Goodbye, 2010 - your discourse will not be missed.
After a late-April entry, this blog went silent for the balance of 2010, and who could blame it? 2010 was a sad year, one in which the process of trading in analysis for blind declarations took great strides. Those who believe that their agendas are justified by cosmic righteousness continued their burning and pillaging, and seem to have recruited many new followers to their cause. As public discourse discovered new lows, mainstream news outlets (supposedly dedicated to the noble cause of impartial fact-gathering) continued their descent into incoherent irrelevance with their ecstatic determination that personal judgment could and should be "the news".
This strategy-philosophy of ends justifying the means was nowhere on clearer display than it was with news "analysts", commentators, opinion pages, op-eds, and all the usual outlets - but their fiery damnation of all those who disagree with them brought the level of debate to shocking new depths.
Do you doubt that 2010 was the worst year ever for reason in debate? Consider:
Repackaged by ostensibly centrist citizenry as the coming of the Fourth Reich - and if you're unaware that this level of hyperbole was indulged, just listen to the comments of the Los Angeles City Council (just as though their job description allowed for this sort of thing) - Arizona's new laws dealing with illegals added nothing new to what was already in Federal Law; rather, the state was sick of the feds not enforcing their own laws, and citizens were sick of armed drug gangs, as well as a culture of permissiveness toward anyone from anywhere choosing to take up residency in the state.
Besides the existing much-discussed hypocrisy of selective observation of laws and the blind-eye treatment of racial politicking groups such as La Raza - groups which apparently believe that Mexican nationals should have full entry and residence rights to the U.S. for no particular reason, but don't seem to share such concerns for migrants from China, Rwanda, or Norway - the fiery denunciation of Arizona's law never acknowledged its mirror of Federal law. Such a gaping hole in such circular reasoning should give pause to anyone who thinks that cops are being issued truncheons with which to rough up patrons of ice-cream parlors.
We can and should have debates over the proper number of immigrants to allow into the U.S. - and the open-borders crowd is free to provide any meaningful reasons for its position that it possesses - but far too often, there is an unwillingness to admit to any need of debate whatsoever; it's much easier to refer to non-open-borders people as "Racists" - in fact, it's one of the easiest attack positions to take these days - but its currency is dwindling fast in value, and the naked tribalism of "La Raza" and its brethren is becoming much clearer to ordinary people as the see-no-evil position insists that if the government is putting up signs warning people to stay out of U.S. territory because of Mexican drug cartels, it's still somehow the fault of non-leftist white people.
(Let's face it: groups such as La Raza and its ilk don't care a bit about the best interests of the U.S.; they are only concerned with their tribe - and this is the ideology we were supposed to be moving away from, not re-embracing.)
But of course, the hypocrisy couldn't stop there; the Feds had to publicly distance itself from Arizona's actions, and pretend that they were ready to battle Arizona itself. This is where the two-faced nature of the Obama administration reached new dimensions of shamelessness; Eric Holder, Attorney General and self-proclaimed arbiter of racial debates ("A nation of cowards") announced a legal challenge to Arizona's law without having read the law (by his own admission), just as though a law mirroring Federal Law (which is purposefully being under-enforced) is without legal standing.
Imagine, if you will, a left-friendly blue state passing a law meant to allow local law enforcement to do a job that the Feds have been neglecting, for whatever reason - now, imagine the Bush administration announcing that the law is unjust, and intends to challenge it in court. What do you think the editorial position of The New York Times and the news in general would have to say about that?
But the Obama administration couldn't stop even at this level of absurdity; they had to raise the bar even further (okay, pun intended) by denouncing the Arizona law internationally, and specifically, in a meeting with China, whose own treatment of those on its soil illegally somehow goes unquestioned.
Reason and analysis, zero; hyperbole and b.s., one.
Here is a news story that tends to induce yawns and eye-rolling, for what do we in the U.S. have to fear from a story of a far-away country which erupts with angry mobs torching cars and businesses, since that sort of thing seems to happen all the time over "there"? The exhortation to imagine such outbursts in one's own neighborhood falls flat on ears that have been listening to lullabies about the state's limitless capacity to provide care for all.
The problem with this news story wasn't so much the lack of meaningful discussion, but the avoidance of discussing its significance for us, given America's own absurd levels of entitlement debt. There is a never-ending river of revelations regarding government waste, lavish salaries and perks for questionable bureaucrats, and infinitely-accumulating debt, and yet those who believe themselves to be speaking truth to power appear to have bought into the notion that the state is the winner of the debate over the identity of the individual's primary benefactor, and that there is no merit to even attempting to look at things in a less totalitarian way.
The ideology of the government as caretaker manifests itself in two distinctive dialogues: The first in which the state exerts its power of justice over all aspects of our lives, from business to pleasure, imposing controls and regulations at its personal whim, in order to do to people what they can't be relied on to do voluntarily. The second voice of this process declares that the powers enumerated in the first vision require that the state also act as the provider of employment in its execution of these powers, thus using the first principle of government control to also create a new economy, in which the benefactors of the state are also its employees. This results in an employment sector entirely denoted by government work, with its accompanying generous wages, benefits, medical care, medical leave, life insurance, and a hefty, hefty pension, funding sources be damned.
Thus in the wake of the second of these views - whereby the state is a jobs teat - do we have commentary arguing that Tea-Party resistance to government debt and public-sector union is once again racism (surprise!) and/or war on the poor, as government work is now seen as the de facto employment machinery for poor people and non-whites. That this should be presented as a reasonable argument is an excellent measurement of the degree to which blind ideology has been adopted as a replacement for analytical thought.
