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A View from the Altar / Street rage here and there
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Street rage here and there

Arab street rage

Rage is all the rage these days in Tunisa, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and now the Saudis are feeling the heat and giving away billions to suppress discontent with money.  It doesn’t fit my subtitle, but even the Chinese government has been obliged to start a counter-revolution of sorts. They’ve blocked the word “jasmine” from their internet even though they already block Facebook.

The obvious thing in common with all these countries is their rulers’ fear of freedom. Two lessons learned: Governments have less power than they advertise, and they can misuse their people for only so long before blowback in the form of street rage sets in.  Enough of it can overturn governments.  Both lessons are apropos in America.

Tea Party street rage

Recent street protests in the United States have some similarities and differences to what’s going on in other countries. The obvious similarity lies in discontent with the government.  The Tea Party folks did some very effective albeit peaceful street raging leading up to the elections in 2010 whereupon they mopped the floor with congressional Democrats and delivered us from Nancy Pelosi and the perma-grin.  The issue uniting virtually all Tea Party activities is alarm over runaway federal spending that threatens to overthrow the republic by wiping out the economy. It marks something uniquely American: millions upon millions of people raging for their government do less.  And then cleaning up their trash before leaving.  Could we have more of this, please?

Bureaucrat street rage

So now the un-Tea Party folks from the government workers’ unions are demonstrating in the other direction. Their basic message is, “Don’t touch my subsidy.” My sense is that the union demonstrators are winning no public sympathy. Find me American who has not had an infuriating, outrage-provoking interaction with a government worker and I’ll show you a newborn infant. Everybody else has been on the receiving end of government arrogance, incompetence, and indifference.

So now they’re marching to decry fiscal restraint when the public mood is all in favor of putting the brakes on spending. This is coming across as government employees extending an invitation to the taxpayers to go to Hades as the Democrats chortle, “Yesss! And get bloody while you’re at it!” This has been going on for generations, and people are sick of it, so blowback is happening.  Unions have been caught off guard — in Wisconsin of all places! — just like Hosni Mubarak who never saw it coming. It’s like they’ve sent out invitations to a revolution masquerade party celebrating the bank-busting status quo and are tetchy about the avalanche of RSVPs coming back saying no thanks.

And that’s why government union employees in Wisconsin and elsewhere would do well to take down the signs, turn off the bullhorns, get off the streets, and go back to work with fresh resolve to do their work better, faster, cheaper, and with exceeding good cheer.

D.C., the All-Munificent!

But this is all just surface stuff. Spiritual plate tectonics ultimately determines where the earthquakes happen. And on that score, American life is awfully greedy these days, and the chief agent of public greed is government.  Why single out the government and not Wall Street or somebody else?  Because they’re the only ones who can convert greed into law and enforce it.  People come to Washington with redistribution schemes in mind, and it always involves putting somebody else’s money in the pockets of me and my friends. The guys in Washington write the laws and wield the guns, so people approach them, campaign contributions in hand, to supplicate for what they want. Too often, they get it, and at the cost of trillions, which is why we’re careening into a republic-killing financial crisis.

It’s popular on the left to characterize opponents of redistribution as greedy, but as is typical with leftist name-calling, this has things precisely backwards. It’s not greedy for people who work for their families and their own needs to want to spend their earnings for, well, their families and their needs. The real greed brokers are those who produce nothing but demand much and use the guns and lawyers of Washington to get it. This is building up to some blowback where the guys with guns and lawyers get acquainted with the limitations on their power.

From the bank to the graveyard

If the correction were to happen too late, and if America actually passes through an Egypt-like collapse, it would not be the first time God used the wicked as a rod to chastise an erring nation. And if you want to see where we’re erring, just stand on the forest floor yanking the vine of greed, and you’ll see one of the tree limbs that shakes biggest is America’s relentless slaughter of the unborn. The engine of abortion is greed. It’s greed in the men who run abortion factories, greed in the politicians who get bought off to fund Planned Parenthood, and greed on the part of people who prefer to slay an inconvenient child because kids are expensive. No, it doesn’t make headlines down here on Earth, but you should doubt the sanity of whoever tells you that God will shrug it off because of American exceptionalism.

Likewise, America wages a lot of unnecessary wars. Eisenhower famously warned about the military-industrial complex, and that’s become another wealth redistribution scheme whose medium of exchange is human blood. Yes, we need a strong defense to deter enemies. What we never needed was a military empire with forces encircling the globe, and we didn’t need all the wars that have followed from that. But the Good Book says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and when evil gets done it brings forth death.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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