Political idols =failed promises.

Political idols = Failed promises

Ann Coulter wrote about the following in Takimag.com; I am adapting the ideas for this post. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren keep promising FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL! NO PREMIUMS! NO CO-PAYS! Illegal aliens er., “undocumented migrants” too. Why not? Can anyone be gullible enough to fall for that? Whatever happened to “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”? That maxim became a dodo as it went by way of “free school lunches”. Yet all of us in the United States who still process truth in our cerebral cortex, as opposed to the limbic system of the social justice narratives, know that someone must pay for anything, since no one works for free.

Let’s consider two of the former economic powerhouses that used to be the pride of Latin America, Argentina and Venezuela. Based on too many years of indigenous people voting for politicians who made Bernie-Liz type promises, Latin America has become the poster child for failed promises of redistribution schemes. Does it seem like Latin American peasants are uniquely amenable to the empty and emotional promises of socialist schemes? No? You say look at China, look at Russia, look at North Korea; they’re communist, but not Latin American. True, but in R, C and NK, Communism came via bloody revolutions, purges and massive death tolls. Latin American peasants mainly voted for the socialist promises, in the guise of charismatic demagogues like Chavez and Peron. They will again, because that’s what they do.

Somehow truthful reporting on Venezuela managed to escape the censors of pro-socialist promises, and the New York Times published a story last week on what socialism has done for the water system in Venezuela: The brick shack on the outskirts of Venezuela’s capital is crowded with tubs, jugs and buckets. The water they hold must last the family of eight for a week — but it’s not enough for frequent washing or flushing, so the kitchen is filled with greasy pots and the house smells of stale urine. And none of the water is treated, making diarrhea and vomit a regular occurrence. ‘We practically live in the bathroom,’ said the mother of the family … [Her daughter] sat nearby, pale and listless, recovering from her latest bout of diarrhea just one month away from childbirth.

Twenty years ago, 60 percent of Venezuelans had regular access to safe drinking water. Today, only 30 percent do. How did this happen? Answer: Poor Venezuelans voted for it. Denouncing “squalid oligarchs,” Hugo Chavez promised Venezuela’s poor: “I will not rest until every human being who lives in this land has housing, employment and some way to manage his life.” The poor were sold! In December 1998, Chavez was elected in a landslide, commemorated with this Seattle Times headline: “VENEZUELAN SLUM DWELLERS VOTE FOR CHANGE.” A triumph for “Social Justice”, or the beginning of the slide into the morass of failed socialist-redistribution promises?

Chavez, immediately implemented a “single-payer” system for health care in Venezuela. He set up free health clinics, opened military hospitals to the poor and deployed tens of thousands of government workers to deliver medical services to the barrios. At Chavez’s invitation, thousands of poor people took up residence in hotels, warehouses and luxurious golf courses. As one of the squatters explained, “We just want a home for our children.” As Ann Coulter wrote, “That could be the epitaph of every once-great country: It was for THE CHILDREN!” Within a year of Chavez taking office, the economy had shrunk by 7.2 percent and unemployment was at 20 percent. A decade into this socialist paradise, the poor were poorer than ever. There were constant blackouts, food shortages and appalling infant mortality rates. (Could what we’re seeing in California be the start of a U.S. “Venezuela”?) Venezuela’s infant mortality from diarrhea alone has sextupled in the past 15 years, according to the World Health Organization. (That’s an estimate, on account of Chavez’s quick response to the crisis, which was to stop releasing public health data.)

Potable water, that most basic element of civilization, is virtually nonexistent. Today, sitting on top of the largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuelans are starving. Chavez didn’t seize power in a military coup. There was no revolution. He wasn’t imposed on Venezuelans by the C.I.A.
He was the people’s choice, elected president in 1998 (with 56 percent of the vote), then re-elected in 2000 (60 percent), then again in 2006 (63 percent) and yet again in 2012 (54 percent). And that’s not counting all the regional, parliamentary, constitutional and referenda elections his party won, over and over and over again.

Eva Peron in Argentina, like Chavez, destroyed a country by offering the poor pie-in-the-sky promises that were to be paid for by “the rich.” In both cases, it took only about a decade to turn two of the wealthiest countries in the world into two of the most dysfunctional. Juan Perón, elected President in 1945, inherited a country with a strong economy. Following World War II, many European nations, in dire financial circumstances, borrowed money from Argentina and some were forced to import wheat and beef from Argentina as well. Perón’s government profited from the arrangement, charging interest on the loans and fees on the exports from ranchers and farmers.

Juan Peron was even popular with the peasants, not for what he accomplished, but because his wife and First Lady of Argentina, Evita, portrayed herself as the fount of material blessings to the poor. By early 1948, Eva was receiving thousands of letters a day from needy people requesting food, clothing, and other necessities. In order to manage so many requests, she created the Eva Perón Foundation in July 1948 and acted as its sole leader and decision-maker. The foundation received donations from businesses, unions, and workers, but these donations were often coerced. People and organizations faced fines and even jail time if they did not contribute. Eva kept no written record of her expenditures, claiming that she was too busy giving the money away to the poor to stop and count it. Sounds logical, heard it before!

