Cycle of Violence

December 17th, 2009

By Brianna Aubin

Socialism1It’s a commonly accepted fact that if a child is raised in an abusive household, there’s a good chance that he’ll turn out to be an abuser himself.  If your parents beat you, it becomes more likely that you’ll grow up to beat your kids. Grow up with a drunk, it becomes more likely that you’ll turn into an alcoholic.  Get sexually abused as a child, and you’re more likely to become an abuser yourself.  And the principle doesn’t apply to just kids, either; adults can suffer from it, too.  Receive unjust punishment long enough, whether it’s prejudice or hatred or anger or pain, and it’s an unpleasant fact that there are very few people in the world who, if given the chance to wield the club themselves, would refrain from bashing in a few heads in as payment for their woes.

When it comes to physical violence, the pattern is fairly easy to see.  A child gets pushed around, he becomes pushy.  An adult is unfairly punished for a crime, the next time a chance comes around for him to profit from being unethical, he decides he might as well.  Things like this are usually recognized for the pointless form of “payback” they are and widely warned against as both foolish and immoral.

But what about the cases where what’s going on hasn’t been recognized?  What about the cases where, when this form of payback occurs, the revenge is seen as just and viewed as the injured party’s right?  And worst of all, what happens when the person who’s getting the payback directed at him is not even the person who caused the harm, but in some ways is every bit as much of an injured party as you are?

The Bolsheviks called it Marxism.  The Germans called it National Socialism.  Minorities call it “affirmative action.”  Obama calls it “hope and change.”

Alexander II freed the serfs of Russia in 1861 because Russia’s feudal economy could not compete with the more capitalist economies of Europe and the United States.  But he did it in such a way that left many of those serfs, though technically free, in massive economic debt and dependency.  So in the name of abolishing all classes, they decided to stage massive class warfare; in the name of instituting total freedom, they decided to institute complete control.  How did it end?  With millions dead and with white crosses along a wall marking places where innocent victims were gunned down in a desperate attempt to flee dictatorship.

After WWI, the Weimar Republic went through a decade of punishing war reparations, massive hyper-inflation, and a great deal of resultant social unrest.  So they decided to elect a dictator, find a scapegoat, set up murder camps, and start a war.  Since that’s the only example that anyone actually bothers to teach in school, you can fill in the ending to that one yourself.

After centuries of enslavement and another century of lesser abuse after that, the blacks finally won a legal end to discrimination.  Their response?  Institute special government laws and programs to make sure they got theirs.  Now I’m not entirely against affirmative action.  I think that in certain limited cases it can serve as a necessary way to open a door that otherwise simply refuses to budge.  But I don’t think it serves anybody’s goals long-term, least of all the minorities it professes to help.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask the black man who was granted a sub-prime mortgage loan because someone accused the banks of discrimination and is now calling on the government to help him keep his house because he can’t afford the payments.  But don’t worry, Obama has told him who to blame.  The Community Reinvestment Act, which prodded banks to give out more money to minorities who couldn’t afford to take on the loans?  Janet Reno, who threatened prosecution of lenders who didn’t do enough giving?  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored (now government-owned) corporations who subsidized the banks’ forced spending spree and created the aura of moral hazard that let everything get so incredibly out of control?  Of course not, government is your friend.  They give you the things you want.  It’s the Wall Street fat cats who have caused all the problems.  Here’s a club.  Start bashing.

I believe it was Ron Bloom who said, once upon a time in an interview, that “We kinda agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.”  Well, for once I agree completely: the power of government is primarily the power of a gun.  Government, not the market; in a truly free-market system, the corporations and big businessmen aren’t allowed to have any political guns.  The government prevents it by acting in their proper role as umpire and calling out the businessmen when they try it, the same as they’d call out anyone else.  But what happens when government is invited into the game as a player?  That’s the point at which it becomes “largely about power… an adults-only, no limit game.”  Because once you bring a gun into play, the person you’re pointing it at has two options: they can die, or they can start trying to grab for the gun themselves.  The only problem is, once the fight really starts to get going, it can become incredibly hard to tell the power-hungry from the people who are just trying to grab the gun in order to survive.  And of course, once someone manages to get hold of the weapon it becomes almost impossible for them to resist taking a few shots before it’s wrested from their hand.

So let’s all slow down and take a deep breath.  I know that lots of people out there are hurting.  I know they’ve suffered.  I also know that the administration is handing out clubs and pointing out targets.  Wall Street.  The banks.  The insurance industry.  The greedy, rich bastards who are just too selfish to part with their money in your time of need.  But unfortunately, none of that is true; it’s only a pack of self-serving lies with just enough truth in it to make it plausible.  Where does that truth come from?  Well, they’ve been going for the gun every bit as much as you have, and for the same reasons: a combination of survival instinct and power-lust.  The real problem isn’t any one person or group of people, though certainly there have been plenty of shots fired over the years.  The problem is the fact that a single club has been tossed among 300 million people who were told two things: that if they didn’t go for the club, somebody else would, and if they banded together to overcome the others, they’d probably be able to get hold of the club more often and hang onto it longer when they got it.

