The best scams are those that take just long enough to detect for you to escape into the sunset with the money. Ideally, you have a set of duplicate papers sitting in a vault in Switzerland, and you can then take possession of your French Riviera condominium and live out your days anonymously, feasting on a pile of stolen wealth.
Of course, we all want to blame the victims, because they are painfully stupid, and it is true they are worthy of blame. However, we know that humans vary in capabilities, and so it is unreasonable to expect any of them to do more than they can understand. This is why we shield most people from scams: they are not as smart as the scammers, nor as evil.
Leftism represents a perfect scam because it is gradual. About the only modern comparison is cable TV: you buy a basic package, then every few years figure out that “everyone at school|work” is watching a channel you do not have, so you call up and… well, you have to buy another package. And another. And an upgrade for the internet. And voice-over-IP.
If you are like most people, you say OK into the phone a half-dozen times, then keep paying the bills until one month you notice that things are a bit tight, and you finally look into the cable bill. Holy heck, it’s a car payment now! So you call up and the people they hire to explain things slowly list off the packages to you as you realize you have been paying this for a decade.
When a society first goes egalitarian, as in the Renaissance,™ it seems like a new big thing. Instead of these complex social orders, we have everybody-do-whatever-they-want, which means that artists and intellectuals can drift off and do their thing. There’s plenty of money to go around, since long ago agriculture was improved to the point that just about everyone eats, so why not waste a little.
Then one group of human monkeys figures out that it can go even further and thus be the new big thing for this decade. So they go full Enlightenment,™ and put a religious value on raising up the poor or emphasizing the universality of the soul. Then another group decides to subsidize the poor and create institutions for “progress.” And on and on, until one day you look at the cable bill.
Your eyes bug out. That is what has happened to the West during the last few years. The ongoing race riots in Ferguson and Islamic terror in Europe made people shock themselves awake and ask, “Who exactly is running the show here?” The bug-eyed faces of Merkel, Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy stared back at them, and people balked.
Now they are doing what they should have done long ago, which is making connections. If you have liberalism, you will have equality. If you have equality, you will have diversity. If you have diversity, you will have globalism. If you have globalism, you will work the rest of your life at a pointless job to earn monopoly money to pay benefits for the people who are coming in to replace you.
Even more, we are realizing that the whole world was just riding a wealth boom that came through warfare, technology and colonialism. As this wealth boom fades, we are seeing that our future under Leftism is pretty bleak, because it follows the same pattern — the Napoleonic Arc — set up by the French Revolution and echoed in the Soviet Union:
Refrain: heaps of bodies, surveillance state, no food in stores.
We can see this in progress in Venezuela, where years of disastrous Leftist rule have been followed up by… more Leftist rule:
The economy is in freefall, there are acute shortages of medicine and food, inflation is almost 1,000 per cent and homicide rates have soared. Before Sundayâ€™s vote the government â€” steward of this mess â€” had at best a 30 per cent approval rating. Improbably, though, the ruling socialist party won 17 of 23 governorships up for grabs. â€œFraudâ€ cried the opposition.
â€œAnother victory!â€ Mr Maduro proclaimed. Whatever the case, the voteâ€™s lasting results will be pernicious: greater polarisation; radicalisation; more international isolation; an even weaker economy; and, as the countryâ€™s problems fester, a greater risk of civil war.
There is a still a way out of this mess. Venezuela is not Syria or North Korea. It does not suffer from sectarian violence; nor does it have nuclear arms. Rather, the regime in Caracas is more akin to a group of mafia mobsters that has run out of options. The amounts they have looted are breathtaking: as much as $300bn, according to disaffected former ministers.
At this point, the country has entered into a death spiral. It has little money, and whatever it does have goes out in social benefits and theft by its Leftist leaders. Any reformer will be shouted down because the first thing to do is balance the budget which means the death of benefits programs, which are sort of like infinite blank checks because demand always expands at the same time currency becomes less valuable because it is being handed out like candy.
The Venezuelan people are voting for their interests — free stuff — which ultimately means they are voting against their interests, in that by choosing an illusion, they guarantee bankruptcy and corruption forever. We should not pick on them too much because voters in America and Europe have for the past seventy years done the exact same thing, only now its failure has become apparent.
America and Europe have begun to move toward populism, which is equal parts fiscal conservatism and the notion that the West should, you know, be the best again, and sort of recover from those world wars and civil wars. We are trying to un-do two hundred plus years of history and get back a notion of what it is to be ourselves, starting with identity politics which says that Us is a genetic category first and a cultural one second, and not at all an ideological or creedal one. We are who we are inside, and we want to become better at being who we are.
The fiscal conservatism arises from a desire to starve the Leftist government which expends 60% of our budget on entitlements and to instead go toward saner economics, in which only that which is productive is rewarded, which means all of us have to work less.
This ties in with the desire to stop supporting people who seem to hate us, and definitely have an interest in conquering us and taking whatever we have. Even more, it acknowledges that most are afraid to say: the coffers are empty, and we are headed for default on a wave of debt both public and private, which means we never could afford those socialist welfare state programs.
In other words, our flirtation with Leftism looks like a centuries-long orgy of looting the West by parasites who somehow sneaked themselves in the front door, promised us the world and delivered chaos, then headed to Switzerland with big bulging carpet bags of purloined wealth.
