By Roger F. Gay
Opening scene: Here we sit, confident that life would be better for the masses if liberty were to be unleashed once again. Economic opportunity would hang in the air like a thick fog to be sucked in, transformed into useful products and shipped out to clamoring consumers. There would be nothing to stop you, or anyone, from pursuing rewards in proportion to effort. A natural balance would be struck in which need and desire were met with personal investment in preparation, cleverness, and work; and we dream of the peace and prosperity it will bring.
Enter the antagonist; a Wal-Mart employee stocking shelves and retrieving shopping carts from the parking lot. He is asking the government to manipulate the market by force, to further disturb the natural balance, to arbitrarily lower the amount of personal investment required from him to meet his needs. Psychological dissonance sets itself to resonate between two opposing world views until our brains begin to boil and swell to the point that our heads are at risk of explosion.
A dark lord: Michael Lind has a new and very disturbing article in Salon, entitled How to beat libertarians on the economy. In it, he remains rather sociopathically distant from the pain and suffering brought on by the current economic depression. He celebrates the collapse of the economy as a call to push the ultimate far-left political agenda. He advocates for marginalization and abandonment of any structural support for small and independent business in favor of big business and abandonment of collective private union bargaining in favor of direct government control. Other competing visions on the left should concede defeat to “the central struggle of our time,” he writes, “which is, or should be, the battle between economic-rights progressivism and libertarian conservatism.”
The crisis: The army of Wal-Mart employees are falling behind on their bills. They have lived through one era of broken promises that hasn't put food on their tables. They want relief now, not another vision of a promised land. You can be sure that unionists, far-left “economics-rights progressives”, and criminal “community organizers” will be making an effort to push things their way. They will use hunger and fear as motivation for this army to engage with them in their continuing war against the legendary but dramatically weakened middle class, which they deceptively label “the rich.”
Queue the political wizard, whose most famous incantation will follow us throughout the ages, forever resolving the issue and restoring logical harmony. “It's the economy, stupid!” The Wal-Mart employee is trying to survive in the same economy we all are. Whether he is surrounded by a thick fog of opportunity or it's just another sunny Obama day with nothing more than hope and change in the air, his basic needs are still there. (The incantation is attributed to campaign strategist James Carville, but made famous by Bill Clinton speaking to opponent George H.W. Bush in a 1992 presidential debate.)
Quest for the secret key: Statistics used in Lind's argument are presented in an opposing discussion at The Economic Collapse Blog. Particularly frightening is the drop in the percentage of self-employed people between 1950 and the present, with the number of self-employed in decline since the beginning of Obama's reign. This vital engine of economic growth and stability has been under attack through various forms and for a variety of reasons from both right and left for decades. We are still very much living in the shadow of the big bang burst of the so-called “tech bubble” that resulted from conscious manipulation to concentrate business activity in large companies and devastate the independent entrepreneurial community. (My article on that is half done. Meanwhile, Bill Gates and the Political Class push on toward world domination.)
The final battle between good and evil: It's the classic war between a “Land of Opportunity” and being “equally poor”; being able to move forward or being forced to spend the rest of your life in a minimum wage job, beaten back at every turn, working endlessly and hopelessly to pay the health insurance bill and all those taxes. What conservatives need to be aware of is that Wal-Mart employees are not our natural enemies. They're just people who are hungry now. And this final battle is obviously a big one. The government is in the hands of the evil dark lords. They currently control the game. We need a bigger army. We should be gathering the Wal-Mart soldiers to fight on the side of good; not as if it's for us (easily manipulated to against “them”) and mere pride in our ideological orientation, but for themselves and their children who will also be working at Wal-Mart minimum wage for their entire lives if this battle is lost.