Around 400 BCE Aristotle in his Politics, went over the numerous kinds of government systems. (I’ll spare you a lot of Aristotle’s words because, as much as I love the man’s philosophy, what is left of his works has a style dryer than a stale cracker in the middle of the Gobi desert at noon…that and I’m planning a whole series of blogs on his Nicomachean Ethics to start in a month or so, so don’t think you’re getting out of this). The long and short of it is that he dislikes extremes. Rule by only the rich leads to corruption and misery. Rule by only the poor leads to stealing the wealth of the rich and anarchy. Rule by one person leads to tyranny and suffering. Rule by letting everyone vote (even if they’re criminals or non-citizens…I wonder who would be dumb enough to support something that insane?) leads to chaos and anarchy. Aristotle liked middle ground.* He liked the idea of a constitutional government, of a government of what he called aristocracy (we would call it a republic or representative government) and democracy, of where the law was higher than the whim of the ruling body (a set Constitution that is higher than the will of the mob) but not set in stone where it can never be changed (the process of amending that constitution). But of the things he goes over a lot is his distrust of the very rich and the very poor. He points out that whenever the concerns of either of these groups takes precedent it is the middle classes that suffer first followed by the entire government collapsing under the weight of corruption and chaos.
Over a century ago it was recognized by Alexander Fraser Tytler (although often misattributed to de Tocqueville because it mirrors the idea of Democracy in America):
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” [Italics added]
Again, like Aristotle, de Tocqueville and Tytler seemed to recognize that when one group of people get a hold of the government they vote themselves and their government into oblivion. Cronyism (which has NOTHING to do with capitalism, really it’s closer to socialism in form, so the term crony capitalism is just stupid) has shown us how this is true in one case, the bankrupting of every state and the federal government has shown the other extreme to also be true. (I don’t think even Aristotle or de Tocqueville could have imagined such a hideous hydra as one where the very rich and very poor conspire together to bleed the middle class dry). But the fact of the matter is that we haven’t had a president or Congress that hasn’t played to one if not both of these since Coolidge. So what do we need now, we need a leader who is going to tell both groups, which are hell-bent on destroying our civilization, to go to hell.
What would such a leader sound like? What would they say? I think they would say something like my focus isn’t on the concerns of the very rich or the very poor…maybe something like:
ROMNEY: I’m in the race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America. The 90, 95% of Americans who right now are struggling. I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.
HOST: […] You just said, ‘I’m not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net.’ And I think there are a lot of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, that sounds odd. Can you explain that?
ROMNEY: Well you have to finish the sentence. I said I’m not concerned with the very poor who have a safety net and if it has holes in it I will repair them. The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor. And there’s no question it’s not good being poor. And we have a safety net to help those that are very poor, but my campaign is focused is on middle-income Americans. My campaign — you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich, that’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus. My focus is on middle income Americans—retirees living on Social Security, people who can’t find work, folks that have kids getting ready for college—these are the people most badly hurt by the Obama years.
Oh, but what happens when you say you won’t cater to the needs of the very rich (like say Obama caters to Soros, Buffett, GE, GM, Hollywood) you get ignored by the media because that would point out how their golden boy is the worst supporter of this evil since LBJ (a man who when he had brought his party down had the class to not run again).
And what happens when you say your concern isn’t for the truly poor, the lowest 2.5-5% of the nation, you’re called callous. Which is odd because he said we have a safety net for those people, which we do. We have public housing, and welfare, and Medicaid, food stamps (one thing that Newt is right about is that food stamp use has grown drastically under Obama), and a myriad of other federal, state and county programs. Not to mention the fact that we have free K-12 education for anyone under the age of 21. And as it is education that is the single greatest determining factor for personal success, it’s hard to say that we haven’t given the very poor the tools they need to not be very poor.
We shouldn’t care about the very poor. We shouldn’t care about the 1% that claims they are “the 99%,” we shouldn’t bankrupt ourselves for the 1% that has major medical problems (1% account for 22% of all medical costs…might be because most of life isn’t a constant disaster as liberals would have you believe …and half of all medical costs are paid out on 5% of the populace) our primary concern shouldn’t be about giving handouts to those who don’t have because we already have systems in place for them…and as Romney says very clearly “If it [the safety net] needs repair, I’ll fix it.” He has no intention of abandoning those who have the least, but he is not going make it his driving passion to give them more of what they have not earned.
Where did he say his concern was? With the middle class. With those who do work. With those who want to work but can’t find a job right now. He wants to create a larger middle class rather than pit one class against another (unlike Obama and Newt). He seems concerned with creating a culture that will help social mobility and advancement, that will allow growth and prosperity that will create an economy that will naturally have a much lower unemployment rate (as opposed to $500,000 to “create” a single job). Heaven forbid. The heartless fiend. Trying to create a system where the middle class thrives and the poor are taken care of (but not pampered)…I can’t see why anyone would support this monstrous Scrooge.
The fact is that to critique Romney over what he said, to take his quote out of context, to say it is wrong to say that making the prosperity of the middle class your primary concern is the worst and most villainous type of populism (Newt) and socialism (Barry), and behavior totally unworthy the head of any state.
And is it just me that Romney’s “gaffes” all seem to revolve around statements being taken out of context where he is expressing ideas that have a complexity that can’t be reduced to simple sentences and sound bites. Oh, heaven forbid, he thinks Americans are competent to grasp whole paragraphs of thought, that they can understand those thoughts and not just meaningless phrases and words like “hope” and “change.” Maybe I support him because I’m just tired of every other politician treating me like a moron too stupid to understand anything, whereas Romney seems to think America is bright enough to understand the problem and the solution.
*Oh, before someone tries to come back and point out Aristotle hated capitalism, let me start off by saying, you’re an idiot. Yes, he hated the rich in his day, he hated money lending, he hated trade. Probably because all of that was based on slave labor and very little was the fruit of man’s mind. There was nothing of modern capitalism (innovation, creation, hard work, personal responsibility) in the wider economy of the ancient world. There was stagnation and slave labor…I’m just shocked that an intelligent human could find making money off that system morally repugnant. Trust me, if you run post-Wealth of Nations capitalism through the values of Aristotle you find they match up perfectly.