G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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I checked out Bill Maher’s show last night to see his interview with Charles Murray. Murray did well, though it was clear that there was an unbridgeable gap between Maher and Murray that wouldn’t be closed in a 9 minute segment. We’re all familiar with Murray’s general argument. The social fabric of America has unraveled over the past 50 years.
Maher embraced the so-called Blue Model – to borrow Walter Russell Mead’s term – though he certainly didn’t go so far as to point out that many illegal immigrants have flooded this country and helped stifle wages and displace native workers. No, according to Maher, society unraveled only because the plutocrats have so much money and economic means. As if their having money and, thus, morals is mutually exclusive to people lower on the socioeconomic spectrum having morals as well.
But Maher’s monologue which preceded Murray’s interview is instructive. In it, he pokes fun at the Mormon Mitt Romney by joking that after a five state sweep earlier in the week, Romney and Co. got together for apple juice and animal crackers and even stayed up until past 9 p.m. to celebrate their victory.
Maher’s suggestion is obvious. Romney is plastic and not cool. But Mormons, and Romney, have been very successful in creating strong communities and economic prosperity. These are seemingly things that Maher and other liberals want for the rest of the country. The difference is that Maher and his group want to achieve that prosperity by not going to bed early and letting loose as much as they want. Now, nobody says that you have to abstain from drink or go to bed early, but if you want to make a certain way for yourself, you might need to do it. And if we want to create a society where people live happy and prosperous lives, such a lifestyle probably shouldn’t be something that draws ridicule. Personally, I may not want to live such a life myself, but I could at least recognize how it might be desirable if my goal is to obtain economic prosperity. The anti work ethic has become the ideal, and we wonder why blue collar people would suffer.
Maher’s is the unconstrained vision. What it gets down to is that this country has undergone a revolution in individualism, but many still expect to achieve the same levels of prosperity that they did when they operated under a more civic-minded model. People want to do what they want in the most complete sense. This means paying less mind to any sort of authority, religious figures, magistrates, teachers, or bosses. And that will naturally have economic costs though this realization is always shrouded behind other excuses.