Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Knuckle-Dragger's Guide to Social Nuance

By Mark Ross, Contributing Writer

Here, in the Bay Area, it’s such a marvelous treat to be a conservative. People flock to me at parties whenever I open my mouth. George W. Bush was such a catalyst for positive change… and I’ve received so much praise for voting for him… NOT.

Can you say: Groupthink? For starters, left-liberalism is a behavioral extension of the schoolyard. Ridicule of the appearance of outsiders, fixation on the superficial… and the proffering of silly notions as if they were serious ideas… all in order to get respect and reinforcement from your homeys. Add to this the spoiled brat world view: If I break it Mommy and Daddy will buy me a new one.

Ever notice how ad hoc political discussions turn into personal denigration… at least by the party on the left… rather than into insightful explorations into cause and effect? For a good example of this just scroll down to the earlier blog about Liberalism and the Danger of First-Order Thinking (April 6, 2009)… and see how “L’Etranger” avoids any discussion of cause and effect. He jumps right into character assassination… just like a kid on the school yard. More anecdotal experience follows:

 A lady in my office, knowing that I was from a different planet than she was, came up to me and asked: “Can you explain supply side economics?” I simply told her that if people were taxed less they’d have more money to spend on themselves… increasing both standard of living and the total amount of economic activity. More economic activity leads to more tax revenue even at a lower rate. “Well, that’s just for Bush’s billionaire buddies,” she shot back. I told her that the top 5% of income earners pay over 50% of the income tax. “I don’t believe that,” she replied. “It’s not an opinion,” I said, “it’s true whether you believe it or not.” That was more than she could take, and she walked away. I’m used to that.

Casual discussions at parties often veer into the realm of public policy. “Are you a Republican?” is a common question after a few minutes of discourse… sometimes followed by “There was once a Republican who used to live down the street from me.” As if they’re aliens from outer space passing as humans. My reply is always the same: “I would be a Republican [now this pause is really important]… except they’re too liberal.” After that I get all the wine and snacks to myself.

I was visiting some dear friends… who are both pretty lefty in their approach to public policy. We came to the profound realization that we both agreed on the final outcome. It was the means to that end that was under dispute. We all wanted a middle class world… where people are educated, pragmatic, making strategic plans for their futures. Deferred gratification, industry, thrift… you know. They suggested that the work week be cut from five to four days in order to make room for more opportunities for entry into the middle class. I asked if they were ready to take a 20% cut in their income for this to happen. They were shocked at the suggestion. “Then, where’s the money supposed to come from?” They had no answer. One had a master’s in history and the other was a State Department brat… and yet unable to think through a silly scheme. I told them that our military is, by default, the only reliable path for “underclass” folks to advance up the ladder. All the other “programs” just feed the otherwise unemployed sociology majors who supervise such doomed endeavors. The beauty of the middle class is that ANYBODY CAN JOIN. It’s about behavior… not ancestry. The first we can control. The latter we can’t.

Balzac, in 1840, wrote a story called A Prince of Bohemia. It’s about an aristocrat from a country that was absorbed into the Austrian Empire. Although he was raised to be the scion of a powerful noble family… he wound up in exile and penniless. He made ends meet by giving fencing lessons while living in a Parisian garret (converted attic). He despised the middle class… the nouveaux riche… with their uncultured tastes and other bourgeois foibles. Yet, he relied on these wealthy buffoons for his livelihood. Hence our use of the term “bohemian” to describe many of our own counter-cultures (i.e. beatniks and hippies).

America is the great middle class paradise. That’s why the “tempest tossed” have come here in droves for so many years. Since the 60s we’ve seen emerging middle classes in Asia and Latin America. Africa is, unfortunately, in retrograde motion. There’s still a lot of room for improvement… but progress is inexorable. And that’s a good thing.


  1. " Hey, Anita! Who left this pubic hair on my coke?"

  2. I am a liberal and I agree & appreciate your post.

    Regarding the hostility you experience on a regular basis...I receive it from a different direction:

    -->Being liberal and a supporter of Israel.