Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Magic Word: "Change"

The magic word "change" makes specifics unnecessary. If things are going bad, some think that what is needed is blank-check "change." But history shows any number of countries in crises worse than ours, where "change" turned problems into catastrophes.

In czarist Russia, for example, the economy was worse than ours is today and the First World War was going far worse for the Russians than anything we have faced in Iraq. Moreover, Russians had nothing like the rights of Americans today. So they went for "change." That "change" brought on a totalitarian regime that made the czars' despotism look like child's play. The Communists killed more people in one year than the czars killed in more than 90 years, not counting the millions who died in a government-created famine in the 1930s.

Other despotic regimes in China, Cuba, and Iran were similarly replaced by people who promised "change" that turned out to be even worse than what went before.

Yet many today seem to assume that if things are bad, "change" will make them better. Specifics don't interest them nearly as much as inspiring rhetoric and a confident style. But many 20th century leaders with inspiring rhetoric and great self-confidence led their followers or their countries into utter disasters.

These ranged from Jim Jones who led hundreds to their deaths in Jonestown to Hitler and Mao who led millions to their deaths.

~Thomas Sowell's column today

32 Comments:

At 10/21/2008 9:20 AM, Anonymous LoneSnark said...

Ahh, but there is a justification for American's willingness to support Change. Afterall, we are spoiled by the structure of America's government, which is strongly structured against bad change.

As such, if we elect Mao to the white house, the negative effects will be minor due to interference from congress, the courts, custom, local governance, and most of all bureaucracy; perhaps sufficiently minor that they may even be overlooked (afterall, FDR at the time was not blamed for his Great Depression). As such, when time heals the problem, Americans might even come to believe Mao was good for the country.

But, even if Mao even managed to be a destructive as FDR, compare FDR's depression to Mao's depression: a lack of prosperity always trumps starvation.

 
At 10/21/2008 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article and so true...followers of the "The Messiah" resent having the facts pointed out to them. Voters for Obama have made up their mind and really don't want the truth to get in the way. H.L. Mencken was right about the general stupidity of American voters.

 
At 10/21/2008 11:22 AM, Anonymous qt said...

It is a stretch to argue that the "change" promulgated by Obama is akin to the revolutionary change and totalitarianism of Hitler, the Bolcheviks or Mao. Whatever the lack of detail, it is highly unlikely that he will morph into a totalitarian dictator or a mesanic cult leader comparable to the infamous Jim Jones.

Obama is hardly the first nor will he be the last politician to talk of change. Even the ancient Romans wrote of change.

Thomas Sowell demonstrates the danger of overblown rhetoric ironically his own. His outlandish comparisons almost obscur the point he is trying to make, namely that we do not know much about what a President Obama would do.

Thomas Sowell demonstrates wonderfully how to invalidate your position through the use of exaggerated examples and overblown rhetoric that appeals to the emotions rather the reader's logic. Our sense of fair play naturally sides with Senator Obama even if we do not embrace his program.

One can readily accept the better argument but this sure isn't it. Even Senator Obama deserves better than to be lumped into this rogues' gallery.

 
At 10/21/2008 1:16 PM, Blogger Arman said...

>afterall, FDR at the time was not blamed for his Great Depression<
When FDR took office things were as bad as they ever got and worse than they ever had been. Almost immediately there was strong economic growth that had never before been seen.
>Voters for ------ have made up their mind and really don't want the truth to get in the way.<
ahhh yeah.

 
At 10/21/2008 1:27 PM, Anonymous qt said...

Sowell is apparently not familiar with presidential slogans of the past:

A Leader, For a Change - Jimmy Carter

America Needs a Change - Walter Mondale

 
At 10/21/2008 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, comparing Obama to Mao and Hitler is a very well informed opinion (sarcasm, obviously). This is the worst post I have ever seen on this blog.

 
At 10/21/2008 2:42 PM, Blogger Arman said...

>This is the worst post I have ever seen on this blog.<
Nah, its typical Sowell who is a typical economist. I don't know how these idiots get press, but press they get. With popularity their spurious comments are even less scrutinized, not that anything they've ever said has any foundation in anything but rhetoric.

