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Conservative Intellectual Rubbish

By Johnny Reb

Greetings Freethinkers

Probably as many of you do, I get a lot of debris, usually innocuous trivia, in my email inbox every morning. This morning, for the umpteenth time, I ended up receiving a ridiculous red neck reactionary one that's been circulating for several months now. Many of you have probably received it multiple times as I have in the past year or two. The title of the article is "Economics 101" or "The Five Best Sentences you will ever Read". I would count them as among the worst sentences for reasons I have provided below. I ought to ignore this sort of mindless propaganda which seems to be straight out of the OWS 1% - the neo-conservative elite's playbook - but I cannot. The predicament one faces with attempting to counter this sort of conservative claptrap is that you lend it some modicum of intellectual respectability by doing so - when it has none. One could write volumes in response to this sort of regressive rubbish, but life is short.

The original piece follows my previous responses to it. You may want to read it first.


Hi **** (April 23, 2012)

This pathetic inane hooey has been making the rounds for years now. It's an insult to the intellect of a chimp. I've already received it multiple times and responded to its intellectual vacuity. What anyone with a basic brain stem sees in it I have no idea because the man is not a "genius", but rather an idiot? In the photo the man doesn't even look intelligent, in fact, he looks somewhat perplexed. Is that the "Heil Hitler" Nazi salute he is giving?

My very conservative Republican cousin from the US sent this rubbish to me at least twice. I suppose my dear cousinís theory is the same as yours: keep repeating the same bullshit sufficiently and people will eventually come to believe it. Sadly for most of the bewildered ignorant herd out there, this assumption is true. But I expect a bit more from you pal. What is that attracts you to this world view?

Here are my previous responses in case you have forgotten:

Hi **** (email #1)

This man is not a genius under any definition of "genius" regardless how you want to broaden it. In fact, he demonstrates ignorance and gross stupidity. First, get over the claim by the lunatic right wing fringe at Fox news that Obama is a socialist. Obama's campaign was financed and run by Wall Street mafia and he invited them, such as the Wall Street pimp, Tim Geithner into his inner circle and cabinet. I would advise this misguided intellectual midget to first Look up socialism in the dictionary and then read a good introductory volume on political philosophy. What conservatives never want to admit is that their bankrupt philosophy embraces only one thing - self-interest and greed. Did I forget contempt for anyone beneath their class? What is truly mystifying is that the relentless propaganda system convinces working people that conservative actually care about them and serve their interests. Other than religion, it's the biggest bullshit story ever sold.

The real failure has not been socialism, but rather the free for all casino capitalism we've suffered from since Reagan and Thatcher where we've seen wealth move only in one direction - to those who already have it. We see the endgame right now with the total collapse of the global economy which is NOT about to recover for the masses anytime soon. Continuing with a failed economic model and not learn from failure is the quintessence of stupidity. The new leaders of Greece and Italy are financial whores for global finance and the neo-conservative trickle down economic model of Reaganomics, a model endorsed by the neo-con Stephen Harper. One of them was a former head man of the ECB and the other a creep from the most criminal corporation on the planet, Goldman Sachs. Go figure! These political dupes were appointed, not democratically elected. Guess who is paying for this mess - yeah you guessed it - the working classes, the same folks who fight the wars that elite conservatives throughout history have loved, initiated and profited from. What conservative dread to admit, is that their world view is just a short step to the left of fascism. In fact both Hitler and Mussolini only achieved absolute power by the cooperation of conservative elites and the wealthy business classes.


Hi **** (email #2)

With respect to the email you sent the other day. I now recall getting this same email from my dear conservative cousin in California several months ago and I tracked down my response to it. By the way, if the so-called "genius" is looking for real welfare recipients he should look at the dozens of hard-ass capitalist corporations that were bailed out by the government, now being paid for by those working classes, people like you and I pal. These are the real LOSERS in our midst, not people attending the OWS movement which includes people from all ages and walks of life who have been screwed by these bastards on Wall Street and their complicit lap dog governments. Their future has been taken away from them.

The corporate world and the state have merged into one - the essence of fascism. We're talking about trillions of dollars in the United States alone. Europe's gang of financial criminals were bailed out as well, Some like the Royal Bank of Scotland, total disasters, now belong to the taxpayers.

The current infusion of money into European countries like Greece and Italy are going to bail out the banks AGAIN, not the people who are told they are losing their pensions and other social services to pay for it. They are bailing out not only the banks but the wealthy investors who hold the debt, primarily bonds.  

It mystifies me that you can endorse the draconian plutocratic conservative philosophy of the guy defined as a "genius". If there is anything cunning about the guy, it's that he convinces any ordinary working stiff by his fallacious elitist arguments. These arguments about "entitlements" ought to be based on its real historical significance - the entitlements that conservative elites have held throughout history. Conservatives were once kings, queens, land barons, popes and priests - now they are the aristocrats on Wall Street who own the government, the pathetic politicians in it, most of the wealth - and they own you.

Check out George Carlin, who in a skit called The Owners of this Country" basically has it right. Wait for the last part of the skit:


Here is my response to my dear cousin on this same email:

Hi ***

The content of assertions such as these five have been conveyed for centuries in varying forms by ruling conservative elites to justify the massive inequalities that have been intrinsic to every political regime in history. Capitalism is no exception. It also allows them to ease their guilt as do many Christian theologians with their perverted logic and apologetics for the contiguous existence of a benevolent all-powerful Dead Beat Dad Deity who idly stands by in the face of unrelenting gratuitous misery and suffering throughout the world. But, like so many economists these days, he "works in mysterious ways".

There's not much one can do to respond to someone who accepts these confusing opaque statements as mathematical axioms or eternal verities, as though they're handed down from the laws of the Universe. I'll just provide a few quick reactions to them since it's difficult to glean any meaningful content from any of them. I wasn't about to respond, but I'll offer a few off the cuff reactions. I've had these and similar statements send to me via email several times before and have likely responded to them as well. But whoever finds meaning in them and interprets them in their own self-righteous way as though they are Biblical pronouncements, I'm likely not to change anyone's mind. But I would appreciate very much if anyone who has read these five faux profundities and my perplexed reaction to them could offer some enlightened explanation that I may have overlooked.

Here goes...

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read:
I would include them among the worst - and most inane. Thanks for including the qualifier "possibly". I've seen them, and many like them, numerous times before and they are the usual appalling and seemingly mean-spirited apologetic one-liners offered out to the masses by privileged conservative silver spooned fat cats to assuage their conscience. There is never any explanation provided. Worst of all, they are ostensibly either false and/or lacking in meaningful content. I'd like to know what my old Economics 101 professor at UBC would have to say about them. I'm presently reading a new biography of John Maynard Keynes, arguably, along with Bertrand Russell and others in the Bloomsbury group at Cambridge, one of the finest minds of the Twentieth Century. I'm quite sure that both Keynes and Russell would dismiss them as "intellectual rubbish".

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

Perhaps, but there seems to be no problem with legislating already wealthy people into the extremes of obscene affluence as has been done throughout the history of capitalism's primary weapons: colonialism, imperialism, systems of taxation and slavery. Most wealth throughout history has been stolen from others, by the legislation of "private property" or exploitation of public lands for private profit. The Spanish, the British and now the Americans have been the most merciless and brutal exploiters of both human beings and resources in history. And it continues unabated. We in North America reside on land that was stolen from indigenous populations followed by a brutal systematic genocide, and then followed by generations of institutionalized racism and exclusion. Women, African and Native Americans were barred from the political process and any semblance of economic power until well into the 20th century. Our present tax system is highly biased in favour of the already wealthy, the small 1-2% of people who own 95% of the wealth and control the political machinery and politicians. Corporate tax rates are now at an all-time low, comparable to the Robber Baron era of the late 19th Century Rockefeller's and J P Morgan's when thievery, corruption and exploitation were as rampant as they are today. During the past several decades of draconian regressive neo-conservative economic policies which have led to economic Armageddon, we're quickly approaching the end-game. Wealth and power make the rules. I call it the "Golden Rule": those with the gold make the rules. It's a truism. Without legislation to at least attempt to create equal opportunity for the underprivileged majority and an even economic playing field, we'd be back to the world of Charles Dickens novels or if you go further back in history, brutal feudal systems that include monarchy and theocracy. It wasn't called the "Dark Ages" for nothing - and that's back to where we seem to be heading.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

