Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Better for being ridden: the eternal lie of the anointed

Jerry Stratton, July 1, 2020

Childbirth 2000

(Lennart Nilsson, Omni, April 1979)

Every once in a while I run across something that makes me glad for the way history turned out. I’ve been slowly reading through the 1978-1979 issues of OMNI Magazine. In the April 1979 issue, Gena Corea has an article on what childbirth will be like in 2000.

Nativity A.D. 2000. Susan Rogers wants to give birth the old-fashioned way—vaginally. Since most hospital births are done by cesarean section, Susan decides, after her gynecologist confirms her pregnancy, to deliver at home. The midwife—midwives are illegal but omnipresent in America–screens her for risk factors. She finds none.

Toward the end of the pregnancy, while Susan and her husband are relaxing at their home in the woods of Brattleboro, Vermont, a helicopter swoops down and lands in the backyard. A physician and a policeman emerge from the machine and produce a court order authorizing them to take the unborn baby into protective custody to prevent child abuse. They force the screaming woman into the helicopter.

Corea’s twenty-first century was an era when women had transmitters surreptitiously inserted into their womb when their gynecologist confirmed a pregnancy. Childbirth at home was illegal. Not only could you be forced to give birth in a hospital, but the act of trying to avoid the hospital was child abuse. You could lose your child.

It’s a frightening vision of what sounds today like a science fiction dystopian future. The saying that the past is not another country, but another planet, is very apropos. In 1979 Corea’s vision was not an unreasonable prediction. The exact scenario, sans helicopter, happened in 1979 if parents tried to educate their children at home. When this article was written, homeschooling was illegal in every state except Nevada and Utah. The truancy laws were enforced zealously. You can still see remnants of it in old novels and movies. It wasn’t a stretch to project the same enforcement mechanisms to choices of how to birth your child that were already applied to how to educate your child.

Corea’s article appeared in Omni over a year before Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election. Government control was paramount and there was no evidence that either Democrats or Republicans were inclined to change that. Nixon, derided at the time as the far right, had instituted, under a law passed by Democrats, wage and price controls that the left only dreams of today. He eventually dropped wage controls and some price controls, but not all of them, and Carter maintained at least the price controls on energy production. This was all in the midst of a long-enduring economic downturn that defied all predictions of the experts, or at least the experts who recommended government control of people’s wages. Nowadays, we know better. But nowadays is not 1979—yet.

The response of the left is never to reduce control over people. I recently read a book by James Deakin, long-time member of the White House Press Corps; it was written in the early eighties but was still stuck in the pre-eighties mindset. In talking about the Ford administration, he criticized Ford because in Deakin’s view there are two types of inflation: under “demand inflation”, you must raise taxes so that people have less to spend. In a “wage-price spiral” you have to freeze wages so that people have less to spend.

Reducing people’s options were the only options recognized by the beltway class. It’s been this way since the Republican Party was founded in opposition to the beltway class.

Better for being ridden

They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of kingcraft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people—not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument and this argument of the judge is the same old serpent that says, “You work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it.” — Abraham Lincoln (The Life and Writings of Abraham Lincoln)

“The judge” that Lincoln mentions was Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, one of the many spokespersons for slavery in the North. The Republican Party has often lost their way since, and many Republican politicians still haven’t found their way back. And in 1979 it looked like they never would.

That’s why Reagan’s election was such a surprise event in the beltway. He completely upended the political dynamic between the two parties. He did this by showing that voters still valued being responsible for their lives. With Reagan’s election, instead of different levels of government control over individuals, the argument became a real discussion that included the old-school Republican option of letting people make their own choices. Even today, because of Reagan, Republican politicians must pay lip service to the idea if they wish to get elected.

This is what made the beltway class so angry about Trump’s election, too. In 2012 we were well on our way to government-controlled healthcare, the kind that produced so many photos of chaos in Italy during the COVID-19 epidemic, and which the media tried to pass off as photos of American hospitals. We were well on our way to both raising taxes and limiting wages. We were well on our way to accepting high unemployment and low growth as a new normal. Just as we were in 1979.

Personal responsibility was an alien idea to the political class then and it’s still an alien idea, as is obvious by their response when COVID-19 jumped our borders from China. The left wanted to keep borders open and Americans locked down, both responses guaranteed to make the epidemic worse.

COVID-19 showed once again that government-controlled healthcare remains a very bad idea. All of the problems we had—bad tests, no masks, limited ventilators—were because of government control over those items. And yet the natural political response is always more control, not more freedom. Even though more freedom has always been a better solution to problems, both economic and medical.

There is no question but that we made 2020 worse with our dystopian response to the coronavirus. We increased poverty—much as politicians were doing in the seventies. We, during a disease epidemic involving a wide list of co-morbidities, told people not to go to their doctors or to the hospital, defining both those co-morbidities and many essential treatments for cancer and other deadly non-COVID ailments as non-essential.

We completely upended the food chain, much as Nixon’s wage and price controls did, with the same foreseeable result that such government intervention has always had. Just as we saw in FDR’s era and in Nixon and Carter’s era, farmers had to destroy crops, milk, and meat, distributors couldn’t ship what people wanted to where people wanted it, and all because of politicians making the decision politicians make best: do only what we tell you, when we tell you, and you’ll be all right.

It is always a lie.

In response to The new barbarism: A return to feudalism: The progressive left seems to have no concept of what civilization is, and of what undergirds civilization.

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