Back to the Basics, by Andrew Joppa

Back to The Basics

by Andy Joppa


“Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”

― Peter Hitchens


Now that childhood in America has been extended to somewhere in the mid-forties, it becomes necessary to expose these graying adolescents to some of the basic of rules of life. While these don’t quite fall into the same category as food, water and oxygen…they come very close. While we are constantly immersed in the inane (and insane) wailings of the Socialist/Progressives, these essential areas of understanding get left behind as mere artifacts of a different world; a world where wisdom trumped rhetorical hyperbole.


In what follows you will read more wisdom than most of these “kids” have been exposed to from the time they were able to read. I am, of course, being optimistic that this “reading thing” has even occurred; reading comprehension doesn’t seem to be their long suit.


All these thoughts pertain to the American political/ economic/ social or cultural environment.  Aside from some incidental comments, none of that wisdom is mine.   I believe we must take a moment and return to these basic and meaningful ideas which will also, gratefully, take us away from the seditious mindlessness of Adam Schiff, Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, The Washington Post, CNN, and all the other voices contaminating, and boring, America.


We have been numbed into a virtual stupor by the endless redundancy of the public debate led by the persistent, devious commentary from the Left…almost all of it directed at our “battle worthy,” and “battle scarred” president…and all of it being detrimental to America.  If it all wasn’t so theoretically important, it would be boring. No, let me be more emphatically truthful…modern Americans, other than Donald Trump, bores me.  This is true within all its institutions and most of their members…uselessly boring. While the Democrats are destructively boring, the Republicans are merely boringly empty.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Never have so many, said so little, about so much.”


So, let’s delve into a few of these critical ideas. Each has direct applicability to modern America and are generally those that are seldom, if ever, offered in our public discourse. I would suggest copying this essay and giving it to your children or grandchildren…or your elected officials.  Perhaps reading it to them may prove to be necessary. (The “wisdom” is in bold, my comments in italics.) Any of these ideas, if introduced, explained, and supported, could change the boring noise of the American dialogue into something productive and meaningful. However, I don’t want to become unduly optimistic. For most Americans, why should they deal with important ideas, when they can be entertained by ideas that are so emotionally satisfying to their animal nature? But…let’s have a go at it regardless.


1)             Good economics is not a “Zero Sum” game– That is, for someone to gain something does not mean someone has to lose something.  The rich seldom get richer because the poor get poorer; they create new wealth that didn’t exist before. Few other areas of economic thought are so intentionally misunderstood and/or warped as this simple adage.  Ignoring this creates the basis for socialist manipulation of ignorant populations. Their manipulation of the ignorant would offer,” If the wealthy have something they have taken if from you.” … “Since they’ve taken it from you it is morally appropriate to take it back.”

A case can be made that this creation of new wealth is the critical defining element of any flourishing economic system.  When this doesn’t occur, it causes of the ultimate impoverishment of any socialist nation. There should be a university course dedicated entirely to this clearly understandable, but scarcely understood, phenomenon.


2)             No pain, no gain- Such incredible wisdom with only four words. There can be no meaningful economic change (gain) without some localized dislocation (pain). The unwillingness to accept this pain will automatically eliminate the possibility of gain.  This, in fact, becomes the Left’s entire game plan. As they “protect” every whining constituency from pain, they block all changes that, over the longer run, would truly benefit that constituency.

 The short-term pain can readily be identified by even the most ignorant, while recognizing and projecting the longer-term benefits requires an awareness and wisdom. The Left has no interest in having their minions functioning at this level….and they don’t.


3)             The end justifies the means- Certainly not every means can be justified by the end.  Even Machiavelli included modifications. The question, however, must still be asked,” If the end doesn’t justify the means, what does?”  If nothing else, the end certainly validates the means.

 If a “means” produces a negative end, it is not a good means.  Liberal economic policy produces economic emaciation wherever its applied.  It’s ends result are always bad…it is therefore…” a bad means”. They, of course, would like their constituents to accept that their intentions were good and therefore they are entitled to their vote.


