Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Lesson in Illinois

Aha! At last, I think I have pin-pointed the difference of opinion.

Mr. Hargis, you know I love you like a Brother, and that I continue to turn this over (and over, and over, and...) only shows how concerned I am about understanding where we differ.

You said something perfectly succinct in the comments from the last post: "To me, the question of whether the chicom regime is legitimate is almost beside the point. The fact is they are there, and they have a billion people at their disposal. Do we wait for the Chinese to win their own freedom, or do we start now and help them undermine totalitarianism every way possible?You know my answer."

If I can, I'd like to revisit an ongoing issue right here in the State of Illinois, and use it as a parallel to what we were discussing. As I mentioned in a prior post, Illinois is staring down a rather punitive Gross Receipts Tax. Blagojevich promised entitlements and got elected; now, he's attempting to make good on his promises. Given that Republicans are a minority in the General Assembly, there's a good chance that this will pass and become a reality. Consumers will be hurt by this: since this is a 1% tax before any expenses, this can and easily will be passed on to consumers. Businesses will leave the state or will source components of the manufacturing process from out-of-state companies.

All of this is bad news. But I'm not entirely unhappy. Allow me to explain.

This is how it is supposed to work, if you're a believer in balanced government like I am. We have the freedom to make mistakes, and they can be very painful. We already have a fiscal crisis, and may someday soon have a total disaster on our hands. I'm OK with that, as long as we learn from our mistakes and I grant you that's a big qualifier. I'd be much happier if entitlement spending were happening at the county level, because I'd at least have the option of moving, but thank God this is happening at the state and not federal level. Yes, I know entitlement spending is out of control at the federal level, but I'm speaking specific to Illinois right now. The governor is proposing taxes to pay for entitlements, which is at least in the right ballpark.

What does this have to do with the Chinese? Simple: I think sometimes - most times - things have to truly get worse before they can get better. That's just a part of human nature - we're disposed to suffer evils while they are sufferable. Do I want the regular Chinese citizen to suffer unnecessarily? Of course not. But if suffering is necessary to correct problems, isn't any attempt to avoid that hardship merely going to prolong the eventual pain?

Thanks again to all for the lively discussion!

18 comments:

Daniel Webster said...

"But if suffering is necessary to correct problems, isn't any attempt to avoid that hardship merely going to prolong the eventual pain?"

Hamilton, do you mean to say here that any outside attempt to ease the suffering of an oppressed people, or to take measures that'll help them to avoid it altogether will simply result in a prolongation of the inevitable; that it'll rather worsen the situation, than to better it? I'm not quite getting what you mean. Could you please clarify?

I once had a physical confrontation with a fairly large individual who was bullying a very small individual. The reason I stepped into the situation was because when the smaller guy began to assert his rights as an equal (verbally), the other fellow took advantage of his inferior size and strength, and his own realization of it, to overpower him into fearful submission. And it was working.

Not a single punch was ever thrown by me. All I did was to get between the two, take control of the bully's arms, and when he resisted I simply took him to the ground, established a superior position over him, and offered him two very simple warnings: 1. that to resist any further could be very bad for him, and 2. that I had tolerated about all of that stuff that I was going to...for his future reference.

The point is that sometimes people are so intimidated by the superior strength and power of others that they're simply afraid to assert themselves beyond a certain point, not to mention that it'd be kinda stupid of them to...if they value their lives. It seems to me that the Chinese people have been so beat down by their government, that they're so deprived of just basic human needs, that to mount any kind of resistance would be utterly futile, and they know it.

Another thing is that you can just knock the will and desire right outta folks when ya starve them, beat them, rape and pillage them. On the other hand, people can be inspired to defend their rights when they see others willing to share their burden, or even to take their whole burden on themselves whenever it is absolutely necessary.

One thing that intrigues me about the story of the Jews in Germany and Poland during Hitler's reign of terror was that he progressively took away their economic opportunities, removed their political rights, and so forth until finally they were so malnourished and psychologically beat down that they simply had not the strength or the will to resist. It might be argued with propriety that they shoulda recognized what he was doing early on and mounted a united resistance while they still had the strength to do so, and indeed I've argued that before. But that doesn't negate the fact that once he had them beat down and starved, they couldn't have done anything about it if they wanted to. Not without some help.

The Monarchist said...

Good question:

"Hamilton, do you mean to say here that any outside attempt to ease the suffering of an oppressed people, or to take measures that'll help them to avoid it altogether will simply result in a prolongation of the inevitable; that it'll rather worsen the situation, than to better it? I'm not quite getting what you mean. Could you please clarify?"

We all accept that the Chinese people are being oppressed by their government. We all accept that China is an enormous trading partner of the United States. I think we'd all admit that in a command economy, the party that benefits the most is the government - the state owns the means of production. My position is that by allowing unfettered trade with China, we're prolonging, or maybe enabling is a better word, the continuation of tyranny.

