The Social Contract of Lending: Hairbrushes and Rakes

I felt foolish for almost squealing when Paula placed my first paycheck in my hand. I didn’t squeal or make any sound, but the emotions I internalized and the pride I felt when she handed me the fruits of my labor were memorable for me. It was just another payday for the other employees in line picking up their check. Paula didn’t last long at the restaurant, for reasons endemic to her character, but due to the fact that she was the one who handed me that paycheck, her face is enshrined in my personal Mount Rushmore of memories. The lessons my father and grandfather taught me about the value of a dollar might have been nothing more than a creative way they found to avoid giving me more money, but whatever it was their lessons did to me were born the day I received my first paycheck.

Sleep was an inconvenient conclusion of the night for me back then, but a precious commodity in the morning. I didn’t greet mornings with a “healthy, wealthy and wise” attitude. I wasn’t happy to see another sunrise, and I wasn’t happy to be alive. I just wanted more sleep. I took advantage of every opportunity to sleep during the day, because I didn’t want to sleep during the night back then.  

The morning of my first paycheck was different, however. I purposely woke early on this morning, and the moment I awoke, I knew what morning it was. There was no mid-morning delirium, and the first words out of my mouth were not a swear. I didn’t go back to sleep on this morning, as I would any other normal morning when I didn’t have to awake early. I threw warm blankets off ready to greet the day. Even though we were in the crack of dawn hours, I already had a mid-morning smile on my face, and that hadn’t happened since a certain someone ruined Christmas for me. I don’t remember the bus ride over to the restaurant that day, but I remember stepping off the city bus, knowing that my paycheck was waiting for me inside the restaurant.

I knew that the days of asking my father and grandfather for money were officially over that morning. I was as free as a teenager could be. That day was the day I learned the power of the dollar, firsthand, and it is still one of the top ten greatest days of my life.

My first official purchase, with my money, was a hairbrush, and I considered it an argument against my father and grandfather’s claim that I would never learn the value of a dollar. My grandfather lived through The Depression, and my father lived in the aftermath of it, and they knew the value of a dollar and the subsequent scarcity of it better than I ever could. Their words went in one ear and out the other, until I cashed that first paycheck. Buying products with my own money, introduced me to the power of the dollar, but the more profound lesson I learned occurred soon after the intoxication with my financial freedom led me to blow that first paycheck in one weekend. I went from being a power player in control of my financial fate to the vulnerabilities inherent in being dead broke in the course of one weekend, and the only thing I had to show for it was a hairbrush.

My father and grandfather informed me that when I purchased a product, I was to care for it in such a way that extended its life cycle beyond generally accepted norms. Doing so, they said, paid homage to the cogs in the system that made that product available for my convenience. Caring for it also displayed a level of appreciation for the idea that I was only able to demand quality services from my fellow man by providing quality services to him. If I purchased a meal, for example, they suggested I should all but lick that plate clean in appreciation. If I purchased a rake, I was to hang that rake in such a manner that it wouldn’t fall off its peg, and/or collect any water that might cause rust. There was no excuse for a rake falling off a properly secured peg, in their world, and if it did, its rattling tone would reverberate throughout our genealogical tree. This newfound purchasing power, and the subsequent values inherent in the dollars I earned, taught me more about the power of the dollar than their theoretical lessons ever could.

Their lessons also suggested that while I should care for the products I purchased, I should show a level of reverence for the products another might lend me. If a man were generous enough to lend me his rake, in my time of need, not only was the rake not mine, it was not mine. I was to treat such a rake as if the Baby Jesus himself had once suckled it. Not only was I to return it in a timely manner, but I was to return it in the condition in which I received it, or replace it for the man if it was not. The horrible responsibility inherent in borrowing things from others has often led me to just purchase a brand new rake. If I were to encounter a moment of desperate need, without the resources necessary to purchase another one, it’s much less emotionally taxing on me to simply do without. 

Purchasing a new rake is not easy for me either, for doing so is a condemnation for how I treated the previous one. I would much rather use a rake that is not 100% productive than endure the personal embarrassment and remorse I experience when replacing one. Even if my standards and practices lead the productive lifespan of the lawn tool to last ten years beyond its life expectancy, I still experience a small scale Oskar Schindler dilemma when I throw away an old rake away thinking there was something I could’ve and should’ve done better to extend the life of that old rake.

