The People who have it Best are the Most Pessimistic

A recent study by the World Economic Forum found that Western Europeans are the most pessimistic about the future, followed by us Americans. On the other hand, 77% of the Afghans think the next generation will live in a safer world, while in Iraq this view is held by six in ten.

Maybe they figure it can't get much worse. I will let you read the survey and draw your own conclusions. But I will extrapolate a little. Those who know me (if only through Watchblog) know that I don't care for pessimists. There is no point in pessimism. If you are right, you lose anyway and if you are wrong you are unnecessarily unhappy. Beyond that, pessimism paralyzes.

If the people in Afghanistan, which gives new meaning to the word destruction, can look forward to the future, what right do comfortable Americans or affluent Europeans have to do less?

It could be just the old utility theory. The more you have, the more you could lose, so the more you worry about the future. But don't be so worried about what you could lose that you can't enjoy what you have.

Posted by Jack at January 28, 2006 12:32 AM
Comments
Comment #117756

those who have nothing are still not without possessions - they have hope, they have optimism.
this only makes sense, for if they lose hope, they are already dead.

as for those who have it best - they tend to be optimists too. seeing no wrong, they aren’t intentional optimists, but one can only judge by what one sees. as for the rest of us, what you call optimism, we call realism.

it is easy to blindly follow when one has nothing to gain by attentively leading (and everything to lose).

Posted by: Diogenes at January 28, 2006 12:48 AM
Comment #117758

“what you call optimism, we call realism.”

err…pessimism…must be all those long hours and my under-paying but oh so highly valued job.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 28, 2006 12:53 AM
Comment #117781

Jack,
You did it agian! I really like your post!
You make an excellent point - especially regarding your thoughts on pessimism!

Posted by: Linda H. at January 28, 2006 2:23 AM
Comment #117782

People who are at the bottom tend to look up to hope in the future because they don’t have anything today. The Future is an intangible and therefore always looks better than today.

Posted by: Aldous at January 28, 2006 2:29 AM
Comment #117784

Another way of looking at this is:

Would you trade places with an Afghan right now?

Posted by: Aldous at January 28, 2006 2:30 AM
Comment #117785

Diogenes makes a good point about realism.
I am both an optimist and a pessimist, it really all depends on what we are disscussing.
I think an intelligent person who keeps themselves abreast of developments in world events is bound to become at least somewhat pessimistic — because there are a lot of bad things happening. And for most of us, we’ve known our entire lives that there are massive amounts of nuclear missles waiting and ready to unleash awful destruction at the press of a button.
For the past several years in this country, and in Europe we’ve had terrorist attacks and leaders trying to shove fear of impending terrorism down our throats. Simultaneously, we’ve not gone about the business of protecting ourselves very well when it comes to combating many potential threats to our safety. That’s bound to make people more pessimistic, as well as afraid.

Some of us see our country changing before our eyes. We see and hear many of our fellow citizens saying that abridging the Constitution, and pre-emptive war by mistake, and torture, and using chemical weapons, and secrecy within the government, and extraordinary renditions, and indefinite detentions without warrants, and secret surveillance on Americans without warrants, and total corruption in Congress, and outting CIA agents for political purposes, and trying to permanently deny civil liberties for gay people, and tearing down the wall of separation between Church and State are all perfectly acceptable. This has made some of us more pessimistic, not to mention, horrified.

There is also plenty in my life and in the world to be optimistic and positive about, but being a realist, it is impossible to not to be pessimistic as well.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 28, 2006 2:35 AM
Comment #117791

Aldous,

Another way of looking at it is that life is short, unfair, and normally a great deal of hard work- so why make it worse than it is.

I am always amazed that those who have it relatively easy, both in terms of today and in history, tend to complain the most.

The poorest in our country live better than the kings of old. Kings and emperors in centuries past were the only ones to enjoy the finest entertainment and fattening food, and today the poorest among us can watch the highest caliber and paid actors on TV everyday for free and eat the richest most fattening food in history.

The toaster- what a wonderful invention. Imagine having to light a fire just to burn some bread. Or bread… when’s the last time you had to wield a scyth to cut some wheat, sift it, grind it, mix it, bake it…

In virtually every aspect, we live like kings today. And yet there are those who would say this is all the worst that’s ever been.

It should make us thankful for what we have, but instead, all too often it seems to make us spoiled instead. Myself included.

Posted by: esimonson at January 28, 2006 3:00 AM
Comment #117796

Possibly their optomism has more to do with their past, their lives currently and their future. I believe it also has a lot to do with what they value.

If, as in America, value is attached to earning more than your neighbor to feel better about yourself… a bigger SUV, a better looking spouse or whatever outside attachment that can be added to make us feel better about ourselves, then we will never be happy. There just isn’t enough “stuff” in the world to satisfy us.

This belief in the future can be one of two things…

1) The rest of the world is able to find happiness and hope through non material, commercial means that we have always been trying to show them that they shoud value to be a successful, modern day, civilization. Or,
2) They are attaining the material and commerical means to become a successful, modern day, civiliztion and are becoming more happy and hopeful.

I believe it is the first. Though I do not claim that many people in developing countries are not anxious for the shiny toys of the west… I do believe that many are looking for happiness internally and the external environment is changing and allowing them that chance.

The value of freedom is not new to us… it is not appreciated as highly because it was always there… a gift to us from all those that suffered before. Their legacy to us. Sure, we love it, we respect the freedom and we treasure it… but just as many things that we did not personally earn… we don’t have the same level of appreiation that others might who were not born into it.

One of my best professors was an Iranian who taught Political Science. Why? He learned the American system of government from the outside, with experience of growing up in a system lacking what we have.

Just as we have worked through the “cold war” with the USSR we need to do so with the Islamic countries, African countries and those in east-Asia. Not as the people coming in to fix all their problems through commercialization and expolitation… but through a sincere desire to be neighbors.

Think of it on a local level. What type of neighbor do you want living next to you?

Optomism, pessimism… they are all “isms” like so many things that cause strife.

I
Self
Me

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 28, 2006 3:21 AM
Comment #117799

Jack,

Are you kind of implying that Repubs are optimistic and Dems are pessimistic?

So if I was a legislative or military strategist with an optimistic filter, I could reason that all my plans should work, or if my plans don’t work, I’ll be able to adjust and and all my adjustments will work. At some point, I don’t have to put any thought into anything beyond the power of my positive thinking. Dammit, I can do anything! Man, this feels great.

Seriously, I am an optimist. And I vote Republican sometimes. That doesn’t excuse some of the seriously mean-spirited moves that Rove has made in the name of the party. I am optimistic that more moral members of the party will step forward. And I am optimistic that Bush will stop ignoring the Constitution. I am optimistic that the President might even consider helping us lower our budget deficit before he leaves.

I am optimistic that the party will listen to McCain for once and stop listening to Pat Robertson.

