Despite all our progress, half of all Americans earn below average incomes

Our English word sinister comes from the Latin word meaning left. Sinister means evil, macabre or unlucky. That etymology seems particularly appropriate these days because the left sees something sinister in every piece of good news. Let us count the ways in recent news reports.

Fact: the U.S. is the world's biggest donor of disaster aid and will lead the relief in the affected parts of Asia. Under the Bush administration, official U.S. aid has gone from $10 billion to $24 billion. It is much more than any other country. U.S. "private foreign aid" was about $35 billion last year. It trumps government aid overall.

Sinister interpretation: The U.S. is stingy. It could give much more. Private aid shows the failure of government to tax effectively. In any case, Bush blew the whole thing by not holding an early press conference to brag about what the U.S. was doing. Besides, when he finally did his press conference he wore a red tie, which some people might find offensive in such circumstances.

Fact: The U.S. economy has been growing at over 3.5% average since 2002 (when Bush's management of the economy started to take effect). This is better than most industrial countries and better than the U.S. post-WWII average.

Sinister interpretation: The economy is not growing as fast as it did for a couple of quarters during the dot.com bubble. Therefore the Bush policy is a complete failure.

Fact: The unemployment rate of 5.4% is below that of any developed industrial country except the UK. It is significantly lower than the average for the last fifty years in the U.S. Adjusted median incomes are near all time highs.

Sinister interpretation: Unemployment has been lower. Therefore the current situation is completely unacceptable.

Fact: In the time since 9/11, the U.S. has suffered no major terrorist attack on its soil (contrary to expectations and predictions made at the time.)

Sinister interpretation: We are not completely safe and we don’t know what could happen, therefore the policies in place are a failure.

Fact: The Bush administration grabbed the third rail of American politics (Social Security) something Democrats said should be done, but couldn't. He is making proposals to make the system sustainable.

Sinister interpretation: Social Security will last until about 2045. After that many of us don’t care any more. If we ignore the problem it will go away and if Bush solves it, it will be worse.

Fact: Elections are reasonably successful in Afghanistan; Ukrainian people assert their love of freedom.

Sinister interpretation: These places are not as prosperous or democratic as Holland or Switzerland. There are still many potential problems. Therefore, U.S. encouragement of democracy is a waste of time and probably harmful.

Fact: Crime rates are dropping all over the U.S. The drop is especially pronounced in respect to violent crime

Sinister interpretation: Crime rates have not dropped uniformly. Therefore the general drop is not significant.

I could go on but my fingers are getting tired. It has become the general leftist modus operandi to greet any piece of good news with the pseudo-wisdom of grim foreboding about an unknown and unknowable future. "Sure it looks okay now," they say, "but soon it won't be so good." Or along the same vein, "Sure it is good most of the time, but there are still many places that aren't as good." These are true statements, but are just tautologies, much like the ominous sounding "Despite all our progress, half of all Americans still have below average incomes."

I will close with an anecdote. A friend and I used to climb mountains together. We had a running joke. Whenever one of us would offer the other some food or water, the reply would be, "You are giving this to me now just so that I will have to carry it up to the top in my stomach. You are too lazy to give it to me at the top." I didn't know it at the time, but this is a true left wing interpretation of generosity and good fortune.

Posted by Jack at January 1, 2005 10:56 PM