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In Defeat, Defiance Let's Change the Conversation on Education

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Who Do You Trust?

by Christopher Chantrill
April 02, 2010 at 10:28 pm


EVERYONE seems to need a narrative of good against evil. Even people who don’t believe in God or in Satan. Take Noam Chomsky, scourge of US imperialism. In the lefty mockumentary The Corporation, he delicately compares corporations to slaveowners:

When you look at a corporation, just like when you look at a slaveowner, you want to distinguish between the institution and the individual. So slavery, for example, or other forms of tyranny, are inherently monstrous, but the individuals participating in them may be the nicest guys you can imagine... As individuals they may be anything. In their institutional role they are monsters because the institution is monstrous.

To place this in context, Noam Chomsky is discussing corporate CEOs laying off employees.

In Chomsky’s world, evil is a corporate layoff. Presumably the good is symbolized by government-financed university professors fighting for peace and justice.

Of course, conservatives are pushing the reverse narrative. To us, corporations are mostly beneficent institutions that occasionally make mistakes. But government is all about power, and so the recently passed health-care cram-down is canonical. No doubt the Reids, the Pelosis and the Obamas are the nicest chaps in the world. But in their institutional role as power politicians they are monsters. Because government is force, and force is monstrous. That’s why you need limited government.

The problem for conservatives is that, even in this center-right country, too many people seem to agree with Chomsky. They give the benefit of the doubt to government, but are outraged when corporations are less than perfect. Ask Toyota about that. Economist Gary Becker explains the problem to Peter Robinson in The Wall Street Journal:

People tend to impute good motives to government. And if you assume that government officials are well meaning, then you also tend to assume that government officials always act on behalf of the greater good. People understand that entrepreneurs and investors by contrast just try to make money, not act on behalf of the greater good. And they have trouble seeing how this pursuit of profits can lift the general standard of living.

The purpose of a video like The Corporation is to exploit this imputation. Trust the community; trust government. Don’t trust corporations.

If only it were true. Instead, politics is all about making big promises to get elected so you can get your hands on the levers of power. But business is all about giving the consumer what she wants, again and again; only then can you make big profits.

Still not convinced? The Prisoner’s Dilemma ought to convince you. It deals with the basic question of trust. Should you trust your fellow prisoner in the next cell, or rat on him? The decision, scholars agree, depends on whether this is the last time you will ever see your partner in crime. In the final transaction between two people, it pays to cheat. If the government is offering to let you disappear into the federal witness protection program in return for testimony then the decision is simple.

That’s the position of a politician running for election. If he doesn’t win he’ll never get to go before the voters again. He’ll promise anything and everything. But the relationship between you and the local supermarket is different. The supermarket wants you to come back again and again. They need your trust, and they need to renew it every day. That’s why they have such generous return policies.

The challenge to conservatives, after the ObamaCare cram-down, is simple. If we want to succeed in our quest of restoring limited government, we must persuade the American people of the truth: it is much better trust a businessman than a politician. If you want decent health care, then you don’t want the government involved: not if you don’t want a $30 trillion unfunded deficit. If you want decent education for your children, then you don’t want the government in the loop: your kid will need remedial classes when he gets to college. If you want to give the poor a hand up not a hand out, then you need to keep the government out of it; otherwise the government will end up smashing the low-income family.

Of course, if your idea of justice is to force the American people to pay for your education and your health care, then go ahead. Grow government.

These are exciting days for conservatives. There’s a smell of cordite in the air, and a sense that the tide of battle is shifting after four years of Democratic advance. But if we are to make more than a temporary counter-attack we need to change the narrative.

No, it’s not the insurance companies, it’s the government’s taxes and subsidies. It’s not the bankers, it’s the government’s credit policy.

The corporations con’t tell the American people. The liberals won’t. They trust government like they trust themselves.

So it’s up to us. It’s up to conservatives to tell the story. For our material needs, it’s better to trust corporations over government.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[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

US Life in 1842

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

Taking Responsibility

[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

Society and State

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

Socialism equals Animism

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

Responsible Self

[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.

Religion, Property, and Family

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

Racial Discrimination

[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 don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy

Physics, Religion, and Psychology

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

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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