Tuesday, April 05, 2011

New Age of Reason

Washington is acting out that old story of the farmer with a reluctant mule and the neighbor who offers to reason with the animal, then bashes its head with a plank.

"I thought you were going to reason with him." "I am, but first I have to get his attention."

Farmer Obama and Neighbor Boehner are standing over a dazed government with no sign that they can get it moving by week's end and deliver crops of services to those who depend on them.

But, to switch clich├ęs, Republicans also have Paul Ryan out playing good cop to the Tea Party's bad cop with budget cuts of $6.2 trillion over ten years, a proposal that David Brooks, without reading the fine print, enthuses over, writing that Ryan "has grasped reality with both hands."

Some reality! Ryan's proposal puts a glaze of reason over a radical "welfare reform" to punish the old and disabled while keeping the future secure for the rich.

All this comports with the topsy-turvy ideas of Ryan's philosophical mentor Ayn Rand. In her loony world, the weak are "moochers," sapping the strength of the strong and the rich. To see what Ryan really wants, watch Rand's movie, "The Fountainhead," in which the architect hero blows up a public housing project because sponsors changed his plans.

"I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life," he insists. "Nor to any part of my energy, nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim...The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing."

Such is the new Age of Reason for America, where pure selfishness is granted equal time with the hard work of making choices for a difficult future.

Brooks is right on one point, that this may be a "moment of truth for President Obama. Will he come up with his own counterproposal, or will he simply demagogue the issue by railing against 'savage' Republican cuts and ignoring the long-term fiscal realities...

"And what about the Senate Republicans? Where do they stand? Or the voters? Are they willing to face reality or will they continue to demand more government than they are willing to pay for?"

Good questions, but can we starting reasoning together without using heavy planks or phony posturing?

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