|It's a War, Stupid||Physics, Religion, and Psychology|
by Christopher Chantrill
July 23, 2006 at 8:53 am
ON JULY 19 a federal court judge struck down Marylands Wal-Mart Law. Thats the law cooked up by the nations labor unions to force Wal-Mart to pay 8 percent of payroll into employee health benefits or be taxed for the difference.
In recent years labor unions have been finding that the first dollar health plans they bargained for and won years ago are coming under terminal threat from cost-conscious companies like Wal-Mart. They figure that forcing up Wal-Marts costs is a pill that will spell relief for its unionized competitors.
Of course the judge did not rule on for or against first dollar union health plans. Nor did he say that the Wal-Mart law was a direct attack on Wal-Marts eternal quest to deliver Everyday Low Prices to its customers. He merely ruled on the narrow ground that Marylands Fair Share Law violated the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
It is a very human impulse to try to force the world to pay your bills, to stake out the land and declare that whats mine is mine and whats yours is negotiable. Its the most natural thing in the world for a robber baron to build a castle on a mountain pass and prey on all the travelers passing by. Many people think that the only way they can get what they need is to take it.
But our age has vomited up a paradoxical idea opposed to the age-old ethics of the raider and the robber baron. It proposes that the way to get on in the world is to give to the world. Instead of hoarding your wealth and snatching other peoples wealth, you build and offer to the world cool products at great pricesor even ordinary products at Everyday Low Prices. You dont go to the government to get special subsidies for your business. You dont agitate to get exemptions from the laws on combinations in restraint of trade because you are a labor union. Instead you just work away at making your product better and better so that people will still want to buy it.
Many people do not get this. In Mexico City the disappointed supporter of defeated presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador wails that AMLO was the only one with a heart, who cares for the people. In the United States Democratic politicians believe that the only way for working families to obtain a decent standard of living is to squeeze it out of the rich and the corporations. These people do not believe that the world returns gifts with increase.
To believe that the world is a bounteous place you need faith, sometimes a lot of faith. That is why religious entrepreneurs have been offering for quite a while the idea of a loving God who cares about you. Secular prophets have advanced a slightly different idea: the Invisible Hand that seems to guide the actions of people to promote the public interest by pursuing their own ends in the lawful market.
To keep this faith it helps if you have something to give. Many of us fear that we have nothing to give the world, and so, just to be on the safe side, we attach ourselves to some political robber baron who promises to take from the world what we need by forceor, to use the modern euphemism, by government program and beneficial legislation.
Entry-level Wal-Mart employees are not, you would think, people with very much to give. Logically they ought to combine behind a charismatic union leader and force Wal-Mart to give them more. Yet Barbara Ehrenreich, when she worked for Wal-Mart for a month to research her Nickeled and Dimed, found it hard to persuade her fellow employees to take what they deserved by voting for a labor union.
The fact is that lots people want to work for Wal-Mart. Usually, when Wal-Mart opens a new store it expects to get about 3,000 applications for the three hundred jobs. Sometimes things can get a little out of hand. When Wal-Mart opened a store just outside the city limits of Chicago recently, 25,000 people sent in applications for the 325 jobs that opened up.
The battle over Wal-Mart is a real contest between two world views contesting for ascendency. One view experiences the world as a battle for survival in which you carve out in blood the best deal you can using power and solidarity. The other experiences the world as a cornucopia of plenty. In that world what you get depends on what you give.
If the truth is somewhere in between, where would you draw the line?
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists
conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
Paul Dirac: When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated
by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that
I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion.
However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and
inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he
suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.
John Farrell, The Creation Myth
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization