Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Don's Tuesday, New Years, column

           THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   1/01/2012

Winter wonderland; winter of discontent

Having a snow-covered back yard provides a constant delight of pure white covering a multitude of less-than-sightly weeds, brown patches and odd items that never found proper homes in sheds. Snow can be many things to many people: lots of it in the right places becomes a literal playground for snowmobilers; for skinny, energetic folks on their Nordic skis; and provides the means for the generously-girthed to “shoosh” down picturesque ski runs.

Among the rewarding aspects of the latter form of snow-play is the view of other snow-covered mountains: from Sisters (a few miles to Mt. Bachelor), to Mt. Hood (100 miles distant on a clear day), to a rare glimpse of Mt. Shasta about 150 miles to the south. It’s fascinating to consider that, at that distance, the curvature of the Earth translates to literally thousands of feet of Mt. Shasta’s slopes dropping below the 8,000 foot wooded slopes between Bachelor and Shasta.

You see, if the Earth was flat, you could stand at 9,000 feet (Bachelor), look over 8,000 foot hills and see all of Shasta down to perhaps six thousand feet. What you actually see are the tops of Shasta and Shastina down to about the 10,000-foot level. These views can only be had by skiers, aircraft passengers and pilots, and occasional hang-gliders that pay to ride up the lift, spread their wings and catch a stiff wind. For them, it’s a mighty chilly glide to the bottom but magnificent all the way.

Back in these here flatlands one can find apparently limitless discontent in all segments of the body politic. The arrival of the New Year has traditionally inspired great celebrations and hopes for better times. Better times are certainly deserved by all people in general, and Americans in particular. One can understand discontent settling into the psyche of those who watched their hopes dashed over the November election, but those who won seem nearly inconsolable in victory and lash out at the opposition.

The two competing visions are truly incompatible and require the force and power of the state to implement their policies. There would be so much less contention and acrimony if the role, footprint, and powerful sway of government at the state and federal levels, were a far smaller part of our lives, incomes and businesses.

There really is not much that Americans can’t do for themselves and, indeed, observers of the America of the 1800s found a remarkable people that sought little from their government. One French writer, Alexis de Tocqueville, published his observations in “Democracy in America” (1835, 1840). He found, for instance, that the citizens of the newly formed United States of America were a people unlike any other in their eagerness, energy and organizational abilities to respond to, and remedy, all manner of societal situations – without the need for imposition, interference or help from far-off governmental institutions.

He also found cause for concern over the qualities of individualism and equality that could be taken advantage of by tyrannical forces in spite of the democratically formed representative government. From Wikipedia: “Tocqueville worried that if despotism were to take root in a modern democracy, it would be a much more dangerous version than the oppression under the Roman emperors or tyrants of the past who could only exert a pernicious influence on a small group of people at a time. In contrast, a despotism under a democracy could see ‘a multitude of men,’ uniformly alike, equal, ‘constantly circling for petty pleasures,’ unaware of fellow citizens, and subject to the will of a powerful state which exerted an ‘immense protective power’. Tocqueville compared a potentially despotic democratic government to a protective parent who wants to keep its citizens as ‘perpetual children,’ and which doesn't break men's wills but rather guides it, and presides over people in the same way as a shepherd looking after a ‘flock of timid animals.’”

Those of us who resist being turned into a “flock of timid animals” or “perpetual children” seeking succor from our governmental “protective parent” now find ourselves on the receiving end of calumny, character assassination, ad hominem attacks and vilification – as in the incessant bashing of the Tea Party. Fiscal restraint, Constitutional liberties, economic freedom. Radical! You readers who share the conservative beliefs of the overwhelming majority of Tehama County voters are not personally so treated; however, you can observe just such attacks upon this columnist and the Tea Party, as the local liberal suspects have been doing for many years on this page.

Their intolerance has been on display in missives beneath dignifying with my written response. They demonstrate a palpably virulent desire to have me, the only weekly conservative voice in the north state, silenced, apparently to satisfy their tribal anathema towards those with whom they disagree. They have three other writers that reliably take the liberal side when an issue warrants choosing, but this one little conservative voice offends them to the point of name-calling, insult and ridicule. We can’t, in their political world, agree to disagree, or disagree without being disagreeable. I offer this New Years suggestion: set aside the acrimony, liberals, please.

Social Security retirement deficits of $36 bn (2010), $48 bn (2011) and $48 bn (2012) total $132 bn (OMB), not far off of the $150 bn figure I used 2 columns ago. Within six months, it will pass $150 billion cumulative deficit between taxes and payments. Also, calling interest on the trust fund “income” is like saying pixie dust is a condiment for rainbow stew.

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