I am optimistic that the Swift Boat Turds will get there’s in Hell since the party didn’t have the cajones to punish them here. I am optimistic that the Democratic moron who faked the President’s military records will be on the same Southbound bus that the Swift Boat Turds are on. I am optimistic that we will stop shaming all military men and women with regard to their ribbons, medals, and service.

I am optimistic that Repubs will stop sending around hateful e-mails about taking Christ out of Christmas. Jesus was all about love, not hate and bitterness and retribution.

I am optimistic that Repubs will take pride in showing what hard work, luck, and networking can do.

I am optimistic that Repubs will clean house over these Delay/Abramoff messes so that the public won’t clean them up at election time. Angry mobs in voting booths aren’t much different than angry mobs in the streets. Mobs go too far everytime.

I am optimistic that my good understanding of free markets will allow me to profit in any number of countries if the U.S. takes a swirley down the cosmic toilet.

I would be super optimistic if someone in the Republican party—anyone really—would encourage the American public to address their meager personal savings right now. No one can live through retirement if he or she is saving less than three percent of his/her income annually. The Republican Party is lead by a business man who sent us a tax rebate at the beginning of his 1st administration and asked us to spend it. That really sucked. He should have said, “My advise is to save this.” But he didn’t. He had a terrific opportunity to really set a good tone and he blew it.

I would really be optimistic if I could hear the party faithful just once admit that “some things are not working out quite right but we are earnestly attempting to make good adjustments.”


Posted by: JW at January 28, 2006 3:44 AM
Comment #117804

Adrienne,
Just a note you can’t house both pessimism and optimism. You can however have individual views that house either tendencies.

and Jack,
Usually I’ll try and find something to disagree with you on but I have to give Kudos today and say good post. I agree totally.

To everyone else don’t overlook the obvious purpose of this post. Whether democrat, liberal or, republican, we should all be able to agree that our lives no matter how individually miserable they are, we are collectively better off than alot of our human counterparts overseas. As we grow older we all tend to become a little more pessimistic, and different classes of people will always think the other has it better. It’s just human nature. So to everyone who went off subject when commenting to this post or tried to start another discussion misconstruing the intended purpose. I admonish you to stop looking to pick fights, When there is a fight be quick to resolve it but, don’t initiate them. Especially if you do so in for the “name” of the democratic or liberal party.

Posted by: black&pissed at January 28, 2006 4:15 AM
Comment #117809

there are nearly none worse off than the poorest americans - don’t be fooled. the homeless starve and freeze, or die of disease, should they live so long.

from my recollection of history, this is nothing new, and nothing better. but let’s be optimistic; at least they will soon die, and thereby decrease the surplus population.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 28, 2006 5:00 AM
Comment #117844

JW,I’m saving more and spending more because I have more to save and spend.The budget deficit is not what it was predicted to be because more people are working and paying taxes and people are spending and saving more.Things would be better if neither party loaded the budget with pork for pet projects.Congress trimmed some things off the budget,but,they could do more and I’m optomistic that with more prodding by us they will.We have had deficits for decades and most of it is because of pork by both parties.

Posted by: RDAVIDC at January 28, 2006 8:52 AM
Comment #117846

It occurs to me that we should legalize cocaine, marijuana and LSD. Let the market decide.

Posted by: Aldous at January 28, 2006 9:08 AM
Comment #117850

Hey, the sooner we legalize marijuana, the better.

Posted by: Arr-squared at January 28, 2006 9:30 AM
Comment #117851

Good post Jack. I happen to believe “they figure it can’t get much worse.”

Those who know me (if only through Watchblog) know that I don’t care for pessimists.

Then why are you always saying Social Security will never work, and Kyoto is pointless, and our poorly performing economy is the best possible, and we can’t legislate energy independence, and massive budget deficits are unavoidable?

For an optimist, you sure know how to rain on a parade.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 28, 2006 9:35 AM
Comment #117852

Jack,
“A recent study by the World Economic Forum found that Western Europeans are the most pessimistic about the future, followed by us Americans. On the other hand, 77% of the Afghans think the next generation will live in a safer world, while in Iraq this view is held by six in ten.”


Interesting, though there’s no mention of Eastern Europe. They usually are more favorable than Western Europe b/c they are not that far removed from dictators and oppression.

Posted by: rahdigly at January 28, 2006 9:36 AM
Comment #117865

I firmly believe and have thoroughly experienced that so many people mistake others who are dealing with reality as being pessimistic instead of merely looking at things as they are instead of through rose-colored lenses. Certainly, I’d rather confront reality than live in a fantasy world.

Posted by: Lynne at January 28, 2006 10:26 AM
Comment #117879

Diogenes

Pessimism is not realism. The only test for realism is results. If you believe things will work out badly, and they do, you are realistic. Otherwise not.

Ever since ancient times, scholars have been looking forward with dread. Smart guys can figure out many reasons why everything will go to hell. That is why -

It takes a smart guy to be cynical and pessimistic and a wise one not to be.

There is a whole literature of pessimism. The classic is Thomas Malthus, who has influence generations of pessimists. By now, the world should have starved to death according to his impeccable logic. So our population bombs have fizzled and our resources crunches have passed. Of course there is always the future when we will all be dead.

The problem with the pessimists is that they underestimate human intelligence. People are the most valuable resource. They find opportunities in troubles. Pessimists see an oncoming car and assume the person in the street won’t move out of the way or the car won’t turn.

Adrienne

If I thought all those bad things were happening as you say, or we different or new, I expect I might be pessimistic too.

AP

I say those things won’t work because they won’t. I am confident that we will figure something else out when the time comes. But just because I don’t like pessimists, doesn’t mean I can’t be realistic about particulars. “>Pangloss was not an optimist, just a fool.

Rahdigly

Eastern Europeans are pessimistic in vocabulary. We would have to adjust.

Re both Eastern European and old age, I will drop one name. One of the most interesting people I have personally know was Czeslaw Milosz I met him when he was already in his 80s. Even though he was very old and could not reasonably look forward to living much longer, he used to say that he had never been happier. I have seen that in other old people who have lived eventful and turbulent lives. I can’t quite explain this contentment, but it gives me hope.

Even if you can’t understand it, listen the poem I posted in in Polish because Polish is a musical language.

All

Optimism and pessimism should be situational. A good rule of thumb is be pessimistic when making plans and optimistic when implementing them. Optimists can often accomplish more because they don’t give up.

And it is also more important to know what a person is that what he has. If you live only in the material world, you will be pessimistic and there is little hope for you.

Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2006 11:40 AM
Comment #117880

I made a mistake with my Pangloss link. If you think it is important to read it, click on the link.

Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2006 11:43 AM
Comment #117882

Jack,

Great post. I wonder if we are so pessimistic because we are made to feel so guilty. Because of us the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

From Jonathan David Carson

“We wake up in the morning, and our evil deeds begin before we have time to curse the alarm. As we slept, our refrigerators were hard at work giving Chileans skin cancer. We turn on the air conditioner, and amphibians grow extra limbs. We breathe and contribute to global warming and killer hurricanes. We put on our clothes and cover the world with sweatshops. We put on our shoes and tie children to workbenches with the laces. We poison the soil by eating breakfast. We drive to work and drown Pacific Islanders. We go to the doctor and kill cuddly, little animals. We devastate countries we have never heard of. We are Ugly Americans, crude, boorish, and brutal, as ashamed of our tastes as we are of our genocide.”

Posted by: JimmyRay at January 28, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #117884
But don’t be so worried about what you could lose that you can’t enjoy what you have.

That’s good advice.
But, pessimism should not be confused with valid, justified concern. Especially, when solutions with the theoretical potential for improvement are being presented.

Besides, how can one be a pessimist if they also believe this is one of the best nations on the planet, but also believe we can, should, and need to do much better?

Hence, it’s important to prioritize.

The statistics about pessimism is interesting, but it almost also seems to be laying the ground work to convince people that they should accept the way things are now?
Even if we were merely suffering from mediocrity only, that would be a mistake.
The incumbents in Congress are very irresponsible, and they continue to ignore and distract voters from serious pressing problems, and voters have not yet felt sufficient pain that will most likely result from decades of irresponsibility, and voters tolerating it.

Sure. Enjoy life. But don’t resign to complacency, apathy, brainwashing, distracting, petty partisan warfare, or futility.
Otherwise, our life could become more painful.
It is one thing to be irrationally fearful, but it is another thing to be prudent and proactive.

What is the purpose of voting?
Why did so many risk life and limb to secure that right?
Why can we not expect government to reform itself?
Why happens if voters forget the purpose for too long?
Who can argue that voters are supposed to vote out irresponsible incumbents?
What possible logic is there not to not vote out irresponsible incumbents?
Some want to call it some sort of plan or scheme, but it’s simply what we are supposed to do.

The voters have a moral duty also to do the one simple, common-sense, non-partisan, inexpensive, patriotic, peaceful, responsible thing to peacefully force government to be responsible and accountable too.

So, just because some people are raising concern about valid pressing problems, and criticize government, that does not mean they should stop. But, they should not simply complain either. They should also strive for solutions.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2006 12:07 PM
Comment #117893

That was very well said, d.a.n.

Jack:
“If I thought all those bad things were happening as you say, or we different or new, I expect I might be pessimistic too.”

Uh, what? We different or new? Come again?
Bad things are happening. For instance, look at what is going on in the Sudan. Now look at todays paper. Like I said, my optimism or pessimism often depends entirely upon the subject and it’s severity — even as I still strive to make a difference, and look for solutions that may work.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 28, 2006 12:55 PM
Comment #117903

Less than 5% unemployment, 70% home ownership and majority of people in USA feel the economy is bad.

Rose Bowl tickets were being sold for $3000 by USC students - they were not in the stands. Capitalism works.

Posted by: Reporting for Doody at January 28, 2006 1:40 PM
Comment #117906

“Pessimism is not realism. The only test for realism is results. If you believe things will work out badly, and they do, you are realistic. Otherwise not.”

let’s keep from putting words in my mouth unless that’s there point of origin. Pessimism is *not* realism, this was my point. What you seem to consider pessimism is anyone who does not agree that everything is going just swell, and that every move our government makes is in our best interest. i don’t consider this view to be realistic.

while i’m not convinced that results are the *only* test for realism (your claim is unsubstantiated), i do agree that they are one test. i am surprised that you concede this, as i was expecting a ‘you make your own reality’ comment from a self-declared optimist. Regardless, the results uphold my ‘pessimistic’ views.

when people like myself declared that no good could come from a war on Iraq, people like you called us pessimists. the results have consistently shown that no good *has* come out of the war on Iraq. while i’m sure you’ll contest this statement, it is not surprising when coming from a self-declared optimist.

the neocons have effectively bought the metaphorical gun (taken office), loaded the gun with bullets (aggregated power not granted them by the constitution or any legislation passed by congress), pointed the gun at our heads (taking aim at our rights), and clearly expressed a threat and intent to pull the trigger (by advocating torture and domestic spying, and declaring that anyone whom they declare to be a terrorist is *not* in fact an American citizen, and thus not entitled to the rights afforded an American citizen).

Yet, for you, this is not enough; for optimists, no crime has been committed until they pull the trigger - at which point it will matter little whether or not you were right or wrong, you’ll be dead.

realists get more done - while the optimists are blinded by the clouds they have their heads stuck in, realists are recognizing the problems, making them known, and attempting to redress them.

optimism assuredly has it’s place within a realistic outlook on life, but optimism is not an effective world view in and of itself; it’s oblivious, naive denial.

at the end of the day, however, after the bulk of the work is done by ‘pessimists’ (or rather, realists), the optimists will be able to say, “see, it all worked out, you were wrong”.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 28, 2006 1:47 PM
Comment #117920

As in keeping with my post above… it is interesting to see how people measure their happiness and optomism.

Wow, football tickets are for sale! Whooopie! Yeppers, that is an excellent indication of what is important. Football tickets bring pleasure! Damn! All these years wasted on introspection, seaching to lead a moral and just life. Asking Christ to accept me for who I am, and helping me become the man He wants me to be. All I needed to do was call Ticket Master!

I feel so foolish.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 28, 2006 2:48 PM
Comment #117921

I have the perfect solution to wipe out pessimism: completely isolate yourself from the world and all forms of media. I have yet to sit through the news and hear one positive thing. If I were to believe everything I heard on the news day after day for just the past two years, I would be afraid to do anything. I would be afraid to eat because of mad cow disease, cancer, cholesterol, chemical preservatives, etc. I couldn’t travel because of bird flu (pandemic…yeah, right…idiots.), AIDS, terrorism, etc. I couldn’t use any form of communication because supposedly, our president is spying on all of us at all times. I couldn’t start my own business because then I would be demonized if my quota of WASPS was higher than that of minorities, even though I am in no way, shape, or form a racist. I could care less about most of the petty issues of the day that the libs deem as “dividing america”. They show these supposed protests that have only a handful of protesters participating and that is supposed to somehow change my views. I am a 30-year old man who enjoys living life at its most simple level..I enjoy hunting for the simple fact I eat meat and I am not ashamed. If you looked in the bible(the most eeeevil book of all!! yaaargh!!!…lol)it shows that God gave us all the plants and animals to use. Pessimism never got anyone anywhere in life…just keep your chin up, whean the going gets tough, kick some ass….plain and simple.

Posted by: Charlie at January 28, 2006 2:48 PM
Comment #117940
Less than 5% unemployment, 70% home ownership and majority of people in USA feel the economy is bad.

Rose Bowl tickets were being sold for $3000 by USC students - they were not in the stands. Capitalism works.

