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(The following is a series of posts I made on a Libertarian’s Facebook page. Ironically, the owner of the page, while lost in the morass of Libertarian nonsense, seems to be a fairly decent fellow, as some are, which only adds to the poignancy of the tragedy, since we are capable of doing great violence to one another without even possessing the emotional disposition to do so. But the fact that we as a country can be in the grips of this self-destructive mania is simply too much to bear. How on Earth do we shake some sense into these blind and destructive fanatics, trying to do their own re-enactment of history’s most tragic chapters?)

I don’t copy and paste anything, Rick. I live, learn, study, contemplate, and comment. There are several values that merit our attention, not just the maximization of aggregate wealth (though that is one as well, since indeed it is important to maintain a political economy that produces wealth robustly). This country has been moving in a highly regressive direction in terms of social mobility and social justice, increasing the extent to which the condition you are born into determines your opportunities in life.

In reality, the number one predictor of future socio-economic status in America is one’s socio-economic status at birth. This is a statistical fact. To argue that it is irrelevant because some minority of people succeed in changing their socio-economic statuses, which to the irrational means that there is no social injustice in America, neglects that the members of that minority benefited from some good fortune or combination of good fortunes that the rest did not: Great parents, a great mentor, exceptional natural endowment, chance circumstances, etc.

A commitment to equality of opportunity (not equality of outcome, as you insist equality of opportunity means) requires not relegating certain classes of people to drastically reduced chances of success in life due to the chances of birth, even if additional chances save some small subset of those disadvantaged classes. In fact, addressing it is not just good for rectifying our endemic and growing social injustice (far greater than that of our fellow highly developed nations), but also improves aggregate productivity itself, mobilizing our human resources more efficiently and effectively.

In 2007, 35% of America’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of 1% of our population. (The bottom 40% of Americans are thrown the crumbs of .2%, one five hundredth, of America’s wealth; the next 40% of Americans share just 15% of America’s wealth. 85% goes to just 20% of Americans.) Our Gini Coefficient (the statistical measure of the inequality of the distribution of wealth) is behind all other developed nations, and is behind even Iran, Russia, and China. This is not, as your convenient mythology maintains, due to a meritocracy, but rather an entrenched and growing classism, with only marginal social mobility laced into it (this is a statistical fact, not a random assertion; America has less, not more, social mobility than all other developed nations).

You imagine yourselves to be the warriors of freedom, and those who oppose you to be “elitists,” but that is precisely backward: You are warriors of elitism, fighting for gross inequality and injustice against those who actually understand economics and history and the fact that by no measure are your assertions accurate or defensible.

Your assertion that this inequality is necessary to the robust production of wealth is, like the rest of your assertions, simply wrong. The United States, despite its off-the-charts inequity in the distribution of wealth, has only a middling per capita GDP in comparison to other developed nations, below many that are far more egalitarian, and not significantly above any (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita). A far smaller portion of Americans participate in that wealth, however, than do those of those other countries.

In other words, you are fighting for ignorance in service to human suffering, and calling it a noble ideal. Freedom, prosperity, justice, are far more complex and subtle ideals than you recognize, and, in your shallow world, you therefore sacrifice the realities on the alter of your false idols. There is no real freedom when the circumstances of birth are so highly determinant of one’s future prospects, and when participation in a society’s prosperity is so skewed by the chances of birth. There is no justice when the descendants of those who were conquered or enslaved not so many generations ago are statistically extremely overrepresented among those who do not partake of that prosperity and opportunity today. There is only an implicit racism in insisting that we live in a meritocracy, and that if some races and ethnicities are overrepresented in poverty in our country, it must be that they coincidentally are just lazier and less meritorious than the descendants of the former elites. Yeah.

The depth of your irrationality in service to your inhumanity is simply mindboggling. Don’t get me wrong: There are no simple answers. The market economy is indeed a robust producer of wealth, and the problems and challenges we face are not easily solved. But we must first, as a nation, as human beings, be honest about what those problems and challenges are, rather than conveniently defining them out of existence and turning a blind eye to the real injustices and inhumanities that we are blithely reproducing and deepening.

