Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Unseen Threat of Economic Thinking

SoOo... why in the face of 'impeachment' and Virginia threatening gun confiscations (Fail!) & red-flag arrests, and young people being open to socialism, and Bernie Sanders winning primaries to give it to them, why the heck am I still going on with this series of posts about the perils of viewing the world through the lens of economic thinking in general and 'Free Trade!' in particular? To answer that, let me ask you a couple questions:
  • Do you think of Bernie Sanders as running on economic issues?
  • Do you see gun confiscation and socialism as being different issues?
While that may or may not furrow your brow, let me ask you one more question: If you knew about two imminent dangers to you, one a visible & possibly violent threat (a burglar, let's say), and a second unseen threat that could severely injure or kill you... but is easily avoided and fixed with maintenance (let's say a barely visible hairline crack across one spot of your 3rd floor balcony, which is covering a hole that'll plunge the next person stepping on it down to the rocks below), you'd quickly prioritize the threats and act accordingly, right? But if you were only aware of the threat you can see - which is the greater threat then? What if your plan to confront the burglar involves your standing on the balcony floor where that 'crack' is? Doesn't that make the unseen threat a greater danger to you, precisely because you aren't aware of it?

That's why I'm over here raising the alarm about the unseen & expanding hole in the American mind that is covered over by Economic Thinking. The very real threats of 'impeachment', of politically correct sanctuary cities and politically incorrect 'Sanctuary Counties', of threats to those rights protected by the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and of young people being open to the 'socialism' that Bernie Sanders is dying to give them, these are all threats that we can see coming (if you're willing to see & identify them). But effectively defending ourselves against such threats as those that we can see, requires us to take a stand upon the deepest of American ideals that have been critically undermined by the mistaken (at best) one-eyed nature of economic thinking; thinking which has become a conceptual throw-rug that we've tossed over the dangerously expanding hole in the foundation of America's ideals.

Sometimes both the seen and unseen threats are difficult to see, and then sometimes they're both carelessly brought right out into the open, but even then you do still have to bother with looking. For instance, early last year the the seen and unseen threats were brought out into public view, when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)'s Chief of Staff revealed the nature of their political plans,
"...Chakrabarti had an unexpected disclosure. “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,” he said, “is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.” Ricketts greeted this startling notion with an attentive poker face. “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti continued. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”
While it may be a little unusual that they announced their deceptions right out in the open where everyone can see, the only unusual part is that they are being open about attempting to deceive the public - it's the deception that's the norm. The opponents of a Free Market necessarily cannot openly and honestly compete with it on any level, and so their anemic systems of 'Progressivism', Socialism, Democratic Socialism, Fascism, Communism, Mercantilism, etc., etc., etc., must mislead, misidentify, wheedle, inveigh, and flat out lie about their intentions. The schemes they boldly proclaim for helping the 'little people' are always blatant lies peddled in the pursuit of power. It takes a decent regard for history to understand, and care, that such plans will deliver those same 'little people' into states of brutal impoverishment and quite possibly systematic murder.

Those who aren't or weren't aware of such dishonesty, can be woken up to their danger, simply by pointing out the facts behind what they openly say and do, if they are concerned with and able to recognize what is true, good, and proper. But - and here's where the unseen danger creeps in - how alarmed are they likely to become, if they don't see the nature of these plans as being any more significant, than just a different set of economic policies than we're used to? Can the rest of us really expect to see an effective defense against Bernie & AOC's policies to be mounted, by those who self identify as being supporters of 'Free Trade!', when they also see that as being a matter of economic policies? How strong of a stand should we expect them to be able to take against Bernie & AOC's economic policies, when they are mentally standing upon that same unsupportable philosophic 'crack' of economic and utilitarian thinking (see previous post), as those they're supposed to be defending us against?

