PITHY POLEMICS

“A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats” (MR)

How soothing.

It makes you picture a snug harbor, sparkling sunshine on the water, lovely boats of various sizes scattered about, all in excellent condition, one large fancy yacht among them, first among equals. The tide comes in quietly, with hardly a ripple, smoothly and continually lifting each boat. Not one single boat is made better off by the tide than any other: they rise, and will gently fall when the tide goes out, in unison.

The aim of the saying is to quiet political ideas that claim that the rich (and corporations) should have their taxes raised in order to make a more equitable society. No, no the slogan whispers: let’s just make sure the economy is functioning well and all will benefit, everyone will be better off with no need to take from Peter to pay Paul.

But suppose we picture the harbor this way: the water is rough, gray, no sunshine sparkling. The boats are almost entirely a flotilla of dingys, most needing sanding and paint; some with gashes in the hulls. Those in the dingys are being severely rocked by the increasingly large waves, everyone working to keep the boat from capsizing. Well not the yacht – it may not be perfectly serene but it is so large that the rough weather causes only a small rocking, the cocktail party on the aft deck not at being troubled. Then we notice that there are other floating materials in the water: people on rafts, others clinging to planks. The yacht’s minions are gathered around the rail with poles, not to help those in trouble, but to make sure that none of the flotsam touches the boat, mars its surface.

And so the tide rises. But those on the dingys and rafts and planks don’t really care: the rising tide is of absolutely no help to them.

Behind the soothing slogan is a picture of the economy – but it is not the picture of the actual economy, not the one seen in conservative fantasies. And when we adjust our vision to how things actually are, then the slogan about a rising tide becomes irrelevant. What is needed is some action to bring the actual economy up to the state of the fantasy, where it is pleasant to think that a rising tide acts equally for all, where no one is in trouble.

So when confronted by your conservative acquaintance with the tidal slogan don’t say that it is false – for it is cleverly designed to be true. But point out that it is irrelevant, that it presumes a state of the economy that just does not exist, that it is a comfort to those well-off enabling them to think that they need do nothing to have the best of all possible worlds.

We Own the Caravan (BG)

Our national government, led by Donald Trump and his appointees, violates U.S. and international law when it turns away refugees and asylum-seekers at ports of entry, imprisons them, separates children from parents, places children into cages, and fails to maintain records necessary to return children to their parents. It violates norms of morality as well as law by such vile treatment of good people who are fleeing life-threatening danger largely caused by our country.

Our country's drug use created the murderous gangs whose members we then deported to Central America. Our use of drugs and our government's refusal to legalize them still bankrolls those gangs. Our gun industry arms those gangs. Our government has trained, armed and encouraged Central American militaries which oppressed and abused their citizens instead of protecting them from those gangs. Our big country has messed up the Central Americans' little countries, and their people are the collateral damage. We owe them! Big time! We need to grant them asylum until their countries get straightened out with our help. Even if there are 4500 people in the "caravans" seeking asylum and every single one qualifies, that would be 90 people per state. I think we could handle that, or even several times as many.

Boys Will Be Boys (MR)

Republicans, at least those willing to grant that perhaps Kavanaugh did do what he is accused of (at least by Professor Blasey Ford), excuse the accused behavior by saying ‘Boys will be boys’. It is quite certain that they do not think of saying that about black boys or brown boys: somehow it is only white boys who will be boys.

And imagine the outrage if the girl is thought of as white and the boy not white: why it would not even require the FBI to investigate that one!