Which is why the riots in Greece are so significant, as they illustrate where the path of state-entitlement-to-all leads. Those who continue to bemoan the inability of the state to fund its "obligations" expect everyone else to do so, and that process will escape scrutiny for a while - but at some point, when the state's bill exceeds your own income, will you still think of rioting as some option for other people in a distant and far away land?
The process of state control over the individual is well-illustrated by the events in Greece, but to listen to the majority of our "news" outlets, you are once again steered to a view that the only problem that Greek rioting teaches us is the selfishness and greed of those who continue to oppose the non-stop expansion of government entitlement, to which there are no limits, nor should there ever be.
No, they don't say that last part aloud - but what exactly, then, are they proposing should be done instead?
With the Orwellian title, "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act", the government tried to finally gain control over the medical-care system, fulfilling the fantasies of wannabe-socialists everywhere. For those of you who find even the use of the word "socialist" to be some sort of red-baiting scare, you are free to explain the disparity between the horror stories of both the Canadian and U.K. government-run medical services and the pronouncements of officials and commentators such as Paul Krugman, who insist with a straight face that the horror stories "are false".
Leaving aside, then, the possibility that such a system, if well-run, might avoid just enough patient harm to somehow provide sufficient balance to justify its existence, we are still left asking why it is better for the government to run medical care rather than the (admittedly quasi) private sector model we are now discarding? It's always seemed strange that those who heartily agree that the DMV is a denizen of incompetence would at the same time wish for a similar entity to be in charge of medicine and surgeries.
The philosophy behind this bizarre power grab appears to find refuge in the notion that it is somehow more just for the government to be in charge of dishing out medical care, and that medical insurance itself is somehow an immoral concept. But if those who mocked Sarah Palin's denunciation of "Death Panels" still think she was somehow exaggerating, even with the recent re-injection of the concept into the law, it would be nice to hear them explain how rationing of medical care should work. If you ask one of the defenders of the new law about this, you'll probably receive an answer that deals more with avoiding the issue than explaining the law's relationship to it.
If you still think rationing is some sort of smokescreen for an attack on the new health-care "system", ask what the original purpose of the law was. As the so-called news media reported, it was all about providing medical insurance to those who "can't afford it" - if that's the case, then we should all be given coverage via government edict, right? Well, we've got it - hooray! Now, what happens if you're ill, and need expensive surgery? Since the ideology of government-run health care necessarily dictates - and thus limits - the salaries of people like surgeons, you will, at some degree of illness complexity, be told that your surgery won't be covered by your insurance. At least, that's the explanation you'll hear; what you won't be told is that because your surgery costs more than anyone is willing to do it for, you won't receive it.
And thus the conumdrum of Government-run medical care: It's free, except when it isn't. At some tipping point, your life-support plug will be pulled, regardless of the wishes of you and/or your family. If you still insist that we have not implemented a "Government takeover of Health Care", and even delight in pointing to the news item that called this conclusion the "Lie of the Year", you'll find that allowing insurance companies to exist while dictating their terms and operations is a pointless distinction.
Since this new system has come into effect, I can now receive medical insurance even if I can't afford it, right? And if that's so, what's to stop me from claiming that I can't afford it, even if that's untrue? What's that, I'll be penalized? But why should I be, if the goal was to extend coverage to everyone? Either the government is providing medical care, or it isn't. Is there possibly something wrong with Nancy Pelosi's declarations that the bill will provide jobs, reduce costs, and expand coverage? Anytime a politician claims to offer a perpetual-motion machine of this type that defies the laws of physics, look out for your wallet. Concerns over the constitutionality of enforcing the purchase of medical insurance? Nancy Pelosi dismisses such concerns, sarcastically asking, "Are you serious?" Federal judges have already begun to rebuke her.
But all this illustrates why forcing companies to provide insurance eventually becomes a flat-out takeover; the false economy that it dictates will be abandoned, and that's when the government announces that it must, due to the current "crisis", step in and run the show. If this isn't the goal, it would be nice to hear such from the reams of analysis flowing forth from those in the news who claim to be keeping us informed, rather than the bowing, scraping, and knee-jerk declarations that the mess before us produced by power-mad Democrats is somehow "Historic".
Tax Cuts for "The Rich"!
This class-warfare cry never gets old, apparently, but never did it achieve such heights of froth as it did toward the end of 2010. It's a simple situation turned into a mountain of anger towards those who create wealth: At what rate of progress should taxes be collected? Never mind that most of those who denounced "tax cuts for the rich" couldn't even tell you the difference in tax rates for Obama's proposed cutoff of a quarter-million dollars in annual income; the real medal-winner of 2010 was the notion that George Bush had somehow reduced tax rates in a horrendously evil giveaway to his wealthy cronies, while completely ignoring Bill Clinton's hike in such rates.
If you're going to argue for higher rates of taxation as a matter of justice, you'd do well to analyze how and why higher rates bring about a better result; instead of such justification, we get lectures about Republicans with hearts of stone. Illustrating perfectly the coercive nature of the protests against any reduced taxes for supposedly "wealthy" earners, the option of every American to make a donation to the government to make up for his or her own perceived shortcoming in tax rates is almost never mentioned, while the lectures continue that forcibly taking such money is somehow the height of justice.
Current "News reporting" makes infantile generalizations on a daily basis, and its hostility to debate and analysis exposes the underlying condition of demagoguery perhaps better than any other example - it's on display every time you hear the phrase, "tax cuts for the rich".
Few tears will be shed for the passing of 2010 and its dismal attempt to discuss ideas, but there will undoubtedly be more in the wake of the realization that 2011 promises much of the same, only worse.
p.s. - yes, there should indeed be an entry here for "Journolist", whose naked betrayal of its purported journalistic aspirations is possibly the best example in 2010 of media hypocrisy - but that will have to wait for next time.