Sunday, November 20, 2011

Better Palinization than Socialization

Kathleen Parker--in an opinion piece as the Washington Post--stays in the overplayed game of criticizing Republicans for their supposed anti-intellectualism:
It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual Republican base. Call it the Palinization of the GOP, in which the least informed earns the loudest applause.
I can't help but notice the stupidity of this argument in the context of the Occupy movements and all the comparisons of it to the tea party movement. We can, I think, take it is a given that the fans of the Occupy movement are mostly on the left, are more likely to be Democrats, while the the supporters of the tea party movement are mostly on the right--with some notable exceptions--and are more likely to be Republicans.

Now, I know many of the people involved in or sympathetic to the Occupy movement are not morons. Far from it, in some cases. Yet, the rank and file really don't have a clue about what should be done, except in ridiculously general terms. They don't have any answers. Hell, most of them don't really have any questions. The Occupy movement, itself, is founded on a simplistic idea of protesting perceived unfairness, nothing more. Contrast this with the tea party movement as it originated. The people has very specific criticisms, generally founded on an intellectual framework rooted in the ideas of people like Friedrich Hayek, James Madison, and John Locke. People can certainly take issue with the conclusions drawn from that framework, with the thinkers themselves, but it can't be set aside as "anti-intellectualism."

However, Ms. Parker is also arguing that being under-informed is another aspect of this anti-intellectualism. In that regard, she singles out Herman Cain:
The latest to this spectacle is Herman Cain, who has figured out how to turn his liabilities into assets. After fumbling for an answer during an editorial board meeting to a simple question about his position on Libya, a lead news item since February, Cain blamed — who else? — the media.
The problem wasn’t that he had no idea. The problem, he said, was that he likes to think before he speaks. Besides, there are so many countries out there.
“Who knows every detail of every country on the planet?” he asked a crowd in Nashua, N.H., a few days later. “The people that get on the Cain train, they don’t get off because of that crap.”
To be fair, Cain should have a better grasp of such things, if he wants to be taken seriously. Of course, he current Vice President has hardly demonstrated a top-notch intellect, what with thinking FDR was President in 1929 and that he spent a lot of time on TV. And I seem to remember McCain catching a lot of flack for not knowing the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. But he was never held up as a poster child of anti-intellectualism.

But Ms. Parker also addresses Global Warming Climate Change and the common idea on the right that it's some sort of hoax. It is--in my opinion--a difficult topic. Any disagreement with the self-proclaimed experts can  earn one the "climate change denier" label. And there's not much to do about that. So what happens? People that recognize the dangers of assuming man can predict the future of the global climate and can control that future really have no toe-hold in the debate. They may know that "hoax" is an improper characterization, but may also recognize that it's the best they can hope for, with regard to some measure of the population.

The question is, does that feed anti-intellectualism? I guess the best way to answer that is with a comparison.  Consider the minimum wage. Anyone that understands economics--even on a basic level, even according to a flawed traditional paradigm--knows that increasing the minimum wage will have one demonstrable effect: it will tend to decrease employment (raise the unemployment rate). There's really no argument to be had there. Even Paul Krugman knows this. Yet, politicians on the left (Democrats) have no problem championing the idea of increasing the minimum wage and dismissing the one tangible consequence as not true, unproven, or not absolute. Why? Because it helps with their overall agenda.

So, excuse me if the hoax talk is not all that troubling to me, with regard to Climate Change. The most important issue is pulling the rug out from under people that actually think they can control the future of the climate, that think they have the wherewithal to remake society in order to achieve that goal, no matter the dollars, lives and freedom.

Regardless, it's politics. It's not evidence of anti-intellectualism, anymore than obfuscation with regard to the minimum wage, fear-mongering seniors over Medicare and Social Security, or misleading the public in a vote about public unions is.

Cheers, all.

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