 
At 10/21/2008 2:59 PM, Anonymous LoneSnark said...

>Almost immediately there was strong economic growth that had never before been seen.<
still suffering 20% unemployment six years after FDR was elected is not what I would call "growth that had never before been seen." Unless you are referring to the fact that it was a stunning lack of growth for such a long period of time that such poor performance had never been seen before, in which case you would be right.

 
At 10/21/2008 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

....Nah, its typical Sowell who is a typical economist.....

Its seems that another typical economist (Volcker) doesn't think that change is that bad.

 
At 10/21/2008 4:10 PM, Anonymous qt said...

"typical Sowell who is a typical economist"

While Sowell routinely writes this kind of bunkum, I have not come across any economist who would compare Obama to Hitler or Mao. Could provide examples to back up that statement?

"not that anything they've ever said has any foundation in anything but rhetoric"

Perhaps, it's time to check the definition of rhetoric as well as defamation.

"This is the worst post I have ever seen on this blog."

Correction, this is one of the most poorly argued op eds ever posted on this blog.

Many of my fellow boomers do not seem to recognize the difference bewteen over-the-top, disproportionate comparisons and a logical, rational argument with evidence to back up the central claim. It seems to reflects the legacy of growing up in the tumultous 60s and 70s.

By all means, question Obama, and question McCain but do so on the basis of their statements, their public records and their proposals rather than employing sweeping historical generalizations and exaggerated comparisons to Hitler and Mao.

 
At 10/21/2008 4:24 PM, Blogger bobble said...

LOL!

if you vote for obama, the usa may turn into a totalitarian communist regime, run by jim jones and mao. millions will die of famine or be murdered.

 
At 10/21/2008 5:57 PM, Anonymous qt said...

Can you imagine the furor if any white writer actually wrote this stuff?

 
At 10/21/2008 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you needed any more proof that our blog host is a right wing-nut, he wastes space on this garbage.

I would like to know what facts anon at 10:30 is talking about.

We are to believe Electing Obama president of the USA wil convert the USA into a totalitarian communist regime, run by Jim Jones and Mao in which millions will die of famine or be murdered, who is really drinking the "Kool-Aid". hahahahaha

Let's not forget Barack "Hussein" Obama is an arab terrorist who kill babies. (sarcasm of course)

 
At 10/22/2008 4:18 AM, Blogger Arman said...

"Unless you are referring to the fact that it was a stunning lack of growth for such a long period of time..."
You are spouting propaganda that masquerades as educated opinion. You have not investigated the facts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Gdp20-40.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:US_Employment_Graph_-_1920_to_1940.svg
I was looking for a graph for the unemployment but couldn't find one. There are two list of figures on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Deal. Given the emotional revisionist history that you're spouting and further exaggerating, coupled with the clear GDP growth, I think it quite plain that the figures by Lebergott are quite concocted.
The recession of 37 was caused by the courts overturning FDR's initiatives, and not by a failure of those initiatives. Once FDR got sufficient support in the court, the depression was over.

 
At 10/22/2008 4:30 AM, Blogger Arman said...

"While Sowell routinely writes this kind of bunkum, I have not come across any economist who would compare Obama to Hitler or Mao."
If this swill isn't agreed to and supported by Carpe Diem, then why is Sowell given this attention?
"Perhaps, it's time to check the definition of rhetoric as well as defamation."
Linguistic persuasion is what economics is all about. When it comes to brass tacks, there just isn't any substance. Economists are supposed to understand how the economy works, but most don't even understand what makes money money, and are taught only to defend the existing theories and ignore any information that renders the theories invalid.

 
At 10/22/2008 7:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to know what facts anon at 10:30 is talking about.
I'm certain there are plenty to choose from:
1. The Obama/Biden socialist wealth redistribution plan
2. The Ayres connection
3. The ACORN connection
4. Lack of real experience / no real record in the Senate.