I know most people do not receive the philosophical training seminars on preservation and conservation I did, but when I decided to loan my hard-earned hairbrush to a friend, and he disrespected it, I considered him unprincipled. I worked hard for that hairbrush. It cost me approximately one half hour of manual labor. As a general practice, I didn’t keep that hairbrush in the family bathroom, fearing that others in my family might use it, ruin it, and alter the life expectancy it might enjoy if I followed my ingrained standards and practices. I knew where this hairbrush was at all times, and I developed a special spot for it that I thought might prevent me from losing it. When I did loan the brush to my best friend, I monitored his usage and stipulated terms of its usage. Once he no longer needed it, I told him, he was to return it in the manner I loaned it to him.

On a separate occasion, I loaned a Queen’s Greatest Hits cassette tape to another friend. Although this tape endured thousands of plays, over the years, its condition was excellent relative to usage. The friend I loaned it to managed to lose the plastic jewel case and the inner jacket sleeve within a week, and he had to spend another week locating the cassette tape. He never found the jewel case or the jacket, but he did manage to locate the tape. The friend didn’t offer to compensate me for my loss, or display any of the guilt that should’ve followed such an egregious violation. I would’ve considered this a reflexive response, he did not. When I informed him, in a heated argument, that I would be compensated, he said. “It’s just a cassette tape geez.”

“It’s my cassette tape,” I said, “and you do not dictate its usage.” He decided to compensate my for the loss later, much later, after I offered him a month’s long sampling of my father and grandfather’s many lessons on value, relative value, and what I considered the epistemological penalty of violating those standards in regards to his character. In the aftermath of this incident, my friend found it less stressful to buy the products he wanted, rather than borrow anything else from me.

The thing that still grates on me is that this friend who borrowed my cassette tape knew all the details of my hairbrush, and the friend to whom I loaned it. He even joined me in condemning my hairbrush friend. So, “It’s just a tape geez,” was what I considered a violation of the values I assumed he and I shared. I wasn’t sure if I should continue to befriend him if our values were so disparate, and I told him so. “It’s just a tape geez,” he repeated, and he added my name at the beginning of this repetition to strengthen his case that I should rethink my whole line of thought on this matter.

There wasn’t a whole lot of clamor for usage of my hard-earn hairbrush, and that’s the way I preferred it, but anytime one values a possession in the manner I did with this item, some people are going to be seduced by the intangible qualities we assigned them.

After a couple years, a piece of plastic splintered off the mainframe. The splinter started as a simple fracture in the border of that hairbrush, but it grew over time, until it was sticking out from the brush at a length as long as the average person’s index finger. The splinter soon became an eyesore, and an embarrassing detail for its owner. I didn’t want to cut that piece off or try to fix it in anyway, however, for it had been my experience that whenever I tried to fix something I only made it worse.

When my friend asked if he could borrow the hairbrush, I was reluctant. As I said, I consider the whole practice of loaning items out rife with unforeseen ramifications. I don’t think either party gains anything in the transaction. If the recipient returns the product as it was, it is a relief to the relationship. The relationship continues as is without any EKG style movements. Anything less than as it was, could cause unforeseen turmoil and/or unseen tension between the two parties involved that might damage the relationship.    

As a responsible lender who didn’t want this transaction to end in any tension, I laid out some of my stipulations for him to consider before using it, and he said, “It’s a brush (he added my name with a hint of condescension). I’m going to brush my hair with it a couple of times, and I’ll hand it back to you. I promise.” His intention was to make me feel silly for valuing a hairbrush in such an inordinate manner. When he added the words ‘I promise’ after evaluating me, it revealed how uncomfortable I was with the notion of lending out my beloved brush to anyone, even someone I considered a best friend. I felt foolish, and I begrudgingly acquiesced, but I watched him use it intently.