I don't accept the idea that if you slowly introduce economic freedom into a totalitarian system, that Liberty will eventually assert Herself. I think for Liberty to flourish, there needs to be a friendly construct, for lack of a better word. If people don't have property rights, attempts at free markets will merely be a series of false starts - they will look good and promising, but have very little chance of long-term success. People will think that progress is happening, then their village will be bulldozed and they'll be displaced because Bejing is getting the Olympics. And yes, in theory, the same could happen here, but there's a takings clause in the Fifth Amendment that provides for that.

My objections to unfettered trade with China are founded first in the fact that they are openly hostile towards us, and second that we're participating somewhat directly in the oppression of upwards of a billion people. I think to some degree we're assisting in making evils sufferable over there.

One might argue that if a people are willing to trade ipods and designer sunglasses for property rights and freedom of religion, that's their choice. I can't accept this, but I have no choice in the matter, unless I want to walk around in a burlap sack and make my own shoes, because I can't recall the last time I looked at some consumer item other than food and it said anything other than "Made in China."

-AH

michael hargis said...

How likely is it that the colonists would have revolted against England if the King had treated them as well as his subjects in Great Britain were treated? Clearly, there was a breach with the past. Things had been a lot better, but then they got worse. The colonists suffered it as long as they could, and then they took action.

What do the Chinese have with which to compare their present circumstances? Five centuries of emperors who surrounded themselves with eunuchs. Hundreds of local warlords who did as they pleased to the peasants. What's so different now?

When I quit smoking, there was no putting off the suffering of withdrawal during the first few days. Everything I did to alleviate it (cutting back instead of quitting, etc.) just made it worse. In that sense suffering had to be endured before things got better.

But we are talking about a nation of human beings, upon whom is practiced forced sterility, among other horrors. I cannot look myself in the mirror and say that it is better for them to continue to suffer, and perhaps hit a bottom from which there is no plausible return, than to encourage every vestige of freedom we find there.

JWales said...

"The governor is proposing taxes to pay for entitlements, which is at least in the right ballpark".

I dont know A.H., were either in different ball games, or your losing it. Can you explain?

"We already have a fiscal crisis... I'm ok with that, as long as WE LEARN from our mistakes and I grant you that's a big qualifier".

That's a huge huge mammoth qualifier, these bozo's, be it state, federal, county or whatever are not very fast learners. They are borderline idiot's.

The Monarchist said...

Mr. Hargis, although we may disagree about this issue in the finer points, I'm impressed by your consistency: you're a believer in liberty, and I know that although we're looking at this issue somewhat differently, we're motivated by the same sentiment.

JW, the key word you quoted me saying was "governor." I'd much prefer it if entitlements were the domain of the county or township, but at least if it's the state we're talking about, we're in the right ballpark. Substitute "President" for "governor" and I'm an exceedingly unhappy camper.

-AH

The Monarchist said...

JW,

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot one other thing... the "we" in "we learn" doesn't refer to anyone other than you and me and our fellow citizens. We have to learn that lesson, not our elected officials. I may have it figured out, but the majority of voters in Illinois certainly do not, at least not yet. Make sense?

-AH

JWales said...

So your happy that the citizens of Illinois are going to be taxed more for entitlement programs?

You kind of lost me bro.

I get the state vs.federal gist, but not the happiness of proposed taxes. I would rather hear the governor is decreasing entitlements, but then again he wouldnt be governor long.

The Monarchist said...

JW,

I'm struggling to find a way to put this succinctly so as not to create any confusion... stay with me, dude.

1) I don't like taxes nor entitlement programs.

2) If we must have either or both, better to have them at the most local levels.

In conclusion, what I'm happy about, if happy is the right word, is that this is at least happening in the correct sphere of government.

-AH

JWales said...

Dude man,

I agree with point #1, wholeheartedly, hear hear!

I struggle with the word "must" in point #2. Why "must" we have them?
Oh? wait? for the vote that's right!

I'm witcha bro.

Daniel Webster said...

"I think for Liberty to flourish, there needs to be a friendly construct, for lack of a better word. If people don't have property rights, attempts at free markets will merely be a series of false starts - they will look good and promising, but have very little chance of long-term success. People will think that progress is happening, then their village will be bulldozed and they'll be displaced because Bejing is getting the Olympics."

I'm with you, except...

I'm not looking for liberty to "flourish" right away in China. Even if there were a friendly construct in place the Chinese people are not accustomed to having individual liberty, so I don't think the kind of liberty we enjoy is possible there (at this moment in history) anyway.

For example, the Story of Liberty recounts that the U.S. Constitution is the result of many attempts (victories and losses) to secure to the individual his rights. The Magna Charta was just a stepping stone in the march of liberty.