That’s fine for those that can afford that, and many other things. But, if you are doing what the government is doing, borrowing and spending, then it is only an illusion of wealth.

That is why the nation has a staggering $32 trillion in personal debt. The National Debt is so large now, it would take 127 years to pay if off. Heaping that much debt on our children, and their children, … , and their children’s children, is immoral and selfish.

And the government has one more trick in its bag that the rest of us don’t. They can print more money. Well, that’s not a good thing. If they continue doing it, the dollar will continue to fall, and you will need a wheel barrow full of U.$. dollars to just buy a loaf of bread.

Jack is right.
You shouldn’t surrender to pessimism ever.
But you shouldn’t stick your head in the sand either.
Ignoring these pressing problems is sticking your head in the sand.

And even if you think everything will work itself out, it is foolish to not investigate it, and find out for yourself, because those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

And beware of those in the red column that work hard daily to paint a rosy picture, and those in the blue column that paint a dismal picture. The truth is somewhere in between (and I don’t mean the the green column either). And, after the parties take turns, and the majority flips, watch to see who is now pessimistic and who is arguing against it.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2006 3:58 PM
Comment #117941

By the way. About all that home ownership.
Not everyone owns those homes free and clear.
They have lots of debt.
People put their money in real estate when the markets were risky.
That too is an illusion.
It is built upon considerable debt.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2006 4:00 PM
Comment #117946

Optimism: The ability to see the meaning and possibility for good in any situation. If there is a wall blocking my way, I fully acknowledge it, then focus on how to get through or around it, or to live with it if that fails (but I would never stop devoting some energy to moving beyond it). Getting beyond it may require that I make a big stink about its existence in order to gather the help needed. That’s not pessimism, although it seems to be confused as such here.

Pessimism: The inability to believe in a positive, meaningful outcome, no matter what the circumstances. It usually involves some form of personal or communal low self-esteem that is a catch-22. When a wall appears, it sure would be nice to get beyond it, but in the pessimists’ heart of hearts, he believes it is insurmountable. He can raise a big stink as well, but it is quite different in nature to the stink an optimist makes. The pessimist feels victimized, and either wants to point this out to the world, or victimize others, or both. His stink serves that purpose.

These two kinds of stink get confused incredibly frequently. One is a rattle-the-cage wake-up call to action and the other is a form of abuse, both inward and outward. This confusion is often made by a certain kind of “realist”, usually (but certainly not exclusively) on the right, who thinks he is not a pessimist but actually is. He conceals his pessimism acting as if he or anyone could take an objective stance on issues and come up with a “reasonable” approach.He may even make it look like optimism, such as ,”Why complain about how bad you have it, poor people of America? You are far better of than most”. This argument shows he does not believe conditions could be improved dramatically, to the benefit of everyone, and so it is pessimistic. But it sounds like optimism. This approach is, to me, the worst form of pessimism because it doles out abuse in calm, even tones.

The point here is NOT that those who have got it good materially are wimpy cry-babies, while Iraqi citizens are true optimists ( although as seen above, a pessimist could make a highly convincing case for this!), but rather no matter what degree of conditions exist in a society, there is always room for optimistic improvement. God knows that is the case here in the U.S.!

Posted by: Jonathan at January 28, 2006 4:31 PM
Comment #117971

Jack,

What “right” do we have to be pessimistic? I’ve never thought of it this way. I only try to look and find the truth. Your belief that everyone should be optimistic no matter what the true circumstances repulses me.

Posted by: Max at January 28, 2006 6:13 PM
Comment #117981

Jonathan,

Good analysis.
You’re right.
Actually, neither optimism or pessimism should be viewed as either a good or bad trait. Certainly, not to extremes in most circumstances. Either trait can be harmful, or beneficial, depending on circumstances. Reality is the truth, and is always the best policy.

But, personalities are shaped by a mixture of many traits, motivations, and instincts. It takes all kinds. Thus, it is difficult to condemn or over-value any single trait completely. All that we can safely say is that most traits in excess often prove to be a bad trait, in most circumstances.

Take laziness for instance. Some might say there is nothing good about that trait. They would be wrong. While excessive laziness is bad, some laziness can sometimes be beneficial.
Work is somewhat painful. It is a natural trait, rooted in laziness, to seek security and prosperity with the least pain and effort.
Despite the tried and true way it has always been done, some (without any monetary profit motivation, but merely a desire to do something with less effort and pain) are often those responsible for wonderful innovations and inventions.

But, then there are times when no one knows what the future holds or if a proposed solution will succeed. All they know is that the way it is now is not adequate. In times like that, there is no benefit to choosing pessimism or settling for mediocrity. Giving up won’t accomplish anything.

But, it is hard to ignore the partisan motivation in to paint a picture rosier or more dismal than reality.

When there are unknowns, no historical precedent, or any tried and true solutions, the best proposed solution is better than nothing.

Unfortunately, that is what we get from government lately. Nearly nothing anyway. Bought-and-paid-for incumbents continue to ignore our pressing problems, for fear that tackling tough issues (which is supposed to be their job) will risk their re-election, and/or upset their big-money-donor-puppeteers. So, not only is government a do-nothing government, but it is a corrupt, and severely irresponsible government. But, beware of those that say, well people are only human. Nobody is perfect. Don’t be such a pessimist.

Instead, open your eyes, don’t be seduced by the petty, partisan warfare, don’t settle for mediocrity, don’t resign to despair and futility, and try to see things the way they really are.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2006 7:18 PM
Comment #117984

Jack:

Great post. I am optimistic about pessimism. I read somewhere:

It’s good to be pessimistic. You either find out you were right, or you are pleasantly surprized!!

I think I am quoting George Will, quoting someone else.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at January 28, 2006 7:26 PM
Comment #117994

More Great News
For Our Conservative Friends
And a Source of Optomism for Me!
Okay!
Here we go! Here is the best possible news that our optomistic conservative friends could possibly have! Companies are freezing and dropping pension plans!

Horray! Not just those for the poor dumb schmuk down on the factory floor. Oh, no-no-no! This is great!

They are going to dump your retirement benefits and go for the good old maximization of profits. Yes Sir!! Those profits of the very top earners (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc.) and of course the shareholders. Well, maybe them too… who knows.

The point is though, by God, they can finally stop wasting all that money on workers retirement! What a waste. Some people believe that just because they work for a company all their adult life the company owes them something? How childish! What is this? A communist country? Oh, no. In the best tradition of Capitalism they figured that they could stop paying into retirement funds and if the employees don’t like it they can go somewhere else!

I have not heard anything about a corresponding raise in wages due to the savings in paying into the pensions… you know, so you all can invest into private funds with the money not being spent.

I am just tickled pink. These are some of the top performing companies too… not in finacial trouble. The reason why? As the article mentions.. . BECAUSE THEY CAN!!!!!

