Sunday, May 9, 2010

Zero-Sum Game

Dr. Sowell has hit the nail on the head once again in his article of May 4th for Townhall.( There he discusses the recent phenomena of black students beating up Asian students. It is a worthy read, which, unfortunately will not be read by those who need to read it most.

Dr. Sowell asks just why blacks have been attacking Asians, who obviously never had anything to do with past injustices done to blacks.
He concludes it is the old green-eyed devil, envy: resentment.
Here he has uncovered an old problem finding traction in a variety of contexts and circumstances, a traction exacerbated and encouraged by those with collectivist sympathies.

Cain's murder of Able is history's first recorded murder. What drove Cain to do such a heinous act? It was envy. Cain's envy of and hatred for Able existed because Able's sacrifice was accepted while Cain's was not. The pain of rejection and envy of Able's success were not very different from what drove these black students to attack Asians. But Asians should not feel picked on or singled out. Blacks commonly attack other blacks who are achieving as well. So, at its root, we have here a malice driven, not by race, but by the fact that another's good work and success exposes one's own short comings and failures.

It's been a while since I've read the account but I believe upon Cain's rejection God exhorts him to do well himself and he will be accepted. Then God warns if he does otherwise he is in danger---"sin is at the door." Millennia later the evil and the message seem to remain unchanged---which in some odd way is comforting; that we haven't changed all that much inwardly means the restrictions, prohibitions and consequences people experienced then can and should still be taken seriously, and the moral messages in Scripture cannot be set aside today without terrible consequences.

Heedless and perhaps even contemptuous of these truths, modern "thinkers," including our Dear Leader, Chairman O, often imply we can set aside the old ways since modern discoveries have eliminated many of these ancient superstitions and replaced them with a higher, more noble, more compassionate--dare I say it, more utopian vision; we don't have to be entrapped by the old, antiquated way of rewarding good behavior and punishing bad.

In fact, according to modern liberal thought, such reward and punishment models are the products of superficial, simplistic and shallow thinking--they are things modern neanderthals we call "conservatives" might think. But, so they continue, we liberals are deeper and more enlightened. What we see is the achievement of one person is at once the cause and effect of the inequities suffered by another; one cannot climb the mountain of success without digging his heel into the faces of those who lag behind, resulting in their failure. This is unjust and unfair. Therefore, our labor as a society should not be that of rewarding the achiever with real success while offering nothing more than encouragement for the slacker, accompanied by a warning. This does society no good. What is needed is the removal of the perceived inequities that prevent parity in achievement (a.k.a. equality of outcome).

Educational achievement, it seems, is to our Dear Leader O, what economic achievement and vocational success also seems to be to him: a zero sum game. Put simple, the more money I make the less you can make, the more math problems I will answer rightly the more you will, as a consequence, have to answer wrongly.

Much of Dear Leader O's rhetoric implies that there is only so much achievement, only so much economic/vocational success available. In such a context the gain of some results, de facto, in the loss of others, creating unacceptable inequities. These inequities are all the more unacceptable when the losses fall mostly on certain ethnic or social groups. Therefore, the function of society in general and government in particular is to intervene and level the playing field by whatever means the situation requires.

This is the Marxist, collectivist vision par excellence, born of what Nietzsche called "resentement". And it is as decidedly false as it is UnAmerican. It is the mentality of the slave, and that, no doubt, is just where collectivist leaders want those who follow them.

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