What do I mean by that? The Leftists, Socialists, Communists, etc, start with economic policies based upon an 'Economic Interpretation of History' (see Marx). Libertarians begin by supporting their economic policies by deriving them from their economic interpretation of history (see Murray Rothbard, etc). Conservatives today cheerfully begin making their case with the 'Capitalism!' that Marx told them was Adam Smith's economic view of history (Adam Smith taught no such view, and had no such notion of 'capitalism')... while perhaps tossing in a convenient reference or two to the "Constitution!", and the importance of (unconstitutional) regulatory agencies to ensure a 'level playing field', and laws to ensure 'good' choices are made by people... who're lawfully prevented from actually making those choices. All of these begin by making their points from the shiny surface level of economics, few if any of them bothers with offering or seeking any deeper philosophical or ethical foundations for their thinking, and so they have no moral high ground from which to identify them as being wrong from, no universal position to clarify the givens and measures of their positions from.

All they can offer, what with their presumption that 'economic man is the measure of all things', is economic measurements and projections of GDP to counter the other side's sympathetic appeals to 'fairness!', and so they endlessly battle on over statistics & assertions which neither side has any means of making any headway against. The problem of course, is that when facts & principles can't be supported (which going no deeper makes it easy to get away without doing), emotions & passions will carry the day. With ease. Feeling the Bern yet?

Can our 'Free Trade!' defenders, effectively defend us against what have historically proven to be the most passionately appealing fallacies of economic thinking, using only tone-deaf sophistries of their own economic thinking?

Doesn't the record of our past and present history answer that with a clear 'No'? And yet that is how the 'Right' actually does play the game, as the 'Left' well knows. For instance, despite all of the errors and 'mistruths' which this Newsweek article "Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist NOT a Communist, here's the difference" advances in valiantly striving to explain how that distinction without a difference matters, they accurately describe the approach that the 'Right' takes towards describing the problem with Bernie:
"...Many right-wing critics have argued that the ideas espoused by Sanders and other democratic socialists in Congress would lead to the collapse of the U.S. economy, and transform the country into a struggling state similar to South America's Venezuela. However, Botting and Cohen said this assessment was inaccurate, pointing out that Sanders' proposals align more closely with those already implemented by wealthy northern European countries..."
Their assessment of the 'Right' is confirmed with this article from Forbes, "Why Young Voters Are Embracing Bernie Sanders And Democratic Socialism", as it chalks Bernie's popularity up to economic issues not favoring 'the youth' at the moment. Remarkably, the unchecked progression of this, which our current events reflect, has even left many on the Left dazed & confused, as MSNBC's Chris Matthews was surprised to find himself having to tell people not only that
"I've seen what socialism is like. I don’t like it. Okay? It's not only not free. It doesn’t freaking work. It just doesn’t work....”"
, and that if the Communists had won the Cold War
"...there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have one of the ones getting executed and certain other people would be there cheering, okay? So, I have a problem with people who took the other side."
Chris Matthews, after decades of passionately promoting socialistic politicians and policies, seems surprised to have to explain the problems of socialism to his audience. Did he not understand that his own book, which advised a Machiavellian gaming of power without regard for 'silly' notions of what is right and true (which Jon Stewart devastatingly called him out on) would encourage people who don't care about what's right or wrong, to execute their opposition in Central Park? I sure hope he and the Democrat party leaders have read David Faris's comments in 'The Week', as he said that such Democrats as Chris Matthews should just get over it already, after all,
"...Sanders has been a national figure for nearly five years, and wall-to-wall hysteria about socialism has done little to dim the public's enthusiasm for him..." since years of polling data "...suggests Sanders would be a very strong general election candidate."
Hey Chris, here's a fun fact that'll send a chill running up your leg: They aren't concerned over whether communism or socialism is right or wrong, but only with the very pragmatic concern for 'what will work' to put the Left back in power. And that is an example of economic thinking - using power to manipulate circumstances for the greater good. If that leads to having you lined up and shot in Central Park, so be it. Just ask a Bernie 'bro.

To repeat, it's not the economics of the moment, or the varying economic policies of Socialists, Democratic Socialists, Welfare Statists, Communists and Capitalists, that is at the root of our problems, but the habitual approach which the Left and Right and Libertarians, take, in reducing the (you should excuse the expression) 'business of living' to issues of economics. Each camp begins from the same foundations in two dimensional efficiency (utility and fairness for 'the greater good'), enabling each to easily use & abuse their own versions of the 'lessons of history', for their own purposes of promoting their spin on fairness, or prosperity, all of which sidesteps the question of what our situation actually is. What is the right thing to do, and why, are brushed aside for what positions will be found to be most useful, effective, etc., and the general public catches the unfortunate consequences of that unwitting conspiracy from all directions.

