Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Falling Hard While Falling Short

You hear an awful lot from politicians, conservatives mostly, of how important the private sector is and how the public sector should be eschewed. They seem to forget, exactly as they are speaking those words, that they themselves are working in the public sector.

Maybe the reason we hear this repeated so often from conservatives is that they really do know how hard it is to work in the private sector and they’re trying their best to avoid it by getting elected or, if already in office, to stay there.

And, if not public office, at least a friendly think tank assignment.

It is a dog-eat-dog world, after all.

By working in the private sector, one can focus their talents on practicing self reliance and avoid the temptations of receiving public benefits of any sort, gumption...bootstraps...get up and go (but not this kind). 

So the narrative goes. Sounds good, at least at first blush. Yet, how come so many of those that espouse this philosophy do not adhere to it themselves?

Paul Ryan, a front-runner for a leadership position on the Hypocratic Party, is an excellent example of this phenomena. He works hard to try to deny others' government benefits that he was able to take advantage of. Then, he used the education he got to largely avoid working in the private sector. Why?

Could it be that Ryan feels it’s a lot easier to tell other people how to live, what to do, than to live up to those ideals himself?

Ayn Rand’s name often comes up (she is his hero), when someone invariably mentions the ‘makers’ and the ‘takers’, as Ryan has been known to do. It turns out she herself became a taker in her later years, receiving both Social Security and Medicare, after railing against any form of government assistance, yet she saw no irony in it, when she needed it.

Imagine. The Queen of Self Reliance relying on someone other than herself.

(One of Rand's biggest followers, Nathan Blumenthal (who went by 'Nathaniel Branden', in order to incorporate Rand's name in his) had an affair with Ayn and after he lost interest in the John Birch Society's pin-up girl, began seeing another someone who wasn't his wife. Ayn found out, excommunicated him, which led him to contemplate whether the "Collective" (Ayn's ironic term for her inner circle of friends) would try to assassinate him. Fun group, no doubt.)

This begs the question: If it’s okay to take Social Security, Medicaid, etc. with the justification that your own money was put into it and therefore, one is entitled (I apologize for my language - I hope there are no children in the room) to it, okay...okay – but then you have to stop criticizing others (like Ryan does, but spares any criticism of Rand) who are receiving, or have received, Social Security.

If, on the other hand, you maintain the position that Rand became a ‘taker’, then you must denounce her and her philosophy and never repeat it again.

We also have another member of the Hypocratic Party, Ron Johnson, purported job creator, famed Tea Partier, is another candidate for Hypocratic Party leader. This former CEO of Pacur LLC, a company which received a $75,000 federal grant in 1979 and between 1983 and 1985 used industrial development bonds to fund plant expansion.

Ron Johnson, Senator from Wisconsin, is an admirer of Rand. He's another pretender, posing as a self-resourceful businessman who tries hard to make it sound like he's all bootstrap. Except he isn't. He claims that he and his brother-in-law started Pacur. while this claim is technically true, it is also only technically true. The new company had in reality been in operation, and simply took it's one customer and re-named itself.

Again, nothing wrong with this, and at least it is in the private sector. Yet to hear Johnson talk about it, he make it sound as if he did it on his own. The reality is that he caught a break through the public assistance with loans and grants. That, and marrying a woman who's family had a thriving business didn't hurt, either.

And there, right there, is the rub. Both Johnson and Ryan caught a break and that break is what made the difference in their lives, and surely in the lives of their respective families as well. Others who would benefit from the benefits Ryan got, for instance, wouldn’t be able to leverage those ‘breaks’ as well as he did because we all don’t come from wealthy families to begin with. This group would be using that money to survive, not to thrive.

But if you get a break that’s available to anyone and after you get that break and no longer need it, you fight to deny that same break to others who do need it and are currently in the same boat you were in when you got it, is hypocrisy.

When you hold a position of power from where you can achieve that goal of denying other’s what you once had, then you are in the lead for the Hypocratic Party’s nomination.