I'm not even sure what this is supposed to mean or imply. Of course there are people who want to "game" the system, but most of those who get away with it are so called "entrepreneurs" or capitalists like the criminal bankers who flogged sub-prime mortgages and arcane investment instruments and sociopaths like Bernie Madoff,  Bernie Ebbers, (hey, why are so many scum bags named Bernie?),Ken Lay and countless others. I have never met anyone (except for alcoholics or people with psychological dysfunction) who do not want to be employed and have a job with decent wages and working conditions. Thanks to phoney neo-conservative free trade agreements and the phenomenon of globalism, hundreds of thousands of the best working class jobs in America have been exported to the Third World which are basically draconian systems of slavery with no protection for either workers or the environment. We don't have to re-trace  time too far back to recall when workers had no time off, worked long hours in dangerous conditions for starvation wages and died young due to work related illnesses and risks. These are the real risk takers - forget the risk free entrepreneurs who can just walk away from their failed enterprises by either bailout (if you are "too big to fail") or declaring the company bankrupt. Anytime you see a major business failure, why is it that the principals of that failed company still walk away with boatloads of money? And if you classified as "too big to fail" you get the multi-billion dollar golden parachute bail out by the Conservative Corporate Welfare State

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

So capitalism is a zero-sum game? That seems to be an implicit assumption in this crazy ass statement so if that is the case, it's simply false. That's not what my Economics 101 course taught - in fact we were told by our right wing economics professor that wealth creation is the primary capitalist's mission statement. It's ironic that whoever made up this absurd falsity brings the government into the game as if it's an essential component to the capitalist system (which in today's system of state capitalism is clearly true) despite what we are told by icons and acolytes of capitalism that government should stay out of business - another Big Lie. Without government tweaking of the economy, tax handouts to big business and bailouts when they fail, most companies would be bankrupt in months. It's a farce, like the so-called free trade agreements like NAFTA. Free enterprise might be a good idea but it's never been tried. What we have is a system of socialism for the wealthy and the big corporations (corporatism) where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. Now that's the real welfare state.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

No, but we'd still end up with the same totality of wealth, but distributed in a more just and equitable manner. In fact if you look up "democracy" in the dictionary, the primary criterion and defining word is "equality". But capitalism doesn't need, or even desire, democracy. It thrived under Hitler and it flourishes under most totalitarian regimes around the world today. Let's be honest, throughout history most wealth has been either stolen or acquired via some privileged position in society, usually by contingency of birth. The notion of a meritocracy is a cruel joke along with the belief by conservatives that all wealth is deserved and earned. Give me a break! The above statement #4 is basically meaningless - or at the very best a lame metaphor (and symbolic of what I cannot even speculate). If it's not meaningless, I'd appreciate anyone reading this to explain it to me - any takers? Maybe it's some profundity, perhaps attributable to my limited intellectual apparatus? Can someone elaborate?

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Is there any relevance or justification for the "half"? Can someone refer me to the source of the 50% number in yet another dubious statement, likely void of any epistemic content? I have never met anyone, save those born with a silver spoon (we should upgrade this to the "platinum spoon" with the vulgar inequalities we find today), who believes this nonsense. I can't even guess the source of it other than some pampered conservative platinum spooned dolt like George W Bush who never had to work a day in his life, gone to elite private schools, sent to the best Ivy League University after a phone call from the old man and who has inherited the family fortune or business. Bush screwed up every job in which his equally obtuse old man placed him and did the same when he became (wait for it) President of the United States. That was a real cock-up. But people such as this find it convenient or necessary to morally justify their good fortune by spewing out the old master-slave adage of getting off your ass, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and picking up a shovel. Most people have to work to survive and they know it. Unfortunately for those who do have to work, most jobs are low paying, detrimental to both physical and psychological well-being, deadly boring and fry your brain within months.


Original Email sent to me:

Important Note: I have since discovered that the man in the photo below is an extreme right wing racist anti-Semite Christian fundamentalist by the name of James P Wickstrom. No surprise eh? Just do a Google search on the bigoted ignoramus.

When the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
 Is this man truly a genius? Checked out and this is true...it DID happen!  

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
 When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
 It could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) 
Remember, there IS a test coming up. The 2012 elections. 

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

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