Monday, May 10, 2010

Beware Obama's Scyth

I was going to write an essay on Obama's recent idiotic remark that "[A]t a certain point you've made enough money." Before I could get around to it, I discovered that Ralph Reiland writing at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review has said about everything I was going to say. The whole (short) article is worthwhile, but here is — Obama should excuse the expression — the money quote:
[S]hould the central committee of White House czars decide how much of Ben [Roethlisberger's] $25 million was due to the lucky inheritance of a good throwing arm and how much was "fairly earned" for hard work?
So who decides when we've "made enough money"? Should we tell Julia Roberts not to make another movie, tell her she's "made enough"? Should the czars tell Tiger Woods that he's way past that "certain point" when he's earned "enough," unless he wants to play for free or donate 100 percent of the winnings to the needs of the collective?
Egalitarianism is one of the ugliest aspects of Progressivism and Obama embraces it wholeheartedly. Tall poppies everywhere, beware. The crab bucket mentality is now government policy.


madmax said...


Would you say that egalitarianism is the defining essence of the Left? I would say altruism but altruism is everywhere, even on the Right. Besides, there are non-egalitarian ways to be altruistic. It seems to me that it is the egalitarian approach to selflessness that is motivating today's Leftists and Progressives. Multiculturalism, Feminism, Welfare-Statism, Environmentalism, Pacifism all seem to be different manifestations of egalitarianism.

Jeff Perren said...

That's an excellent question, and I'm ashamed to admit I don't have a ready, satisfactory answer.

I continue to try to find that small set of attributes that would constitute a good, essentialized fundamental definition of the Left. In the meantime, I'm somewhat left with the silly Supreme Court justice's definition of pornography: "I know it when I see it."

I'll have to think about that some more and get back to you.

Just as a preliminary (and one reason I privately call the Progressives "the Anti(s)"): I believe their defining attribute is simply to be Anti - anti anything that sustains individual human life.

Those on 'the Right' do occasionally fall into that category, but I believe they almost always do so by accident, because of mixed premises and only by implication (particularly in epistemology).

There are only a very small number, for example, of the idiotic fire-and-brimstone preachers still around who might reasonably be placed 'on the right.' Perhaps none, depending on the specifics.

I came across one by accident on the Internet recently and mentally noted how unusual it was to find such a creature these days.

By contrast, the type of 'rightist' you are thinking of does believe in thriving and is simply mistaken - sometimes egregiously, but still (I believe) innocently - about how to support it.

As a side note on the specific candidate of egalitarianism: it's difficult to put that forth as defining since so many Progressvies believe in an 'elite' who should rule the rest of us. But then, there are so many inherent contradictions in Progressivism there may be no way out of that kind of conundrum.

More when I have a better answer to offer...

madmax said...

"I continue to try to find that small set of attributes that would constitute a good, essentialized fundamental definition of the Left. In the meantime, I'm somewhat left with the silly Supreme Court justice's definition of pornography: "I know it when I see it.""

These are my thoughts exactly. I have been trying to essentialize the Left for years. If you ever should blog on it I'd be interested to see your conclusions.

madmax said...

One other thing, regarding the Right, I would agree with you if we only limited ourselves to mainstream Right thinkers. They are far better than Leftists. There is no equivalent of a Thomas Sowell on the Left.

But I have read too much of the PaleoConservative literature to give them the benefit of the doubt. In fact I would go so far as to say that if you remove the totalitarian Leftists, the WORST group in politics today are the PaleoCons. They're even worse than Leftists. They are a racist, misogynist, often anti-Semitic bunch. And lets not forget, Patrick Buchanan (who is actually somewhat mild as far as PaleoCons go) wrote an apologia for Hitler. The PaleoCons are ugly.

Jeff Perren said...

You're either a glutton for punishment or you just enjoy exploring these little byways. :)

Anyway, I agree with you completely. Even my glancing acquaintance with that sub-group is enough to de-motivate me from learning more.

I'm not 100% sure I'd put them on the Right, however. (I've often said there are more than 2 points on the political compass, a metaphor I find more useful than 'the spectrum'.) Why do you, or others, do you suppose?

madmax said...


I agree with you that today's "Left" and "Right" metaphors are horribly flawed. Are you familiar with this libertarian political classification system?:

I Think it far more useful a tool than the typical left/right spectrum.

Oh, and for the PaleoCons and BioCons and other groups, I was intrigued in what is being called the "alternative Right" so I started to look into it. But the more I saw the more disgusted I became. But I admit to a perverse curiosity about demented philosophies. For example, at one time I used to read Daily Kos daily because I was fascinated by Leftist pathology. But in the end there is only so much sewage one can breath in without vomiting.