I have little doubt that for the Chinese People liberty will be won in the same fashion that it was for the European races -by degrees. My question is whether this economic approach is the spark that'll ignite the fires of liberty in them. If it is, I'm all for it.

JWales said...

Hey! Maybe we should help China out in their quest for "Liberty" and send them the ACLU, ADL,Gayrightswatch, PlannedParenthood and the DNC.

Get them off to a good start!

The Monarchist said...

DW,

We're in agreement there, no except required.

I am a little saddened, though, that the liberty we currently enjoy, to borrow your term, isn't the liberty we used to enjoy. And as much as the people of other countries aren't prepared to enjoy our current levels of liberty, it can also be said that our people aren't prepared to enjoy liberty as it used to be, or as it should be.

Hargis, was it you that mentioned the fictional character who missed his parasite? You are right, people are funny creatures.

-AH

Daniel Webster said...

J, what are you trying to say, man? That the average Chinaman is better off than the average American?

Hamilton, I'm sure with you on your last point -that Americans aren't as prepared as I'd like 'em to be to reclaim their former liberties; to exercise their sacred duty to be more self governing.

In running this forward and backwards thru' my mind, I came up with a number of scenarios. Here's one I'll share with you:

Granting first that the idea of free, unfettered trade with China is the likely thing for the future (which I don't think too far-fetched), let's say that five years pass, and to reward the Chinese government for playing nice the international community does indeed grant them the 2012 Olympics. The Chicoms respond by leveling several villages and displacing hundreds of thousands of their citizens -you know, because the interest of the whole is greater than the sum of its billion or so parts...or something like that.

It seems to me that this would tend to ignite some level of passion in the Chinese People themselves to restore, and make more permanent and secure, those new-found liberties they had previously enjoyed, if but for a short time. I grant you that it'd likely be fairly localized, but nonetheless. Beyond that, the international community, including and probably led by the United States, would certainly take the side of the Chinese citizens over their government. And there's even a chance that we might even begin to see some of the errors of our own ways by their very example.

People are funny critters indeed. Have y'all ever noticed that people tend to recognize certain principles and have a fairly easy time applying them to others. But when it comes to applying the same universal principles to themselves, under similar circumstances, well, now that's a different deal altogether.

BTW, I'm not pointing to anyone in particular here. In fact I'm not referring to anyone involved in this discussion, but to individuals I deal with on a fairly regular basis. Something common to most of them, if not all, if my observations of them are correct, is that when they're on the outside looking in, it's fairly easy for them to identify the root of a problem and the correct measures for dealing with it. Whereas, from the inside looking out, they tend to have an extremely difficult time identifying the root cause of a problem, and therefore their solutions are all misguided...and tend to make matters worse for themselves and everyone else involved.

I guess there's something to be said for that old Proverb: that a wise man surrounds himself with a multitude of counselors...

JWales said...

D.,
I was just messin with you'all, in one of those moods. Currently I dont believe the Chicoms are better off, I will say I'm a little disappointed in the path this country seems to be on. I think the first chance the CCP feels they have the advantage, they'll try and take us out though.

I dont believe there will ever be another country that will enjoy the freedoms we once had, we have lived a true piece of world history my friends.

I appreciate your qualification at the end there D., your a good man.

JW

Daniel Webster said...

"I was just messin with you'all, in one of those moods. Currently I dont believe the Chicoms are better off, I will say I'm a little disappointed in the path this country seems to be on."

Well, I certainly understand why you felt compelled to say it. We're all a little disappointed to some degree or the other, and in fact that's the very reason for Hamilton's having established this blog. And so far it's proved a great discussion board, wouldn't you say?

And btw, when I use the term "chicoms" I'm referring to the Chinese government as a separate entity from the Chinese people...just so you'll know.

But I think you're a pretty good guy yourself, J. Thanks for the compliment.

JWales said...

Speaking of China, I read some interesting info. about some financial reforms it has passed last week.

1. New property laws allowing private land ownership and protection from eminent domain (of sorts).

2.Allowing stock index futures and options for hedging purposes in their exchanges.(Thats huge).

3.Creating the largest investment fund in the world with their cash reserves (over $1 trillion). Note Magellan Fund $50 billion.

Wow! who woulda thunk they would go this route! These reforms will catapult China into a major (if not thee) financial superpower. It's a great start anyway.

check it out at:

www.safehaven.com/article-7175.htm
"Three Sweeping Events in China".

michael hargis said...

"Hey! Maybe we should help China out in their quest for "Liberty" and send them the ACLU, ADL,Gayrightswatch, PlannedParenthood and the DNC."

As aggravating and irritating as those organizations are, it's worth noting that you only find them in free countries.

JWales said...

".... you only find them in free countries".

Trying to destroy the country no doubt.