The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2010-12-10/page-two-the-sky-is-always-falling/

Page Two: The Sky Is Always Falling

The hyping of catastrophe, and a notable loss

By Louis Black, December 10, 2010, Columns

In general, it is safe to say that this column is often repetitious, the same points made over and over again, sometimes in different words, sometimes not. This is especially true when it comes to politics, I think because of a certain frustration with the of ideological nonsense being bought and sold, from the far left to the far right and most stops in between.

This, according to many, is the worst of times. The current American hysteria is over our failed government, our doomed future, our lost freedoms, and the destruction wrought by the parasites destroying this country from within. The most destructive element of these parasites' political makeup is usually defined by the ideology of those who are sounding warnings about them.

Obviously, there are major problems facing this country, as well as issues on which the public is divided – sometimes so militantly divided that no reconciliation seems possible. Not to whitewash anything, but the only problem with the multiple "the sky is falling" crowds is that there is nothing new or unique about this situation. It may be more heightened than at other times, but that is not because the problems and issues are so much worse. It's that so many politicians and concerned citizens are indulging in rhetoric specifically designed to increase tensions.

The holier-than-thou crowds are especially troublesome, from those on the left who believe everything this country does is evil and corrupt to the most ardently self-declared patriots on the right. Unfortunately, the latter group is best defined by a lack of true patriotism as well as by politics that, despite lip service to the contrary, at their core repudiate the Constitution.

Let me bring home this column's self-indulgent leanings described in my opening paragraph by quoting from several previous columns.

From Nov. 12, 2010, "Page Two":

"What is especially upsetting here is the absolute glee with which self-proclaimed, commonsense patriots describe and defame these un-American, anti-American Americans. It sounds as if they couldn't be any happier than they are when hating and denouncing other citizens."

From Nov. 26, 2010, "Page Two":

"In sum, overall discussion over taxation, the budget, and the deficit is a shadow-puppet play in which those complaining the loudest deny any culpability for the problem. The out-of-control spending by Republicans during the Bush administration, the still-costly involvement in two wars, the overly generous tax cuts, as well as strong pro-business policies, long crucial planks in the Republican platform – that left the economy devastated – are almost never brought up. Sorry, but the current horrendous deficit and accompanying tax burden is at least partially due to the way more-conservative, often Republican, citizens of the republic voted during the last decade."

(The last sentence of that column, "Blaming it all on liberals and/or illegal aliens is really just fantasy," is wrong. The whole premise of that sentiment is rotten. Any group not accepting its share of the blame in this country's current fiscal crises but instead assigning it all to some other group is a malevolent fiction used to attack other Americans.)

From Dec. 3, 2010, "Page Two":

"We are living in a time when most don't accept the burdens of their own greater responsibilities but do actively lament and angrily denounce other citizens for not accepting their responsibilities. ... [W]hen the overall community is faced with significant problems, rather than coming together ... to solve them, it instead begins the search for what caused them. The idea is that laying blame is an act of mending, of repair."

The current budgetary crises were not created by the bleeding-heart left. It is also not because the country is undergoing a daft redistribution of wealth at the insistence of a handful of atheist Marxists. It is because all are busy staking their claims to the sanctity of one part of the budget or another. "Cut elsewhere, but not here" is the cry.

Just watch what happens when the federal government tries to cut funding for a weapons program that the Pentagon has declared obsolete. Labor joins with management, the right with the left in the area that will be affected, in the communities that will lose jobs.

From Dec. 3, 2010, "Page Two":

"In the ... litany of the failures of the government, the most commonly accepted assertion is that these problems result ... from the fact that the politicians in power are deliberately doing harm to the country .... [I]t is a large congregation of evildoers – whether ideological puppets, servants of master overseers, or just thieves and criminals.

"The critics of this failed government ... make it clear that the issue is not a series of complex problems that are incredibly difficult to solve. It seems that most members of the anti-government community have no doubt that they themselves are good, moral, honest, genuine patriots operating from only the noblest ambitions. They know that what our government needs in order for it to work is for exactly such people as themselves to get elected."

Given the incredible number of American citizens either elected to office, appointed, hired as civil servants, or hired in some other capacity, the notion that far too many of them are purposefully evil and corrupt seems beyond naive. Saying that it isn't all of them, but a goodly portion, doesn't make it sound more rational. Arguing that the solution for improving government is getting these people out of office and putting good people in seems genuinely lunatic.

If one does believe the federal government is so hopelessly broken, wouldn't some kind of advocacy for dramatically changing the system have to be part of a reform package?

I don't actually believe that most people involved in government, or even a significant number of them, are corrupt or evil. The problems seem to be those inherent in a democratic constitutional republic, where theoretically every citizen is fully enfranchised.

Over the years, tough-talking candidates, running on their loyalty to ideological extremes, have been elected. The best of them come to realize that they are elected to serve all their constituents and not just their core base of ideological fellow travelers. They are often denounced as traitors to the cause. The worst never come to this realization, resist compromise, and treat all political opponents as knowingly evil. These folks are often celebrated by true believers, but they are the most virulent cancers our body politic faces.

Regardless, once elected, they all find out that what they can do is limited; solutions that to an armchair legislator seem obvious and easy (passing new laws, getting rid of old ones) almost never are. Most laws were not passed capriciously or to benefit aliens from another dimension. The reasons for the laws are almost never as simplistic as charged, and changing them is almost always of far greater consequence than assumed.

The reality is the critics' views of the problems are that most politicians are evil; there is too much compromise and not enough hardcore allegiance to the extreme views of the different "isms." If one buys into this point of view, then the first and most fundamental change this country needs is to get rid of the Constitution.

There are those who insist that not only is there one objective truth, but that they know it. Our favorite conspiracy-hobbyist cheerleader, Alex Jones, assures us that he speaks the "truth" rather than just offering an opinion. One of our regular forum posters has decided that his opinion is the "objective truth." These truth-owners are purer and better than the rest of us. Not following them makes us stupid, compliant, decadent, destructive, and scared.

If one wants to argue that there is one absolute, knowable truth that is abstract and not that easy to decipher, there are strong arguments to support that view.

Possessing truly provincial, parochial views, the "I-Speak-the-True-Truth" charmers are quick to condemn the thoughts and beliefs of others. This comes not from certainty but from fear, not from dispassionate analysis but from the refusal to think, not from patriotism but from narcissism. Arguing with them is like arguing with a narcissist or a stubborn, spoiled child.

Oddly, the Founding Fathers did not argue that their words were concrete truth, and most religious, scientific, social, and political leaders acknowledge not just the existence of ambiguity but the constant possibility of error.

(Insisting that their words and opinions are not just based in reasoning but are the absolute truth kicks them into the category of the deity, doesn't it?)

I say here the same thing I've been saying for years: It is not representative government that has failed; it's citizens who are not interested in their responsibilities but champion their rights while trying to deprive others of their rights.

Unless something unexpected happens, this will be the last "Page Two" on politics this year.

On a personal note: Tuesday afternoon, Abraham Black, my father, died quietly in his sleep. He was 90. There are not words.

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