He watched me watching him use it, and he informed me that I might have some hang ups that a psychologist would find fascinating. He then pretended to throw it, and my near hysterical reaction caused him joy. As anyone who knows anything about psychology can probably guess, my friend asked me if he could borrow my hairbrush as often as he could. He enjoyed watching my squirm. I lied at times, and told him I didn’t have it on other days. He knew I was lying, and he capitalized on it. He enjoyed doing things that might cause me to lie, and he tried to force me to prove that I didn’t have it by opening up my school bag. I told him that I would not be emptying my bag to show that my hairbrush was not there and that he would just have to believe me. I also speculate that he knew I wouldn’t be able to use the hairbrush for the rest of the day, in fear of revealing the lie. If I wasn’t going to allow him to use my brush, then he wouldn’t permit me to use it either. Whether he knew it or not, this tactic was very effective, because I knew I could never use it in his company again. 

To thwart the effectiveness of this tactic, I told him he could not borrow my hairbrush on another occasion, and I offered him a pre-planned explanation. I informed him about the hygienic concerns he should have when using another’s hairbrush. I wasn’t concerned about such matters, but I considered it an excellent excuse regarding why he shouldn’t want to borrow another person’s hairbrush. When he proceeded to rip that excuse apart, I endured that rant with the knowledge that my rationale was sound.  

On one of the other occasions when I did lend it to him, he began fiddling with the splintered piece of plastic that hung off the brush. His fiddling included twisting the splintered piece in such a manner that it would eventually fall off. I caught him in mid twist, “Wait a second,” I said. “What are you doing?”

“Oh, you want that left on there?” he said.

A brush is just a brush, and a rake is just a rake, but it seems common sense to me that when two parties enter into a social contract of lending, an unspoken stipulation accompanies that agreement that suggests the recipient of another’s largess has no standing when it comes to the condition of said product. This, it would seem to me, is an ancient rule that compels both parties to recognize the guiding principles of such a transaction, regardless the relative value of the product in question. I realize that I may have been over-schooled in this concept, relative to the rest of the world, but I would think that everyone would have a firm grasp on the elementary aspects of conscientiousness and respect. 

I understand that a rake is just a rake, but if I was to borrow another’s rake, and I damaged one of its rake teeth, I wouldn’t say, “It’s just a rake. Just favor the left side from now on.” I would consider such a statement an atrocious violation of my personal constitution that I wouldn’t be able to look the owner in the eye ever again, and I don’t understand how other grown adults, with presumed mentors teaching them about guiding principles, can violate them and absolve themselves of any guilt by commenting on how inconsequential the item in question is. It’s not your product, I say, and you have no standing in this arena. 

I have tried to understand this matter in an objective manner, and I can report to you that these two friends do not engage in subterfuge. They might attempt to excuse their guilt away, but I do not believe they do so to insult me, or minimize my valuables. I think they genuinely believe that my tape and my brush were disposable items that would eventually be lost, broken, or in some way ruined. The fact that it happened while in their possession was simply the laws of chance occurring in that brief window of time. In the case of my friend who lost the Queen’s Greatest Hits tape, he wanted me to buy the idea that because I owned the product for ten years, it was bound to be lost sooner or later whether I loaned it to him or not. He didn’t say those words, but that was the gist of his reaction to my righteous anger.   

I could go into further details on this matter to break it down into the minutiae involved in such an agreement, but I consider them so fundamental that neither party involved should be required to undergo the near-militaristic training I received, in this field, to understand its fundamental role in a civilized society. Expressing such concerns in the hope of changing their mind, or opening it to the possibility that they should reconsider how valuable these products are to me, and that they should value them accordingly, is an exercise in futility.

My friends’ defense was that they did not intend to lose, ruin, and destroy my products, and they did not seek to insult me by placing so little value on my possessions. They were just careless people who hadn’t been taught the same principles I was. In the case of my hairbrush friend, he was also an unconscious fiddler. He fiddled with everything he could get his hands on, and that fiddling often led to an unconscious destruction of everything he didn’t lose. I knew my friend’s habits, and I knew that the subtext of his condition involved a mother replacing everything he lost or destroyed. 

My friend and I came from different sides of the track in this regard, for if I fiddled with a hairbrush in a manner that led to its destruction, and/or lost it, I might have to create a ten point dissertation describing my careless act, and why a young man, my age, might need a hairbrush in this day and age, before my father or grandfather regretfully parted ways with the money I might need to complete such a transaction at Walgreen’s. My friend would just have to say, “Mom, I need a new hairbrush.” Say what you want about the binary constraints my father and grandfather placed on me, but their stubborn, frugal ways led me to learn their lessons on value long before I was able to purchase products on my own.  

