Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pizza, bombast, ADHD and Broke.

Broke, Glenn Beck. The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure. 2010,  406pp

When did pizza become pie? As in “One large PIE, one topping, $4.99”. Pizza pie makes pizza an adjective when it is really a noun. As is “let’s get Pizza” or “one slice of Combo” and “How old is that pizza in the fridge?” Pie is a confectionery delight; not meat-cheese and sometimes vegetables, (and please never pineapple and ham, another abomination, a blasphemy and a sin against nature for which the perpetrators will have to answer in a higher sphere), meant to be enjoyed after dinner and often for breakfast. Pie for breakfast is especially marvelous if it is a tart, fresh apple pie, cold and firm.  When you think of pie what comes to mind?  In my mind, it’s Marie Callenders not Tonys New York Pizza. Although it must be stipulated, there is absolutely nothing wrong with pizza for breakfast, especially if it was left out to age on the counter all night. The ability and desire to eat either pie and or pizza, or both for breakfast does not allow the amalgamation of the two things into this almost oxymoron, Pizza Pie. It is this confused thinking and misuse of the language that has allowed “like” to become the most incorrectly used and  repeated word in adolescent universe. (Hopefully, Megan will outgrow it soon). 

I wonder why Glen Beck is either disliked (despised) or loved. I think it is the same confused thinking that confuses a greasy cheese – meat combination on toast with a sugary fruity treat in a basket of dough. I am convinced, those that rail against him the most, have heard him talk the least. In his most recent book BROKE, Beck decided to educate and persuade. I was disappointed at first. Missing was bombast, hyperbole and table pounding ranting. I love table pounding ranting. I wish I had more such opportunities. At first, finding reason and gentle discourse guiding the writing, I wondered if a ghost writer was responsible. As I read it however, too many of Becks aphorisms appeared for it to be truly ghosted. If you listen to his radio show, you would also hear him talking a lot in the book. The book was sort of a beginner’s introduction to history and economics. Factually, I could find no errors. It is full of references and quotes from famous people mostly inserted to illustrate his points.It was very well documented, annotated and referenced.
Let me give some examples from the book. I know this is a long post. Do not go ADHD and quit early. Finish reading!!!

Beck is not a fan of Woodrow Wilson, the first true progressive (communist) elected president. I will include 2 quotes Beck gives from Wilson and you will see why Beck (and I dislike Wilson).It is interesting to hear the progressive language of over 100 years ago. I hear the echoes every day in the current political debate. I think Mr. Beck is correct when he compares the current situation to the philosophy of Woodrow Wilson.
” The people of the United States do not wish to curtail the activities of this government; they wish, rather, to enlarge them; and with every enlargement, with the mere growth, indeed, of the country itself there must come, of course, the inevitable increase of expense it is not expenditure but extravagance that we should fear being criticized for.”
"While we are followers of Jefferson, there is one principle of Jefferson’s which no longer can obtain in the practical politics of America. You know that it was Jefferson who said that the best government is that which does as little governing as possible but that time is past. America is not now and cannot in the future be a place for on restricted individual enterprise.”
 Beck writes: “Wilson believed that all that was needed to usher in the radical social engineering he envisioned to create his utopia was for Americans to abandon their blind devotion to the Constitution. If he could convince the public to do that, all manners of hell could be unleashed. But first he had to champion the idea that the people behind the Constitution, our founders, were shortsighted. Sure they may have been brilliant for their time but things are different now: p73