The Obama years expanded this social welfare spending to the point where we now face an economic crisis if we do not begin cutting government off from the flow of easy money:
The simple act of lowering Americaâ€™s absurdly high corporate tax rate â€” currently at 35 percent â€” to around 20 percent, which puts us in line with the rest of the world, plus lowering a host of other business and individual taxes, has increasingly become a make-or-break moment for investors.
More important: The market has been able to handle the continued delay in promised tax cuts just fine, but if tax reform bellyflops the way ObamaCare repeal did, many smart analysts are coming to the conclusion that the market will turn sour.
Without tax cuts, one Wall Street executive told me, â€œthe markets will drop like a rock.â€
When your local wino asks you for a handout in order to get a job, the first question you ask is whether he is still drinking. As long as the West is drinking Leftism, our fortunes will not recover. Amusingly, this resembles the situation in Venezuela: we elected our Maduro in Obama, who enriched himself and impoverished the nation by handing out crazy benefits all over the place (remember the car buyback? the Obamaphone?).
It is not hard to figure out a formula for prosperity because history shows us what works and what does not:
The tax cuts during the Reagan administration somewhat increased the resources of the taxpayers, while at the same time, repeal of some regulations gave them more freedom to take advantage of opportunities for gain through exchange. The result was a large increase in production and employment. Increasing wealth did not â€œtrickleâ€ to anyone, but the climate of freer markets enabled many Americans to earn more. Some who had previously been poor found jobs that paid well, saved money so theyâ€™d have investment capital, and then began their own businesses. Their increased incomes were a gusher, not a trickle, and it was earned.
Obama and his minions ought to have to write on the blackboard 100 times, â€œFree markets and smaller government means greater opportunity for everyone.â€
That is a universal lesson, not just an American one. Think about the difference between Hong Kong and China. In Hong Kong, government was minimal, absorbing little of the resources available and not interfering in the peopleâ€™s affairs. Lots of people risked death to leave the security of the communist state to enjoy the insecurity of Hong Kong with its unbounded opportunities for personal advancement.
However, this offends the egalitarian dream. It is Darwinistic, rewarding some more than others for performance in relation to reality, and not simply obedience of rules and dogma. It also does not offer guarantees, only possibilities.
Leftism would have us go the opposite direction: higher taxes, more regulations, and more of government-as-an-industry, where new laws create positions that need to be filled by legions of bureaucrats, effectively becoming a huge employer despite never turning a profit. Once you enter into that cycle, there is no escape.
Not only that, but as we see in our cities and states, it drives formerly thriving places to bankruptcy.
When played out in the third world, it seems unreal, but the same could easily happen here, because we are using the same policies. Once you create a welfare state, you go bankrupt, and so do all the people who depended upon it. Witness the slow collapse of modern Brazil:
Between 2004 and 2014, tens of millions of Brazilians emerged from poverty and the country was often cited as an example for the world. High prices for the countryâ€™s raw materials and newly developed oil resources helped finance social welfare programs that put money into the pockets of the poorest.
But that trend has been reversed over the last two years due to the deepest recession in Brazilâ€™s history and cuts to the subsidy programs, raising the specter that this continent-sized nation has lost its way in addressing wide inequalities that go back to colonial times.
…A year after hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio is so broke that thousands of public workers are not being paid, or are being paid late in installments. Many budget items, from garbage collection to a community policing program, have been sharply reduced.
To the modernist mind, it seems like the solution is to bring back those social welfare programs, when in fact it is those same programs that are impoverishing the nation. Just as globalism destroys a sense of national identity, socialism destroys any social order, and creates huge masses of drones who know nothing but their hunger.
By the same token, we know that diversity programs have failed because we have more racial violence than ever before. We know that our foreign policy of non-intervention has failed as nuclear weapons proliferate. Our people are miserable and suffering health effects because we have made life a horrible experience of mindless jobs, endless red tape and broken, rotting cities. The American dream is over:
A key measure is whether people have trouble with an â€œactivity of daily living,â€ or ADL, such as walking across a room, dressing and bathing themselves, eating, or getting in or out of bed. The study showed the number of middle-age Americans with ADL limitations has jumped: 12.5 percent of Americans at the current retirement age of 66 had an ADL limitation in their late 50s, up from 8.8 percent for people with a retirement age of 65.
At the current retirement age of 66, a quarter of Americans age 58 to 60 rated themselves in â€œpoorâ€ or â€œfairâ€ health. Thatâ€™s up 2.6 points from the group who could retire with full benefits at 65, the Michigan researchers found.
Cognitive skills have also declined over time. For those with a retirement age of 66, 11 percent already had some kind of dementia or other cognitive decline at age 58 to 60, according to the study. Thatâ€™s up from 9.5 percent of Americans just a few years older, with a retirement age between 65 and 66.
Much of this involves middle-aged white Americans, who gave their lives to careers and watched the money be drained from them for the purpose of paying off our non-white underclass.
Again and again, Leftist social programs and bad financial sense are linked because to the Left, ideology is all that matters. This means that common sense and reality are far away, and those are sacrificed to give us the ideological purity we seek. We chase that chimera over the cliff and to our own doom.
For the West, the decision looms: do we finally rid ourselves of the parasite of Leftism, and go instead toward the methods that have made timeless greatness out of every civilization that has adopted them? Or do we, cowed by peer pressure, choose instead to follow the path to certain doom like Venezuela and Brazil?