|Who Will Rid Me of that Troublesome Rush?||A Liberal Whiff of Panic|
by Christopher Chantrill
October 29, 2009 at 11:47 am
OH GOOD. At last the feds are going to crack down on those evil bankers and their greedy bonuses. Or is it greedy bankers and evil bonuses? Auto da fe next Tuesday.
Now we can get back to the important work of scapegoating insurance companies and the US Chamber of Commerce, the monsters standing in the way of health care reform that will let you keep your existing health insurance and will not add a dime to the deficit. Or is it doctors and FoxNews on the White House griddle this week?
Look, Im all in favor of scapegoating. Its a necessary part of any social system. When something goes wrong, the community needs to load all the troubles and the shame on the head of a guilty scapegoat and push it away into outer darkness.
But suppose we sacrificed the wrong scapegoat?
Take a look at the seven corporations, beneficiaries of TARP and affected by the pay limits published by the federal pay czar this week. As enumerated by The Wall Street Journal, they are Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp, American International Group (AIG), General Motors Co., GMAC Inc., Chrysler Group LLC, and Chrysler Financial.
Except for AIG, whose business was insuring banking risks, these corporations are all the weary beneficiaries of detailed, long-term government supervision and intervention. Did the government want affordable housing for all? No problem, Mr. President, you got it. Did the political elites want lifetime employment and pensions for auto workers? They got it, right up until the moment the music stopped.
Five years ago the government was ordering the bankers to load up on risky sub-prime loans. Now the Federal Reserve is putting together a plan to curb dangerous risk-taking at the banks by regulating performance-based pay plans.
Comments the Journal:
The pay curbs are intended to feed the official political narrative that the bankers caused the entire crisis, and that cutting their future pay will prevent the next one. Only a politician could really believe this, or at least pretend to.
Of course not all politicians believe this, or even pretend to. Hockey mom Sarah Palin on Facebook:
There were good intentions behind the drive to increase home ownership for lower-income Americans, but forcing financial institutions to give loans to people who couldnt afford them had terrible unintended consequences. We all felt those consequences during the financial collapse last year.
If you believe Sarah Palin, then its pretty obvious that the Obama adminstration is sacrificing the wrong scapegoats in the aftermath of the credit crisis. Its not the bankers that are the problem. It is the politicians that think they can game the credit system to finance affordable housing for all without wrecking the entire economy.
In the old days it was the king or his first-born son who had to be the scapegoat. But our modern leaders have found that sacrificing themselves is not Gods will. They have found that it is usually sufficient to deflect blame for their mistakes onto others, like bankers, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, insurance companies, fast food restaurants.
It is up to us to see through their tissue of lies. Its not the fault of the bankers; they are just middlemen in the government-regulated credit system. Its not the fault of the insurance companies; they are just middlemen in the government-regulated health care system.
But the governing philosophy of President Obama seems to require the identification and humiliation of scapegoats. Perhaps it lives in the very marrow of the left-wing bone.
Perhaps, even worse, scapegoating is the very marrow of all politics, as money is its mothers milk. After all, conservatives have dined out for a generation on accusing liberals of being soft on defense. Is there no other way of social cooperation?
Fortunately human civilization has developed ways of softening the cruelty of unforgiving politics. First of all, there is Christianity, built upon the remarkable idea that, about 2,000 years ago, God sacrificed his Son as a scapegoat for our sins once for all time. There would be no need for real human sacrifice or real banishment of scapegoats ever again. Then there is capitalism, in which people that mishandle economic resources just lose their investment and have to start over. Perhaps someone screws up and loses their job at Company A. What does the worker do? He goes down the street to apply for a job at Company B.
Lets not forget the idea of limited government. Perhaps its real wisdom is to dial down the ability of witch-hunting politicians to sacrifice more scapegoats to propitiate the gods.
Our liberal friends are deeply suspicious of Christianity. They are scornful of capitalisms cavalier, back to the drawing board attitude towards failure. They advocate a living constitution. When it comes to scapegoating they prefer real sacrifice and real scapegoats.
There is something deeply atavistic about President Obamas United Scapegoats of America.
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
[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
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[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
[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.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[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
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
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America