Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stop Watching CNN--You'll Be Better Informed

Much of my summer is spent working on research projects and working out. I exercise at the Emerson Inn and Spa, an expensive hotel on Route 28 in the Catskills. Politically I carried petitions for the Town of Olive Republican Committee (Ulster County, NY). When I speak to Republicans around here, they agree that the election of Barack Obama was a disaster. When I speak to Democrats, they are outraged that the Democrats' health care plan hasn't passed. For my part, I am outraged that I am forced, at gunpoint, to participate in failed government boondoggles that already exist, for instance social security and medicare. Enforced government health insurance is but one more manifestation of social democratic tyranny.

Why is it that the Republicans I know with a few exceptions are blue collar, while the Democrats I know, with a few exceptions, are professionals or wealthy? Given the preponderance of professionals and trust fund babies among Democrats, why do the Democrats claim that they are the agents of the poor and Republicans of the wealthy? Added to the mix, of course, is the claim of wealthy academics that poor whites are not poor but are really oppressors, and that they, the wealthy whites, are the true oppressed along with racial minorities. Thus, in their opinion, large wealth transfers are needed, transfers from working class whites to oppressed university professors (and smaller ones to programs that claim to benefit the poor). The repeated failure of Marxist, socialist and social democratic ideologies have led to these ideological gymnastics. The days of independent thought, laissez- faire and important innovation are over. Only government-improved innovation like cell phones and computers is permitted today.

American political discussion is perplexed by racial concerns, and the way race was handled in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was one tragedy of American history. But as important as race is, it is overblown while more important economic questions are left to the self-interested elitists, who quietly find ways to transfer wealth to themselves, whether through nepotism, the creation of programs that create administrative jobs, or Federal Reserve subsidies to the ultra-rich in the name of stopping an imaginary "depression".

I've noticed that in the gym, Democrats inevitably turn the television to one of two or three news stations--CNN, occasionally MSNBC and occasionally CNBC. Thus, I am forced to listen to the social democrats' Izvestia, although I turn it off whenever I can. I once mentioned to a wealthy social democrat that listening to CNN is like listening to Mein Kampf. She snorted but continued to watch it.

Yesterday in the locker room a guy who bought a weekend house in Hunter, NY to entertain his daughter told me that he thinks it is an outrage that the health plan has not passed. I did not reply because when in the company of social democrats the world that they envision materializes. They do not permit disagreement and might complain to the hotel administration if I disagree with their vulgar political ideas, which they openly and crudely express as though they were at a sit down strike in college. As they gain power, the social democrats will naturally transfer their crude impulses to government force, as they have already done in many respects, and violent thugs that they are will establish bureaus to which they can complain about people who are politically incorrect. This social democrat did not claim to know what the results of the health plan would be on the quality of care to the poor; whether his own health care would improve thereby; or what the effects on the overall economy would be. He did not even know whether I agreed or disagreed with his position. He assumed I did just like he assumed that the health plan will be a bonanza. Of course, the true beneficiaries will be the professional class, who will establish the appropriate rent extraction systems with the assistance of rent-extraction-"experts" from Harvard.

The problem of unforeseen effects and the basic economics of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson is unknown to many social democrats. It is not that they've considered Hazlitt's ideas and decided they were wrong. Rather, they are simply ignorant of them. Instead, they watch CNN and imbibe the stupidity and ignorance of CNN's inept ideological lynch mob.

CNN does not provide news, defined as information about the most important events of the day. Their subject matter revolved around a policeman who mistakenly arrested a professor and a series of confused, blabbering cheers for Barack Obama. Listening to CNN is participating in a lynch mob. The victim is the United States of America.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Langbert:
You get excellent health care coverage from CUNY, a NY state government organization. They also contribute to your TIAA-CREF. So you work for the government, are paid by us, receive health care from us and will be paid pension by us. Delicious irony, it it not.
Are you willing to give up your privileges as a CUNY Faculty member? Your anti-government positions will have more resonance if you do.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Dear Reader: Thank you for your thoughtful comment. That remark goes back to the Foundation for Economic Education and Leonard Reed in the 1970s and earlier who used to make a similar point.

There are a few flies in that ointment, though.

I have worked for private institutions and was surprised to learn that in New York they are at least as beholden to the government as the public ones are. The reason is that Bundy Aid, the Dormitory Authority, tax exemption for 501 c 3 trusts (in which university endowments are kept and under which universities do not pay taxes, including to the localities where they reside) and a host of federal grants means that even private universities are heavily dependent on government. There is no escaping it.

Added to which is the displacement of private sector education by public.

I am curious if you raise a similar complaint to your socialist friends. Why are they buying products like Hondas, food from the grocery store and making use of innovations from capitalist enterprises if they are socialists?

Unfortunately for me, the world is full of socialist states and elitist economies where the state dominates education. I ended up at CUNY in part because CUNY dominates the education market in New York. Over 400,000 students attend CUNY. There isn't much room left for private institutions, and the few that are there are, as I say, largely dependent on the state anyway.

Now, let me ask you a question. The United States has slightly less government involvement (about 5-10% less) than in Europe. If you believe in government, why don't you move to Europe? Your pro government position would be more convincing then.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Incidentally, hopefully without beating a dead horse, only about 1/3 of CUNY's budget comes from NY State. If you factor in Bundy Aid and grants, private universities aren't much below that. For example, Bard College, which is about 45 minutes from my home received a ten million dollar state grant a few years ago to build one of its academic buildings. As well, donors like the Fishers get to deduct half of the donation. I don't think the difference between CUNY and the privates is all that big. I also recall that at the first place I worked, Clarkson, they also received a double digit million dollar NY State grant to build an engineering research building.