If my friend and his mother valued their products in ways I could not see, they had no regard for the products of others. I knew if I loaned one of my products to my friend, and he destroyed it, it would take nothing short of a civil case to get his mother to replace it. I knew that if he destroyed my hairbrush, I would have to work another half hour to buy another one, and I would have to budget accordingly. He didn’t understand any of this, because he didn’t have to, and he considered my desire to have my hairbrush returned to him in the condition he received it quaint and quirky.

I spent most of my teen years with this friend, and I watched him blow through money like a high stakes Vegas gambler. He had no regard for the various components of power money wielded. He spared no expense when it came to having a good time. He didn’t make discerning choices with money in the manner one might to make his good times last as long as possible, but, again, he didn’t have to. I was the tightwad who made discerning choices. I decided, for example, not to throw a softball at the target to win my girlfriend a prize at a fair, because I knew I would not hit the target. I also knew that when I didn’t hit it, I would play the stupid game until I did to prove to everyone involved that I could. The idea that attempting to win a girlfriend a prize at the fair is a time-honored staple of a relationship was not lost on me, and I knew she wouldn’t hold it against me if I didn’t win one, but my competitive instincts were so powerful that they would override good sense, and I would end up blowing through whatever money I did have to win her a prize of minuscule value.  

At various points in my life, I was the kid with money, making decisions on how to spend it. I was also the kid without money, at various other points in my life, who lost the power to decide. I knew that the kid with money had a lot more power and prestige than the kid who didn’t. I decided against playing the stupid softball game, enduring the abuse for doing so to spend my limited resources on tickets for her to ride the rides at the fair with me, and I bought food for her too. I thought the fun we ended up having proved that I made wise, thoughtful choices with my money, but the only thing they remembered from that weekend was my refusal to play the stupid softball game.

In the course of that night at the festival, my hairbrush friend played every stupid game the fair offered, and he won his girlfriend prizes, and he ran out of money. He called his mom to inform her of this, and he chastised her for her lack of foresight. “I told you that $20.00 wouldn’t be enough,” he said. Not only did my friend’s mom avoid commenting on my friend’s irresponsible spending habits, she accepted her role in the incident by not showing enough foresight to give him more than $20.00, and she felt guilty about it. The heated exchange that occurred outside the fairgrounds also involved my friend accusing his mother of making him look foolish in front of us, his friends and his girlfriend. This exchange was so foreign to my experience that the only reaction I could find was laughter. 

Most authors reserve this space for a conclusion that reveals how his antagonist’s lack of principles eventually led to his downfall, and how the author wallowed in the glory of that man’s eventual realization. This is not one of those stories. My grandfather, my father, and I thought my friend’s story would not end well. We thought he would eventually learn the responsibilities inherent in responsible spending. “One way or another he will learn them,” they told me. “Every man does in his own ways and on his own time.” My friend did go broke numerous times in his adult life. After an employer fired him, he filed for unemployment, then disability, and then welfare. He said, “I don’t agree with the idea of government assistance, in general, but I can tell you they saved my tailbone.” After discovering a loophole in the bankruptcy laws, he found a way to file for bankruptcy twice. When he needed a loan from a bank, he knew his credit rating was such that they would turn him down, so he and his wife filed for it under his wife’s name. I thought our principles would reveal our relative characteristics over time, but they didn’t. The reader might suggest that falling to a point where he had to use such resources was a punishment in and of itself, but my friend had excuses all lined up for anyone who might condemn him for such actions. As far as any shame or remorse he might have felt, I can tell you that he took some pride in figuring out how to manipulate bankruptcy laws, and all of the other systems that provided him more money.

“So, why were you friends with this guy?” some people have asked. My first inclination is to say, he and I shared a set of values. We talked values all the time, in the various ways friends talk about values. He and I talked on the same page so often that we became brothers. Yet, when I try to come up with a defense for why I decided to befriend him, the words “good friend” come to mind. “For all his faults, he was a good friend,” I want to say, but he wasn’t a good friend. He wasn’t always there for me, loyal, or trustworthy. He wasn’t a good husband. His kid didn’t turn out too well, from my limited experience around the young man, and his parents ended up falling prey to some headline worthy charges. All I can say, in defense of our friendship is that he and I became brothers in the formative years of my life, and we have been brothers ever since. Anyone who has a brother understands that he can be 180 degrees different from us, and that might confound us considering that the two of us were born and raised in the same way, but we’re still brothers. We realize that shortly after we disagree, and after we fight and hate each other in the short term, the two of us can sit down together to strengthen the unbreakable, inexplicable bond between us. 

