Saturday, November 3, 2012

What has The Right done for working people?

I received the query below from a Marine buddy who went through Plt. 273 with me at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in 1964, and through Marine Electronics School for Radio Relay Repair with me at MCRD San Diego in 1965. He has been a union official for a long time. Below is my response to him. ~Bob

... And tell me 3 things the right has done to make things better for working people! --Ski

Hi, Ski,

You asked what the Right has ever done for working people. It's a serious question and deserves a serious answer. But it will be a little long. I'm going to copy all the guys from our class, as some may have interest in a few of the things I'm going to recommend you read. (And if not, their delete keys work fine!)

Let me start by acknowledging that many "conservatives," like liberals and other people, do not live up to the values they espouse. People are, regardless of philosophy, infinitely capable of convincing themselves that what they want for their short term self interest is in the general interest and the right thing to do. And almost everyone does this to some degree, so picking out the good guys can be hard.

That said, this country was built on the conservative economic and political principles of economic freedom, political freedom, property rights (without which there is no freedom) and limited government, with a balance between the states and the federal government and between the branches of the federal government. This is enshrined in our Constitution. (When you hear someone say "The Constitution is a Living Document," they mean to kill it!) These principles were, interestingly, called "Liberal" in the 19th century, and are still often called "Classical Liberalism."

What these principles have done is build a society where more working people have more freedom, more leisure and a higher standard of living than anywhere else on Earth, now or in history. Even the majority of those defined today as "poor" in our conservative society have more living space, on average, than most middleclass Europeans, have more amenities like AC that the middleclass lacked when we were in boot camp in 1964, and would be considered rich in most of the third world. I'm 66 and, as you know, I have a terminal illness, but I have no complaints. Because I was born into a society based on these "right wing" principles, I've already lived longer and better than 99% of the people who ever lived. Since I've worked since I was 16, pretty hard, I, too, think of myself as a "working person."

All this, the Left wants to fundamentally transform. If you want to get away from a society where the Right has so much power, you need to move to Greece or Spain, where Leftist ideals have long held sway, and see how the "working people" are doing there. Keep your head down, though, as mostly they are rioting, because the government has run out of money to meet the vote-buying Leftist promises and a lot of rocks are flying.

Of course, Greece and Spain are only at a middle stage of the Left's plans for working people. To go to the final stage, you must live under a government like one of the three great socialist mass murderers of the 20th century. First, Mao, who brought Leftist socialist thought to China and killed more people than anyone in history. Naturally, Mao is Obama appointee and debate coach Anita Dunn's "favorite philosopher." (Though she has tried to walk that comment back, saying she was being ironic.)

In second place is Stalin, who brought International Socialism to the USSR, deliberately created a famine to starve large areas into submission, and murdered ten's of millions. Bringing up the rear is Hitler, who brought National Socialism to Germany and hated corporations and the church. (Though the Left claims this National Socialist was a rightist, he was viewed as a Leftist until he attacked the USSR.) Fascism in Italy, of course, had an economic philosophy that the state should control corporations for the benefit of the "people." (Read "benefit of the state and the oligarchs.")

As the great Austrian economist F. A. Hayek points out in his book The Road to Serfdom, which he wrote to warn the West against falling into the trap of becoming like National Socialist Germany, centralized government power always ends in oppression, as the government bureaucrats have to use coercion and force to make people to do things "for their own good" that they don't want to do. It can be a difficult read, but it's linked here:

Those who don't oppose the Left eventually end up kneeling by a trench in the Katyn Forest, hands tied behind their backs, wondering how it happened:

My take on what the Left and Barack Obama seek to do to working people (and everyone else) was published on The American Thinker site recently:

Barack Obama and the Fundamental Transformation of America
By Robert A. Hall

The problem is that most people are ignorant of basic economic principles, think only of their short-term benefits and, as the economist Dr. Thomas Sowell says, can't think to stage two. So they are like a farmer selling his seed corn to throw a party. Everyone gets free beer and pizza today, but starves next year, because the math of the Left doesn't work long term. But all the interest groups--yes that includes Unions and Corporations--want their free beer today and the hell with the grandkids.

For example, the Left gets a lot of votes promising not to change Social Security and Medicare. Great politics, and it won't matter to me--I'll be dead. But no serious economist, mathematician or statistician looks at the numbers for these programs and thinks they won't collapse in fiscal ruin in 15-20 years without changes. So fighting change is not saving Social Security and Medicare--it's cynically destroying them for votes now.

If you don't know Thomas Sowell, I'd encourage you to read him. While he's brilliant, and his academic stuff like Knowledge and Decisions is a bit over my head, he has a great ability to write in a clear way that is understandable for the average working guy, which is why his economic texts have been translated into many languages and are used in numerous universities and high schools.

Sowell's story is inspiring. He was born into a poor, black family in NC, which didn't have an indoor toilet, electricity or hot water. By 17, he was supporting himself as a machinist in New York City. He was drafted into the Marines for two years, where he because a photographer. Afterwards, he went to Howard University, transferred to Harvard (before affirmative action) worked his way through, got a masters degree in Economics from Columbia and finally a PhD from the University of Chicago in the History of Economic Thought (if memory serves). He started his academic career as a Marxist--as far Left as you can get. But he did a surprising thing. He looked at what the results of Leftist policies were for real people--working people--as opposed to their stated intentions. Thus he became a leading proponent of economic freedom. He has dozens of books in print and writes regular columns, all very understandable by average working guys. He has taught at many major universities, and turns down appointments if he thinks they are offered because he's black.

