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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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There are 819 News Items in 819 pages and you are on page number 284

 

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"I Want More" - Liberalism Is Insatiable - Monday, February 23, 2009

 

“I Want More”

Liberalism Is Insatiable

David C. Stolinsky, MD
Feb. 23, 2009

A man I know was describing how his son learned to talk. As expected, the child’s first word was “Mama,” and his second was “Dada.” But his third word was “More.”

From our earliest days to our last, we always want “more.” More food. More drink. More attention. More love. More toys. More friends. More money. More sex. More cars. More houses. More power. More fame. Always “more.”

People who always want “more” are chronically dissatisfied. As to why some people are chronically dissatisfied, while others go through life relatively contented, I leave the answer to psychologists and theologians.

But in our unending quest for “more,” we often fail to consider where “more” will come from, or who will provide it, or what it will cost, or even whether “more” may be harmful.

In 1799 George Washington went riding in the rain and fell ill. Physicians were summoned and bled him, but his condition worsened. Did they conclude that bleeding was harmful and try another treatment? Did they at least conclude that it was ineffective and stop it?

No, the doctors concluded that they had not bled him enough − and bled him repeatedly until he died. He was 67. You might say that Washington was killed by whatever disease he contracted, or by the primitive medical care of his day. But I believe he was killed by “more.”

Once we accept something as “good,” we persist in doing it, even when the result is clearly bad, while telling ourselves that we just haven’t done enough of it. But continuing a failing strategy is likely to result in continued failure.

● Many economists believe that Roosevelt’s economic policies did little to end the Great Depression − and may have prolonged it. Roosevelt became President in 1933, but by 1938 the unemployment rate was still 19%. Only World War II pulled us out of the Depression, and soon there were 12 million in the armed services. From this, I conclude that doing less might have been better. But others, including President Obama’s advisors, conclude that Roosevelt should have done “more” − and intend to do so now. Like Washington’s doctors, they believe in doing “more” of what hasn’t worked − about a trillion dollars “more.” They believe that the cure for gigantic debt is to borrow “more.”

● A man called a talk show to complain that his 14-year-old daughter was pregnant. Another caller advocated “more” sex education. The host noted that teen pregnancy was rare when there was little sex education, and rose to record levels as sex education increased. The caller reiterated her belief. She felt no need to look elsewhere for an explanation − for example, declining moral standards, or sex-filled TV, videos and films.

● We are told that the answer to declining test scores is to spend “more” on schools. In 1985 a federal judge took over Kansas City schools and ordered the expenditure of nearly $2 billion over the next two decades. But test scores failed to improve, despite smaller class size and new facilities, including an Olympic swimming pool. On the contrary, early in the 20th century, American academic achievement was higher, but class size was larger, per-pupil spending was lower, and pre-schools were rare. The District of Columbia spends more per pupil than any state, but has among the worst schools. If we want “more,” how about more discipline, more qualified teachers, and more “meat” in the curriculum?

● In 1900 there were few gun-control laws. Guns of all types could be bought anonymously or ordered by mail. Yet the homicide rate was roughly one-fifth of the current rate. Does this weaken our faith in “more” gun-control laws or force us to look elsewhere for causes of violence? Does seeing the film “Braveheart” shake our belief that a gun-free world would be nonviolent? Yes, there were sword deaths, dagger deaths, axe deaths and arrow deaths, but in the Middle Ages there were no “gun deaths.” Would you want to live in that era?

● In 1950 the homicide rate was 5.3; there was one execution for every 67 homicides. Courts blocked all executions from 1968 to 1976, and there were only three from 1977 through 1980. The homicide rate reached its all-time peak, 10.7, in 1980 − a coincidence? From 1950 to 1980 the homicide rate doubled, the odds of a murderer being executed fell to zero, and the number of lawyers doubled. Does this shake our belief that capital punishment is not a deterrent? Does it weaken our faith that a legal system is the same as a justice system? Or do we want to do “more” of what didn’t work?

Liberals are especially susceptible to this condition, because many liberal policies are ineffective. But liberals still believe in these policies, so they insist on doing “more.” However, conservatives and libertarians are not immune. They are devoted to the free market, but it requires moral people. The free market plus amoral people gave us child labor, the Triangle fire, Enron and Bernard Madoff. The real problem is believing that one can’t have too much of a “good” thing. But anything in excess can be harmful.

Medicine has embraced the scientific method − doctors no longer bleed patients to death But our approach to many societal problems is equally illogical and dangerous. Are we not treating the problems of economic recession, violent crime and decaying schools with increasing doses of ineffective remedies?

The question is, how could we convince enthusiasts that their approach is ineffective, or even harmful? In the case of more economic “stimulus,” more gun-control laws, or more money for schools, the answer is, we couldn’t.

Reading skills have been falling for decades. Does this cause us to abandon whole-word reading and return to the phonics method? When SAT scores fall, do we reform teaching methods? No, we “re-norm” the SAT to conceal the fall. “Bilingual” education produces many college entrants who have mastered neither English nor another language. Do we restore immersion in English, which succeeded with past generations of immigrants? “Multiculturalism” produces students who live and eat with their own group and are ignorant of other languages and cultures. But we allow elitists to do “more.”

Do environmentalists consider the possibility that their proposals might have harmful effects? Do welfare advocates hesitate when they are told that their policies may have accelerated the breakup of the family? No, they insist that “more” is needed.

Do proponents of euthanasia realize that in the Netherlands, which they hold up as a model, over 1000 people annually are “euthanized” without their consent? No, they are doing something “good” and believe themselves exempt from foreseeing, preventing, monitoring or remedying the negative effects of their actions.

All these people believe that only motives matter, not results. So they demand “more.”

An idea that cannot be disproved by evidence is an irrational belief, not a logical conclusion. One who believes that he is right despite the evidence, and that being right absolves him from any responsibility for the harmful effects of his actions, is an irrational and potentially dangerous person.

The Father of His Country may have been killed by such persons. Their heirs are equally dangerous to the country itself.

If President Obama and the Democratic Congress spend a trillion dollars we don’t have, but the recession persists, these people will be sure to whine, “We should spend two trillion.” And when George Washington lay dead, his doctors probably grumbled, “We should have bled him more.”

For true believers, there is never too much. There is never enough. There is only “more.”

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He can be contacted at dstol@prodigy.net.

www.stolinsky.com


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