Thank you thank you conservatives. All these years I argued that either it was the unions themselves or the threat of unions that caused employers to act reasonably and responsibly towards their employees. No, no I was told… I am just a silly liberal who doesn’t trust the true goodness of companies wanting to share prosperity with their workers!

Verizon, IBM, appearla company Russel, HP!

The article is so neat I just have to post a bit of it here!

http://www.slate.com/id/2134931/?nav=tap3

“It’s hard to read this trend as anything but a reduction in wages for employees. After all, benefits like pensions and health insurance are an important component of compensation, particularly for older workers. The companies that are freezing their pensions are gleefully telling shareholders how much they’ll save. IBM said its moves “will result in worldwide retirement-related expense savings of $450 to $500 million for 2006, and $2.5 to $3 billion for the period 2006 through 2010.” Verizon said it expects to save $3 billion over 10 years by freezing its plan.

The freezing trend also tells us something about the state of the labor market and of the attitude of employers toward managers. In theory, companies that unilaterally slash compensation for experienced employees and managers would seem to be at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. But IBM, Verizon, and HP are effectively telling veterans that they’re expected to do the same job in the future at a lower effective salary than had been promised.”

Oh… why am I so delighted? Once I finish my student teaching, guess what? I become a teacher… guess what? I will have a union guaranteed pension! I just love irony!

Yes! I am now feeling much more optomistic! Thank you Reaganites for making unions a dirty word. That opened the door to exploiting the American worker in the name of being a “True American” which allowed the unions to fall into disfavor, which allowed the wages to be cut or frozen… and now it was just a matter of time before they got the white collar, mainstay republicans and putting the shaft to them.

Hey, I am not expecting the lower costs to be passed on to the consumer… oh no… it goes into increased profits for the few… and you know what guys? If you be republican and you don’t have initials in your job title… your are so screwed!!!

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 28, 2006 7:54 PM
Comment #118010
Jack:

Great post. I am optimistic about pessimism. I read somewhere:

It’s good to be pessimistic. You either find out you were right, or you are pleasantly surprized!!
I think I am quoting George Will, quoting someone else.

Craig

Craig Meister, Jack Meister,

The spin Meisters of optimism.

Keep up the good work.

Keep tellin’ everyone everything is OK.

Ignore the man behind the curtain.

Because we will muck through some way or another.

How optimistic does that sound.

Who is really optimistic, and who is really pessimistic ?

That is the question.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2006 8:54 PM
Comment #118016

Jack,

So if I understand what you are saying…
Americans are not as optimistic as Afghans, but we are more optimistic than Western Europeans. So the glass is really half full and not half empty??? (Put smiley face emoticon here.)

Posted by: RMD at January 28, 2006 9:21 PM
Comment #118024

Pessimism sells. There is no doubt about that.

I was watching “I love the 80s”. They were making fun of “The Day After”, a movie made about the nuclear war so many people thought was about to happen. It would user in nuclear winter, said scientists like Carl Sagan. You can still worry about it if you want. Of course, you didn’t need a real bomb.

We had the population bomb that killed us all in the 1980s. I guess we just didn’t notice. (Paul Ehrlich was so certain we were running out of resources that he bet economist Julian Simon on the prices of key raw materials. Of course he lost.).

But I don’t really want to argue about how bad it isn’t. Let’s just talk about the METHOD related to pessimism and optimism.

As I wrote above, we should be pessimistic when making plans and optimistic when implementing them. The point is that we should always be looking for opportunities. An optimistic approach makes it easier to do that.

I also am not saying we should not sometimes behave in a pessimistic way. I prefer pessimist behavior in accountants and lawyers. But some people are characteristically pessimists and a pessimistic person is a loser. I wouldn’t hire one. In this life, you seldom get what you really deserve but you often get what you expect.

As for Americans being pessimistic, I am appealing to my fellow Americans to cut it out. Our national strength has always been our optimism. To paraphrase FDR, the only thing we have to be pessimistic about is pessimism itself.

Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2006 9:57 PM
Comment #118037

When Afghanis, Americans, and Europeans respond to such a question, you can be sure that they’re responding in light of their own national histories, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to draw broad conclusions about who is more “optimistic” on the basis of responses to such a broad question.

If Afghanis, who live in an impoverished third-world country which has been ravaged continuously by war for generations believe that their world will become safer, their belief is objectively true.

How could it be less safe? What was ever “safe” about living under the Taliban or the Russians? In a country where a fifty year old man has already outlived his life-expectancy, there’s no way to go but up.

It’s more complicated when talking about Europe and America. Since the end of World War II, we’ve had it pretty damn easy and we know it. The majority of our populations, from the richest to the poorest, live in a mostly care-free bubble of easy privilege unheard of before in human history.

Even those living below the “poverty line” today have air-conditioners, refrigerators, indoor plumbing, cell phones and cable tv. What’s more, they have the right to vote and access to the courts.

Even if they don’t have access to justice that compares with, say, a wealthy man like OJ Simpson, our poor are hardly in danger of being executed as part of a half-time show on the center field of a soccer stadium for having commited adultery, as was the case in Afghanistan just a few years ago.

Also, unlike the Afghanis, wer’e inundated with information, and we constantly hear about things like super-viruses, terrorism, and ecological disaster. Every summer there is at least one blockbuster movie which depicts the end of the world.

9-11, the Madrid bombings, the growing threat of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of China, the almost complete collapse of European economic and political power—all of these things contribute, as they should, to a sense that things aren’t going to be as easy in the future as they were in the past.

To me, it looks like the Afghanis are absolutley correct. They are becoming safer. But Westerners are absolutely correct too. We live under greater threats than we have in the past. It’s not a matter of being inherently optimistic or pessimistic—it’s a matter of taking accurate stock of where things stand.

Posted by: sanger at January 28, 2006 10:33 PM
Comment #118042

don’t worry, be happy

Posted by: rick at January 28, 2006 11:03 PM
Comment #118054

“We see and hear many of our fellow citizens saying that abridging the Constitution, and pre-emptive war by mistake, and torture, and using chemical weapons, and secrecy within the government, and extraordinary renditions, and indefinite detentions without warrants, and secret surveillance on Americans without warrants, and total corruption in Congress, and outting CIA agents for political purposes, and trying to permanently deny civil liberties for gay people, and tearing down the wall of separation between Church and State are all perfectly acceptable. This has made some of us more pessimistic, not to mention, horrified.”


WHEW!!! Turn off CNN, go outside and get some fresh air, put the Kool-aid down and maybe you will see that the world is not all that bad.

Posted by: CullHam at January 28, 2006 11:52 PM
Comment #118059

“Even those living below the “poverty line” today have air-conditioners, refrigerators, indoor plumbing, cell phones and cable tv. What’s more, they have the right to vote and access to the courts.”

i see your point. yet, this is a generalization, and we all know how useful those are. do you honestly think that those begging on the streets go home to the above mentioned luxuries?

for some people, home is a cardboard box, ac is a hole in that box, and indoor plumbing is the jar in the corner…
i wonder if they see that jar as half full, or half empty?