The search for any lessons my friend may have learned require a deep, philosophical dive on my part, and it has something to do with my friend never learning the basic definition of value. The objects involved in this discussion are of relative minuscule value, but if we do not value the relatively meaningless articles and aspects of life, it ends up forming an underlying layer of definition of our character that surfaces throughout our life. 

Can the desolate feelings of desperation teach us anything about ourselves? What happens to us after we’re backed into a corner? Some may joke that the desperation we experience in such situations are relative, and that the problems listed here are first-world problems, but they still require proactive and reactive solutions that we learn over time to define our character, unless someone steps in and helps us avoid ever having to endure them.

“She always believed in me,” my hairbrush friend said at his mother’s funeral. “Even when she probably shouldn’t have, she always had my back.” I considered that sentiment a touching testimonial to his mother in the moment, and in my experiences with the two of them, it was 100% true. As a person who spent most of my maturation without a mother, I envied her unconditional loyalty to him, but that jealousy blinded me to the idea that although unconditional loyalty can be a beautiful thing to watch, it doesn’t always serve the recipient well. 


There is no other United States on the horizon

Geithner discusses the state of the global economy and the U.S. recovery.

At this point in history, the United States of America still has the largest domestic economy in the world, even though a World Economic Forum rated the U.S. seventh in global competitiveness. {1}  This is a sharp decline from the top perch it achieved until 2009-2010.{2}  The force of U.S. leadership, diplomacy, economic power, and its unprecedented generosity still provide a dominant influence on geopolitics at this point in history.  The question is how tenable are these positions in the face of such domestic economic instability?

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that “within ten years the three entitlement programs—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security—and interest on the national debt to pay for these entitlement programs, will consume nine-two percent of the federal budget.” 

That leaves eight cents of every dollar for the military, for national parks, and for food inspection.{3}  If these conditions remain consistent, and we add the expense of Obamacare on top of all that, what percentage of the U.S. dollar will be left available for our influential foreign aid?

Most Americans have been complaining about the money allocated for foreign aid for decades.  They say that the American government has given too much of our hard-earned tax payer money to foreign countries with too few results to show for it.  “These countries don’t appreciate what we do for them,” Americans complain.  “Look at Egypt.  How much foreign aid have we given these people, and they still hate us…And I don’t see any evidence of this world-wide stability that American taxpayers have had their hard-earned money involuntarily allocated for.  I see riots, mayhem, and increases in terrorist acts.  What good has any of this done for anyone?” Most of us have probably heard at least one friend, or family member, complain about this at one time or another.

First of all, most legislators voting to approve foreign aid allotments have done so with few, if any, illusions about making friends the world around.  Most of these American legislators were allocating your hard-earned money for stability, election influence, and to try to prevent another Weimer Republic from falling in the ashes of a country’s devastating poverty.{4}  Still, say citizens and pundits alike, the United States shouldn’t be sticking their nose in every third world country around the world.  Let them face the disunity that is, more often than not, of their own making.  Let their fields burn, so that another harvest can rise from the ashes.

The bottom line questions concerning the success or failure of the influence of our foreign aid is almost impossible to quantify, but a question that is asked by a New York Post columnist named Peter Brookes may answer many of our questions in a roundabout way.  What if America had listened to these complaints?  What if America saw 9/11 as evidence of the fact that our attempts to influence foreign countries around the world were an unmitigated failure?  What if America decided to withdraw all of its troops from their installations throughout the world?  What if we decided to stop sending foreign aid altogether?

“While it’s not our preference, we are the world’s “cop on the beat,” providing critical stability in some of the planet’s toughest neighborhoods.”  If we had decided not to play this role after 2001, writes Brookes, “India and Pakistan might well find cause to unleash the dogs of war in South Asia – undoubtedly leading to history’s first nuclear (weapons) exchange.  Osama’s al Qaeda gang would be fighting tooth and nail from Saudi Arabia to “Eurabia.”  In Asia, China would be the “Middle Kingdom,” gobbling up democratic Taiwan and compelling pacifist Japan (reluctantly) to join the nuclear weapons club. The Koreas might fight another horrific war, resulting in millions of deaths.  A resurgent Russia, meanwhile, would be breathing down the neck of its “near abroad” neighbors, and you can forget all about the democratic revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia.  And what other nation could or would provide freedom of the seas for commerce, including the shipment of oil and gas – all free of charge?