The list is pretty extensive and I don't have that kind of time. Of course, you won't hear anything about these in the news b/c the media is expending all of its effort trying to dig up something on Palin or throw McCain under the bus for (economy, Iraq, numerous real estate investments...just pick one).

The mainstream media and masses of voters, just like you anon 11:44pm, are so orally fixated on the tool of the Obama rhetoric that they really don't have time for the truth. It would seem that The Anointed One is enjoying quite a suck fest out there. Since the mainstream media is too consumed with its Obama worship services, it really is up to blogs like CD, Town Hall, etc. to air out these things. But then, you should be happy. What other forum would allow you to smoke pot in your mother's basement and rail against "The Man", pump your fist, and join in the Obama lovefest? You should thank Dr. P. for giving you that outlet!

 
At 10/22/2008 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Gdp20-40.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:US_Employment_Graph_-_1920_to_1940.svg
I was looking for a graph for the unemployment but couldn't find one."

I hold suspect the academic integrity of anyone who would use wikipedia as a source/reference. What IS your academic background, arman? You seem to hold a strong view of the Austrian School (especially when it comes to the role of money)...but that seems to be the only rabbit in your hat. I'm sure that there are many of us who are curious as to what your credentials are.

 
At 10/22/2008 12:07 PM, Blogger Arman said...

"I hold suspect the academic integrity of anyone who would use wikipedia as a source/reference"
So do your own looking, and post contrary data if you can find any! These are facts and not academic opinion. That I disagree with you is not rational excuse to dismiss the facts.

 
At 10/22/2008 1:02 PM, Blogger Arman said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when the opinion is in denial of fact, then the purveyor of that opinion MUST be regarded with extreme suspicion. The implication that FDR caused the depression is as loony as Holocaust denial. It is completely rewriting plain history to suit far fetched theory.

 
At 10/23/2008 7:17 AM, Blogger DB said...

Dear Bobble, Arman, et. al,

Did you knucklehead F___ers even read the article? Or just the segment at the top of the CD Post? Sowell was making a point about change for the sake of change and, how often when the "masses" want that change so badly, they opt for it blindly.

Sowell was not making comparisons of Barack Obama to historical despotic figures, he was simply pointing out the truth about an element of human nature and commenting on how that has played out in the past. Guys, I am not sure how your GRE/GMAT/LSAT/etc. scores stacked up in the Reading/Comprehension section....but you really should think a little more about what the narrative is trying to say before you comment on it. When in doubt, just pick (D)None of the Above so as not to unveil your own stupidity.

 
At 10/23/2008 10:20 AM, Anonymous qt said...

db,

Sowell has picked examples of revolutionary change which he has reduced to mere sound bytes while there are countless historical examples of non-violent, non-revolutionary change that could be used to make the same point, for example:

1. the electoral defeat of Winston Churchill by Anthony Eden and the subsequent downward spiral of Britain
2. the disasterous presidency of Jimmy Carter (the last president who ran on a slogan of change)

I agree with the most of this article with the exception of its "history" lesson of "change". The problem is that the history lesson is so overly-simplified and the comparison so extreme that independents and liberals are more likely to dismiss Sowell as a far-right whackjob than actually question Obama.

If the purpose of the article is persuading voters to take a closer look at Obama, how does preaching to the converted achieve this goal?

 
At 10/23/2008 12:47 PM, Blogger bobble said...

>db:"knucklehead F___ers . . . your own stupidity"

excellent rant, db. great neo-con stuff. you're not up to OBH's command of the english language yet. but, keep trying. it gives us all a good laugh.

>db:"Sowell was not making comparisons of Barack Obama . . . "

it was Dr Perry that picked the excerpts:

". . many today seem to assume that if things are bad, "change" will make them better . ."

seems like Dr Perry wanted his readers to make that comparison.

 
At 10/23/2008 1:33 PM, Blogger Arman said...

>"But many 20th century leaders with inspiring rhetoric and great self-confidence led their followers or their countries into utter disasters.

