Donkeys and Capitalism and the President’s Finger: Sunday Morning Haphazard Thoughts

This morning, I watched a French documentary on the equivalent of Animal Planet. It showed a middle-aged guy who has been walking around Europe with his donkey, like Robert Louis Stevenson did on a smaller scale in the 19th century. After several years, the thought struck the French hiker that there must be people who don’t have the use of their legs who would enjoy doing the same. He is developing at his own expense a contraption, a special paraplegic-friendly cart, that can be drawn by a donkey.

In my town of Santa Cruz, there is an organization that puts wetsuits on variously handicapped young people, some severely handicapped, to make them experience the approximate joys of surfing. The kind of generosity of spirit these two stories illustrate, and the imagination, also the individual economic capability to follow through, tell us what’s a good society. The differences between France and the US pale before the differences between those kinds of society and others.

I would bet you, there is no such private endeavor anywhere in China, or in Russia, or in Cuba, or anywhere in the Muslim world. I stand ready to be corrected, naturally. I will publish any credible correction.

That’s the seldom-told story of real capitalism, of course. It’s the side of capitalism people who live in feudal societies and in semi-socialistic societies, and in societies that are a little bit of both have no way of knowing. It’s also the side of capitalism that home-grown leftists perversely refuse to see. It’s a major reason why leftists have to lie so much: If capitalism does everything better, including compassion, what’s left of our collectivist dream, they ask themselves?

Capitalist societies in fact give a better life to everyone and especially to the weak and defenseless. They do this by providing the highest standard of living for ordinary people and by being associated with a high degree of personal freedom. Combine personal freedom with escape from abject poverty and you get imaginative generosity toward the vulnerable, like the generosity of the Frenchman with a donkey. And yes, despite a hundred years of leftist folklore poverty makes you narrow-minded and stingy.

 

On to the domestic end-of-reign. The President first announces that he will give another speech, a speech on jobs, no kidding! Then he says it will be delivered on the same night as a long-scheduled Republican presidential debate. When criticized, he backs out and schedules it on the same night as an important televised sports event. Then, he backs out and schedules for yet another night.

Does this sound live an evil Machiavellian political genius to you? To me, it sounds like the actions of a clueless man, of a man at sea, of a man isolated, with no one to give him advice. I have said from the days of the campaign that Barack Obama is much more incompetent than evil. He had never accomplished anything in any of his several careers before he was elected; he still has not. Even if you are a deluded liberal and wish to credit him for the ObamaCare 2,000+ page law, you probably shouldn’t. If it survives it will be the Pelosi/ReidCare.

The President has become a pathetic figure. He acts as if he had been abandoned by all who had any sort of adult credibility. That would include many public figures I dislike intensely because I am a conservative and because I am intellectually honest. It looks as if there were no one left to guide his steps, no one to hold his hand.

Speaking of hand: His is still the hand that has the finger that could press the button. I am worried he might get pissed or confused and nuke Dallas.

About jacquesdelacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Socio-Political Essays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Donkeys and Capitalism and the President’s Finger: Sunday Morning Haphazard Thoughts

  1. Peter Miller says:

    Jacques, this is not a response to this post, but a response to another post linked from FB that I can’t find anymore.

    Causes of the 9/11 attack on America

    On this sombre anniversary, many are moved to look anew at the causes of the worst attack ever on the American homeland. To the extent these ruminations help correct what went wrong, they can be useful. Inevitably official attention has focused on physical security. But there are many more targets than can possibly be protected. So the securing of airliners, airports, and other moving and fixed targets, as important as that is, must be supplemented by social practices and individual awareness. These kinds of safeguards, sorely lacking before 9/11, are still missing from the overall security posture. They therefore remain causes of the next terror attack.

    For example, we maintain, at astronomical cost, a system of universal screening at airports, for fear of the dreaded term ‘profiling’. Yet every terror attack must necessarily be preceded by surveillance of the intended target, and by other behavioral clues, such as nervousness. Thus behavioral rather than racial profiling could vastly improve air transport security while reducing costly delays and intrusive searches. The oft-repeated false dilemma of security versus civil liberties is one of many social attitudes contributing to the nation’s continued vulnerability to attack.

    What happened on Sept 11, 2001 had causes reaching back at least a quarter-century. Here are a few of them — while reading, think about their persistence today.

