Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously remarked that socialists ultimately run out of other people’s money. This is no surprise. Leftists concentrate on “social justice” – that is, making sure that everyone has an equal share. But an equal share of what?
Rather than encouraging entrepreneurs to bake a larger pie, which would benefit everyone, leftists spend their time constantly readjusting the size of the slices. The end result is that everyone has an equal slice of a meager pie, which is insufficient to satisfy anyone. But the slices are equal – at least in theory – so “social justice” has been achieved.
This process goes on until the bakers realize that they no longer profit from their efforts, so they bake as few pies as possible. Ultimately everyone goes without dessert. But the shares are still equal – that is, a few crumbs – so “social justice” is still in force.
Almost everyone except dedicated leftists realizes the truth of Lady Thatcher’s statement. But I believe it applies not only to economics but elsewhere. Take blame. In politics, as in personal life, there are two things that cause the most arguments and strife – money and blame.
We want more than our share of the first, and less than our share of the second. So we constantly argue over the distribution of both. When the economic pie is being sliced, we hover over the shoulder of the one doing the slicing, casting a sharp eye for a larger slice. We push others aside. It looks like a really delicious pie.
But when the pie of blame is being sliced, we remove ourselves as far as possible. We try to be inconspicuous. We are nowhere to be found. It looks like a really foul-tasting pie.
Children rarely say, “I spilled the milk.” Instead, they say, “The milk spilled,” as if it spilled itself. And when an adult points out that milk cannot spill itself, children will often try to place the blame elsewhere, on a brother, or a sister, or the cat.
The concept of personal responsibility must be taught. It does not come easily. To some, it does not come at all. We call such people sociopaths or politicians, depending on the amount of money they steal and the amount of harm they do. Those who steal thousands and harm a few we call sociopaths. Those who steal billions and harm whole nations we call politicians.
For decades, the crime rate has been falling in most American cities. The Los Angeles Times reacted to this happy news by proclaiming, “More People in Prison Despite Drop in Crime.” Despite? Conservatives see the obvious − criminals who are locked up can’t commit crimes.
But liberals see no causal relation between higher incarceration rates and lower crime rates. They see nasty, mean conservatives who insist on locking up more people despite the lower crime rate − which dropped for unknown reasons.
But wait, it gets worse. Liberals repeat the mantra that poverty causes crime. If so, why did the crime rate continue to fall, despite the severe recession that began in 2008? This huge contradiction completely escaped the notice of so-called progressives. They blamed crime, which was falling, on the economic policies of the Bush administration. They acted as if crime were rising, then blamed conservatives. That’s a really neat trick.
It gets still worse. In 2014, the heavily Democratic voters of California passed Proposition 47, reducing many felonies to misdemeanors retroactively. (Ex post facto law? Who knows? Who cares?) As a result, nearly 3000 inmates have been released from prison, and more releases are planned. At the same time, figures show that for the first time in decades, the California crime rate is rising. And what does the Los Angeles Times, which favored the ballot measure, have to say? The best the editors could offer was that the results were “mixed.”
But what does “mixed” mean? It appears to mean that something “good” happened – almost 3000 convicted felons were let loose on the public. And at the same time, something bad happened – the crime rate rose. But were these two events causally related? Would the Los Angeles Times now favor repeal of the measure? Are you joking?
No, crime is caused by “poverty,” though it continued to fall during the 2008 recession, and now it is rising, despite the Obama economic “recovery.” If facts and dogma conflict, change the facts.
What is true at home is equally true overseas. The rise of ISIS is blamed on “Bush’s war.” But leading Democrats – including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Dianne Feinstein – voted for military operations against Iraq. Yes, Congress passed the resolution with Democratic support. But to liberals, it was “Bush’s war.”
And what was the result of “Bush’s war”? After too many American casualties and too many false starts, Iraq was largely cleared of extremist Muslim opposition. True, the government was shaky, but American troops and advisors shored it up. “Bush’s war” was costly but largely successful. But don’t take my word for it. To quote President Obama in 2011:
We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.
But then what happened? Obama decided – against the advice of his generals – to withdraw all troops from Iraq. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do totalitarians. Now ISIS controls much of northern Iraq. Fallujah and Ramadi, for which so many Americans lost their lives or their limbs, now are in the hands of ISIS. We dare not contemplate the fate of Christians and Yazidis, especially women and girls. We dare not imagine the fate of Iraqis suspected of aiding the Americans. We dare not, but we must.
Those who abandon their friends will have fewer friends. Even worse, they deserve to have fewer friends.
So who is to blame for this foreseeable debacle? George W. Bush, of course. But surely not Obama, whose complete withdrawal from Iraq was the proximate cause. Of course, blaming Bush assumes that had we not invaded, Saddam Hussein would have lived forever, his brutal regime would have remained stable indefinitely, and the status quo would have persisted until the sun goes nova.
No one can say for certain what would have happened if we had not gone into Iraq. Things might be better, or similar, or worse. But we can say what would be the case had we left significant forces in Iraq: ISIS would have had a much harder time gaining a foothold, and might never have even tried.
There are many examples of Blame Someone Else. Recently I heard a discussion of the growing problem of homelessness in California, especially the mentally ill. The speaker blamed Reagan. But the law that made it difficult to involuntarily hospitalize the mentally ill was passed with strong bipartisan backing in 1972. Reagan left the governor’s office in 1975, 40 years ago.
Are we to believe that in all those 40 years, California’s heavy Democratic majority has been too incompetent to repeal or amend that law? Are we to believe that Reagan was so powerful that 40 years after his departure, Democrats are still too feeble to erase his influence? Blaming a problem that they themselves helped to create on someone who has been gone for 40 years – now there’s a prime example of Blame Someone Else.
● Did the 50-year, 22-trillion-dollar War on Poverty fail to reduce poverty? Never mind, it’s the fault of the “one percent,” so keep spending.
● Did some social programs result in family break-up and single mothers? Never mind, it’s a problem of “racism,” so continue the programs.
● Did a civil-liberties approach leave thousands of mentally ill human beings sleeping in doorways on cold nights? Never mind, it’s due to conservatives’ “insensitivity,” so carry on.
● Did liberal incarceration policies release thousands of convicted felons and increase the crime rate? Never mind, “poverty causes crime,” so release more.
● Did ISIS seize territory and commit horrible atrocities? Never mind, it’s “Bush’s fault,” so do nothing.
● Did “leading from behind” cause homicidal chaos in the Middle East, with disheartened friends and emboldened enemies? Never mind, stay behind.
Leftists inevitably run out of other people’s money to redistribute. In a rich nation like America, this can take a long time, but it will happen eventually. But leftists will never run out of others to blame for their own failings. That supply is endless.
George W. Bush did it. It’s Ronald Reagan’s fault. The cat spilled the milk.
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