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You Didn’t Build That December 5, 2013

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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We can’t know what we don’t know however we can know that we don’t know or as Socrates taught us the recognition of our ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.

The society and civilization in which any human lives and operates is like water to a fish.  Something they move around in, something they need to survive, it is also something they don’t even notice.  If we wish to understand the world in which we live we need to realize that the civilization which serves as our support and framework is based upon vast amounts of knowledge those who fill its ranks give no thought to whatsoever.

It is also necessary to understand that civilization isn’t something consciously created by man.  Civilizations build up over time by humans interacting with and attempting to modify their surroundings.  As such our civilizations are more accretions than structures.

What our civilization is today is no more the conscious product of some master plan than the course of a river.  Life flows into the channels of least resistance and is moved by forces that act upon it.  We can no more predict what our civilization will look like in a few generations than one of our 17th century ancestors could have described the lives we live today.

What will be invented tomorrow that will change the future in ways we could never imagine?  Thirty years ago in 1983 who would have thought we would all walk around with minicomputers we call cell phones?  Or that there would be hundreds of television stations?  Or a worldwide internet that can cross-pollenate thought at the speed of light?  What may be around the next corner is anyone’s guess.  One thing is for sure, thirty years from now we will live in ways we never imagined today.

This is the foundational problem that undergirds and eliminates the possibility of success from any of the utopian central-planning schemes that litter History and of the ones we are trying today.  The planners cannot take the place of masses of people living, innovating and creating.  No one person or group can substitute their decisions for the independent decisions of everyone else without short circuiting the system and causing civilization to stall out.  No one is as smart as everyone.

If two minds are better than one how much better are 100,000 or 1 million or billions?  Over and over those who think they and they alone are intelligent, far seeing or inspired enough to shape the future have grabbed the reins of power and tried to impose their vision on the world around them.  Sooner or later reality comes along and teaches them that it just won’t work.  We have people trying to guide trillion dollar economies who know nothing of economics, and people trying to guide History who know nothing of History.  We are surrounded by political savants who know how to get elected and not much else.  Some even have the hubris to list running a campaign as a life skill that qualifies them to run the lives of everyone around them.

What is even more bizarre than this is that people believe them and vote them into office based on such sketchy experience and vague promises as hope and change.  Then when the Rube Goldberg plans they devise fall apart and everyone is worse off than before the savants say, “You just didn’t give us enough power to accomplish the task. What we need now is more of the same.”  Time after time civilizations have fallen for this siren song of perfection.   And time after time civilizations have fallen because they did.

Why does this destructive desire to trade freedom for the promise of utopia always fail?   Because it’s based on the erroneous idea that humanity created civilization and therefore it is possible to alter its institutions, operations, and mechanisms whenever and however we please.

This assertion would be valid only if we had created civilization deliberately with full knowledge of what we were doing while we were doing it.  In a way it is true that humanity has made its civilization in that it was not brought here by some aliens who placed us in it like animals in the artificial habitat of a zoo.  Civilization is the product of the combined actions of hundreds of generations living their lives, making choices, succeeding and failing, rising and falling.  This however, does not mean civilization is the conscious product of human design or that any one individual or group can completely comprehend all of its functions or what is required for its continued existence.

The very idea that humanity sprang from the earth with a mind able to conceive civilization and then proceeded to systematically create it does not fit the anthropological or historical record.  Our minds themselves are the product of the constant adjustments we make as we attempt to adapt to our surroundings.

Is it nature or nurture is an age old debate.

The reality is that it is both.   Our minds are what they are, unbelievably intricate bio-computers able to think in symbolic terms and extrapolate beyond what is known to what is imagined.  They are the wonder upon which civilization is built; however they did not design and then initiate civilization.  If they were, all we would have to do to reach a higher plane of civilization is imagine it and then make it happen.  The fact that civilization has advanced by fits and starts shows that some things work and some things don’t.  It is the constant adjustment that moves us forward.

Believing the lie that man is the measure of all things is the trap the utopians fall into: that man in and of himself has the capacity to control History.  It seems so enticing and yet it never works because that isn’t how civilizations grow.  They grow by the friction between our present conditions and our dreams.  They grow by the incessant revision of what is into what we want it to be.  Our current experience shapes our course deviations in so many ways that cannot be foretold leading in a zigzag fashion from the present to the future.