Posted by: Diogenes at January 29, 2006 12:09 AM
Comment #118061

For the most part I’m not very pessimistic. The one thing I am pessimistic about though is the future of this country. All you have to do is watch the circus up in DC and it’ll make you pessimistic. And unless things change inside the Beltway, the future of this country isn’t very bright. And I’m not talking throw the Republians out and put the Democrats in either. I’m talking about a good house cleaning. I’m talking about throwing ALL them idiots up there out and starting fresh.

Posted by: Rom Brown at January 29, 2006 12:18 AM
Comment #118062

Diogenes,

Anybody in the United States who is homeless for more than a very brief period of time is either

(1) mentally ill, which is not their fault, and which should require that they be taken off the streets and put into institutions where they can be cared for with the vast public and PRIVATE philanthropic money provided for just that

(2) a criminal hiding from the law

(3) a drug addict who is not control of their own choices but who still has access to programs that would help them (see number 1)

(4) a total idiot and loser who is making a life-style choice that he/she would be making anyway even if he/she was billionaire.

Posted by: sanger at January 29, 2006 12:28 AM
Comment #118063

hear hear!

Posted by: Diogenes at January 29, 2006 12:28 AM
Comment #118065

Hear hear, Digogenes? I’m surprised that you agree with me so passionately, but I’ll take it!

Posted by: sanger at January 29, 2006 12:33 AM
Comment #118068

sanger,

please. i will agree with you when you make an agreeable comment. covering your last generalization with another? i’m sorry, you’re still wrong.

hear hear referred to the previous post.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 29, 2006 12:45 AM
Comment #118074

Darren,,,,, You are so right, Take Gm and ford, They are going to go out of business, Why? What kind of car do you drive? Does Toyota have the same pension oblications, Does Honda? Unions add 35% more cost to everything they touch. They are not for the worker any more.

Posted by: Philipz at January 29, 2006 2:34 AM
Comment #118077
As I wrote above, we should be pessimistic when making plans and optimistic when implementing them.

Heh. Tell that to President Bush. “They’ll greet us with flowers.” LOL!

I say those things won’t work because they won’t.
So you’re the optimist and it’s only pessimism if liberals say that? You’re too much, Jack. Puh-leese.

You guys use examples like “The Day After” and “Inferno” and “Terminator” to paint liberals as doom sayers. The fact is, those movies are entertainment first and foremost. And secondly, they’re called “cautionary tales”. As in: If we’re not careful, something really bad might happen.

Yuck it up over the clueless liberals, but cautionary tales in the popular media make people aware of worst-case consequences so they can make choices to avoid them.

Why do you guys hate choices? The GOP is, like, the anti-choice party as well as the biggest pessimists.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 29, 2006 3:34 AM
Comment #118112

Philipz,
“Why? What kind of car do you drive? Does Toyota have the same pension oblications, Does Honda? Unions add 35% more cost to everything they touch. They are not for the worker any more.”

Lets see… going backwards from now…
1996 Olds
1994 Firebird
1989 Ford Ranger
1975 Olds Omega
1979(?) Volks. Rabbit
1967 Olds Cutlass
1967 Impala

I believe I know what your point is though… it is the evil unions. That is what Reagan was so successful at communicating.

Please, rhetoric aside for a moment.

Looking at only one side of a story does not give a “fair and balanced” view of an issue. If, the unions add 35% more to the cost of what they touch… what are the costs of benefits a company gives that doesn’t have a union? 20%? 25%? 30%?

Now, without unions, the threat of unions, or the competition between companies for employees based on competing benefits what will the additional cost be? ZERO! Good.

Do you think that the savings will be passed on to the consumer in lower prices? Adjusting the compensation of the workers to invest in their own retirement? Not a chance.

Why are the plants closing? Hummmmmm. It is the unions fault. Right. I got it. Then possibly you can explain the closing of the Saturn plant in Tenn? This was not a union plant. There was a conscious agreement between workers and management. They would not bring in the evil unions and they would build cars exactly the way management wanted. Oooops! People are not buying the cars enough to continue.

Those darn unions! How dare they (when not there) force GM to design a car that the American people are not buying!!!! Oh, okay… we can blame the consumer for not buying the cars that GM designed.

What is lacking here???? An absolute and complete lack of accountability or responsibility on the part of the COMPANY!

People talk about liberals making “victims” out of people. I guess that they equivelant would be making “victims” out of the US Companies? It is never their fault… it is always those evil _______ (fill in the blank).

I believe it has more to do with the decision making process of an American company based on short term profits.

1) Our immediate best profit margin is on SUVs
2) Switch all resources into SUVs
3) SUVs are more profitable than Saturns, shut down Saturn.
4) OOOps… gas prices going up! SUV sales tanking!
5) Offer rebates and price cuts and a years worth of gas to see SUVs.
6) Continue closing of Saturns (which get better gas mileage).
7) Close a bunch of other plants in an effort to stop the hemmoraging.
8) With people not buying SUVs in the same numbers, Saturns not being developed what do they have to offer?

Possibly because the other companies think long term strategically… they are looking beyond this fiscal quarter? They are building cars and trucks that people want to buy? Detroit builds based on what gives them the highest profit margin at this moment (with the assumption that it will always be so).. which in this case are SUVs which are very sentitive to gas prices. But, hey, blame it on the unions.

People love to support the troops, police and firemen. Sir, I have worked in manufacturing for 20 years… the American worker is the smartest, most productive worker in the world! Give them a product that is well designed and meets the needs of the consumer and they can build it. It is not the factory workers or the unions fault.

So Sir… you say that unions are not for the workers anymore. Who is then? The companies? Is this based on the evidence as related in this article? Why do people that are so anti-union remind me of the little boy Oliver asking, “Please sir, may I have some more?”

Well, this article clearly illustrates that the answer to the question of having a bit more is, “NO!”

Wanna know what I see coming next? Oooops. It has already been happening… More and more of the cost of health care being passed onto the worker. Not with any adjusting compensation to help off set the cost. Nope.

While they have you looking towards the union as the source of all ills… they are stripping away any benefits you might have had. Now, that is irony!

Based on people’s unwillingness to be completely honest in their thinking (see above) they are doing the work for the companies in tearing down the only institution that can protect them.

I am not saying that I am in agreements with unions in all issues. What I am saying though is that workers can reform unions through the inside to make them relevant to the workers. Without a corresponding balance to companies you are going to get what you are now seeing. Loss of benefits to the average worker who is doing everything the republicans tell him he should be doing to be happy and successful! And he is getting screwed!!!! Yet, people such as yourself will defend the companies and try to blame the unions. That is why I said I love irony!