These ranged from Jim Jones who led hundreds to their deaths in Jonestown to Hitler and Mao who led millions to their deaths."<

If Sowell did not mean the comparison, then this last paragraph should have been left out. If Parry did not support the comparison then this last paragraph should have been left out. If you do not understand the implications, then you should not air your ignorance. You're calling ME stupid??? How bizarre.

 
At 10/23/2008 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the purpose of the article is persuading voters to take a closer look at Obama, how does preaching to the converted achieve this goal?"

qt,
Excellent point, but Sowell was not trying to convert those who are, by his own admission, "un-convertable". He uses extremes to illustrate his point. As if, for example, one used 100% income taxation to help explain the Laffer Curve.

In doing so, his extreme and over-simplified example actually proves his thesis. When Obama-groupies (e.g. bobble), intentionally or by their ignorance, twist the very obvious thesis of his work and attack the author rather than confront the core issue, they demonstrate the phenomenon to which he refers.

His opening remarks pointed to the fact that those with their heads firmly planted up Obama's backside are so "love-struck" that they will in no way respond to the facts, no matter the simplicity or complexity of the presentation. They are, in fact, so enamored that their knee-jerk reaction to criticisms of their Messiah, even those based on the simplest logic, is to plug their ears and scream at the top of their lungs, "La la la I can't hear you, la la la, You're stupid, la la la." (again, insert bobble)
db

 
At 10/23/2008 2:19 PM, Anonymous qt said...

Sowell's reference to "leaders with inspiring rhetoric and great self-confidence" is a direct shot at Obama who is renowned for these qualities. It is beyond merely discussing the psychology of change.

There are lots of other 20th century leaders noted for inspiring rhetoric and great self-confidence...FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan, Churchill, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II to name just a few who did not go on to murder millions.

It is also standard fair for a candidate to run on a change platform questioning the status quo under the incumbent. Ronald Reagan did so using the question "Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?" It's the standard "throw the bums out" rhetoric.

 
At 10/23/2008 3:42 PM, Blogger DB said...

"It is also standard fair [sic] for a candidate to run on a change platform questioning the status quo under the incumbent."

True....but when someone promises change while allowing (or employing) their "cult of personality" to obscure the real, tangible characteristics of that change, then what is delivered may not in any way resemble what was hoped for.

All Sowell is saying is that the vetting process for Obama is distorted by the emotionalism displayed by his worshippers. They not only do not want to discuss the facts, they resent being confronted with them.

 
At 10/23/2008 3:58 PM, Blogger DB said...

"If Parry [sic]did not support the comparison then this last paragraph should have been left out. If you do not understand the implications, then you should not air your ignorance. You're calling ME stupid??? How bizarre."

Arman, seriously dude....give it a rest. I haven't heard anything lucid come from your sector except for "Economists are stupid because they don't understand money".... (I should say lucid but dubious) Talk about a one-trick pony. I am still waiting to learn where you earned your PhD. I have not heard you cite your creds.

As for the post, Dr. Perry posts a lot of controversial stuff. It's up for debate and it's assumed that those who post will actually take the time to READ the whole article in its context before weighing in. If you aren't intelligent enough to figure that out then...yea, I guess I am calling you stupid.
db

 
At 10/23/2008 4:54 PM, Anonymous qt said...

db,

I agree that there definitely needs to be more scrutiny of Obama. Up to this point, Obama has played the race card to effectively shut down his critics while claiming to be the candidate who will "transcend race".

What many including Sowell miss is the way Obama uses white guilt to capitalize on racial politics. It is not merely a cult of personality but a cult of political correctness where questioning Obama is tantamount to racism. When even Bill Clinton can be turned into a racist, there is something disturbingly wrong with this picture.

What is intriguing is to hear a very intelligent, middle aged, female black voter on a Newshour discussion panel compare the Republican Rally with a few individuals making catcalls against Obama to a "lynch mob". Apparently, we have even forgotten what a lynching is.

The way we use language fundamentally alters our perceptions. When Obama tells a crowd that John McCain & the Republicans are going to tell you that he "doesn't look like all the other presidents on the dollar bills", it matters particularly, when they have not done so.