The weathermen who have a hard time accurately predicting what the weather will be like five days from now seem ever ready to tell us what it will be like five hundred years from now.  The economic forecasters who are surprised every month by what the economy did last month have no problem making absolute statements about how actions today will guide our multifaceted economy for years in the future.

Man knows not his time and we cannot know the future. In other words we can’t know what we don’t know.  About the best we can do is know that we don’t know.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

The Nature of Things November 21, 2013

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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2 comments

When my grandmother was born a horse was the normal means of transport.  When my granddaughter was born the International Space Striation was the brightest light in the night’s sky. In other words, things change.   When I sat on the couch and watched the first man walk on the moon with my grandmother she didn’t believe it was real.  When I tell my low information neighbors that the International Space Striation is the brightest light in the night’s sky they don’t believe it is true.  In other words, human nature doesn’t change.

To allow our leaders, our fellow citizens, our own kith and kin the charitable label of misguided dreamers is the closest I can come to innocently explaining their roles as either accomplices or instigators of our national decline.  I try to tell myself they are as Lenin and Stalin are reputed to have called them, “Useful Idiots:” well-meaning people who genuinely believe central planning will help the needy.  I try not to let myself think the Progressives and their supporters are actually extremely corrupt and evil people who are actively attempting to transform our beloved experiment in freedom into another forced labor camp striving to achieve Utopia.

The problem with utopian dreams is that they always end in dystopian realities.  Lenin’s dream of a worker’s paradise transformed itself into Stalin’s nightmare of the gulags, starvation, and the eventual destruction of their nation.  Mussolini’s dream of a return to the glories of Rome led directly to the loss of the empire they had and the destruction of their nation.  Hitler’s dream of a Thousand Year Reich led directly to the Gestapo, the holocaust, the worst war in History, and the destruction of their nation.

How can we believe we can follow a dream of utopia to any other end than the one everyone else has arrived at: the dust bin of History?

Some may say, “But we are Americans, and we have always done the things others could not do.”  You will find no more ardent believer in American Exceptionalism than I.   I truly believe, not that diversity is our strength but instead that the blending of all into a uniquely American hybrid has created the most talented, most dynamic, and most successful nation the world has ever known.  It is not the will or the talents of our homegrown American collectivists that I question; it is the very nature of collectivism that I maintain makes the accomplishment of their utopian dream impossible.

People can have the best of intentions; however, if they believe they can take from Peter to pay Paul without making Peter resent the fact that he has less than he had before they don’t know Peter very well.  And if they think they can set Paul up as a perpetual recipient of the swag taken from Peter without creating a pool of Paul’s who constantly want more and who resent those who do the distributing they have never worked in a soup kitchen, a food bank, or a giveaway store for more than a day.

The vast majority of people are not by nature altruistic milk cows, and they resent it when that is how they are viewed by the nameless faceless bureaucracy necessary to make the machinery of utopia crank out the shabby imitation they deliver.  Conversely the vast majority of people are not by nature perpetual mooches content to stand with their hands out waiting for the nameless faceless bureaucracy to deliver the bare minimum needed to survive which is always the bounty that actually drops from the utopian extruder.

I contend that a collectivist redistribution Utopia whether it is called Progressive, Socialist, Communist, Fascist, or merely the right thing to do is contrary to the nature of humanity.

People by nature want to be self-reliant.  They want to make things better for themselves and their children.  People want to strive for something noble, and they want to feel as if their lives matter.  Yet in an industrial world divided into haves and have nots it is easy to understand how the frustration of being a have not can convince someone that there needs to be a more equitable division of the material goods which modern civilization abundantly provides.

Having come from a blue collar family and having spent the majority of my life as a self-employed boom or bust house painter I can well relate to not having health insurance because you can’t afford it, I couldn’t.  I can relate to having mornings where you don’t know what you will feed your family that night because I have had those days.  I know what it is like to be a high school dropout who can’t get anything except a menial low paying job, because I have been that person.  Yes, I can relate to the situations which might make a person believe we need to spread the wealth around.