“Also missing would be other gifts from “Uncle Sugar” – starting with 22 percent of the U.N. budget. That includes half the operations of the World Food Program, which feeds over 100 million in 81 countries.  Gone would be 17 percent of UNICEF’s costs to feed, vaccinate, educate and protect children in 157 countries – and 31 percent of the budget of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which assists more than 19 million refugees across the globe.  Moreover, President Bush’s five-year $15 billion commitment under the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is the largest commitment by a single nation toward an international health initiative – ever – working in over 100 (mostly African) countries.

“The United States is the world’s economic engine. We not only have the largest economy, we spend 40 percent of the world’s budget on R&D, driving mind-boggling innovation in areas like information technology, defense and medicine.

“We’re the world’s ATM, too, providing 17 percent of the International Monetary Fund’s resources for nations in fiscal crisis, and funding 13 percent of World Bank programs that dole out billions in development assistance to needy countries.

“The fact is that no matter what anyone says: No country has given so much to so many so often – while asking for so little in return – for so little gratitude than this great country of ours.”

It’s an easy, populist approach for a politician or a pundit to list off for tax payers the amount of their hard earned money that is being sent to individual countries.  Then, with effortless pleasure, they get that crowd worked into a frenzy with something along the lines of: “What good has it done?!  I say we cut them off, until they do A, B, and C.”  Then, with the politicians in particular, they get in office, read intelligence reports, and “betray” their campaign rhetoric by voting yea on foreign aid allotments.  We’ve all fallen prey to this type of rhetoric, at one point or another in our lives, without considering the unforeseen consequences.

One of the reasons it’s so easy to get American citizens frothing at the mouth over this issue is the ungratefulness we’ve received for all of our efforts.  American liberals are particularly susceptible to this rhetoric, for they see these efforts as ignoble.  Ask most American liberals if America has been a noble country throughout her history, and they will tell you no.  They will then proceed to list off a few of the actions America has engaged in that they believe forever taints her legacy.  They will also talk about America’s history of imperialism without noting that America is one of the very few countries in the history of the world that goes into an unstable country, builds it up, spends billions to give it an independent infrastructure, and then leaves it largely independent.  America is one of the few countries that still believe that it is in her best interests to have more independent countries throughout the world.  As evidence of this, we can point to Iraq and Iraqi oil in particular.

Winning this argument over the general noble efforts of our country’s history to influence the world monetarily, and otherwise, is an almost impossible effort in the face of a 230 year history in which some mistakes have been made, but recent activities in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Egypt suggest that these noble attempts to shape the world may be coming to an end.  The reality of all of the theoretical complaints and arguments listed here may be rearing their ugly head in a theater near you.

With a $16 trillion debt, one trillion plus dollar annual deficits, quantitative easings, and continued spending that some have suggested goes into the billions every day, American influence around the world cannot help but dwindle.  Previous generations were concerned about the debt, but few gave serious thought to the fact they may be seeing serious ramifications in their lifetimes.  Previous generations cited George Washington’s warning about staying out of foreign affairs without considering the idea that those foreign conflicts may eventually reach U.S. shores, and that is because foreign aid and various forms of influence have always kept those arguments theoretical.  What happens when domestic economic instability begins to force U.S. influence into a precipitous decline?  What happens when individual monsters, who lead various factions and countries, no longer fear the “cop on the beat?”  Some fear we are on the cusp of this theoretical argument reaching the point of reality, and they know that there is no other United States on the horizon.
{1} {2} {3} {4}

Liberalism is dead! Long live liberalism?

“Certainly liberalism is dead,” said R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., author of a new book, “The Death of Liberalism.”

“In an interview, Tyrrell, the founder and editor of the conservative American Spectator, suggested that the war on poverty and gun control have failed from a lack of new ideas and misguided focus on side issues.