But many people, having seen newspaper photos of Eva dressed in expensive dresses and jewels, suspected her of keeping some of the money for herself. Wouldn’t that be shocking? In 1950, Argentina’s postwar export boom tapered off, and inflation and corruption grew. After being reelected in 1951, Juan Peron became more conservative and repressive and seized control of the press to control criticism of his regime. In July 1952, Evita died of cancer, and support for President Peron among the working classes became decidedly less pronounced. One way to think about Argentina in the 20th century is as being out of sync with the rest of the world. It was the model for export-led growth when the open trading system collapsed. After the second world war, when the rich world began its slow return to free trade with the negotiation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, Argentina had become a more closed economy—and it kept moving in that direction under Perón. An institution to control foreign trade was created in 1946; an existing policy of import substitution deepened; the share of trade as a percentage of GDP continued to fall.

Closer to home, there’s Mexico, where the people voted for the Institutional Revolutionary Party for 71 straight years. Total economic failure, year after year. Those who prosper legitimately, like avocado farmers, are besieged by drug cartels, trying to take over so they have another way to launder their massive cash profits. Yes, please, kick me again! The fact that these voluntary hellholes are adjacent to our country is why our southern border is always besieged with desperate Latin Americans. They’re fleeing the very systems that they voted for, and which (80 percent) would willingly vote for again. All immigrants are not the same. Those who voted for empty promises over and over in Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela, will do so here. Which party is the party of empty promises?

Members of Previous Generations Now Seem Like Giants

One of the great scholars and historians of our time comments on the state of present “civilization”. I have followed his commentary with a poetic perspective on the same theme. Beware, you arrogant “know-it-all” intellectuals and college students: You know a lot of disconnected “stuff” and the rhetoric of envy and grievance, but do you know anything of lasting value?

By Victor Davis Hanson October 10, 2019 “Many of the stories about the gods and heroes of Greek mythology were compiled during Greek Dark Ages. Impoverished tribes passed down oral traditions that originated after the fall of the lost palatial civilizations of the Mycenaean Greeks. Dark Age Greeks tried to make sense of the massive ruins of their forgotten forebears’ monumental palaces that were still standing around. As illiterates, they were curious about occasional clay tablets they plowed up in their fields with incomprehensible ancient Linear B inscriptions.

“We of the 21st century are beginning to look back at our own lost epic times and wonder about these now-nameless giants who left behind monuments that we cannot replicate, but instead merely use or even mock.

“Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?Californians tried to build a high-speed rail line. But after more than a decade of government incompetence, lawsuits, cost overruns and constant bureaucratic squabbling, they have all but given up. The result is a half-built overpass over the skyline of Fresno — and not yet a foot of track laid.

“Who were those giants of the 1960s responsible for building our interstate highway system? California’s roads now are mostly the same as we inherited them, although the state population has tripled. We have added little to our freeway network, either because we forgot how to build good roads or would prefer to spend the money on redistributive entitlements.

“When California had to replace a quarter section of the earthquake-damaged San Francisco Bay Bridge, it turned into a near-disaster, with 11 years of acrimony, fighting, cost overruns — and a commentary on our decline into Dark Ages primitivism. Yet 82 years ago, our ancestors built four times the length of our singe replacement span in less than four years. It took them just two years to design the entire Bay Bridge and award the contracts.

“Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years? Our generation required five years just to plan to replace a single section. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we spent six times the money on one quarter of the length of the bridge and required 13 agencies to grant approval. In 1936, just one agency oversaw the entire bridge project.

“California has not built a major dam in 40 years. Instead, officials squabble over the water stored and distributed by our ancestors, who designed the California State Water Project and Central Valley Project. Contemporary Californians would have little food or water without these massive transfers, and yet they often ignore or damn the generation that built the very system that saves us.

“America went to the moon in 1969 with supposedly primitive computers and backward engineering. Does anyone believe we could launch a similar moonshot today? No American has set foot on the moon in the last 47 years, and it may not happen in the next 50 years.

“We have been fighting in Afghanistan without result for 18 years. Our forefathers helped to win World War II and defeat the Axis Powers in four years. In terms of learning, does anyone believe that a college graduate in 2020 will know half the information of a 1950 graduate?

“True, social media is impressive. The internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory. But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal. Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

“As we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticoes of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask: ‘Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?’ In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

The banker and political writer Horace Smith spent the Christmas season of 1817–1818 with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley. At this time, members of Shelley’s literary circle would sometimes challenge each other to write competing sonnets on a common subject: Shelley, John Keats and Leigh Hunt wrote competing sonnets on the Nile around the same time. Shelley and Smith both chose a passage from the writings of the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, which described a massive Egyptian statue and quoted its inscription: “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” In the poem Diodorus becomes “a traveler from an antique land.”

Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias” “I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
.”

Horace Smith’s “Ozymandias”In Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
‘I am great OZYMANDIAS,’ saith the stone,
‘The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
The wonders of my hand.’— The City’s gone,—
Naught but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place
.

Are you moved at all by this theme and those powerful sonnets? Yes? There is hope. No? Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! By the way, “mighty” here is satirical.