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A Man's Tears
February 9, 2002
by Jeremiah Bourque

What can make a grown man cry?

Now we know.

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, whom I refer to as "Mr. Golden Age" in mockery of his prediction that we were entering a new economic golden age where growth would continue in perpetuity, had his core beliefs challenged by the venerable Sen. Robert Byrd on Capitol Hill. During the course of this challenge, O'Neill could not take the verbal beating, breaking down and crying at the notion that he might possibly be wrong.

Ah, but wrong about what?

We can extrapolate a few things from this quote: "I've dedicated my life to doing what I can to getting rid of rules that limit human potential and I'm not going to stop."

The rules that limit human potential?

This is the key to the key beliefs of economic Republicans, those pathetic people who I turned my back to when I stopped considering myself a conservative. These individuals believe that the evolution of the human race is being stifled by government regulation, stopping individuals from advancing to their maximum genetic potential, stunting the growth of the economy and the salvation of mankind.

These people do not believe that the future of humanity is in the faces of children. They believe that the future can only be created from the top, with that face being, by and large, that of a white male, proven by evolution to be the fittest economic animal in existence. Their superiority is the work of the Lord. How dare mankind deign to interfere with God's will! How dare the weak band together and try to hold back the strong! It is unnatural. It is against the interests of the species. It leads to poverty and despair. It is, therefore, evil in its purest, blackest form.

How can anyone accuse such a man, believing in the advancement of the individual to his true potential, to be uncompassionate? Does not such a man hold the welfare of humanity most dear? Does not such a man carry the greatest of burdens, that of the innovator? Who could blame such a man in this way!

How can sick liberals allege that a man with only the greatest of all common interests in the deepest recesses of his heart, not care? How can they possibly try to say that somehow that there is no compassion in the heart of a social Darwinist? This is for the good of everyone! It is socialism and communism, truly one and the same because of their binds on human innovation and creativity and freedom, which bind the soul, and draw humanity into the depths. That is cruelty! That is the opposite of compassion! Compassion is breaking these bonds and freeing people from a bankrupt ideology, cruel in every facet, which seeks to hold humanity back, to restrain it from its full potential.

All that social Darwinists seek is what is best for everyone. Can't others see that!?

... I'm sure that at this point your hearts are just so broken.

I'm not really one to defend socialism per se. I mean, I count myself as one of those individuals trying to free himself from the chains of society, doing things that may not make a lot of sense to others - who makes linguistics the heart of his career in this era? - but which are personally and intellectually fulfilling. I don't inherently fear deregulated markets or governments taking a step back from things that they don't understand.

However, let's not get carried away... unlike Mr. Golden Age. At the heart of this argument for social Darwinism is the firm, passionate, and unmitigated belief in one's own goodness. I, frankly, don't have that belief in myself. I believe that I'm capable of evil, and for that reason, I take care to see that I do not commit it. It's the person who has a completely irrational belief (also known as a delusion) in his own goodness who has the greatest temptation to, in the name of that personal goodness, commit the most heartless of evils.

Put another way, just because they've made themselves believe that they are the saviors of humanity, doesn't mean that they are.

If I found out that my whole ideology was based on a delusion, I might cry too. Fortunately, I'm not about to have that problem.

Unfortunately, what's left is a mass gaggle of businessmen who spent their adult lives believing in the Evil Empire, and seeing themselves as the builders of a Holy Capitalist Empire, to defend a Golden Age of prosperity that would make everyone, rich and poor, richer than anyone in history had ever dreamt of. In the words of one, "We are on the side of angels." They really believed that... and they still believe it, even now.

After all, they're not going to suddenly accept that their way of life died on the day of Enron's bankruptcy, as I had predicted that it would. Subsequent events have not changed my view.

Just the other day, the administration came out saying that laws enabling employees to hold an unsafe level of their own company's stock in their 401(k) plans were just fine, and it would be, well, inconvenient to change them. So what if O'Neill started life in a ditch? With investment practices like this, encouraged by corps and by the government, there's going to be a lot of people in ditches.

At least, if O'Neill loses his shirt, he will get Social Security.

A pity his ilk don't think that this should be guaranteed for everyone else.

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