Jay B. Gaskill
This is political/economic commentary as parody, but to see just how closely the parody resembles reality, look over the numbers and links at the end of the piece. JBG
Every movement has it demons. Conservatives are afflicted by the ghosts of Scrooge and your puritanical fist grade teacher. That is a separate discussion.
This is about a scary subset of liberals and the invisible vampire toxin that is spreading through the whole movement.
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A NECESSARY HISTORIC CONTEXT
Liberalism was born in the impulse to use all the modern tools of social science, including government itself, to liberate the human condition from various form of oppression. To date, the liberal project has enjoyed mixed results.
Liberalism 1.0 gave rise to the end of theocratic royalism, but was midwife for the birth of other, very scary “ism’s”. I can’t help but think of William Butler Yeat’s poem, “The Second Coming” about that “rough beast slouching to Bethlehem to be born”.
“…The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned…what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
The catastrophic failure of bureaucratic authoritarian socialism shook liberalism to the core. Hitler’s National Socialism and Lenin/Stalin/Mao’s communism crashed in spectacular fashion. In the mid 20th century, liberalism emerged from the post-Bolshevik period, damaged and chastened.
Many former leftists became neo-conservatives.
At the same time, traditional liberalism reinvented itself. Liberalism 2.0 was born as “social democracy” or “Socialism Lite”. It was marketed as the rational use of political power in the context of democratic gradualism to “tame” and “civilize” raw capitalism.
This form of liberalism became another endangered species when the overtaxed middle class began to assert political power in the 1980’s.
Enter Liberalism 3.0. In this adaptation, liberalism has found new life among the prosperous and well educated elites of the West.
Liberalism 3.0 is the engine of ‘hedonistic altruism’ a brilliant, if short lived maneuver.
Let me unpack this notion a bit. The prosperous elites are all about guilt expiation without sacrifice. Too many of them lack an overall moral/ethical framework, other than a vague notion that “equality is good” and “inequality is unfair, but not necessarily bad”.
Good and bad are understood in terms of comfort and discomfort. This is the syntax of hedonism. This is why a liberal who is placed in a morally compromising situation (as in being asked to cover up a theft) rarely says, “but that would be WRONG”; instead a liberal is more likely to say, “I’m just not comfortable with that.”
So the strategy of Liberalism 3.0 was to reduce the guilt discomfort level of the well-off by taxation that didn’t compromise their life style too much. The “altruistic” pay off was that some of the tax money was to be used to help alleviate the discomfort of the “less than equal” people, not enough to actually change their lives, mind you, just enough to alleviate liberal guilt.
THE ATTACK OF THE VAMPIRES
The vampire family feeding pattern, on steroids
The key idea: The wealth-creation activities of free commerce are the bloodstream on which the social altruistic policies of liberalism must feed.
I can’t tell you how many conversations among liberals I have overheard, public and private, in which worry is expressed about just how much can be siphoned off from the “business sector” without “killing the golden goose.”
These liberals had the right idea, just the wrong metaphor.
This Vampire Bat is a perfect political metaphor for contemporary Western liberalism:
The common Vampire Bat lives mostly in South America and lives on the blood of various mammals. [The quoted bat lore below was taken from “The Center for the Conservation of Specialized Species”, a Canadian NGO at the following link: http://www.conservationcentre.org/scase7.html .]
“As soon as night has fallen and usually not if the moon has risen, Vampire bats cautiously leave their roosts… and then set out in straight low level flight…in search of their usual ‘donor’ species.”
“Feeding … upon animals up to ten thousand times their own size, Vampire bats are not about to risk waking a ‘victim’… so instead they often choose to alight near the animal and carefully walk up to it….”
“These front incisors used to make a feeding bite are so scalpel sharp that the Vampire bat’s bite is virtually painless…further assisted by the bats special anti coagulant saliva which flows along a tiny grove … of the bat’s tongue and into the wound. In order to further minimize disturbance several Vampire bats will often feed at a single bite site.”
“Vampire bats are totally unable to utilize any other source of food than blood. In fact they have such fast metabolisms that they will starve to death in as little as 48 hours!”
Substitute political liberals for Vampire Bats and you will glean a sharp insight into their political feeding techniques, and you will be able to see the outlines of the coming famine.
Vampire Bats feed in secret, taking tiny amounts of blood from ‘donors’ who are thousands of time larger. In the current “crisis”, the Vampires outweigh their victims (excuse me, donors) and the entire bleeding exercise is taking place in broad daylight. The multi-trillion dollar bleeding we are witnessing, if allowed to continue, is analogous to a huge swarm of vampire bats attacking a herd of farm animals, bleeding them dry.
To complete the analogy, 48 hours later the bats, too, will die.
There really are limits to redistributionist liberalism, especially in a democracy. All the bailouts, accomplished, proposed and in-pipeline, are the equivalent of a fatal blood extraction. The fact that the current crop of liberals will go into political oblivion, too, is cold comfort indeed. Without feeding restraint, we face the prospect of a taxpayer rebellion that will end liberalism. The alternative is an anesthetized nation, bled dry and not realizing it, an America of the walking dead. Surely we can do better.
WAS THIS a PARODY or a NEEDED WARNING?
The Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary analysis of the president’s budget released March 09 predicts – conservatively – that the current administration’s deficits will be 3.8 Trillion US dollars for the first four years. [Link:
http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=10014 Detail: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10014/Chapter1.5.1.shtml#1093570 .]
But when the current and immediately contemplated Federal Reserve actions and other commitments are taken into account, the US has already committed itself to spend $10.5 Trillion US dollars (!) outside the appropriations budget. See CNN-Money’s Bailout Tracker. [LINK: http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/bailouttracker/index.html ]
To grasp the staggering scale of the approaching reckoning, consider that the total US Gross Domestic Product for 2008 was only about 14.3 Trillion US dollars.
Before adding in the front loaded deficits described above, the national debt is about $11.2 Trillion US dollars.
For a longer perspective, look at the following:
Tracking US GDP 1045- 2007 (Perot Charts) http://perotcharts.com/2008/05/us-gross-domestic-product-1945-2007/
And the same source 09 deficit projections & chart http://perotcharts.com/2009/02/projected-budget-deficit-congressional-budget-office-baseline-plus-stimulus-bill/ .