Four Quotes and Economic Idiocy

A week ago, on August 11th, I published here at The Daily Mush my response to what I saw as economic and political mush in an article on the front page of the Tucson Observer of August 8th. It is the gay newspaper of the city I just moved to. I sent what I published then to this paper – told them it was indeed too long to publish, and that they should then go ahead and put, oh, say, the first paragraph, and then put the link to my blog so that the readers of that paper could see my analysis of the mush. Ah, the press feeling supreme, they did not see fit to do that. Instead, I was greeted in the next issue, August 15th, with an article 1.5 times as long as the first one, with even more mush. In the process I was so politely referred to as the unknown “reader” – albeit apparently “not complimentary” and in some state of “apoplexy.” Well, I do declare!

I declare that if one is to refer to me in a public paper, to whom I give permission to use my name, well, then, use my name – I stand by my words. I responded quickly, pointing out, among other things, that I rather like it that me and John Hancock, of Declaration fame, have the same initials. He put his name large and upfront, “so the king might not have to use his spectacles.” In our time of royalty without the ermine, in which I lump the press as a mere appendage of knights errant to the king, princes and queens in Washington and the state capitals, and city halls galore, well, then, let them know what we people think. I use my name on the internet all the time – though I find some 99% of everyone commenting everywhere goes by some “nom d’net” like “SillyMe145,” or something. If We the People are to be taken seriously about the perils of the nation it bodes ill if we all hide behind some indeterminate and hidden moniker. Now I am to be hidden as “apoplectic reader.”

In this second article I find this most amazing statement: “The Observer would like to get a lively dialogue going in letters to the editor, and while I can’t speak for the ‘powers that be,’ I suspect the more drama the better as far as they’re concerned.” – R.D Smith, page 1, August 15, 2012. Well, Mr. Ronn Smith – whom I’m guessing is indeed this R.D. Smith, though Smiths being a dime a dozen, who knows – is the “Assistant Editor.” I would therefore, I think, be rather safe in assuming that he is indeed one of the very “powers that be” who wishes “drama.” But if one is to wish a “lively dialogue” one surely can’t start out by calling me “reader” and “apoplectic” and failing utterly to allow me to make a point, or several, and then bringing up new mush, and repeating tidbits of the old. Drama is done by the words of the writer (or speaker,) not castigation of said writer through the filer of the press.

Aw, this poor Smith fellow lets me know that he is afraid he’ll “offend” me. Hahaha! Fear not, Mr. Smith, I can’t be offended; perhaps you can, so gentle be your soul that you couldn’t be bothered to let your readers know that I disagree with virtually every point you make – and I explain why I do. He urges me to write shorter letters dealing with “one issue.” Yes, well, the man brings up a dozen, and I’m to pick and choose, according to, I suppose, what he deems more germane to his many points. Perhaps I’m to state simply “I agree,” or “I don’t agree.” I don’t know. His primary point seems to be, though he doesn’t quite say it with a declarative sentence, mush being what it is – ‘vote for better Democrats in the primary, for the Republicans aren’t any good and current Democrats are working with Republicans.’ Well, that should help. Ahem. No, it won’t.

Meanwhile, the very night I read his new mush I wrote a 382 word response (I counted) and quickly emailed it to the paper and its fine Mr. Smith. This was the opening paragraph of that letter: “I thank you for dealing, somewhat, with my complaints. However, I did give you permission to point to my blog where I posted my response so it could be read in its entirety in a timely fashion and not be filtered by you. Nor dragged out over weeks, as you now suggest, and which I won’t do; though, you may chop and publish as you wish. Still, you write anew at length, and that requires far more in response than just a few words, a quickie ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ of some sort, for you bring up yet more issues.” Drama indeed. We’ll see how far that gets – but anyone can play this publishing game. It is apparent though, that unless one agrees with Mr. Smith, or the powers that be, in some fashion or the other, and only expresses it in platitudes and sound bites, one remains the “Apoplectic Reader.” So be it. I told the gentlemen I’m more in “bemused discontent” than apoplexy.

But more to my point – not one issue we are facing in this nation is simple. It can’t be described in “simplese” – a simple aphorism won’t suffice. “Go vote” is not enough. “We need to help the people” is absurd. How? When? Where? Why? I find that I’m forever being chastised on Facebook for daring to write more than a single line on a complex issue. We live in Tweeterville now, obviously. The press and politicians blather on – and We the People are reduced to 136 characters to respond, lest we take up too much of their precious time. Well, no. When a reporter writes 13 disjointed paragraphs, few having to do with the others, so in a sense bringing up 10 or 11 issues, how the hell can one respond briefly? It requires, if one is to be intellectually honest, a lengthy response, and one that attempts to tie all the loose threads together into a coherent whole. That’s my chief complaint about mush, it always requires a bigger response. Be cogent and on target, with single subject, one might respond with a simple answer. Publish mush, well, it requires more. People worry that I take some inordinate amount of time to write my 2000-3000 word articles – nothing could be further from the truth – it barely takes me ½ hour. As I have said – if you can’t write a 2000 word article on any subject under the sun in a half hour you are neither a writer, a thinking person, nor an educated one.

And even more to the point – Mr. Smith is not the only one with this economic idiocy running around his head – to which the only solution proposed is “let’s get better government.” Or “we need the right politicians.” Or some other confounded “We the People are hopeless, help us, our dear betters” and then we go decry them in the night as they rake us over the coals. The solution has rarely ever been in more government or more taxes. You can’t help anyone in that way. All you do is help the pretended royalists in our midst, which live just as supinely in their Medieval Divine Right to Rule concept as any king of the 1400s. We don’t need more “democracy” as Mr. Smith wants, we need less government. Washington doesn’t dole out liberty or wealth of their own – it strips liberty from the people, steals the wealth, and hands it out to their favorite supplicants.

And now to the four quotes – two from books I’m reading at the current moment – two from Mr. Smith:

“The development has proceeded in a sometimes haphazard manner, governed more by the imperatives of profit than of communal interest” – page 214 of Peter Ackroyd’s “Thames; the biography.”

“No matter how skilled, resourceful, and creative those involved may be, the world of hustling is fundamentally exploitative. It is premised on, or exists because of, the neglect of outside actors – from local and national politicians to business interests to philanthropic foundations – who refuse to allocate enough resources to black inner cities to create true economic security there.” — page xvii of Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh’s “Off the Books: the underground economy of the urban poor.”

“You can fantasize about what should be done to the politicians who set up a system where this was allowed to happen, and who now claim their country in in dire financial trouble because there isn’t enough tax revenue to pay the bills (they never seem to mention that they’re the ones who cut off the funding and created the crisis.)” – R.D Smith, page 1, Tucson Observer, August 8, 2012

“Stashing money in foreign accounts to avoid taxes while claiming we can’t fund food stamps because we don’t have enough tax revenue strikes me as deceptive.” – R.D Smith, page 3, August 15, 2012

And you know what? These four quotes are essentially all saying the same thing: People are hopeless, hapless and helpless and should not be left to their own devices, and the solution is to have the government come in and do something for its people. Let’s put each into the same phrase: “Individuals do as they wish and that’s not good, the government needs to do something communally.” Yep, that’s what they each say. Each just presupposes that only the government can develop an area, provide jobs, build houses, earn wealth, buy food, earn wages and so forth. Each also presupposes that the people, we individuals, are somehow not only hope, hap, and help-less, but that we are somehow wrong for even attempting. Why, that’s “profit” over “people.” Well, profits are good for people, and people profit the better from it. Otherwise it’s mere begging from politicians for some crumbs from the taxes they take from other people.

Ackroyd is quite smitten with communal efforts, Smith wants more taxes for, um, “democracy” communal efforts, and Venkatesh wants the government to come in and do something without all that messy individual effort. Well, they’re all mush heads. They are part of the problem – they have nothing to do with any real solution. They are all for more government, more taxes, more programs – and the corresponding less individual effort, less personal effort, and less freedom to do whatever one wishes to do with one’s money and make a buck to be kept.

Now, how does anyone expect me to merely say I disagree or agree with anything the three authors write – and do so independently of each other – when the three are so obviously the same that it’s a target rich environment for a thinking man? And so that’s another 1900 words under my belt about the mush of our times. On things that require questioning and analysis in the system we live in – the interconnected system, where nothing stands alone. No man or thought is an island unto itself, after all.

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