CullHam,
“WHEW!!! Turn off CNN, go outside and get some fresh air, put the Kool-aid down and maybe you will see that the world is not all that bad.”

While I agree that it would be a good thing to get a perspective other than that presented by the news (any news outlet) I would just love an explanation of the “Kool-aid” comment.

I ask people if they can explain some of the “code-words” used on this site and I never seem to get an answer…

I am just asking because my interpretation of people taking “Kool-aid” is of a group of people surrendering their will and their lives over to a charismatic “Christian” leader who does the thinking and decision making for them. Thus leading to a loss of will, a desire to not see the world as it is, but as their leader tells them it should be… and then killing themselves because of the leader’s choice.

Therefore, if this is meant to imply “Liberals”, or “Democrats” then I can’t see the logic. After all… we are the ones turning our backs on what the Evangelical and Fundamentalist preachers are saying… we are the ones not willing to put our trust and obedience into a national leader…

So, I guess that I must be misunderstandig the “Kool aid” comment as a derogaroty comment towards liberals and democrats.

However, the CNN comment seems to point to that… Isn’t that another tenet of the Republicans? That you cannot trust CNN? The only station that gives the “fair and balanced” news is…

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 29, 2006 6:39 AM
Comment #118120

Optimism hmmm?

Okay how about this? I am optimistic that our debts will excede the lending limit for China to consider still holding onto our notes, and in turn sell them off midwar. In other words, China no lend sh#t no mo.

How about this? I am optimistic that Bush’s latest round of tax-cuts were entirely superfluous causing nothing more than a very minor spike in a leaky tire and then begins a careening course downward to which republicans will say “Well it was going to happen anyway” or some other dumb thing like that. Even with the knowledge that Bush devalued our currency for the sake of his cronies to make money on war contracts. Bush did it and you heard it here first before the fact.

I’m optimistic that Bush took a very wrong course in his war on terra’ being not only does it foment more radicalism but it creates numerous future problems that Bush will be out of office before they surface entirely. AAAAAND I’m optimistic we still don’t have control on the money that goes to terrorist cells and outfits out of Iran or Saudi Arabia!!! Oh and the Wahabist schools—still running.

‘Nother one: I am optimistic that Bush hasn’t done a god-damned thing on nuclear proliferation, North Korea is more dangerous than when he dubbed them into his “axis of evil” triad. Pakistan is still very nuclear active and grew exponentially right under Bush’s nose and the sales of Chinese and Russian fission materials will be sold to Iran.

Let’s be optimists shall we? Let’s be optimistic that this man Bush is a silverspoon screw-up and bent on disaster for this country out of his own greed and self interest.

Posted by: SKOOTER at January 29, 2006 7:35 AM
Comment #118139
I would just love an explanation of the “Kool-aid” comment.

Darren, that’s a reference to Jim Jones and his cult. In 1978, down in Jonestown, Guyana, Jones told all of his followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid, and all 914 of them willingly did so.

Today, “drinking the Kool-Aid” is a euphemism for group-think or mindless repetition of the daily partisan talking points.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 29, 2006 9:18 AM
Comment #118153

Western Europeans have it better than we do???

Posted by: Woody at January 29, 2006 10:16 AM
Comment #118167

Hi American Pundit,
Yeah, I remember Jim Jones… I was stationed in Greece at the time and was unable to exlain to my inlaws how people could subject themselves to someone like him.

My wondering is how they came up with this being an attribute of the Democrats and Liberals…

God, isn’t it just amazing how the smearing of the opponent is made without rhyme or reason? No logic… what matters is to make it derogatory, give it the illusion of significance… and repeat it enough until you get people to question it unconditionally.

What I do when I ask people to explain this is to question the validity fo their little cliches and see if they really have meaning… and if they do, does the meaning actually apply?

As I mentioned, these were people following a Charasmatic Christian leader, like David Korsech… which does not seem to be the mind set of a liberal. Neither does the stockpiling of weapons and poisons. That seems much more along the lines of a righ-wing cospiracy laced militia or religion… such as the Army of God.

This behavior seems more in line with followers of Pat Robertson, Jerry Farwell, Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Baker and others such as those. “Oh please, tell me what to think! Point thy finger at “those” others so that by comparison I might feel better!”

People just don’t seem to question or analyze. They accept mantras such as “Unions bad.” Even when I present the logical conclusion of what happens when there is no counter-balancing force, such as companies dumping retirement benefits some still want to blame the union!!!!

Thanks American Pundit for your reply. Unfortunately, it always seems to be the liberals and democrats that are willing to explain. Conservatives either don’t or can’t. I believe it is can’t…

For a year I listed to a friend who was a “Born-Again” Christian… folks, I am a Christian, but being born once was enough. He was always going on about “Secular Humanists!”

This was in the mid 1980s when that was a catch phrase they liked to use. I finally asked him what that term meant exactly. He was honest to admit after thinking about it that he really had no clue.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 29, 2006 11:35 AM
Comment #118178

Jim Jones built a socialist style commune that rejected the free market and traditional American values. He was just a nut case and should be not identified with any legitimate party, but his rhetoric was left. That is why he got identified with the Dems and liberals.

Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #118193

Jack,
Rose colored glasses are the ability to not have to work or better what is reality, Right now there is more poverty, more debt and lack of a future of betterment, (if you work hard and are honest you get ahead) than ever in my life time. True pessimism is only believing in the worst and not working at improvement. If you have it,(money and power) your chances are good at keeping it. The rich get richer. If you don’t have it,(money and power), your chances now are not as good that you will be able to get it. The rich get richer. this is America. I believe in this process for getting a better live. You put the attitude of persistence, with ambition and add risk taking. Gee sounds like going to a casino not. If you do have anything to loss you do not loss anything. True pessimism

Posted by: Marv E. at January 29, 2006 12:37 PM
Comment #118200

Ahhhh… I agree that he should not be attributed to any legitimate party. Yet, that seems to be happening doesn’t it? Yet, does any republican tell the person that this is wrong? Dishonest?

Morality and integrity means so much more than the absolute obedience to a law. It means to understand that a lie of omission is a lie. Witholding information knowing that it is relevant is a lie. Unjustly arributing behavior to a party is immoral and shows a lack of integrity.

Regardless of left or right wing rhetoric… when taken in practice and in action it comes to a point where they join… as if in a circle. The only difference is where they say that the means of production belongs to the people (in the form of a soviet) or whether it belongs to the state directly.

What they both insist on and must have to be successful it obedience. Asking questions, dissenting, or stating that you don’t agree becomes a moral issue.

That, I believe is much more the lesson to be learned from Jim Jones. Not the political rhetoric, but the willingess to give up our critical thinking to the will of someone else.

That, is what I see the Republcans doing whenever they say that the democrats shouldn’t question or doubt their President. Being elected to an office does not make a person virtuous and above the fray! Look at the current corruption problems. Look at the history of politics and corruption. No President should be given a blank check while we turn our heads!