The solution to our problems is not a government club.  It is not more legislation, more regulation, higher taxes, more subsidies, or more handouts.  It is not to find some better, brighter way to wrest the club away from our neighbors for our own use, any more than the solution to an abused child’s problems is to grow up to become a child abuser.  The solution is to find a way to get everybody, the rich and the poor, to understand that what needs to be done is to put the club down and walk away.

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5 Responses to “Cycle of Violence”

  1. Tom |

    Another excellent, well-written article, Brianna!

    I’ve never been able to understand people who think that social justice involves making sure that no one has any more than they do. It doesn’t seem too difficult to understand that in a free society where some people can be more wealthy, everyone can be more wealthy — with hard work and a modicum of talent.

    Like you, I also support affirmative action in cases where it’s used to address a blatantly unfair obstacle placed in the path of a group of people just because they’re members of that group. However, over the years it morphed into something else, something insidious and counterproductive. The CRA and the economic problems that resulted in part from subprime mortgage lending is a perfect example.

  2. Brianna |

    I wrote it in response to someone complaining that America had been busy redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor, so maybe it was time to start redistributing from the poor to the rich instead and see if that worked any better. It was also in response to a story one of my professors told me, about how when Obama was elected he saw a black woman on TV saying “It’s our turn now.” His response was, “Stop taking turns! It’s no one’s turn!”

    The image works just fine. Thanks Tom 🙂

  3. Brian Bagent |

    “There are only two means by which men can deal with one another: guns or logic. Force or persuasion. Those who know that they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns.”

    That was a terrific explanation of Rand.

    I’ll give a great example of what has gone wrong (predictably) with AA.

    In 1997, the UCLA med school admitted about 300 candidates, 51 of which were minorities (black and Hispanic). Of the 51 minorities, only 1 of them had undergrad GPAs and MCAT scores comparable to the other 250 white and Asian students. Now, there wasn’t a huge disparity between the two groups, (3.6 v 3.4 GPA, and 10 V 9 on MCAT).

    While that doesn’t seem like much, the results were entirely predictable. Nationwide, these “welfare” med students failed their National Medical Boards II (taken at the end of sophomore year) at a rate of slightly over 40%. There is a failure rate with the rest of the students of about 10%. This is not an insignificant number.

    They all get opportunities to remediate and retake the exam, but an additional expense is incurred in so doing. This trend continues on to overall graduation rates as well as placement into the various medical specialties for the residency programs. These kids who fail NMB II, if they even graduate, graduate at the back of the class. That means that while they can still be called “doctor” when they graduate, the really sought-after specialties are closed to them: orthopedics, ophthalmology, dermatology, surgery, otorhinolaryngology (ENT), pediatrics, urology, etc. They are “stuck” in family practice and internal medicine.

  4. Brianna |

    Huh. I was just looking at my earlier comment and realized I got it the wrong way around. What I meant to say was:

    “I wrote it in response to someone complaining that America had been busy redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich, so maybe it was time to start redistributing from the rich to the poor instead and see if that worked any better.”

  5. Brianna |

    I saw a clip from Stossel’s new show on the Fox Business Network that fit in with this old article so perfectly that I could not resist revisiting in order to comment. The link and the transcript (less than perfect, but legible) of the relevant portion can be found below:

    Stossel: Crony Capitalism; January 14, 2010; Part 3 of 6

    When congress tries to pick a winner, there are losers, and losers need representation to go tell their story. Now I don’t lobby congress, I lobby the American people, i tell them the truth, and have them apply pressure to Congress, to go and do the right thing. John I challenge you, to go and find a single area of the American free enterprise system, that Congress is not involved in picking winners or losers. It’s almost impossible

    And the result is that these companies, which we may not like… I almost feel sorry for them they have to hire a lobbyist just to keep the special interests from putting them out of business

    And that’s exactly what Congress wants. Congress wants you to have to come to them to get what you need, because that leads to campaign contributions, that leads to favors, and that leads to government getting more power. Government’s not just getting bigger, government’s getting more powerful, which is just as dangerous.

    And an example of that Tim, we have 25% more lobbyists now than we did a decade ago its’ creepy that it does just grow.

    And a lot of companies do start lobbying defensively, like Dennis was talking about, but then they get here and hire their lobbyists, and then they realize just how much money they can make, by investing in a lobbyist and pushing for the right policy. I use the example of Bill Gates all the time, who barely had any lobbyists in 1998, when his company got beat up for antitrust violations supposedly, he was called before Congress, and then after that he said, ‘You know what, I used to not come to Washington very much, I’m going to be here a lot more.’ Now he has a huge lobbying operation that lobby for regulations that help him and cause him profit while crushing smaller competitors

    You know, I always thought there was a lesson in the fact that this new big wonderful industry, which grew up without lobbying and created so much wealth for America, Silicon Valley and so forth, they were in the two big cities farthest from Washington DC, which left them free to experiment

    But now they’re in the swamp, and you see it in every industry, and they have to start ramping up their lobbying. Hedge funds had to start ramping up their lobbying, and their campaign contributions when they were threatened with new regulations; guess what? Now a lot of them happen to support the new regulations which can keep out new entrants, that’s one of the main effects of regulations, which is keeping out new competitors.

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