Occupy Thanksgiving

Words you will never see on a OWS or union protest placard:  “THANK YOU”.

At the table this Thanksgiving there will be those who give thanks. There will also be those who pull up to the table demanding more. This latter group will echo Obama’s class warfare rhetoric griping about inequities and fairness.

There are those who do not give thanks. They will be waiting for their demands to be met. They will beg for “this, that or the other thing”, bemoaning their own situation as being intolerable.  For them there is never a thought of thanksgiving even when their most dire needs have been met.  I am reminded of the historical account of Jesus healing the Ten Lepers:

 “As he (Jesus) was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (emphasis mine)

As this account reveals people will gladly seek benevolence from others but they will often do so out of the understanding that they deserve such gifts or benefits.  This is especially true if government has become the benefactor.  And because our government has deep pockets full of other people’s money these same people may certainly feel that they have “right”  to demand things from the government bureaucrats who have set themselves up as demi-gods of benevolence. These people believe that they “justly” deserve government beneficence because they feel that they are victims of society and also because the politicians they have put in office promised them “hope and change”; “hope and change” outcomes promised in terms of benefits on the barrel head in exchange for their vote.

Our U.S. Constitution provides for the protection of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The 5th Amendment offers protections to our “life, liberty, or property,” noting we cannot be deprived of any of them without due process of law. Our Constitution does not guarantee the end results under that protection.

In effect, you are promised a fence around the rose garden but not the roses themselves. I learned from my Dutch grandfather that roses require sun, rain, good soil, fertilizing, protection from frost and rabbits and substantial pruning. It takes lots of time and energy, lots of individual attention to create an American Beauty rose. Yet, some people don’t want to work that hard or to be so dedicated.  So, they ask the government for the cut roses from someone else’s garden. They do this to make their lives just a little “nicer”, a little “richer”.  But, these cut roses quickly whither and dry up and the same people are back asking for more of them.

Dismissing the U.S. Constitution’s accumulated knowledge, wisdom and Judeo-Christian roots as outmoded and not rational for today’s society, social justice advocates demand equal outcomes.  They do so by demanding that others be deprived at any cost so that others will receive the benefits they so desire.  They do not care about another’s personal property, property such as an accumulated wealth. They care solely about their own accumulated gain. They see inequity not as a summit to climb but as a lot of work and effort that can be easily circumscribed with political action.

These advocates make their demands through willing politicians like Obama, Reid , Pelosi, Barney Frank (MA), Dick Durbin (IL), etc.  These politicians campaign with promises of changing the social landscape to favor their own version of utopian socialism. They usurp the black and white meaning of our U.S. Constitution by “intuitively” reading it so as to give the government the power to mandate social change via taxation, via the commerce clause and via the politician’s own self-interest of encapsulating power via re-election.

Speaking of self-interest, capitalism is a person who out of self-interest seeks to barter or sell a good or a service to another. The ‘other’, thinking he will benefit from the exchange, makes the trade-off. The exchange is made and both parties are happy, satisfying each their own self-interest.

Utopian socialism is a one-way exchange. It is taking from Peter to pay Paul. It is depriving Peter of what he has earned, grown, protected with his life, it is taking his savings and his wealth and then giving it to Paul for no other reason that Paul may need or want the same things. This is what is now being called “social justice” but it is not justice. It does not give Peter what is due him – the right to his property. It does not give Paul what is due him – the right to pursue happiness. This exchange is more accurately described as highway robbery.

These social justice advocates presume that the U.S. Constitution meant for them to have equal outcomes or perhaps even that the Constitution is outdated, archaic and without justice as they see it.  The social justice protestors cry out “Have pity on us, government, give us what we think we need and what we so badly want. You have the means. We gave you the place of authority.”

In 1993, during a lecture titled “The Meaning of “Justice””, Russell Kirk of the Heritage Foundation said:

“In this disordered age, when it seems as if the fountains of the great deep had been broken up, our urgent need is to restore a general understanding of the classical and Christian teaching about justice. Without just men and women, egoism and appetite bring down civilization.  Without strong administration of justice by the state, we all become so many Cains, every man’s hand against every other man’s. The humanitarian fancies himself zealous for the life impulse; in reality, he would surrender us to the death impulse.  The humanitarian’s visions issue from between the delusory gates of ivory; justice issues from between the gates of horn.”

 Today’s OWS protestors plead for pity from others using lawlessness.  They are being urged on to political violence by men who should know better. They also do not seek God for their daily bread. That would require humility on their part.

Just as ten lepers were healed and only one returned to give thanks, nine out of ten of us may likely think that we deserve such a “gift” and just walk away, pleased with ourselves having pled for pity and receiving something in return for our “effort”.  The exclusion of “Thank You” from the placards of men’s lives reveals the lifting up of “MY Rights” and the idolatrous nature behind most dissent and protest. The idea of justice, “to each his own”, is being  replaced with “feed me and then ask of me virtue.”

The Greatest Disparity in our society is between those who with contentment give thanks to God and their neighbor and those who, like leeches, demand ever more and more from government and their neighbor.

  It is time to Occupy Thanksgiving without asking for anything in return. And, let us give God what is due Him:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”   Psalm 107:1

What’s Left? To Be Decided.

Thomas Sowell, in his excellent book A Conflict of Visions:  Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, discusses the two main opposing ways of viewing the political, economic and social landscape.  These views have come down through time to the present dichotomy of visions, namely the Left or Liberal (modern sense) vision and the Right or Conservative vision.  Sowell denotes the two visions: one being the unconstrained vision, the former, and the constrained vision, the latter.

