Monday, September 03, 2007

Blame America First

Among the many contradictions rife in "conservative ideology", such as it is, is their penchant for accusing their critics of wanting to "blame America first". This meme is usually trotted out whenever someone criticizes certain aspects of US foreign policy. The first and most glaring contradiction inherent in this tactic is the fact that it is these very "conservatives" who tell us incessantly that government cannot and should not be trusted for anything, yet they demand absolute, unquestioning deference to that same government in matters of war and peace.

I plan to write about that aspect of the contradiction more extensively later. But for now I'd like to deal with a second aspect. America is more than just its government. America is also its people and it's culture and when it comes to "blaming America first", where the people and the culture are concerned no one does it better than our "conservatives". One need look no further than their reaction to the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina for confirmation of this.

In the same vein, when they see economic hardship befalling American citizens their reaction is not to examine what may be wrong with the economy to cause it. Oh, no. Instead they must look at what's wrong with Americans. They want to know what Americans are doing to mess up the perfection inherent of their crackpot theories.

Case in point, George Will, appearing on This Week with Mr. Snuffelupagus believes he has pinpointed the cause of the growing economic inequality in our nation. In a discussion on the "the meat" in John Edwards economic policy ideas Will expresses an opinion that is very typical and sadly instructive of what conservatives really believe about the average American. He says, in effect, that half of Americans are stupid and that in the old agricultural and industrial ages they could get away with it. But today we live on our "intellectual capital" and that's why these stupid people cannot keep up.

I quote:

"The meat is actually in Bob's [Robert Reich's] book and it's the problem equality. That is, is the problem of inequality in our economy becoming too wide? The problem with that is two centuries ago the great source of wealth was land and century ago it was fixed capital -- think if Carnegie steel mills. Now it's intellectual capital. The fact is 25 years ago the disparity between the earnings of a college graduate and a high school graduate was 30-percent. Now it's 70-percent. The market is screaming, "Stay in school". The problem is half of America's children are below-average in intelligence, always have been, always will be. And therefore, the more we reward intellectual capital the more these inequalities are built into our modern economy."

This is an interesting departure from the Reaganite style of blaming America first. Where Reagan said the poor want to be poor, Will says the poor should be poor because they're stupid. This theme permeates the "conservative" movement and I certainly don't mean to give the impression that Will is at all unique in this belief. I'll explore this topic more in future future posts.

In the meantime check out the video via Crooks & Liars.


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