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Works and Days

The New Commandments on the Barn Wall

February 18th, 2012 - 4:53 pm

4) In our new age of diplomacy, being liked trumps being respected. The former proves we are magnanimous, the latter that we may be unfairly feared and thus by implication unkind. Giving aid to an unappreciative country is a sign of sophisticated largess; cutting it is proof of small-minded vindictiveness. Being despised by recipient Egypt is part of sophisticated diplomacy; withdrawing our bitten feeding hand is abject yokelism. Trying to undermine Putin while assuring him we pose no threat to his dictatorship is now called clever reset; ignoring him while making it clear that he will regret bullying our allies was the primitivism that reset was supposed to address. We would prefer that Iran agree to make only three nukes due to our brilliant outreach diplomacy rather than to make none at all due to its fear of what we Neanderthals might do. In short, being considered right about human nature is a worse charge than being naïve; the one is proof of unthinking traditionalism, the other sophisticated idealism.

5) Collective national wealth is natural; private wealth is unnatural. Barack Obama flies on sophisticated jets because as an American president he deserves that birthright; Boeing, which makes such wonderful planes for profit, does so only by the exploitation of non-union workers. Shut down a Boeing plant, and the planes will still materialize out of the upper air. iPhones, gas, and brain surgery spontaneously appear for all our benefit; engineers, oil company CEOs, and doctors deliberately profit at all our expense. Good things appear on trees; bad people claimed they made them. The gas in your L.A. Mercedes never should come from the oil off your coast. The driver is a refined sort; the refiner is not. Those who use things are to be given more credit for their existence than those who provide them. The consumer, never the supplier, is king: dive into the steps of a swimming pool, and we will curse the negligent or conniving builder who out of greed or ignorance put steps there in the first place.

6) Medieval exemption is not medieval. Saying one thing, while doing another, is no longer hypocrisy, but rather logical, given that sinning is finessed by prior qualification. Deploring racial profiling ensures that you do not have to visit Detroit too often — and never feel guilt in avoiding it. Warren Buffett circumventing inheritance taxes, or fighting the IRS, requires him duly to whine about the soft tax treatment accorded billionaires like himself. Barack Obama can shake down Wall Street donors, but only if he has first branded them fat cats and corporate jet owners. Deriding super-PACsis requisite to creating them. You can keep Guantanamo open only if you damn those who opened it.

7) Victimhood is always sought, never questioned. If affirmative action seems biased and unfair, then we all will claim 1/16th Native American heritage due to our little known great-great grandmothers. We discriminate against Asian students on the basis of their too perfect grades and test scores, but would not so much if they just cited a grandparent unfairly interned or a great-great grandparent indentured to the railroad. What our ancestors apparently did not get to do can be more important now than what we have actually done.

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