Caveman and the Calculator
A brief and crude distillation of all arguments between liberals and conservatives. It would have to be revised for most issues that have something to do with foreign policy, or oppressed-minorities and their rights-rights-rights, but I submit that it works for most issues that have to do with social spending:
Liberal: Meet Winifred Skinner or whoever, one of [umtyfratz-many] Americans who, like her, would have no idea in the world how to pay for their [stuff] without the wonderful, wonderful [program]. Without this benefit, Winifred would have to pay one, two, three thousand dollars every year…or month. But thanks to us liberals, for her it is free, free, free! Furthermore, with that two thousand dollars in Winifred’s purse, she ends up spending it, which creates jobs, which helps the economy…
Conservative: Yeah, as opposed to what those taxpayers would have done with it if they could’ve hung onto it, stick the two thousand dollars in a Cuisinart and hit puree, I suppose. Look, your help-the-economy argument is bolluxed, flat-out, because you’re dealing with a law of averages and the law of averages is very clear: People do not spend money with as much discretion when it is given to them, as they do when they earn it. Think how you drive your own car compared to how you drive a rental; think how homeowners maintain their homes, compared to residents in public housing. It’s no contest. As for the benefit, sure it works out well for Winifred, and in the here and now. But programs such as these have shown a distinct pattern across time, of creating dependency classes who end up achieving far less over a lifetime than they otherwise would’ve. So there is the side effect of creating a dependency culture, and then there is the displacement problem in that, whether we can see it or not, the economy is missing the dollars that have gone into paying for this program, which in the very best case scenario are simply replenished when Winifred spends them…but the very best case scenario is not likely to apply…
Liberal, with theatrical exasperation: Look, I don’t know how to make it any simpler. Winifred is benefiting to the tune of two thousand dollars. Without the program, she’s two thousand dollars behind. Why can my conservative colleague not recognize the value of two thousand dollars??
It is that last, paraphrased, comment that piques my interest here, specifically the very last raspy inquiry that I placed in the italics. I remember my lifelong-democrat-voting Uncle Wally, rest his soul, demanding of me, visibly frustrated with his face growing flush, “What is the matter with your Dad?? Doesn’t he know he’s poor??” Obviously, the answer could not be “No, he has no idea, he thinks he’s a gazilionaire.” But here we have a problem with the whole lib mindset, and it must go back aways because Wally was more of an FDR-era kind of lib: If you don’t come to the same conclusion, you must lack comprehension. And here is the part that baffles me, I have to say: As genuinely agitated as the liberal is with the observation that everyone & his dog isn’t leaping onto the bandwagon — genuinely irritated, the complement deserves special emphasis because you can’t fake this — somehow, there is not too much thought that has to be applied to where the point of dispute might be. The first theory is the best theory. Oh, you must not understand that you aren’t a millionaire. Oh, you must not be able to comprehend the number “two thousand.”
Always, always, always always always: It comes down to something the liberal understands that the other side doesn’t. Even when the liberal would concede, and in short order, that his or her frustration comes from a lack of understanding. There never has been a shorter-lived mystery. Oh, I get it, the person who doesn’t agree with us must have lost sight of some basic, basic thing. Comprehension of four-digit numbers, that must be it.
In the example above, the conservative is measuring the proposal according to both sides of it, whereas the liberal is measuring only the one side which is the benefit. I think most liberals would admit to that much…at least, right up until the time came to admit they were failing to factor in something, relevant, that the other side was taking into account. At that point they might stop admitting it. But either way, no matter how you carve it or look at it, the conservative is looking at a net whereas the liberal is looking at a gross. That would mean the conservative is in monopoly of the more useful viewpoint, the more sophisticated one, the one that can be used to assess whether this is a good idea or not. This is a matter of simple accounting definitions. When’s the last time you heard of an accountant, or the businessman for whom he works, lauding the fact that an operation has realized a “gross profit” or bemoaning its “gross loss?” It isn’t going to happen, because that isn’t how you make that kind of an assessment.
But our liberal friends think, with politics and social services programs, that’s how it’s done. Look at only one side, and that’s good enough. Winifred gets her stash! Yay, Winifred!
It is exactly like — I have used this analogy many times, might as well get it blogged — handing a caveman a calculator. After you’ve thawed him out from a block of ice, or roused him from a good long nap, or whatever. Without the education in the many fundamentals, of course the caveman cannot use the calculator, but something else will happen. As sure as you’re reading these words on a computer screen, or I’m typing ‘em into one, the caveman is going to come to the conclusion that the calculator is stupid. Seldom, if ever, will any living breathing being have ever been more sure of something. The calculator is stupid, the guy who built it is stupid, the guy who invented it is stupid, and anybody anywhere who sees anything good about the calculator, will likewise be stupid. That is precisely how liberals see conservatives; they must be stupid, stupid, stupid.
Calklater not heavy. Hit animal in head with it, animal not fall down. Can’t kill food with caklater, what good it? Me use rock instead.
Calklater, meet rock. Boom. Me try this many times, calklater lose every time. Calklater dumb. We-ell…that is what the caveman would say. This isn’t a lesson that applies exclusively to cavemen, or liberals, it’s really human nature. We have trouble recognizing opportunities to learn things. It might be the biggest human flaw. We take the trouble to familiarize ourselves with something, and if something else comes along that is different, we leap to the conclusion that the new thing must be lacking. We only recognize worthy things in what’s familiar, which means we only recognize sophistication in what is familiar.
Our friends, the libs, have become superlative illustrations of this flaw. They have become caricatures of it.
It is often pointed out by conservatives, who see just as many of the flaws in liberal thinking as I do — that means, many — that not all liberals are stupid, some of them in fact are quite bright. This is true. I’ve met quite a few intelligent liberals. Trouble is, though, they fall into that trap of thinking, any & all who disagree with something, must necessarily be the ones missing the information. They prematurely dismiss the possibility that they might be the ones missing it, that maybe it is their opposition drawing from multiple perspectives, and they are the ones making use of only the one.
I can’t criticize them for failing to conclude this, even when it turns out to be correct. I do criticize them for dismissing it out-of-hand, though.
When you’re just so stinkin’ smart that there’s no need for you to ever consider the possibility that you need to learn something, there’s a trolley that’s come off the tracks somewhere. How do you do that? I can’t even relate. Every morning when I get out of bed, it’s: Resolve the biological issues, get that damn coffee going, and get on the Internet to find out what the hell happened. Isn’t that what everybody does? Bathroom, coffee, and read-up? In whatever way it’s managed, whether by teevee or newspaper or computer; you roll out of bed thinking, there’s a gulf between what I know and what I need to know. That, and I gotta go to the bathroom and I need coffee. Our friends the liberals seem to be missing one-third of that basic, basic formula. What is it like to go through life that way? I honestly don’t understand it. Which makes me curious.
And, when a lack of understanding automatically leads to curiosity, right off the bat that makes me different from the subjects I seek to study. They can surpass milestone after milestone in the spectrum of mounting frustration, and from what I’ve been able to see, entirely fail to realize even the slightest ambition to try to find out more than they already know. Calklater lose against rock, calklater stupid.
And they call us “slope-foreheaded“!
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