Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkeys Gobble Up History

This has been a post-election spectacle of many ambitious pontificators trying to revive their reputations by re-invention of history. Lincoln gets the axe from the right wing and some other critics, with the contention he didn't really set the slaves free, he just recruited potential troops from black people in the South.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn't revive the U.S. economy with the New Deal, he misapplied our national treasury that should have been put into CITI, I mean, the banks of the day. George Will has insisted on this point of view and I love on the subject:

As Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman wrote recently in the New York Times, “There’s a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse. So it’s important to know that most of what you hear along those lines is based on deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. The New Deal brought real relief to most Americans.”

Krugman observed that the true short-comings of the New Deal policies resulted from the fact that they were not bold enough over the short-term:

The truth is that the New Deal wasn’t as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for F.D.R.’s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was the fact that his economic policies were too cautious. (…)

In short, Mr. Obama’s chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-run economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity.

If the truth hurts, the pontificators who have been consistently wrong throughout the past more than eight years will tell lies. The lies have had much more play on our talk shows than those librul facts. Now that the lies have proved miserably wrong, we have a lot of pundits whose living is threatened. There can be only one solution for the consistently wrong, and that is to create new myths to support their viewpoint.

It would be fatal to the wingers if they couldn't knock down truisms that refute the ideology they're pushing, and which has so totally failed. I can watch with amusement and realize that only the audience that terribly needs to see right wing myths instead of facts will fall for all this.

President-elect Obama has declared his support for measures like FDR's, which gave us consumers where before there had only been desperate unemployed workers. Without consumers, of course, there is no need to build and manufacture, because there will be no return on those efforts. The occupied White House may squirm all it wants into support of failed financial institutions, but it can't avoid the coming real solutions for the real economy.

Now, though, these curmudgeons want to eviscerate your turkey along with Grandma's house. An attempt at stealing Thanksgiving is going too far. Sunday's Dallas Morning News had to print a little fable that makes the Thanksgiving of the pilgrims a triumph of capitalism over socialism.

So, anyway, these people were on the brink of destruction. The Indians tried to help – taught them something about battering their fishsticks in cornmeal or something. Who are the Indians? Um, they were a noble, primitive people who were so noble they didn't even have any concept of land ownership. Which, now that I think of it, confuses the whole "their land was stolen" issue.

Nevermind. Skip the Indians. We'll come back to that later.

Anyway, despite the fish sticks, the Pilgrims were still living on the edge, because they had no self-interest or incentive. If someone worked harder, they didn't get any additional reward. If someone just lazed about, they still got a ration of food.

"Are you making this up?"

Of course I'm not. This time. See this book on Daddy's bookshelf? It's William Bradford's Of Plimouth Plantation. Mr. Bradford was governor of Plymouth Bay Colony, and he said this socialized system "was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte." So in 1623, Mr. Bradford said, hey – how about everyone just gets a plot of land, and you get to keep whatever you grow, or you can sell it or trade it?

They did.

"This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted than other waise would have bene by any means the Govr or any other could use," Mr. Bradford wrote a year later between Thanksgiving Day football games.

And that's why Thanksgiving is a celebration of hard work, free enterprise and the abundance people create when they're free to keep the fruits of the labors.

There you go, our feast is turned into a lesson in failed economic policies that rob the poor and give to the rich, as Atrios often says, WHEEEEEE.

There is a big flaw and maybe the author isn't familiar with it, but the background of the Pilgrims is that they tried to create god's kingdom here on earth, and chose as their model the communities that Jesus set up as his own. Without selfish accumulation, the pilgrims thought they would achieve what the ideal of Christianity would achieve. This was long before the term 'solialist' had been added to the lexicon of those who idolize wealth, then known as Mammon.

Indeed, they didn't make it with the original concept of christianity in pracice, for several reasons, but the evils of socialism were not a factor.

William Bradford was a political animal, and in his account awarded himself a First Prize for good rethinking of christian ideals, which Garrison accepts as if it were Newt Gingrich acclaiming success for his Contract with America. In both cases, the politicians themselves had much to do with the failure of the system they proclaimed had proved itself fatally flawed.

A large factor, in the case of the first Thanksgiving feast, ignorance in farming the Massachusetts rocky soil had added materially to the inability of the colony to support itself. The colony did not throw out its ideal of equality but continued to share land, power and access to the things they used. Today, Massachusetts still has a lot of its original leftie character. Gays can marry there, having equality before the law. The state provides public education that is the envy of a lot of the other fifty states. Its elected officials, for instance, congressional representatives Barney Frank and Ted Kennedy, fight determinedly to bring the Rule of Law back to our government. Those are a very few of the reasons the right wing can't celebrate an end of equality as their reason for a Thanksgiving feast.

It's actually rather enjoyable to watch winger pundits shovel down into ever lower depths trying to convince their audience. I have celebrated Schadenfreude a little too much. This one, though, is a jewel. It glosses over the essentially good concept of sharing, and makes it into an evil. As President-elect Obama noted, his sharing in kindergarten will no doubt confirm wingers that he is a practicing communist.

The Thanksgiving feast that we will celebrate on Thursday is a good time to remember that greed is failure, and not just of our pilgrim forefathers' ideals of equality. It is economic failure as well. The maximization of profit at the expense of a fair return for labor has brought our consumer economy to desperate straits.

If you don't have a turkey on your list, because you can't afford one this year, I hope you will realize that we are working to end the trickle-down atrocity the country has suffered. Greed had been idolized for the past eight years, and proved it isn't functional as the basis of an economic system.

Remembering that "as ye do to the least of these my little ones, so do you unto me" isn't just a pretty thought. It is an ideal that works better than its opposite, that has just proved it is a resounding failure.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then there is this article.
And another example of the attractiveness of MA for certain 'liberal types is Roger Williams. One of the very first synagogues in the new world was in Providence, RI. That being said, Boston has a reputation as a very racist town, but then again...

3:48 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

What a good idea, making July 4th into a celebration of Free Markets, or Rugged Individualism, erm, the fireworks industry.

3:10 AM  

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