I will try to make this a short post. Here is my brief take on The Unconstrained Vision:

The unconstrained vision relies heavily on surrogate decision makers, men or women of “superior” intelligence and virtue, to make our decisions for us.  The implication of this vision is that the common man does not know what is good for himself and for those around him.  But those with super-rational intelligence and sincerity do.  And because of our lack of “fair and just” decision making, we the people need an over-arching Decider – someone to rein in society.

I recently read what I would call a perfect description of this viewpoint’s totalitarian heavy-handedness, an oppressiveness which is often disguised as omniscient benevolence which hides its use of debilitating control methods:

“…Nurse Ratched is the Decider; under her unblinking gaze, the privileges, rewards, punishments, dosages, and furloughs for the patients are parceled out or denied. Time itself seems to run at whatever speed Nurse Ratched decrees, the clock slowing down to bring everything to a snow-globe standstill to conjure a sense of suspended animation, a zombie twilight.  Sparks of resistance are ruthlessly snuffed.  Waiting in the wings is the Shock Shop, where you go in as a person and are wheeled out as a vegetable after sufficient voltage to the brain…” (source listed below)

If you haven’t noticed by now, we are living in the “zombie twilight” of the Obama Presidency. Obama is our country’s Nurse Ratched.  He is a prime example of the unconstrained vision’s all-powerful omniscient Decider.  He is someone who talks down to people.  And enabled by the main stream media He has become the Chosen One, the chosen articulator of reason and we are his hapless patients waiting for him to put us in our place. Obama certainly believes that we the American people should follow his lead down the road to social justice and fairness. He believes that he knows what is best for us because he also believes that we the people are inept, confused and inferior in intelligence, unenlightened, lazy and worst of all, free to think for ourselves.

It certainly appears from Obama’s messages to the American people that his vision, historically filtered by the teachings of the radical Bill Ayers and “God damn America” Jeremiah Wright, has given him the understanding that he has seen the light while we the people walk in pre-enlightenment medieval darkness. It is with unbridled hubris that he stands above society, a mullah standing in an ivory tower minaret, lecturing us and calling us to pray to the god of one-world socialism and to the jihad of class warfare.

Those with this unconstrained vision see institutions as being at fault for man’s condition and not man himself.  They believe that man is a victim of inept policies and inadequately funded schools, food programs, housing programs, bailouts, etc.  And the free market, where Capitalism operates, is the impersonal culprit who steals fairness away from the victimized society. The unconstrained vision seeks to reign in the free market in order to control the outcomes of supply and demand using price controls, wage controls, unions, rent controls, quotas, the Dodd-Frank Act, ad infinitum.

Controlling the market place and controlling outcomes are what those with the unconstrained vision use to promote social justice and fairness. They want the results of economic, political and social activity to be fair in terms of their rationalistic values.  Yet, they will often, in fact, bypass statistical fact to promote fairness and equality.  In so doing they will often create a domino effect of economic havoc and inequality. This type of Stage One thinking is common for those with the unconstrained vision.  They want “fairness” implemented now at any cost regardless of the many negative repercussions that will be sure to ensue (e.g., Obamacare).

For the Left life is a zero sum game.  If someone gains then someone else must be losing out – there is only so much pie to go around. The Left must “right” this perceived wrong.

The legal system is another thing to be controlled by those with the unconstrained vision.  Instead of black and white laws known to everyone they seek to implement ad hoc reasoning per every legal situation.  Take for example a man who steals and is arrested.  He knows that he will be punished for his crime.  The law clearly states the crime and lists the options for punishment that the judge may impose.  The criminal knows that everyone will be treated the same way in the same situation within the letter of the law. Even though the criminal does not like the situation he still knows that the law applies to everyone and therefore deemed fair by everyone. In fact, he stole knowing the law and the consequences of his actions.

An activist judge with an unconstrained view, on the other hand, will have the same law before him but he will use his own ad hoc articulated reasoning to determine whether the man should be punished.  This judge may decide that the criminal acted badly because of his poor living conditions or because he was having a bad hair day or…and then decide to let him go. The judge would consider this a just outcome. The victim would not, of course, consider this fair.

While the unconstrained vision is all about controlling the political, economic or social landscape for specific outcomes the constrained vision is hands off or laissez-faire in its dealings, seeing man as having sufficient accumulated knowledge and being capable of making prudent trade-offs that would benefit himself and society in the process. Nothing is done in isolation. Benefits abound because for the Right life is not a zero sum game. Everyone can win.  Everyone can have their own pie.

The constrained vision sees man as he really is:  self-motivated. This realistic vision sees man as selfish and greedy but also willing to respect tradition and rules and certainly able to make prudent trade-offs based on knowledge gained from centuries of accumulated knowledge and wisdom, knowledge and wisdom not confined to an omnipotent Decider. One with a constrained vision doesn’t have all the answers. He or she must operate with humilty, tolerance and cooperation in order to support the freedom and liberty within which they seek to live.

 While there is much more to be said here I promised to keep this short. I highly recommend Thomas Sowell’s book, A Conflict of Visions:  Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, as a means to understand the vast differences of the two visions behind the political, economic and social struggles affecting our world today. 

I can see clearly now.

Quote source:  Vanity Fair article, Still Cuckoo After All These Years, by James Wolcott, December 2011 issue.

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“The highest manifestation of life consists in this: that a being governs its own actions. A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing.”  Thomas Aquinas

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**An aside into constrained thinking: