Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
“What Has Become of Us?”
October 31, 2019
“Have we lost our minds?”
Andrew Cuomo (1957-)
Governor, New York
October 26, 2019
While Governor Cuomo’s exclamation was in response to the increasing number of assaults by the mentally deranged in New York City, it is one that has applicability across our political landscape, not just for the unhinged way Leftist politicians treat truants and criminals in our cities, but in most all ways political. Have we all gone bonkers? I wince at President Trump’s coarseness and grimace as he Tweets as fast as a Shetland Pony sheds its winter coat. Then I listen to anti-Trumpers and their lemming-like hatred that betrays an emotional response rather than a reasoned reaction. Seen as a threat to the comfortably established elite, the majority of Democrats wanted to impeach Mr. Trump on November 9, 2016. And I wonder: What ever happened to e Pluribus Unum?
Phrases and words: Identity politics; victimization; equality; wokeness. Identity politics is segregation by a different and more politically correct name. Real victims are ignored, while perpetrators are mollycoddled as deserving of special care for having been “victims” of society governed by old, white men. Equality has morphed into homogenization, deflating the individual to an inflated collective. The cream in our public schools can no longer find its way to the top. Wokeness is a Tesla-like vehicle for social justice warriors.
Politicians, abetted by a media that has foregone any semblance of investigative independence, to become a propaganda arm of the Party they prefer. They have given new meanings to those phrases and words mentioned above. The consequence has been a shock to the Judeo-Christian culture in which most of us were raised, when Albert Einstein once wrote, and we all believed, that “only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.”
Here we are now, three years after the fact, yet a refusal to accept the outcome of the 2016 election persists. Civil discourse is a thing of the past. We have intelligence agencies that colluded against a Presidential candidate. Public schools, especially those in inner cities who keep a watchful (and jaundiced) eye on equality, teach to the lowest common denominator, which means that those who have been identified as “gifted and talented” cannot be separated, so taught differently and thus given a chance to disengage from the claws of mediocrity that entrap them. In many of these same cities, the homeless – some mentally sick, others addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and a few simply down on their luck – ply our parks and streets. Instead of offering the dignity of a job and asking proper behavior in return for food and shelter, we provide them free needles and let them soil streets, sidewalks and parks. In our desire to explain away criminal acts and civil misbehavior as a consequence of victimization, we ignore the plight of real victims. Men and women are tried in the press, without benefit of due process. The “broken windows” policy of policing, first described in 1982 by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling and based on the theory that if man lives in a neighborhood where property and people are respected crime rates will decline. It worked in New York City in the ‘90s and early 2000s but has been abandoned because of accusations that minorities were unfairly targeted. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss: “How did we get so stupid so soon?”
We have coastal mayors and governors who tell us, in dystopian language, that we are facing imminent danger from man-caused climate change; that streets will soon be under water and fires will rage, unless we address these immediate apocalyptic climate threats, which always involve more spending. As Holman Jenkins wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal regarding the California fires: “PG&E can’t keep trees off its power lines but can supply exact numbers for how many LGBTQ workers it employs.” The coming Armageddon due to climate change is a rallying cry in political campaigns and an argument used when suing oil companies in these blue, coastal cities and states, yet the bonds these same entities issue carry little or no warnings of any climate scare. Can it be that these paragons of virtue are not so direct when it comes to the interest rate costs they would have to pay if honesty prevailed? An op-ed on this subject, written by Peter Schweizer of the Government Accountability Institute, was in this past week’s Wall Street Journal. When a psychotic individual commits mass murder, we first blame the weapon and second cite the NRA as facilitator, yet, to my knowledge, no NRA member has been accused of mass killings. Cities with some of the toughest gun laws in the country have the most gun deaths. Gun safety, taught by the NRA, is never considered an option. Mark Zuckerberg is demonized for saying that Facebook is committed to supporting free expression, while Google is lionized for walking away from a U.S. defense contract based on ideological concerns. California has allowed the non-profit NCAA to pay student athletes. But, have they considered the negative effect on college athletic programs, like skiing, swimming, hockey, rowing, squash, softball, track and field that rely for funding on profitable sports like basketball and football? Where California goes, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will follow. “How did we get so stupid so soon?”
Politicians use their index fingers to sense the direction of the wind, then go with the flow. It matters not the long-term consequences of their decisions. It is winning they want. If Socialism is wanted, even if misunderstood by the electorate and the politician, then Socialism it shall be. Yet, as Anthony Trollope wrote about politics and politicians more than 150 years ago in Phineas Redux: “The best carriage horses are those which can steadily hold back against the coach as it trundles down the hill.” Like the three blind mice, Paul Krugman, Frank Bruni and Nicholas Kristof (among dozens of similarly endowed columnists for the New York Times and Washington Post) chase after one another in their end-of-the-world prophecies if the Trump Presidency continues. Yet, minority employment is at record highs and overall unemployment at record lows. Even the third quarter GDP, which was expected to be slow, came in at plus 1.9 percent, better than expected, and above the average for Obama’s eight years. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) placed in charge of the impeachment inquiry (a rare event), bizarrely parodied before Congress the President’s telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – the phone call that was the basis for the impeachment inquiry in the first place. “How did we get so stupid so soon?”
As Americans, we are fortunate to live in this extraordinary country, with its democratic government, free-market capitalist system, its people and natural resources. Yet, do we appreciate what we have? Michael Walzer, a professor emeritus at Princeton, writing in the Spring 2002 edition of ProQuest, said that maybe “…the guilt produced by living in such a country and enjoying its privileges makes it impossible to sustain a decent (intelligent, responsible, morally nuanced) politics.” Even the poorest among us live lives of luxury (central heat, flush toilets, prepared foods and cell phones) unimaginable by our forefathers. And now, progressives put all that at risk. California is the epicenter of progressive thinking. If it were to stand alone, the State would be the world’s fifth largest economy, producing 3.5% of the world’s GDP. Its people have had a living standard as high as any in the world and it produces just one percent of global emissions. But that lifestyle is at risk, as the State insists on policies harmful to the economy, yet helpful to the wealthy – rebates for electric vehicles – while detrimental to the poor and middle classes – gas and energy prices that are the highest in the United States, zoning that forces low and middle income people into long commutes and urban public schools that pay attention to union demands rather than the needs of students of poor and middle class families. In a First World State, they today have a Third World electrical system. The Left insists that progressive states like California, New York, Hawaii, Connecticut, Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Jersey are the future. “How did we get so stupid so soon?”
In The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce described a politician as “an eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared,” a description which is indisputable. I look upon what we have wrought and recognize that the Founding Fathers would be aghast. I answer Governor Cuomo’s exclamative question, “Have we lost our minds?” with a resounding Yes!