I wrote a post on how I stumbled myself into an excellent example of this 'seen vs. unseen' last weekend, when I criticized a popular conservative meme which purports to analyze the math of Bernie's purported plans. I said that calling Bernie out on whether or not his math was right, was not only pointless, but implied that he was interested in anything more than expanding the size of govt, while reducing everyone's individual right & power to resist govt's growth & power over us all. He's not. And he's said so. That is what Socialism means in practice, and cannot mean otherwise. The math matters on programs that are appropriate to consider - the appropriateness of the plan to our constitutional system of laws is what should be considered before ever considering the math, but that remains unseen to our eyes today. All we see, all we ask, is how 'workable' it is.

Our society has lost its depth perception, we see facts without meaning, policies that purport to be effective without considering whether they should ever be considered, let alone tried. If someone says they have a plan to commit the perfect murder, you shouldn't hear them out, and if they did, it's not their math that you should criticize. RIGHT? It's not an error in the math of his 'Medicare for all' plan, that's the 'deal breaker', but the nature of the plans themselves. Socialism IS the elimination of individual rights, along with the hope of of attaining Justice through a Rule of Law that's dedicated to upholding & defending those rights. People today bother to look at the math, only because they've never been taught to look for those fundamental principles - that's what being 'Pragmatic' means, BTW, 'forget about what's right & true, just do what seems to work' - and so you read along and 'do the math'. And isn't that about where we're at? The Left looks at adding up the numbers, the Right looks at whether criticism is accurate, and no one understands how the floor is collapsing out from beneath us.

In the last century we've learned to close one eye to something that is so important to our cultural depth perception, which is something that I'll get into in the next post, but in the meantime I wish people would acknowledge that we cannot effectively fight 'them', by standing right where they want us to, which is right upon that crack in our balcony floor, which we're dangerously close to falling through to the hungry rocks below.

There are worse consequences to 2D vision than whether or not the math adds up. Because we miss or avoid pointing out the fundamentals, and allow the pro-regressive Left & Right to press forward to the point of their economic terms, we are seen as caring more about dollar$ & cents, than with what is Right & Wrong. 'Today's youth' tend towards one socialistic scheme or another, because even if they haven't been taught the deeper unseen issues, they grasp that there's a hole beneath the 'economic realities' that they have been taught to accept as being all they need to know. Naturally tending towards idealism, they intuitively grasp that deeper ethical issues are being avoided in all of our pubic 'debates' over minimum wage, the rights protected by the 1st & 2nd Amendments, and healthcare, and as their 'education' has left them uninformed about those deeper unseen fundamentals, they give little other consideration beyond their sympathetic feelings for the fairness of the Haves pitting social circumstances against the Have-nots. As I said in the previous post:
"...The 'youth' aren't flocking to Socialism because you aren't making a good enough economic argument against it, they're flocking to Socialism because you are only making an economic argument against it! By failing to make the moral and philosophical argument for a Free Market, the 'youth' flock to the only ones who are claiming to make a moral and philosophical argument: Bernie Sanders and the Socialists(!)...."
Not having learned to see or look for any substantively deeper issues, they see only what there is to see upon the economic surface which Bernie & Co. effortlessly skate across. What the 'youth' (and one heck of a lot of the 'old' too) see only the mean and powerful taking advantage of the weak and helpless... how can anyone seriously expect to win them over with glorious tales of a rising Gross Domestic Product?!

Thinking about the world and the threats to us primarily through an economic lens, immediately reduces the scope of our thoughtful awareness, and blinds us to recognizing that 'Free Trade!' & Socialism are but the heads & tails of the same economic system, whose currency is the coin of modernity's bankrupt realm.

America was the result of actively thinking three dimensionally, and we engage in restricting ourselves to two dimensional thinking, at our own peril. How we learned to close one eye to that, and why, in the next post.

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