“Consider, there are unprecedented levels of poverty under Obama despite an enormous proportion of the federal programs now being devoted to eliminating poverty and the Messiah simply calls on the electorate to redouble its expenditures–very dramatic!” he told Secrets with his trademark flair.

“And, he added, “With roughly 200 million guns loose in the country a maniac commits vast carnage in Colorado and the New York Times, in its headline, claims we are all ‘reviving debate’ on gun control. We can not even control our borders but somehow we are going to gather up two hundred million guns. As I say liberalism is dead–brain dead and otherwise.”{1}

Photo by Joaquin Siopack-Pool/Getty Images

Anyone who doubts that liberalism is dead—or needs to die—should be forced to ask the question, where does liberalism from here?  In 2008, the liberal dream occurred when more liberals took office in our three legislative branches than at anytime in our history.  Conservative and more independent minded Democrats were intimidated and hushed, as just about every aspect of the liberal dream was put through Congress, the Senate, and under the President’s pen.  The result of all of this liberal legislation is a poor economy, and a level of poverty that hasn’t been seen since 1965.  The ’08-’10, 111th session of Congress engaged in unprecedented levels of spending, and the country’s poverty level is back to the 1965 (pre-Great Society) levels?  Where do they go from here?

Do they have Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke do something temporary to the currency, so the market will bump temporarily enough to get them back into office?  If one listens to a Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) that is precisely what we should do.  Let’s say that Bernanke does initiate quantitative easing (QE3), what some are calling the final bullet in Bernanke’s arsenal, and it helps the market temporarily enough to get Democrats re-elected, where will we go from there long term?  Who cares, say Schumer and Obama, get us re-elected, and we’ll deal with the long term consequences when they rear their ugly heads.  Or, put another way, let’s initiate QE3, so we can find out what’s in it.

Obama told us to be patient, and his philosophy would eventually win out.  He wasn’t lying when he said this.  He truly thought that his philosophy would eventually win out.  It hasn’t, and he’s no longer telling us to be patient.  In desperation, Obama has renewed his focus on the “Blame Bush” meme that he’s been putting forth since his 2008 election with the hope that it will hold true through the 2012 election.  A new poll from The Hill is suggesting that it may already be fracturing:

“Is the slow pace of economic recovery inevitable? A 66 percent majority say no, that it’s the result of bad policy in Washington, D.C. Only 26 percent say the weak growth is unavoidable. Among independents, 65 percent blame Washington, and 29 percent say it’s inevitable.

“Even worse for Obama, 37 percent of independents, who will likely determine the election’s outcome, blame him for the nation’s dire economic straits. Another 29 percent blame Congress, 20 percent blame financial institutions and corporations, and 9 percent blame Bush.”{2}

In the early months of the 111th session of Congress and Obama’s presidency we all knew that the “times they were a changing”.  We knew that a storm was a coming, and many of us on the right said that with such unprecedented change on the horizon, shouldn’t we engage in unprecedented scrutiny to see if all of these proposals will work?  Such a high level of centralized government hasn’t worked in the past, in any country, so why do we think it will now?  We gave Reagan patience, was their answer, so Obama deserves at least as much.  First of all, that’s not true.  If the gauge of liberal thought can be represented in the voices on the mainstream media, they tore the Reagan approach and philosophy apart.  They were incredibly impatient with Reagan’s proposals.  They interviewed every twentieth worker in the nation who had been laid off before Reagan’s proposals could effect a turn around.  Then they sat back and mourned the failure of Reagan’s legislation months after it was initiated.  Obama, on the other hand, has been afforded a great deal of patience from the mainstream media, on the basis that he is our president, and “We have to give him a chance to succeed.  “If he succeeds, we succeed,” they said.

To this, Rush Limbaugh said, “I hope he fails!”  Liberals got very emotional about this.  They said it was unpatriotic to hope that any president fails.  They said it was a personal attack against the president.  Most conservative bloggers weren’t as bombastic as Limbaugh, and they backed away from stating that they hoped Obama would fail, but they knew he couldn’t succeed either.  They knew the various economic philosophies that have been tried in history, and they simply knew that historical precedent suggested that the Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer model couldn’t succeed.  Liberal defenders of Obama declared this to be a personal attack too, as they did any statement that suggested that Obama would do anything but succeed wildly, but it wasn’t a personal concern for most conservatives.  It was just business that they were concerned about.

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