Friday, April 5, 2019

History Repeats Itself Because the Political Class Lacks Imagination and Courage

Everyone seems agog over Anand Giridharadas' ideas, but I'm not impressed with him--or anyone else commenting on America's slow but steady descent into an amoral police state. In fact, the more I study American history, the more I realize America's leaders have been repeating mistakes by copying ideas from the past without realizing different times need different solutions. During the most recent recession, for example, Congress was atwitter over whether to extend unemployment insurance, and it eventually did--copying its exact response from the Eisenhower era over fifty years ago: 

Q. Mr. Vandercook: Do you have in mind so far any intention of proposing legislation to assist the States to continue unemployment benefits beyond the 6 months' period, as that 6 months, in many instances, is running out? 

THE PRESIDENT. I have forgotten for sure whether that was in the bill that went to the Congress or not. I remember the subject was discussed by Mrs. Hobby in front of me, and I would have to ask Mr. Hagerty to give you the exact thing as to whether it was actually in the bill. 

From 2013-2014, Congress extended unemployment insurance by 3 months, then continued it another 3 months. (See HR 3546, 3813, 3824, 3936, etc.) Why the sameness? Here's where Anand Giridharadas succeeds: he points out the political class has no real interest in changing the status quo anywhere

Now go and look at the kinds of people who enter politics. In almost every single case, they are from an affluent background or lack the real-life experience to overcome secondhand information (President Obama and the military, etc.). If you are someone who genuinely desires to avoid humanity's cycles of political failure, which model do you turn to? The obvious answer is nonconformity, but that approach requires an engaged, compassionate, and principled class of youth. Pray tell, where are they? 

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