Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Political Luddites

Luddites were the workmen, named after Ned Lud, who in the 1800’s, tried to prevent the use of labor saving devices by smashing them. That is, they didn’t try to understand the real role of labor saving devices in the long run. They were content to attack the problem in a short sighted way that fit their existing narrow and outdated view of the world.

Political luddites have a firm, fixed view of how things are, or previously were. They are not open-minded to how things have changed, may be changing, or will change in the future. They seek sources of information to reinforce their already held beliefs and avoid sources that may challenge their beliefs.

They deal in hackneyed clichés rather than discussing specifics in their own words. They first look at the source of the information, and if it is not from a source they know to be sympathetic to their views they reject it. They deal in personalities. There are personalities they can identify as being sympathetic to their views. Any others are immediately considered untruthful, untrustworthy, or have a hidden agenda. They are quick to hitch their chariot to the former, and are brutally loyal from that point on.

To allow you to spot these political luddites by the clichés they use, here are some of the most popular ones and a description of what they mean when they use them.
Liberal – Anyone promoting the general welfare, advocating for the average citizen at the expense of the political donor class, or advocating redistribution, class warfare, fair markets, or regulation as defined below. Often used interchangeably with libertine or big spender, and prefaced by the adjective, bleeding heart. Not to be confused with the more conventional definition of an open minded, tolerant individual of free birth and noble ideals.

Socialist - Anyone who may have discovered that the preamble to the Constitution includes the charge that government is to establish justice and promote the general welfare, in addition to providing for domestic tranquility and the common defense. A person who believes that taxation is not a form of theft, and believes that taxes can be used for things other than national defense and policing. Anyone who supports government involvement in programs that could be handled in the private sector. This definition is not to be confused with the more conventional definition of a socialist as someone advocating government ownership of the means of production.

Redistribution - The spending of tax money to abet one class of people over another, even if this expenditure is to correct injustices or inequities in the system, or ensure survival of individual citizens who are threatened with economic disaster. Any money used to promote the general welfare, as opposed to spending for national defense and policing. Implicit in this definition is that all salaries, wages, profits, and other income are accounted for and taxed fairly. There is no recognition of any class of people including the political donor class. All laws are assumed to be legitimately made, and the influence of political contributions is assumed not to have any effect on how tax laws and exemptions are made. No account is taken that corporations pay taxes on net income and individuals do not.

Class warfare - This is said to occur when citizens discover and complain about a political donor class funding politicians to obtain access and pressing for laws that advantage them. Used to fight any form of progressive taxation or discourage any recognition of an increasing income gap between the political donor class and the rest of the citizenry.

Free market - The holy grail of luddites economics. An unregulated interchange of goods and services without government involvement. Generally means that any form of regulation disrupts markets and prevents them from operating efficiently. Implicitly fair. No distinction between free markets and fair markets.

Deregulation - Getting the government out of market regulation. Allowing unimpeded consolidation. Sometimes implies advantaging business over consumers. Not necessarily full deregulation. As in the energy market in California, deregulating wholesale prices, while keeping retail prices regulated to advantage producers over consumers. Allowing decisions to be made by suppliers rather than consumers, as in the cable TV industry.

GDP – Gross Domestic Product. Another holy grail of luddites economics. An aggregate measure of the goods and services produced in the country. Used as a measure of the health of the country, as opposed to using employment, job satisfaction, health or other citizen related indicators. Implicitly ignores variations between different segments of society and between the donor class and others, but still considered all important to luddites.

No comments: