr, whrr.


Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at




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