Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Question For An Alaskan

Republicans, we know, have very little respect for unemployed persons. Besides blocking an extension of unemployment benefits before they could block it no more, a few of the prominent among them had some choice things to say about their fellow Americans.

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl cricized an extension "because people are being paid even though they're not working . . . if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work." Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire believes with unemployment checks people are "encouraged not to go look for work" and "don't want to go look for work."

Sharron Angle, facing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this November, contended "they keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn’t pay as much as the unemployment benefit does. … What has happened is the system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job." And Arthur Laffer, whose wacky economic theories helped give us the gigantic budget deficits of the Reagan and GWB eras, argued "against extending or raising unemployment benefits is that it will make being unemployed either more attractive or less unattractive, and thereby lead to higher unemployment."

This contempt for a segment of the American people is echoed by conservative intellectual Thomas Sowell, who recently wrote

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

"Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

Americans, other than the "few people" as insightful as Mr. Sowell, are "useful idiots" unable to recognize that this nation's institutions are so fragile as to withstand an administration Sowell doesn't like (an administration so dismantling democracy that it has insisted on a 60-vote majority for several of its major initiatives). If we're not vigilant and see things as Sowell sees them, we're likely to turn into Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.

Now, that's a fellow with little faith in the American system or its citizens. And Sarah Palin apparently is a woman with a lot of faith in Thomas Sowell, given her tweet on July 24, a few days after publication of the article quoted. Mrs. Palin exclaimed "…This is about the rule of law vs. an unconstitutional power grab. Read Thomas Sowell's article: http://u.nu/6e4ec."

Someone, anyone, in the mainstream media, cowed by the former governor's label of it as the "lamestream media," ought to ask the likely candidate for the GOP presidential nomination to explain her support for Sowell's far-right ideas.

Palin could be asked whether she agrees that "Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere." If so, she might explain her support for "securing the border," a priority constantly cited by the
GOP, inasmuch as the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly grant the federal government that power.

Most of all, however, the question that needs to be posed is: Do you, Governor, have as little regard for the American people and American democracy as does the individual whose op-ed piece you have endorsed?

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