Beck writes about legacy myths

;“ let's get the part out of the way that everyone already seems to know: the Congressional budget office (CBO) reports that Bill Clinton ran surpluses from 1998 through 2001. They were the first surpluses in 28 years. But there's one teeny-weeny fly in the ointment that you won't hear a lot of Clinton supporters point out: our national debt rose every single year that Clinton was in office. It started at 6.2 trillion,(in 2009 dollars) when he took office in 1992 and ended at about 7 trillion dollars 8 years later. Compared to other administrations, a 13% increase in the national debt over two terms is something to be celebrated as nearly historic. But in the real world, $800 billion is still a lot of money.
So how did it happen? How could Clinton claim to be running surpluses while our national debt was still climbing rapidly? The answer lies in how the government calculates its numbers…..and how politicians spin them. But first, a big disclaimer: while I am about to illustrate how Clinton was able to claim surpluses even though our debt was rising, the truth is that every single president starting with Reagan has used the same tactics. The only reason Clinton gets singled out, perhaps unfairly, is that he actually reduced spending more than the others and was therefore into “surplus” territory. That makes them a bigger target, but the truth is you can't criticize Clinton for this without being equally critical of Pres. Reagan and both of the bushes.”p108 (don't you miss the ranting about irresponsible Democrats?)
As the story builds Beck explains:“While fingers can be pointed at any number of people or parties, there's really only one group that bears ultimate responsibility: us. The American people have been, for the most part, willing to sit idly by as our leaders spent away our future. Sure we didn't sign the checks or make the backroom deals, but we didn't hold people accountable either. Decade after decade we express outrage and shock over our financial condition, yet we continue to elect the same people again and again and expect different results. It truly is, as Einstein once said, the very definition of insanity. P146
Beck is correctly critical of our Supreme Court. He explains how progressives using the courts have evolved the definition of individual rights, freedoms and were able to create new rights called entitlements.

He writes :”At the time of its (the Constitution) drafting, most of the founders did not want to include a Bill of Rights. Why? Because to them it was obvious that the government should not infringe on individual rights, since the Constitution did not grant that power to them. Including a Bill of Rights, they believed, would actually give more weight to the view that any rights not specifically listed would be fair game for infringement. That was obviously not their intent. As  Ayn Rand wrote:”the government was set to protect man from criminals-and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government. The Bill of Rights was not directed against private citizens, but against the government-has an explicit declaration that individual rights supersede any public or social power”…. How do you introduce new rights such as entitlements? The answer, it turned out was revolve the meaning of the Constitution… In 1985, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr, expressed this view when he said, ”for the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and grenades. Another Supreme Court justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, went even further by doubting the fundamental belief that man was ever even endowed with unalienable rights. “All my life”, he wrote, “I have sneered at the natural rights of man” p222
Beck spends a section discussing entitlements.”Freedom from want doesn't mean happiness and contentment, which is what most people think of; it means exactly the opposite. When your wants (which are impossible to eliminate unless you're dead) are provided by others, then you are, by default, reliant upon those others. If the government gives you free food every month then you inevitably become dependent upon it for that food. That's not freedom at all: it serfdom. Samuel Adams saw this very early as a potential danger.”The utopian schemes of leveling [redistribution of wealth] and the community goods[state ownership of property],”he wrote,” are as visionary and impractical as those which best all property in the crown.[These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional. Now what property can the colonists be conceived  to have, if their money may be granted away to others, without their consent?”. It's a great question-is something you own can be taken away without your consent, do you really own anything at all?p227
After clearly identifying and defining the problems. He does offer solutions. He believes we should return to faith, God, governance by legislation and not by unelected judges. Of course he supports the concept of private property and  the danger governments pose to ownership of such property. Social Security is a perfect example. Why can’t individuals own their Social Security contributions?  He also believes in a balanced budget. He wants to do away with class envy and establish equality and fairness in taxation.. He recommends the flat tax,( who could disagree with that) believing the so-called progressive tax code is a disaster.
In spite of striking absence of screaming, table pounding and name calling I really liked the book. I think those who have passed judgment on Beck without a fair trial, should read this book, critically, but with an open mind. For those who freely reject facts, data, ideas backed up with documentation which are contrary to their beliefs, (liberals mostly) and who in spite of all evidence to the contrary cling fiercely to their emotionally based beliefs and good intentions will waste their time here. For those same individuals (liberals mostly) , no evidence, no fact and no amount of reasoned argument will overcome their prejudices. And they call Sarah Pallin dumb. Addressing that of course, that would be the another entry.

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