I highly recommend these books, in this order, by Cpl Sowell:

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
Fairly long, but clear and easy to read. I never learned so much from any one book in my life, and I read extensively in history, politics and economics--certainly over 2,000 non-fiction books in my lifetime. (The fourth edition is out--I can send you the third edition if you'd like.)

Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One 
Not as long, very clear and easy to read, and teaches people to think beyond the obvious.

Black Rednecks and White Liberals
Excellent collection of essays on topics such as slavery, black inner-city culture and economics for middleman minorities.

Race And Culture: A World View
Puts our problems with these issues into perspective based on history and other countries.

A Personal Odyssey
His autobiography. It will make you proud of this Marine.

I've read all these and others by him, and anyone who completed Marine Electronics School in our class would have no trouble reading them and understanding the concepts.

These books will tell you what free-market, limited government conservatives are doing to help working people. But only if your mind is open and you are willing to make the effort to learn.

Thanks for asking.

Semper Fidelis, ~Bob


You referenced a lot of books and information to me when all I asked is tell me 3 things the right has done to improve a working mans life on the job. the right opposes social security,& Medicare, no one can work forever not everyone has a sit down job, they oppose OSHA and do not care about safety on the job, they could care less about child labor laws newt wanted to use school children to janitor work and fire the adult janitors, they wanted to end the 40 hour work week and extend it to 50 or 60 hours a week, they oppose raising the minimum wage ( our former government. Tom Ridge quit being homeland security head because it was hard sending his child to college on $175,000 a year yet he fought minimum wage increase harder then anyone) the right in congress said when 911 happened that we should compensate these people because they were successful, ( pay them each a million dollars) I heard no such mention when Oklahoma city happened but then again these were those lazy government workers in that building, as for unions they want the companies to succeed but they want to share in that success  not economic slavery, I am by no means a bleeding heart liberal I hate the freeloaders and those that abuse the system as much as anyone we give the rest of the world so much foreign aid but that is not called socialism but when we help one of our own it's socialism I think vets and people who have worked their whole lives should be taken care of when they need it  whether or not you agree with me is fine but I have always spoken my mind. I wish we could sit down & talk instead of writing, Reagan started it with trickled down economics that's why every thing is falling apart other than kissing the rich mans ass what good has the right done for USA nothing unfair trade agreements sending our jobs to communist china if you cannot see how hypocritical the right is you are blind your buddy newt said let it wither on the vine I'm ignorant but you still cannot tell me 3 THINGS the right has done to improve life. Semper Fi, Ski.

Hi, Ski,

Okay, you asked for three things the Right has done to improve life for working people. The problem is I can tell you many things, but like most Americans, you have not been equipped by our educational system to understand economics, government and public policy, therefore, you won’t believe them. It’s not the least of our problems that every year, college graduates know less about these subjects. You are bright enough, of course, but lack the tools, some of which I tried to give you in my first message. I, for example, am bright enough to understand Quantum Physics and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but I sorely lack the educational tools in mathematics to do so, so I am lost when someone tries to explain them to me. Here you are:

1. Using conservative economic principles, the Right has built a society and economy where far more working people and even the “poor” have a higher standard of living than any in the world, now or in history.

2. The Right is fighting to prevent our grandkids’ futures from being destroyed by the incredible debt that vote-buying has built up. Admittedly, Republicans have also been guilty of vote buying too, and I fear that even if Romney is elected, it will be too late to save the America we know. It certainly will if Obama is reelected.

3. The Right is fighting to save Medicare and Social Security. Everyone—EVERYONE—who looks at the numbers knows that without reforms these programs are headed for collapse in the near future, because the funding simply won’t be there. The Left is willing to see them collapse in 10 or 15 years, with unbelievable hardship, social disruption and chaos, in order to buy votes today and get power. Thus they scare people over any changes that might stave off disaster.

Of course, you can find many examples where conservatives, or those calling themselves conservatives, have not lived up to the principles they espouse, the human condition being what it is. The sad fact is that so many on both sides of the aisle have voted for their short-term self-interest, that I fear we cannot preserve what we have for future generations. It’s what is known as the “Tragedy of the Commons.” People realize we are destroying the financial basis of our economy and the future, but they also figure that they might as well grab as much as they can, because if they don’t, someone else will grab it, so it will make no difference.

If the things you say the Left is doing to help working people destroy jobs, it’s hard for me to see how they are helped.

I just read another book, Coming Apart, using social science data to describe the increasing isolation of the elites (Left and Right) and the collapse of the lower class. I recommend it, though you have to be able to absorb the data. The author points out that there are fewer of your “working people” every year, as the lower class has lost the work ethic as the dependency society has grown. And it’s not race-based—he focuses on the white lower class so it won’t be about race.

Because of your background in union work, I’m never going to convince you. Because of mine in economics and government, you will never convince me. So we should just agree to disagree and maintain the friendship that was forged in Platoon 273 at Parris Island in 1964. I still brag about how many push-ups you could do at one time, and remember our DI showing you off to other DIs.

Semper Fidelis. ~Bob.

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