The way to approach this ongoing endeavor of ours is to understand economics (the real discipline; not the archaic caricature on which you rely), and history (again, the real discipline, not the information-stripped caricature on which you rely), and all other disciplines relevant to our shared existence, and to treat the challenge of self-governance as non-trivial, not reducible to a few neat, ideological platitudes that adherents claim are ordained by God or by Founding Fathers, or by something other than what works and what’s just and what’s wise.

You rely on caricatures of our wonderful (though human, historical, and imperfect) founding document (the U.S. Constitution, which was drafted to strengthen, not weaken, our federal government, a strengthening eloquently argued for in The Federalist Papers by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay). You ignore those clauses which don’t suit your ideology, and ignore our system for interpreting the Constitution, insisting that your nonsensical interpretation should prevail, thus only destroying the document and nation you claim to serve. It’s a tragic comedy of ignorance and inhumanity, one that loses its comic value when you take measure of the real human suffering it imposes and preserves, and the damage it does to us as a people and to our children’s prospects in the future.

Let’s not forget the real human measures of your regressive ideology: We have, in comparison to other developed nations, the highest infant mortality rates, the highest poverty rates, the highest homelessness rates…, a tribute to a society in the grips of an inhumane mania that has no connection whatsoever to reality, or to justice, or to reason, or to compassion, or to anything to which human beings ought to aspire.

Here’s the story you folks need to live: http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1624. And here’s the historical reality you ignore: http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1506. Here are the cliches and caricatures on which you rely: http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=984, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=525, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1194, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1205. And here is a guide to the rational, compassionate, historically and economically literate, humane, and truly progressive alternative: http://coloradoconfluence.com/?page_id=1215. Finally, while you are crowing about the brilliance of your shriveled and inhumane little platitude-driven blind ideology, here are some examples of what a real, growing, contemplative, informed understanding of our world looks like: http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1676, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1695, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1714, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1660, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=1859, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=2235, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=187, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=577, http://coloradoconfluence.com/?p=832.

What we are and what we are capable of, as human beings, is incredible. But it is not served by your flattened and stripped parody of the intellectual product of a historical moment, rather than the living, growing reality that those ideals gave birth to. Our liberty isn’t served by the absurd farce that popular government and strivings for social justice are its enemies, but is rather most pointedly threatened by it. As Sinclair Lewis poignantly observed: When fascism comes to America, it will come carrying the cross and wrapped in a flag. And for all your rhetoric deluding yourselves that you represent its opposite, you are nothing if not the unwitting (though eagerly exploited) agents of fascism, freeing those who wield the political power of concentrated corporate wealth from any restraint of popular regulation and oversight, demolishing problematic but indispensible popular government in preference for the tyranny of unfettered concentration of wealth and the real political power that it wields.

You are clueless, and dangerously so, threatening this nation, and, to some extent, this world, with your belligerent ignorance, trying to obstruct all thought and analysis and compassion and human decency in service to your mania. Good God, it’s just too much to take! Get a frickin’ clue already.

(See The Catastrophic Marriage of Extreme Individualism and Ultra-Nationalism for a continuing discussion of the precise ideological components of the dysfunctional ideology I am confronting in this post, and Dialogue With A Libertarian for a response to a comment that gets to the heart of the logical and empirical fallacies on which libertarians rely).

Click here to buy my e-book A Conspiracy of Wizards for just $2.99!!!

  • Here is the discussion that followed the above sequence of posts, on the same thread, up to this moment:

    Regan Benson Say no more: Harvey was defeated in the November 2 2010 general election by incumbent Republican James Kerr.
    James Kerr (R) 18,411
    Steve Harvey (D) 10,720

    Steve Harvey And the Weimar Republic fell to a populist Nazi movement. Democracy is a wonderful thing, and the best of woefully inadequate political systems, but it does not define what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. When Galileo was tortured by the Inquisition for promoting the idea that the Earth revolved around the sun rather than vice versa, I guarantee you that a popular poll at the time would have shown the vast majority of people to side with the Inquisition rather than with Galileo. If your best (and only) argument is that reason applied to evidence in service to humanity is clearly mistaken because in some time and place people voted it down, then you have only given proof to my assertion that you live in an economically and historically illiterate delusion.