4)             One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results– In keeping with number 3 above, and for emphasis, it must be remembered, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”


5)             Higher taxes will never lower the deficit- First, higher taxes may decrease revenues (read on The Laffer Curve) and second, even if they increase revenues, these revenues will go into new, “I want to get elected” expenditures, and not into deficit reduction. Higher taxes also tend to take resources out of the hands of wealth builders and put them into the dead end of government social programs.


6)             There’s no such thing as a free lunch- Simply, everything has a cost, either to an individual or to the entire society.  You can get nothing from nothing.  Leftist economic approach ignores this indisputable reality. I remember wide eyed citizens lavishly praising Obama for his generosity. That ‘free lunch” being distributed by Obama, was the result of confiscations imposed on other citizens.


7)             The essential notion of a capitalist society … is voluntary cooperation, voluntary exchange. The essential notion of a socialist society is force- Socialism must ultimately resort to force.  If a society resists a centrally planned concept, then force will always be invoked. This is why variations of socialism killed 100 million of their own citizens in the twentieth century.

Only the billions of decisions made daily by millions of citizens within a free market system, can avoid a central government bringing out the guns for enforcement.


8)             You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state- If we say, “Come on in” …then, those entering, must feed themselves, house themselves, obtain their own healthcare and education…if they don’t, won’t or can’t…THEY MUST SUFFER the consequences, no matter how dire. Since this latter will never be accepted the former cannot be allowed.


9)             The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem- I would suggest, “worse than the problem.” Government is not capable of understanding, or responding to, the complexities of large systems. It can deal with discrete events, but the enormous complexity of health care (for example) cannot be fathomed.


10)       Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program- Never ever… never ever, believe that any temporary government action (or expenditure) will not be extended to permanence, with costs expanding ten-fold.


11)       You know there are very few Marxists left in the world… they’re all in American universities Unfortunately the universities have metastasized to the larger society. Amazingly, many Americans support Marxist economic philosophy which has always failed and reject a free market system which has always worked. Our educational systems have degraded from education to indoctrination.


12)       We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork. Any system within this model will self-destruct.  More and more people will move to nonwork from work…for their own advantage.


13)       Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government. A good government is always defined by its elimination of damage done by previous governments. If the irregular actions of previous governments had never occurred there would scarcely be a need or future governments.


14)       Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation- If inflation is 10% it has taken from you 10% of your wealth and 10% of the value of your income.  It is a tax in every measurable way, except legislative.


15)       Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as they spend their own- Spending “other people’s money” is the general approach used by politicians to get reelected. There is no such thing as a “generous” politician.


16)       There are severe limits to the good that the government can do for the economy, but there are almost no limits to the harm it can do. Almost all economic benefits of government are derived from the government doing nothing…. which they find very hard to do.


17)       It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong- This wisdom stands without comment…it’s obvious. Decision makers must have “skin in the game.”


18)       What exactly is your ‘fair share’ of what ‘someone else’ has worked for? “Fair” is a word only used by someone trying to manipulate you to your own disadvantage. ‘Fair’ is one of the most dangerous concepts in politics. Since no two people are likely to agree on what is ‘fair,’ this means that there must be some third party with power – the government – to impose its will. The road to despotism is paved with ‘fairness’.


19)       Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidityIt may be artificial, but it has all the characteristics of something that’s permanent. It is not what the schools don’t teach that is the problem…it is what they do teach.


20)       America is not democracy within its basic political forms- We are a Constitutional Republic.  Our founders were as concerned with mob rule (a complete democracy) as they were with a dictator.  Within their wisdom, the tyranny of the mob was as detrimental as would be the tyranny of single dictator.


Well…there they are. Twenty moments of intellectual fresh air drawn from a different America.  When our debates start to be populated by ideas like those above, and thousands of others of the same type, you will be able to tell we’re on the road to recovery.  Please send me a note if you know about this happening…I’m guessing I won’t be hearing from you.


Facts are not liberals’ strong suit. Rhetoric is.

Thomas Sowell

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