Monday, April 26, 2010

Ben Stein: Same Old Liberals, Then and Now

Ben Stein, in addition to dispensing financial advice, writes a weekly article for the American Spectator. During the Gerald Ford administration, Mr Stein was working as a consultant for Norman Lear’s show, All’s Fair. Recently, he published a memorandum that he had written to the creators of the show in 1976 regarding the nature of liberals.

As I read the Mr Stein’s memo, I was amazed at the consistency between liberals then and liberals now. Except for a few specifics, such as references to hippies and the Soviet Union (just substitute Islamic terrorism), I would have guessed that it could have been written yesterday instead of over 30 years ago. Here are a few excerpts:

What I don't like is the way rich liberals, who have made their money through the operations of the capitalist system, are nevertheless socialists. I suspect that a large part of their motivation is a style of asceticism which has been fashionable among the rich since the time of the Pharisees. Another motivation for the rich liberals to dislike the capitalist system is that they have already gotten theirs and they don't want to be challenged by other people coming along and getting theirs.

I don't like the way liberals of any income group assume that they have a monopoly on morality and that the only conscionable position on issues is their position… I especially resent the claims of white liberals that they know best about how to solve the problems of the poor and the black. There is hardly any evidence that liberal programs to help the poor and the black have done much good. The ordinary operations of the capitalist system, however, have made enormous gains economically for the poor and the black. Liberals don't seem to understand that if they take a dollar from one person and give it to another, there is rarely any benefit. If the economic system produces new dollars for everyone, everyone benefits.

I resent the influence that liberals have gotten over our educational system. Even in those schools which are other than jungles of fear, students don't learn anything. Liberal parents and teachers who have seized control of the schools teach "Sensitivity" and ''Interpersonal Relations" to children who barely know how to read and write because the basics have been so badly neglected.

I resent the idea that labor unions are the workingman's best friend. Unions too often just represent the organized few and raise their wages so high that the unorganized many cannot find work… Similarly, I get mad especially about the minimum wage. The minimum wage is just a device guaranteeing that those people whose labor is not worth the minimum wage will remain unemployed. It does not raise any one's real wage because if an employee were worth the minimum wage, he would have been paid it already. For example, every time the minimum wage is raised or its coverage broadened, the number of unemployed black teenagers rises dramatically.

I am annoyed at the condescending way liberals look at religion and patriotism. Both of those are forces which make a people work and sacrifice for others and are genuine altruistic forces. Yet liberals scoff at them. Liberals should try to think whether this country could have been built without a sense of mission greater than the love of government money. In fact, liberals ought to think whether or not their own feelings do not constitute a religion of sorts before they make fun of others' religious practices… Other examples of the liberals' double standard are their attitude towards criminals. Their hearts bleed without limit for the poor misguided youth who has just killed or raped or beaten a perfectly innocent person but they don't care a damn about the victims of the crime..

The liberal wants to make a state in which people who have worked hard and abided by the rules are taxed to death to pay for those who do not work at anything except reproducing themselves. The liberal wants a state in which the middle classes bear the brunt of all social change, while the liberals sit back with their union pay, or university pay, or inherited pay, or money they have gotten from the system they hate, and watch the action.

Another instance of the liberals' lack of concern with real compassion is their attitude about environmental issues. No one doubts that there are important environmental problems. But there are also people whose jobs depend on taking a close look at environmental issues and not running off half-cocked whenever a cockroach is threatened.

I resent the liberals' looking the other way whenever there is a threat to decency or peace from the Communist nations and refusing to take seriously threats to our security from countries and movements which openly plan to destroy us… In a similar vein, I resent the way liberals condescend to people in the military as mentally inferior warmongers and brutes… I resent the constant liberal putdown of what is American and praise of what is foreign…

Read the entire memorandum here.

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