2010-05-14

Long on Motl

Physicist Lubos Motl, who maintains a fantastic science and politics blog that I am sure you have already come across by now, makes some great points about where debt comes from. Specifically, he blames ordinary people, and frankly, he's right.
It's very clear that it is the "ordinary people" who have ultimately spent most of the money. They were getting higher pensions or more expensive "free" health care than what the nation has produced. It is also the ordinary - and not only ordinary - people who will have to pay the debt. The decisions to make the spending was made by the politicians but the politicians were just doing whatever was needed to preserve their support by the public: in democracy, the politicians must be understood as doing what the people actually want, at least in the long run.
I must say that it is very refreshing to see someone accept responsibility for widespread public debt. It is not just "the fat cats on capitol hill," it is you and I who saddle ourselves with unsustainable socialist programs.

BONUS CONTENT:

NoodleFood's Diana Hsieh points to a rather disturbing YouTube video, seen below:



Politically, there is a lot going on here. I'm going to do my best to sum up in bullet points (a more thorough treatment of this issue is a good idea for a likely forthcoming blog post.
  • Last month, Maclean's Magazine covered a rising pro-Hitler sentiment popping up throughout the world. I was skeptical of the article, because it seemed to depict all far-right conservatives as neo-Nazis. This kind of depiction is, of course, a common leftist bromide. I'm no right-winger, but it's easy to see the fault in that line of criticism. My skepticism led me to conclude that there was no rise in pro-Hitler sentiment. As the young woman in the above video demonstrates, I was clearly wrong. It's not just skinheads anymore, it is also some in the extremist Muslim community. (Clarification: Here I am talking about the "extremist Muslim community" as opposed to the "extremist Muslim community." Note the difference. Not all Muslims are extremists, just as not all members of any other group are extremists.)
  • It is atypical of self-proclaimed Objectivists to delve into the Muslim extremism issue at all. I consider myself an Objectivist, and I've always felt like dwelling on Islamic extremism is a very poor way of making a point about racism, collectivism, and despotism. These evils are universal. They do not have greater prevalence in the so-called "Muslim world." When we dwell on these things, we are basically endorsing the Bush world-view, which states that "terrorism" is something easy to define with a clear line of demarcation, and it must be fought. "Terrorism" is nonsense. If you kill someone you are a murderer; if you kill lots of people, you are a mass-murderer. The motive is irrelevant. Murder is murder. "Terrorism" is a term intended to politicize certain kinds of murder in order for governments to obliterate our human rights. It is disturbing to see the Bush Doctrine infiltrating the Objectivist community. But then again, there isn't supposed to be an Objectivist community in the first place, as collectivism and Objectivism are antithetical.
So there is a lot going on here. Clearly, endorsement of genocide is the most despicable sentiment a person can express. It is pure hatred. The woman in this video is crazy. At the same time, I also object to the ongoing attempts of conservatives (and now libertarians?!) to set Muslim extremism apart from the rampant hatred, racism, and dictatorial collectivism found in virtually all political ideologies these days.

Society is in desperate need of a philosophical "reset." We are all losing our way. We need to drop our assumptions and start from square one again. The warning signs are now everywhere.