Over the Precipice

It’s the reflexive reaction of those who have the most to lose, and their numbers are substantial. In their self-delusions, they’ve continued to pretend to themselves that everything will go on as it has for more than two generations, with no interruptions in the gravy train, and their stubborn indifference to the mathematical certainty permits them momentary refuge against a reality they’ve created but wish not to endure. When a voice rises to warn them, they dutifully dismiss it. When the Tea Party arose, they were faced with a messenger they could not so easily silence. Worse, when Sarah Palin became one of their number, they allowed themselves to be seduced by the establishment’s siren song, offering to them a gentle lullaby that promised the gravy train would continue. The media told them that Sarah Palin is stupid, and that the Tea Party is a small band of nuts, and since that message comforted them, they greedily accepted it. After more than two years, some of them have noticed that the wheels are coming off and the rails are splitting, and a few have begun to leap from the sides. Their hatred of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party is not born of ignorance, but of a knowing resentment that these messengers had been right all along.

Friday, we were treated to the news that the GDP growth estimates for the second quarter was downgraded from an already anemic 1.4% to an astonishingly lower 1.0%. While most of you expected a downward revision, as did I, and I expect another later this year, the Europeans aren’t faring any better, coming in around 0.2%. This suggests a global catastrophe is already underway. There can be no way to repair all the things that ail our economy by spending more money, printing more money, or otherwise putting good money after bad. While Sarah Palin and the Tea Party recognize this, the gravy train chugs along happily down the tracks, most of its passengers enjoying their free rides apparently oblivious to the fact that the trestle ahead has been demolished.

The problem is that not all of them are oblivious, and any of them could sound the alarm to their fellow free-riders. Most of them, having mocked the stalwart messengers now want no part in raising the alarm. Every one of them knows that in so doing, they’re inviting the scorn and derision of the rest who will likely continue to evade reality until gravity takes control at the end of their track. Then they’ll panic, and complain that somebody should have warned them, despite the fact that against each successive warning, they hurled only contempt.

It’s a firmly established norm in human psychology that few like to be reminded: “I told you so.” Worse, when those who are being told a thing mock those doing the warning, the mass psychology leverages in favor of a bullying response. As the train rushes closer to the abyss, more aboard will notice, and sneak quietly to an exit and and in an act of self-preservation, hurl themselves from the train, often to pretend they’d never been aboard. Those who remain aboard to the bitter end necessarily become more angry as they notice their numbers slowly diminishing. Here is where real hate is born. This is also where we have arrived. The train is still careening toward the precipice, and its passengers still ride, hoping they were somehow right, and that somehow, their view will be vindicated. It won’t.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party continue to urge them to abandon the train. With each pronouncement, the train loses a few more passengers, but the remainder become still more stubborn in resisting the call. The engineer, now Barack Obama and his crew of coal-men in Congress continue to stoke the engine and drive it forward at break-neck pace, hoping that the acceleration will imply confidence. It no longer does. Like the end of credibility for the boy who thrice cried wolf, nothing this President can do will convince any but the drones that our situation isn’t awful.

The establishment in Washington DC has a captive audience, and they know it. Peddling hate and resentment is the last stunt remaining in their bag of tricks. It’s easier to “shoot the messengers” than to refute them. No honest refutation exists. They now stare openly at the abyss coming into view outside their windows, but like passengers on a train, they can see the gorge stretching out for miles in either direction, but they cannot see the bridge out directly ahead. That doesn’t mean they don’t know it.

Our nation needs to reduce the spending on almost every social program. There’s really no way to get control of this train and bring it to a stop in time to repair the bridge if we don’t substantially curtail big government. Those who stubbornly refuse to see what they know must be ahead are guilty of the sin of self-fraud. Those leading them are guilty of a monstrous lie. Not only do they continue to hand out the blinders, but also to scapegoat others for the impending consequences. This is the purpose of calling Tea Party members “terrorists” and Sarah Palin “stupid.” The hatred attending those pronouncements isn’t really aimed at the people involved, but instead at the truth they’re dispensing to the unwilling segment of their audience.

Imagine arriving at a social services office and picketing the people standing in line, telling them that they are bleeding the country dry. What would happen to you? In effect, this is the message being delivered, and this is a large segment of that unwilling audience. What do you expect? They might start out mocking and jeering but eventually, they’d get ugly with you, and the reason is that people don’t like to be told they’re doing wrong. People don’t like to be told their own choices have led them to the problems they now face. People don’t want to be reminded “I told you so.”

You wonder where the hate originates? It is born of this reality of human existence: You have the right to believe whatever you want, but no right to evade the consequences for faulty beliefs. Nothing can ultimately protect a people from a belief that they can exist without effort, or that they can long consume more than they produce. Nothing. Not slogans, not blinders, not governments, nothing.

Once you realize this, the hate is much easier to understand. It’s the last pathetic scream of persons too long in denial. There’s a tendency among some to interpret it as a sign that the messengers are winning. That’s not so. Nature is winning. Reality is winning, but there is no guarantee that the messengers will avoid their usual punishment for their good deeds. The more numerous the messengers, the better, and they ought not miss an opportunity to multiply their numbers. As I’ve told you before, there’s a war coming, and it won’t be pretty, or easy. The hate you’ve had aimed at you is just the opening salvo. Can you win? Yes! Will you win?

Will you fight?