There are three recent events among the Left which have caught this writer's eye and ear. The first is the apparent open embrace of Marxism. Much of this centers around the so-called "one of the top books of this century:" Thomas Picketty's "Wealth in the Twenty-First Century." By any other name, this 700 page tome of convoluted and twisted statistics and commentary is nothing but the writings of Karl Marx using modern language, examples, and statistical information which can be interpreted any number of ways depending upon who is doing the analysis. In fact, the book is the #1 Best Seller on Amazon which is kind of ironic since a company like Amazon was born in a capitalist economy and would likely never be developed in a stagnant socialist or communist society. Not too many inventions we take for granted today- including the computer or laptop Mr. Picketty used to write or sell his book- were developed in communist/socialist countries. But then again, hypocrisy and historical revisionism are two defining characteristics of the Left.
It does not surprise me that a book like this would be written. After all, the Left has been turning out these books for years. What surprises me somewhat is the reaction to it as if finally "Marx for Dummies" has been written and we can all now see the light of socialism. We have seen that light as has most of the world and its extremes have been rejected except in a few backward countries like North Korea and Cuba. A once-proud and prosperous country like Venezuela dabbled with it and look at what has happened there. None of these countries, nor the former Soviet bloc, are exactly good advertisements for the world Picketty favors. After seeing where this book sells the greatest- on Amazon or elsewhere- the reaction makes sense.
The fact is that it is a huge seller in four locations- Washington DC, California, New York and Massachusetts. All four states as a whole are hardly indicative of the true sensibilities of the United States. In fact, we can say they are the "liberal" outskirts of America- the place where failed socialist policies go through their laboratory tests before being rejected by the rest of the country. The book simply is preaching to the choir and unfortunately the choir holds the reigns in the media and academia. This explains the overwhelming support for the book among the writers of the New York Times, Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Nation and other Leftist media outlets (it goes without saying that it is probably required reading at MSNBC).
Of course, this all boils down to what Obama has termed the "defining issue of our time-" income inequality. In a world where, ironically, income inequality has gotten worse in America under our first arguably Marxist president, it yet again illustrates the hypocrisy of the Left. The fact is that in a capitalist society, there will always be, by definition, income inequality. Even in socialist countries there is and was income inequality. This should not surprise anyone. What we see when that inequality grows and becomes quite apparent is the growth of populist ideas and thoughts. However, even then it is usually of a short-lived nature. The 99% are "jealous" of the 1% while the 1% is "jealous" of the .01%. It is this "jealousy" that spurs people to the next level. It is Marxism that tries to take advantage of that "jealousy" to punish the 1% or the .01%. One encourages; the other punishes.
The problem, as Picketty suggests, is that this 1% forms an oligarchy whereby the rich dictate the rules through political power. Thus, people like the Koch brothers are demonized. But let's think about this rationally. Are the Koch brothers donating to candidates in the hopes of gaining influence or changing someone's mind on a policy matter? Does anyone expect Tom Steyer to back the candidacy of a Jim Inhofe in a Senate race? Many years before Picketty, a more rational and observant Frenchman, Alexis de Toqueville, also warned about the concentration of wealth, oligarchy and the political process. He came to the more logical conclusion that the greatest check on concentrated wealth dictating sound policy was to forbid patronage jobs within the high reaches of government. Given the checks and balances he observed firsthand in the United States, he believed this country- despite its enormous wealth and, yes, income inequality- was well-equipped to withstand an oligarchy. And while they rail against inequality and its effect on policy, the words of David Cohen, CEO of Comcast and a heavy Democratic donor, reveal the true story: "My priorities in political giving are Comcast priorities. I don't kid myself. My goals are to support the interests of the company.
The next time you hear someone on the Left railing against income inequality, the concentration of wealth and its effects on politics, some facts should be kept in mind:
- Seven of the top 10 richest counties in the United States are represented by Democrats and all ten voted heavily for Obama;
- Democrats represent eight of the ten richest congressional districts in the United States;
- Congressional Democrats have a higher median net worth than their Republican counterparts;
- Of the ten richest members of Congress, seven are Democrats;
- The top 20 entries in the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans is dominated by donors to the Democratic Party or liberal organizations;
- Eight of the 10 largest private foundations are liberal;
- Of the top 10 foundations,only the Lilly Endowment (at #7) leans conservative;
- Despite the attacks on outlets like Fox News, the media is dominated by liberals which they, in perfect Orwellian fashion, now call "mainstream;"
- Not one of the all-time institutional donors between 1989 and 2004 tilted Republican.