    Steve Harvey Furthermore, the tactic of making irrelevant ad hominem attacks (as opposed to strong criticisms of a position itself, which inevitably bleeds over into some degree of implicit or explicit ad hominem) when you are overly challenged by the on-point arguments that that person made is a testament to the weakness of your position. I lost an election, not this debate. I may be a horrible person, or a wonderful person, or something in between, none of which is relevant to this discussion, which isn’t about me but rather about us, as a people.

    Regan Benson You lost Steve, thats not ad hominem or hyperbole, its fact.

    Steve Harvey But it’s not relevant. It’s a non sequitur posted here to discredit a position on which it has no bearing. That’s not argumentation, just an attempt to mobilize irrationality in defense of a blind ideology.

    Steve Harvey Would it make sense for me to mention, in a debate with you, that your prom date stood you up your junior year of high school? (Obviously, I just made that up). Of course not, and for exactly the same reason that what you’re saying is both irrelevant and inappropriate, an attack against the person in order to ignore and circumvent the argument.

    Regan Benson Steve, you lost. Have a nice day.

    Buddy Shipley The economic crises around the globe are all the direct result of Liberalism run a muck; too much spending on bad ideas, and the Left is still in denial…

    Buddy Shipley Government is NOT a charity! And spending Other People’s money is NOT philanthropy! Liberals seem to believe that throwing more money and more words at bad ideas will turn them into good ones. It doesn’t.

    Steve Harvey First, Regan: You said your comment “is not ad hominem or hyperbole, it’s fact.” Well, you’re right that it’s not hyperbole, which is of course irrelevant, since no one claimed that it was hyperbole. And you’re right that it’s fact, which is also irrelevant, since “ad hominem” does not mean “inaccurate.” If you had said in the prior post “Say no more: Harvey has a big nose,” that would have been both a fact, and an ad hominem, and would not have been hyperbole, just as the information you actually shared is. Second, Buddy: Government is our agent for governing ourselves as popular sovereigns, through which we can confront the complexities of our shared existence. Our constitution, to which I hope we are all committed, empowers Congress to tax and spend in service to the general welfare. Addressing the economic distortions that concentrate wealth and opportunity into ever fewer hands, leading to a form of political econonmic tyranny, certaintly falls within the scope of “the general welfare.” Furthermore, you are committing the fallacy of reifying property, turning it into some natural state rather than itself a political economic creation. To claim that to address the unjust or dysfunctional aspects of the current property rights regime is an affront to some inherent right held by those who hold that property is to, again, be completely historically and economically illiterate.

    Steve Harvey Buddy, while you repeat these empty ideological assertions, I provide you with the economic and historical analyses which back up my conclusions. More importantly, the main point I am always arguing is not in support of specific substantive conclusions, but rather that we should focus more on the processes by which we arrive at those conclusions, thus ensuring that reason in service to humanity has fuller play in our public policy formation. I’m delighted when someone makes an actual argument that proves some tentative belief of mine wrong, because I’m more interested in continuing to approach an ever-more developed and refined understanding of the world than in proving current substantive positions. But that process requires robust, rational, empirical argumentation, which is what I engage in. You can continue to repeat your blind ideological certainties, but repetition doesn’t improve their quality, only sound argumentation does, which is always in short supply from your ideological camp (which conveniently dismisses sound argumentation as “intellectual elitism”).

    Steve Harvey And Regan, in response to your o-so-wise-and-productive parting comment, you’re absolutely right: I lost. I lost the election, and I, and those who think like me, may be losing, in the short-run, the argument over who and what we are, and who and what we should be, as a people and as a nation. I’ve never argued otherwise. I fear, indeed, that I am losing, that we are losing, that humanity is losing. Reason and goodwill are being battered to death in this country, and it is an extremely frightening and frustrating thing to watch. So, yes, congratulations, your belligerence and irrationality is indeed victorious. Good for you.

  • learningpeace:

    Thank you Steve…! What a breath of fresh air your writing is… Thank you for the hard work you obviously employ to think outside anyone’s “one right way” propaganda. I will look forward to reading your posts. – Suzi

  • Thanks, Suzi. Glad to have you here!

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