    The Arab oil embargo and quadrupling of oil prices in 1974 was an act of economic warfare against the United States, and against the global economy dominated by America and the West. If the oil shieks figured Big Oil would rather partner with them to gouge consumers than challenge OPECl. they figured right. Big Oil became tax collectors for the oil shieks, who in turn forked over protection money to terrorists. Thus did the West begin financing its own destruction, acquiesce in destabilizing the global economy, and demonstrate that it could be rolled by a determined adversary.

    The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was the last gasp of a senile Brezhnev and of the Soviet Empire. Instead of treating it as such, Jimmy Carter took it as a personal affront, and Zbigniew Brezhinski took it as a mortal threat. Together they armed and financed the Mujahadeen, forerunner of Al Qaeda. Having defeated a Russia they regarded as a Western power, the Mujahadeen morphed into Al Qaeda and turned their attentions to other Western powers. (Much as Imperial Japan had done after defeating Russia with American assistance at the beginning of the 20th century.) This time around, the lesson of the West’s vulnerability was not lost on an Iranian cleric exiled in Paris.

    Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution and hostage-taking in Iran elicited pleas, a bungled rescue attempt, and helpless posturing by Jimmy Carter. It elicited something more substantial from Carter’s soon-to-be successor, Ronald Reagan. Grasping an electoral opportunity, his emissary Bill Casey urged Khomeini to hold the hostages throughout the U.S. election season until the day of Reagan’s inauguration. No one knows exactly what inducements led Khomeini to comply with this strange request, but as the terms of the later Iran-Contra deal became clear, it probably involved advanced weapons. Reagan also responded to the mass murder of American soldiers in Lebanon by abandoning that country to its fate as a Syrian colony. This too was noted by America’s other enemies in the Mideast.

    The World Trade Center was first attacked in 1993, with an explosion in the garage that killed six people, but did not achieve its intention of toppling the building. Bill Clinton’s Administration treated it as a matter for criminal prosecution rather than as an act of war. He later explained that it did not come up very high in the polls. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelik promulgated rules preventing cooperation between the FBI and the CIA, and separating the investigation and prosecution functions of the Justice Department. In one singularly blind stroke, this guaranteed that intelligence methods and sources would have to be revealed in the discovery phase of criminal prosecutions, and that information-sharing between agencies linking foreign and domestic terror activities was forbidden. It would be hard to imagine a better way of facilitating terror attacks. One more thing: The rules were vague enough that employees of agencies that were not keen to share information in the first place guarded ‘their’ secrets more closely than ever.

    A series of attacks — with many fatalities — on American military forces and embassies in the Mideast elicited no response from American officials beyond the empty resolve to ‘bring the perpetrators to justice’. Though clearly armed and financed by national governments in the region, these governments invoked sovereign immunity from reprisals. International legal scholars assured officials these borders were sacrosanct, inventing the concept of ‘stateless actors’ to place them beyond reach.

    As one result of the legally enforced non-cooperation between law enforcement and terror investigation agencies in the United States, computers containing plans for the 9/11 attacks were not impounded, and reports of Muslims enrolled in flight-training asking their instructors to skip the part about landing were ignored. While Islamists had been hijacking airliners and, separately, blowing themselves up in suicide attacks for many years, apparently no one who was responsible for monitoring their activities considered the possibility of combining those two tactics. Perhaps intelligence analysts miseled themselves through their presumption of rational political goals, as if loony Islamists were walking a picket line or peacably petitioning for relief of valid grievances.

    Nearly all of the above causes of the 2001 terror attacks remains with us today. Only one, the sanctity of national borders, has been significantly eroded, though only to the extent necessary to prevent further attacks on America and its military forces in the region.

    But the United States is still just as dependent on Mideast oil as in 1974, is still alienating Russia instead of seeking cooperation against a common Islamist threat, is still allowing its elections to be manipulated by foreign enemies, is still according terrorists wholly inapplicable rights as criminal defendants, and is still tying itself in knots by criminalizing everyone who boards an airplane or enters a public building. Only when these counter-productive practices are replaced by procedures more suitable to the purpose of protecting the populace — without encroaching on civil liberties — can America begin to address its real vulnerabilities.

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