Why is it still so hard for free enterprise to get an even break?
Though I don't seek it, I happened to hear part of Sean Hannity's radio program the other day. On it was some young woman touting the alleged virtues of Barack Obama and, more generally, of his philosophy. (I'd guess she was in her 20s at least.)
I have long believed that no one past adolescence could honestly adhere to those views, that they must be a cover for a secret, vicious desire to destroy. This woman persuaded me there are exceptions, perhaps more than I suspected.
With all sincerity, she touted the standard socialist lines on poverty, race, gender, trade, energy, war, and all the rest that forms so prominent a part of Obama's rhetoric — when he isn't blatantly lying about what he believes (which, I admit, is more and more often now).
What is interesting isn't the views themselves — they're at least as old as the mid-19th century and, despite the alleged discrediting of socialism, are alive and well in our society (and not just among faux liberals or the so-called Left).
No, what's astounding is that she could state these views with such sincerity. She gave every evidence of honestly believing that taxing the rich, capping carbon output, talking with rather than fighting Iran, and so forth could actually provide economic enhancement, environmental improvement, and a safer world.
She couldn't be more wrong, but proving it is not the focus of this post. (Even Hannity, no logician by any stretch, managed to shred her in seconds.) No, it's just to point out that there is still a great deal of work to do to get people to the point that such views are — as they once were — widely greeted with the same kind of (deserved) horror that meets idiotic racist remarks by near-retarded radio commentators.
Defeating Suicide Bomber Intellectuals
How to make progress?
Well, while the full answer is well beyond the scope of this post (and my current state of knowledge), following is one potentially fruitful area to work on.
Even though capitalism continues to improve living conditions wherever it is allowed, there are still people like that young woman who trust elected officials more than businessmen. She said so explicitly when posed the question by Hannity of why she took the approach she did.
In light of the near-psychopathic hatred of George Bush (who, admittedly, deserves some of the criticism), not to mention the history of politicians' behavior within the memory of even this 20-something woman, that's the most astounding thing of all. There is a vanishingly small number of politicians from the past 20 years who haven't, most of the time, done far more damage than good in word and deed. Go back an extra 60 years and the record is scarcely better.
Granted there are a great many businessmen, private and known to the public, whom one would not want over to dinner. But, that elected officials could be regarded as more trustworthy simply boggles the mind.
And, it's easy to demonstrate that there are dozens, if not hundreds of businessmen (not to mention millions of others who work in companies), who have been paragons of virtue — innovative, honest, just, and highly productive. Names like Robert Noyce of Intel, Fred Smith of FedEx, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, and many others come to mind.
The second, and more dangerous aspect of this woman's thinking is how ready such individuals are metaphorically to blow others up in order to further their philosophy.
People like her are perfectly willing to hand over authority to politicians to regulate energy markets, food production, and more. Anyone older than 20 who has been paying attention these past few years (not to mention anyone who has bothered to read a book on the subject covering the 20th century) knows with certainty that the pols haven't provided any reason to believe they can handle these things well.
(That's apart from the more basic and important fact that they haven't even the right to try in the first place. The value and right of freedom isn't negotiable, contingent on the efficacy of politicians vs. entrepreneurs. More on that later.)
Similarly, anyone who took even a casual objective look would know that businessmen, for all their faults and failures, have handled all these things infinitely better.
Just to give one example out of dozens ready at hand, Yucca Mountain (designated over 10 years ago to hold nuclear waste from power plants all over the U.S.) is still not open for business. The plants around the country themselves are doing an excellent job of storing the waste locally. Workers at such plants receive no more radiation than someone living in another state that has no nuclear power plants at all. (Provided, that is, such a person doesn't live near a coal-fired plant, which spews unregulated radiation into the atmosphere at a prodigious rate. Very small amounts of radioactive uranium are a typical waste product of burning coal.)
Unfortunately, there seems to be an endless supply of these clueless suicide bomber intellectuals who are willing to die, metaphorically speaking (and, ultimately, literally) for their cause.
We need a surge to wipe these ideas out.