PITHY POLEMICS

PITHY POLEMICS

(1) Why Must There be Laundry Lists and Not Defense of Values? (MR)

It’s really too bad that Pelosi in her speech as newly elected Speaker just had to present a laundry list of topics the House shall take up. What was missing was attention to the values of the Democratic Party.

Kevin McCarthy, in his welcoming speech, managed to get a brief but accurate mention of Republican values. “Republicans will always choose personal freedom over government control.”

Pelosi didn’t get that far concerning Democratic values – and also did not point out the problems with the standard Republican view which McCarthy stated

She did use the line at one point “with liberty and justice for all” (and perhaps a reference to “the general welfare’). But those were merely mentions of phrases central to Democrats ,not attempts to pay specific attention to what Democrats think.

Moreover, to have been critical of the Republican view, she needed to have said that with their sole concern for liberty (“personal freedom”), Republicans ignore the second part of our Pledge of Allegiance, that America is about justice as well as freedom and the Republicans do not recognize that value while Democrats do.

The second part of the reply would point out that Republicans are not really invested in personal liberty generally but are defenders of the personal liberty of only a few. McCarthy’s talk of opposition to “government control” refers to the Democrats’ attempt to level the playing field, to provide greater personal liberty for large numbers of people who are not only ignored by the Republicans but faced with conditions created by the conservatives and their supporters to limit the personal freedom of those outside the magic circle.

Why can’t that sort of thing be said in major speeches by Democratic leaders (think Obama too in State of the Union messages) instead of setting out laundry lists of projected actions?

(2) Taxing Wealth (BG)

Oh horrors! A wealth tax on the wealthy has been proposed – how unfair!

However, there is already an annual wealth tax on the primary asset of the middle class: their personal home. The middle class "owner" pays the entire property tax even if the bank that loaned the money really owns most of the market value.

So why not an equivalent annual wealth tax on the primary assets
of the billionaires: stocks, bonds and certificates of deposit, even if
the billionaires borrowed to buy them and still owe money, too?

It's unfair to tax the primary wealth of the middle class but not that of the billionaires. Exclude assets held in IRAs, 401Ks and the like, because they too are assets of the middle class, not of the billionaires.

(3) Disruptors and Collaborators (MR)

A pair of terms to evaluate political figures has recently become popular (I think they were adopted from economic talk): people are being assessed as disruptors or as collaborators. And of course to be called a disruptor is to be criticized while being a collaborator is praiseworthy.

But (once again) of course in general being a collaborator is not a good thing: in France (and Norway) being called a collaborator was to be held to be complicit with the Nazis. And from the Nazi point of view any member of the Resistance was a disruptor and hence bad. So in general the terms are used from some point of view.

In their present political use, at least among Democrats, a collaborator is good because their behavior, verbal and otherwise, maintains party harmony. And to be a disruptor is to be evaluated negatively because the person is not going with the flow of the party.

But is it in the nature of things to be doing wrong when disrupting? Is collaboration always a good thing? Of course not – it depends upon the case, upon whether the harmony in question is for the best or not.

Former President Obama said recently that the Washington Consensus (broad agreement among all players about economic arrangements) was “smug”. It is sad that he was not a disruptor rather than a collaborator in that consensus. As he was saying, we now have reaped the consequences of that agreement in the election of an undesirable type of disruptor as our President.

And when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is called a disruptor not a collaborator, the real question is: is the current state of the party a thing that needs disruption or not? Is it still part of that consensus that Obama now sees as leading to our present disfunction?