"In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. ...(T)he pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. Meanwhile the people spinning...visions unsupported by reality, were regarded not as charlatans but saviors." -- Clay Shirky in an explanation of the downfall of the newspaper business that also describes what's happening in America
Since Barack Obama has been elected, gun sales and copies of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged have flown off the shelves. Meanwhile, there's a Russian academic all over the news predicting that America will soon collapse, "tea parties" springing up all over the country, and the stock market has been doing a great impression of Michael Richards' career since he left Seinfeld.
Is that because people have gone crazy? No, it's the reaction of sane people to the crazy as a football bat insanity that has begun to pass for conventional wisdom in large swathes of America. Living in this country today is like sitting in the back seat of a car that's hurtling towards the edge of a cliff at a hundred miles an hour while the driver fiddles with the radio and the guy in the passenger seat mocks the very idea of using brakes.
When sheer insanity becomes the new normal, people who can admit that the emperor has no clothes are left to point out:
The Global Warming Fraud: There are few things stranger than watching a "debate" over global warming. One side constantly quotes scientific facts, makes logical arguments, and tries to appeal to reason. These people are called "anti-science" by the side that "argues" by comparing their opponents to Holocaust deniers, spins apocalyptic doomsday scenarios out of whole cloth, and is constantly dinged for stretching the truth on the few scientific facts they do talk about. These people are the ones who supposedly "put science first" in the debate.
Meanwhile, the earth has been getting warmer and colder since it was formed, the planet has been considerably warmer in the past than it is today, and the earth is currently cooling, not warming. Yet and still, our President intends to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a Cap and Trade scheme that will spike energy costs into the stratosphere so that we can solve this non-existent "problem."
The Lawsuit Lottery: In our legal system, you can injure yourself doing something utterly stupid, sue someone who just happened to be in the vicinity while you acted like a lunatic, and if you get lucky, you can walk away with millions of dollars while he's driven out of business. It's like playing the lottery, except your odds of winning are much better.
The evidence of how warped our legal system has become is all around us. It's difficult to find an obstetrician in some parts of the country because they've been sued out of existence. In California, it's legal to sue good Samaritans who try to help people who've been injured. Many people and corporations actually settle lawsuits that they know they would eventually win because it's cheaper and less of a hassle than defending themselves in court because our system, in most cases, provides no compensation whatsoever for being the target of a meritless lawsuit.
This illness in our justice system goes all the way up to the Supreme Court, where we have four justices who believe in actually sticking to the Constitution and four who vote for whichever result best serves liberalism. That means whether a law is ruled unconstitutional or not may often depend on little more than whether Anthony Kennedy got enough sleep or is a little cranky because his lunch was delivered late. Justice is supposed to be blind, but we've gone one step further in America and made it random.
Demonizing Success and Rewarding Failure: In America, we have a government that rewards people for failure. If you lose your job, we will incentivize you not to get back to work with unemployment insurance. If you stay out of work long enough, then we'll give you welfare and more money via a "tax credit." If you don't pay your mortgage, then we'll help you out with that, too. Is your corporation going out of business? Then we'll bail you out. Long story short, if you're failing in life, then we will give you goodies to reward you for it.
On the other hand, successful people are suspect, just by virtue of their success and therefore, they must be punished. At a time when taxes are already so high that corporations are fleeing overseas and even the Treasury Secretary is a tax cheat, the President is planning massive tax hikes on both successful individuals and corporations. After all, how are we going to reward all of life's losers if we don't take the money from people who have succeeded? In order to justify killing the Goose who laid the Golden Egg, successful people are regularly vilified as greedy nuisances to society who should be thrilled to have the money they worked for confiscated by people who hate them so it can be handed to people far less industrious than themselves.
But, what you subsidize, you get more of and what you penalize, you decrease. That's one of the oldest and simplest lessons in the book; yet it's one we never seem to learn.
Spending Money Like We're Never Going To Have To Pay It Back: Here's Peter Schweizer describing how the Soviet Union was broken by Reagan,
First of all, the Soviet Union has been in economic crisis, there was an economic crisis from the very beginning in 1917, but they'd always been able to figure out a way, working internationally, to bail out their system. They got western businesses that would set up industries, they got western banks to loan them money, they were able to get peace agreements with the West that would provide temporary relief to their economy. So the Soviet economy was always in crisis but they'd always been bailed out by the West. Reagan's administration is really the only one that never did that.
So, the Soviet Union relied on its enemies to keep it financially afloat and when they refused to do it any longer, it was the beginning of the end. Well, replace the "Soviet Union" with the "United States" and "The West" with "China" and ask yourself: doesn't it seem more than a little familiar?
What happens if China decides one day that they'd like to see us go the way of the Soviet Union and does to us what we did to the Reds? Do we end up with skyrocketing inflation that makes a dollar today worth ten cents tomorrow? Do we end up passing on such large debts onto our children that we will guarantee that they can never have the opportunity to grow up in the sort of great country that we did? The people spending our money? The frightening thing is not that they're coming up with different answers; it's that they're not even asking the questions.
Our Topsy-Turvy Approach To Illegal Immigration: Although we have laws on the books designed to prevent illegal immigration, they are systematically ignored or the people in charge of enforcing them are deliberately understaffed so they can't fulfill their duties. Bizarrely, people who merely suggest that the laws on our books should actually be enforced are derided as racists and nativists. Worse yet, to suggest that tens of millions of uneducated foreigners, many of whom don't speak the language or obey our laws, should not be able to benefit from breaking our laws by staying here permanently is treated as beyond the pale. Why, how dare we "break up the families" of people who have been shamelessly breaking our laws for so long that they've had time to start a family here?
Despite the fact that we've already had a "one time only amnesty" and drug violence is now regularly spilling over our borders, advocates of amnesty are unfazed. In fact, under Barack Obama we've actually gotten to the point where we're prosecuting people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio for enforcing our immigration laws even as we create 300,000 jobs for illegal immigrants with the stimulus plan.
If you don't have borders, you don't have a country -- and if we believe we can turn tens of millions of poor, uneducated, non-English speaking people with no love for our nation or respect for our laws, into productive, well assimilated, loyal Americans merely by granting them citizenship -- then we're engaging in exactly the sort of magical thinking that has helped undermine and destroy more than a few nations -- including most notably, the Roman Empire.