I also know what it feels like to have to get food stamps and other things from public and private assistance just to make it through the day because I have done so.  I know how the welfare people make you feel, the way they treat you as if you are trying to take their personal money or the condescension of pity.

What I can’t relate to is either thinking it is a good thing to consign our fellow citizens to such a life or to being satisfied with such a life.

Not only does a welfare state corrupt both the dispensers and the recipients it carries the seeds of its own destruction. Eventually the recipients will want more than the dispensers are willing to give, and revolution or collapse will be the end result.

In addition, since redistribution as a state policy always means stealing from Peter to pay Paul, ultimately the thief will need a gun.  Though Peter may be a nice person and at first say, “Sure I can contribute something to help poor old Paul,” if poor old Paul never gets back on his feet sooner or later Peter will wonder why Paul doesn’t start providing for himself.  At that point the contributions are no longer voluntary and they must be taken one way or another.  There is also the question of how many Pauls can Peter carry without either shrugging like Atlas or becoming a Paul himself in self-defense. As Margret Thatcher taught us, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Plunder empires always collapse.  Utopias always end up eating the goose that laid the golden egg.  Central planning and collectivism: the Progressive dream for a Great Society has never, can never, and will never succeed. It just isn’t natural.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Socialism is as Socialism Does August 31, 2012

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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1 comment so far

Ronald Reagan taught us, “How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

Barack Obama’s mentor as a young man was communist party member Frank Marshall Davis.  As a community organizer he was a follower and promoter of the communist fellow-traveler Saul Alinsky’s methods and goals.  As a professional in Hyde Park he associated with socialist radicals such as Bill Ayers.  As an up-and-coming Chicago Politician he attended the church of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, an outspoken proponent of the socialist Black Liberation Theology. As president he appointed communist Van Jones to be one of his many Czars.  Mr. Obama says he is not a socialist.  However, simple logic tells us if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck you can be relatively certain it’s a duck.

Mr. Obama has told us that he seeks to be a transformational president like his idol FDR.  He was bold enough to tell us just days before the election in 2008 that he would fundamentally transform America.  In just one term he has accomplished much along the way to changing us from what we have always been into what the Progressives have always wanted us to be.

How has Barak Obama transformed us?  Into what is he transforming us?  A look at his impressive *list of firsts as president of these United States points in the direction he is herding us:

 

Mr. Obama is leading us from being the first among nations to being just another vote in the United Nations.  Now there’s a level playing field for you.  And now it’s time for another election, some say our most important, some say perhaps our last.

In many ways this election cycle is refreshing.  For generations the Progressives have pretended to be something they are not to win elections.  They have pretended to be dedicated to the American dream of personal liberty, economic freedom and the belief that America was different from other nations, that as the world’s first and most enduring modern experiment in a republic based on limited government we were exceptional.  Although the policies of the Progressives have always been at odds with this assumed identity at least every election cycle they would tip their hat to the America of our fathers and portray themselves as a Thomas Jefferson or an Andrew Jackson.

Therefore, 2012 is shaping up to be the election where the Progressives cast aside their mask and run as who they are: the American version of socialism promising to tax the rich and spread the wealth around, from each according to their ability to each according to their need.

If Mr. Obama wins re-election on this platform the Progressives will finally have their chance to give Americans the same kind of cradle-to-grave utopia the happy people of Russia, China, North Korea, and Hitler’s Germany have had the fortune to endure.  If Mr. Obama wins re-election espousing the true intentions of the Progressives, to change the constitution from a rock solid foundation for freedom into a living document that is a dead letter, he will succeed at his vow to fundamentally transform America.

He will fundamentally transform the dreams of our fathers for a land of liberty and opportunity into the dreams of his father who was a pro-communist social engineer and America will become just another country trying to build heaven on earth by plundering some to benefit others.

As to his  utopian beliefs and aspirations President Obama has said, “I am confident we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth”

President Reagan also told us, “Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don’t need it, and hell where they already have it.”

*Lists of Mr. Obama’s firsts are found numerous places.  The sources referenced for each first are merely representative of the many available for each.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

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