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The Liberal Culture of Compulsion Social Security Isn't Broken

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Deflating Those Liberal Myths

by Christopher Chantrill
March 09, 2011 at 12:48 pm

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OUR MEDIA chaps like to be first with the new cultural trend, the latest hot thing that young things are getting hot over. But they have another important role, and that is publicizing the Roadrunner moment—when Wile E. Coyote realizes that there’s nothing between him and the ground 2,000 feet below.

The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan is good at Roadrunner observances, and she nailed another one last Saturday by puncturing the liberal myth about unions. Public-sector unions, she wrote, are friendly in the way that the “selfish, bullying union chief Johnny Friendly” in On the Waterfront is friendly.

Allow me to translate. Peggy is telling her liberal friends that the gig is up on the myth of labor unions as the friends of the little guy. So another liberal myth hits the dirt.

For over a century our liberal friends have insisted that labor unions are right there on the front lines fighting for the rights of workers. But this is baloney. Labor unions have always fought for some workers against other workers. When they were medieval guilds unions were fighting for the city artisans against cheap labor from the countryside. If you were a peasant, you could forget about getting work in the city, thanks to the city guilds. When they staged their first successful strikes by shutting down the railroad, the railroad unions were fighting for the well-paid railroad workers against the ordinary working stiff. In the 1930s unions were fighting for the Davis-Bacon Act to keep low-paid Negro labor out of the urban North and they were fighting for well-paid auto workers against people who might, some day, be able to afford an automobile. When labor unions fight against child labor they are helping keep capable teenagers locked up in K-12 government child custodial facilities (where children are expected to work for nothing) so they can’t compete for jobs with union members. When labor unions are agitating for minimum wages they are trying to force low-paid, entry-level workers out of the job market.

Now we have well-paid government-employee union members stiffing the ordinary taxpayer, and it looks like it’s all over for Wile E. Coyote in the Looney Tunes favorite “Roadrunner and the Union Brothers.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with unions. There are a ton of people that don’t get the capitalist offering. They come to the city and figure that political power is the coin of the city, just like it was back on the farm, where you needed a powerful patron to survive. It takes a generation for most people to twig to the truth, that capitalism is a system that rewards the chap, and he’s usually a middle-class nobody, that comes up with some new, improved product that consumers want to buy. Call it hitting the innovation jackpot. Plus, capitalism rewards the guys that work for the guy that hit the innovation jackpot. Until people figure this out, the safest place for them is a labor union or a political machine.

So much for the labor-union myth. But what about all those other pernicious liberal myths that serve no social purpose but serve, as the postmodernists so cleverly put it, as narratives to justify liberal political power?

There’s the narrative about FDR getting the United States out of the Great Depression. He did it so well that liberals are determined to use the same methods to get out of the Great Recession, even if it means burying every Democratic voter in money.

There’s the narrative about government education. Since the United States has had about 90 percent literacy for 200 years, with and without government schools, it’s hard to see the benefit, except the advantage of teachers paying union dues to their unions and the unions spending the money on politicians.

There’s the idea that without economic and social legislation, we’d all be working in sweat-shops. It’s odd how that worked out. Today the poor are protected from evil exploiters, the children of the rich gladly work 80 hour weeks as associates in law firms.

Frankly, I’m past being angered by these dying liberal myths: I’m just tired of them. I’d rather talk about good improving conservative myths, like the idea that the United States is the last best hope of mankind on earth. Or try this one on for size. Somewhere out there in America there’s a conservative black kid that’s going to grow up to be president. (You think America is ready to vote for a black conservative president?)

Some day, of course, today’s conservative myths will go the way of the deflating liberal myths that justify the rule of the today’s Ruling Class. But not yet.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[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


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

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


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

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


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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