Of course, people like Paul Krugman have wholeheartedly endorsed this book since Krugman stands front and center in the choir. Which brings me to point #2- his most recent article about the Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, and his standoff with the BLM. The story is twisted and convoluted enough without Krugman trying to deconstruct it. Ownership of the land is apparently one part of the story and Krugman points out that the federal government owns a great deal of land. In Nevada, they apparently "own" more than 85% of the land area in that state. However, they charge a fee for miners and ranchers which Krugman asserts is outrageously low. Because of this,the government effectively subsidizes the rancher, farmer and miner. He the asserts that because of this, such people (miners, ranchers and farmers) are the "welfare queens of the purple sage." He leaves out the fact that the miner, the rancher and the farmer actually contribute something such a food, beef, or energy- things even Krugman uses or needs- and does not sit home collecting a check every month like the true welfare queens that dominate Leftist, urban strongholds.
But Krugman goes even further in true Marxist fashion. Lamenting the conservative of old versus the modern conservative, Krugman writes:
But today's conservative leaders were raised on Ayn Rand's novels and Ronald Reagan's speeches... They insist that the rights of private property are absolute, and that government is always the problem, never the solution. (Emphasis added)
What can be more Marxist than a denial of the absolutism of private property? As an example, he posits the farmer who uses pesticides that foul the local river or uses genetically modified seeds causing damage beyond his private property and asserts that only the government can solve such problems resulting from those scenarios. Yet, he fails to mention that farmers and ranchers are probably the greatest stewards of private property because they have a direct vested financial stake in the viability of that private property. A perfect example is the return of the rhinoceros in Rhodesia and elsewhere. Poaching once depleted their numbers to the point of near extinction and no government action was reversing that trend until they tried something unique- private ownership. Once ownership of the existing rhino population was placed in private hands, their numbers rose to the point of one of the most successful comebacks of an animal species. Here in the United States, the same can be said of buffalo. No longer are they slaughtered willy-nilly because private ownership where there is a vested financial interest in their existence has saved them from extinction.
Not only are the private property rights absolute, but they are also more successful and more long-lasting than any program his vaunted government can devise. And they are certainly better than the so-called communal land ideas which is Marxism yet again by any other name. To the Left, the phrase "Mi casa es su casa" makes no sense because there is no "mi" in their mindset.
And the final brazen action involves climate change. Let's forget the hypocrisy of people like Tom Steyer who has vowed $100 million in this year's midterm elections to support candidates (Democrats) who will push a radical environmentalist agenda. After all, other outlets have chronicled his financial interests in competing pipelines to the proposed Keystone XL and other not-so-green entities. And let's forget Al Gore's globetrotting hypocritical carbon footprint. Chris Hayes of MSNBC fame (if fame and MSNBC can be uttered in the same breath) claims that it is time for the global climate change crowd to become radical. Nothing against Hayes, but I think they crossed that bridge years ago. What else defines a re-ordering of the energy sector where natural resources are better left in the ground? What else defines an absolute aversion to one energy source devoid of practically all the bad things pumped into the air that will bring about the calamity predicted by Gore and company- nuclear energy? What else defines proposals that would effectively tax every American family an additional $400-$1,000 annually in increased energy costs? What could be more radical?
About that Keystone Pipeline, the utter stupidity of the Left is on full display here. First, the oil they rail against is already entering this country by rail and truck and being shipped to refineries. These modes of transportation are certainly more "dirty" than a pipeline for its transport. Second, despite the alleged number of jobs created- and the only thing in dispute is the number of jobs created (key word: "created")- it is still better than zero. Third, would the radical environmentalists rather have that oil shipped over land to a terminal on the west coast of Canada then transported by ship to Singapore or China whose refineries nowhere approximate the sophistication and cleanliness of those here? Either way, that oil is leaving Canada for refinement unless by "radical" Hayes envisions tree-huggers laying across railroad tracks in Canada. My guess is on the first sub-freezing night their resolve will melt in proportion to the thickening ice on their beards.
The Left, especially the environmental contingent, seeks to achieve the same goals as the economic Marxists all in the name of saving the planet from the coming environmental Armageddon. When presented with valid evidence that contradicts their alleged scientific consensus "ending the debate," their tried and true strategy is simply to silence that dissent. Coal, natural gas (much cleaner than coal but unacceptable because of the scare tactics used to stop fracking) and other fossil fuels power the laptops, computers and cell phones of these morons. And just as their UN reports and alleged scientific consensus is used to silence critics of climate change, they now tout Picketty's book as the proof needed to portray the economic and political calamity of income inequality and that proof is designed to silence the critics on the Right.
Picketty told the New York Times: "It is very difficult to make a democratic system work when you have such extreme inequality and such extreme inequality in terms of political influence and the production of knowledge and information." Finally, Picketty has inadvertently happened upon a real truth. Of course, he did not realize he was describing the Left and the Democratic Party.