We will not agree on the matter of using the spectre of Hitler, Mao & Jim Jones. In Canada, the premier of Ontario David Peterson had to apologize for comparing Lucien Bouchard, the premier of QC to Hitler. Bouchard argued that comparing a democratically elected leader to a dictator who systematically murdered millions is completely unacceptable. Apparently, Mr. Peterson had meant that Bouchard was a fiery speaker...lost in translation? Not really.

Freedom of speech is not a license to be insulting. Something you might remember when referring to people as "knucklehead F___ers" - shouldn't the correct grammer be knuckleheaded?

It is apparent that there are 2 completely different interpretations of what is a fair comparison. Good arguments have been presented on both sides. It is apparent that Sowell's article has been controversial and certainly stimulated a vigorous response. Perhaps, from that standpoint, it has served as an effective post.

 
At 10/23/2008 5:09 PM, Blogger DB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 10/23/2008 5:21 PM, Blogger DB said...

"Bouchard argued that comparing a democratically elected leader to a dictator who systematically murdered millions is completely unacceptable."

That's one of modern society's problems. Speaking in public is like walking a mine field and someone is just waiting for you to make one politically incorrect mis-step.

I learned my vocabulary (e.g. Knucklehead F____rs) while in uniform in places like southern Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, among others. Not exactly finishing school. I figure if people interpret my words as insulting, that really isn't my issue, it's theirs.
db

 
At 10/23/2008 7:10 PM, Anonymous qt said...

db,

Comparing someone to Hitler is the insult equivalent to loading the photon torpedoes where "knucklehead" is "phasers set to stun". People expect the premier of a province to act like an adult and to accord other elected officials as well as ordinary citizens some common courtesy.

At the risk of beating a dead horse (think I've done that several times here), I question whether we are really talking about political correctness.

Wiki def:
"Political correctness (adjectivally, politically correct; both forms commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term applied to language, ideas, policies, or behavior seen as seeking to minimize offense to gender, racial, cultural, disabled, aged or other identity groups."

Personally, I don't see the connection. The passage invoking Hitler, Mao, etc. as leaders who were inspiring speakers and delivered death and devastation on a monumental scale does not constitute an offense to any particular racial, cultural, disabled, aged or other identity group aside from historians who might say...Say what?

We will never agree on this. So I accept your endictment as an obdurate knucklehead. I do not accept the use of exaggerated claims in argumentation for the purposes of heightening the emotional impact and "creating a stir". It's just poor argumentation and intellectual laziness which weakens the thrust of the argument. I loath when a conservative argues like a liberal...ie. appeals to the emotions and envokes totally exaggerated comparisons.

By contrast, you have argued well despite getting a bit fed up and pushing back a bit. I don't mind the push back and our positions are not that far apart on this. Both of us agree that there should be far more scruitiny of Obama and we don't particularly like what we see.

My apologies for being windy as the Buggy Prof and for severely trying your patience. Hopefully, we will see eye to eye on a future topic.

 
At 10/24/2008 3:55 AM, Blogger Arman said...

"I am still waiting to learn where you earned your PhD. I have not heard you cite your creds."
For a PHD I would have to regurgitate Friedman to the approval of the likes of Parry or Sowell. Sorry, but I don't think I can pretend to be so stupid.
I was introduced to Economics 35 years ago in Algonquin college school of business, Ottawa ON Canada. It took me more than 15 years to unlearn what had been indoctrinated into me, developing my understanding through self study and observation.
The tenets of economics as taught do not lead to any comprehension of the working of the economy, and impair any objective contemplation of events and trends.
You first questioned me about my credentials as an excuse to dismiss the GDP charts that I linked to, that shows the very strong economic growth following FDR's inauguration. I challenged you to look for yourself, and post other data if you could find anything different. What I tell you is indisputable, but you find it quite dismissible because I am not a member of the brainwashed club that Parry and Sowell belong to.
I find it amazing that everyone indoctrinated into economics seems incapable of contemplating reality, and find it so convenient to dismiss information that runs contrary to conventional dogma.
Again, the implication that FDR caused the depression is as loony as Holocaust denial.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home