So, basing the worst possible example of the most extreme behavior and attibuting it to either party would be categorized as wrong. I agree with that.

It does not however stop it from happening…. all the time. Radicals with their agendas are dumped in with the Democrats.

I do not know of any liberal or the democratic party that has attached itself so closely to religion as the republican party.

In practicality, I would say it was about power. Jim Jones gave a message that was attractive to some very poor and searching people. That he could lead them to a promised life.

One thing I would like to make clear. It is a trivial point but I do believe that it should be noted.

Socialism, Marxism, Communism are socio-political-economic systems.

Capitialsim is an economic system.

Democracy is a political system.

This is important because so many people want to make Captailism and Democracy interchangeable. And they aren’t. Thus, a person can believe in democracy and not buy 100% into capitalism, free market, hands off by the government… and still be a partiot, an American and a lover of Demcracy.

The “religous” leaders I have mentioned. Robertson, Farwell, Swaggart, Baker, Reed and such are not looking for people to have a personal relationship with God and to chose according to their conscience. They are telling everyone that they have the knowledge of God’s will and only through their interpretation of His will can a person be a good Christian.

The actions of disagreeing with the party or the President is just a matter of disagreement. It is not a “moral” issue.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 29, 2006 12:47 PM
Comment #118232

Darren

Capitalism is an economic system that tends to be defined by its enemies. I have never seen any examples of captialism. I prefer free market, which includes reasonable government regulation and the rule of law. This is the system described by Adam Smith. You can’t have democracy without a reasonably free market.

As for mind control, there is more of it on the left than the right. Look at this blog, blue and red sections. I think you find more diversity among those of us who write on the red side. I personally have praised President Clinton (without irony), supported gay marriage, wrote a nuanced view of multiculturalism and talked about business government and society. Compare and contrast this to other red side posters and tell me if you find that much diversity on the left side.

I have noticed that almost whatever I write about, among the first comments will be insulting to George Bush. If I write about the joy of sunshine and flowers, someone will write in to explain that Bush will stop them. If I write about optimism, I will be met with pessimism blamed on George Bush.

You guys are the haters to a much greater extent. I have been accused on Nazi tactics and hate speech for not accepting someone’s linked source. So look to yourselves for the lock step. Jim Jones spoke like a liberal and behaved like one. He was a nut, so I don’t put him in your camp, but I certainly not accept that you put him in mine.

Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #118274
Compare and contrast this to other red side posters and tell me if you find that much diversity on the left side.

There’s really no big difference between the two parties. The perceived difference (i.e. pessimism or optimism) depends on which party is currently has the majority.

Wait until Democrats win back the both houses and the executive branch, and the behavior flips. Republicans will revert to being budget hawks, from painting rosy picutures to painting a dismal pictures.

Many of the minor differences are about things that don’t matter that much.

I belong to no party anymore (i.e. used to be Republican). People join parties because:
(1) they think their party works for them,
(2) and they think there is power in numbers.

Well, (1) is false, because both parties are extremely irresponsible and unaccountable. (2) is partially correct, but what good is it if (1) is false?

So, how about this. Take off the partisan blinders, and vote out (or recall) all irresponsible incumbents, because incumbents:
[] refuse to pass many badly needed, common-sense, no-brainer, constructive reforms (e.g. campaign finance reform, election reform, one-purpose-per-bill amendment, balanced budget-amendment, tax reform, etc.).
[] vote irresponsibly (e.g. pork-barrel, graft, waste, corporate welfare, etc.), look the other way because they lack the peer-pressure to police their own ranks, and continue to grow government and the national debt to nightmare proportions, which is threatening the future and security of the nation. The national debt is so large now, it would take 127 years to pay off the debt if the federal government started now to (a) stop borrowing $1 billion per day, and (b) also started paying back $1 billion per day (slightly more the daily interest alone). It is irresponsible and immoral to be heaping that much debt onto future generations.
[] are bought-and-paid-for, too beholding to their big-money-donors, and refuse to tackle tough issues for fear of risking re-election, or defying their big-money-donors.
[] always outnumber the newcomers to Congress.
[] spend too much time and tax-payers money raising more money for their campaign war-chests.
[] fuel the partisan warfare, and seduce voters into a circular pattern that distracts the voters from more substantive issues.
[] pressure and seduce newcomers into Congress to conform to the status quo, look the other way, or be shunned and isolated.
[] somehow still convince many voters to empower the incumbents that use and abuse the voters.
[] have an unfair incumbent advantage.

Therefore, the voters can and should peacefully force government to pass many badly-needed reforms, because government will not do it themselves. Voters are supposed to vote out (or recall) irresponsible incumbents, repeatedly, until elected officials are responsible and accountable. That is what voting is supposed to be all about. That is what the voters are supposed to do, and should have been doing all along.

That is why government can not reform itself.
That is why government grows increasingly corrupt.
That is why newcomers can’t pass any reforms.

Incumbents of both parties have a strangle hold on government.

Incumbents will not allow any reforms that will reduce their opportunities for self-gain.

Incumbents will not allow any reforms to reduce their power.

Incumbents will not allow anything that threatens their cu$hy, coveted seats of power.

Incumbents outnumber the newcomers to Congress. The newcomers badly need the voters’ help now.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2006 6:24 PM
Comment #118281

To sum it up, the people who are pessimistic are often the people whose party is currently the minority.

Those that are optimistic are those whose party is currently the majority.

Who can deny seeing exactly that throughout the blue, green, red columns ?

Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2006 6:59 PM
Comment #118282

d.a.n,

If every incumbent was replaced within the next cicle of elections, would ‘K’ Street go away?

Posted by: Marysdude at January 29, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #118284

Marysdude,

K street wouldn’t go away.
But, the increased transparency would make it risky for politicians to keep peddling influence.

The constitution protects certain rights. Some of those rights are abused, but the rights, nevertheless, should not be taken away.

Instead, common-sense, no-brainer, responsible steps and simplifications can counter those abuses.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2006 7:15 PM
Comment #118286

d.a.n,

Do you believe that lobbying is a right, a good thing, a necessary evil or a bane on our system?

Should people be able to band together in order to influence legeslation, even when that legeslation might be detrimental to average citizens?

Posted by: Marysdude at January 29, 2006 7:27 PM
Comment #118287

d.a.n,

Excuse me…legislation, not legeslation.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 29, 2006 7:32 PM
Comment #118290

Marysdude,
The constitution does not let us ban lobbying.
Lobbying is a bad thing if incumbents are FOR SALE.
Otherwise, lobbying is just another valid voice.

The problem is that we have an incredibly corrupt, FOR SALE, bought-and-paid-for government.

Yes, people should be able to band together to influence legislation. That is their right.

However, in a democratic republic, our elected officials (if they were not bought-and-paid-for) would use their good judgement to do the right thing.

However, they will never do the right thing until the voters give them an incentive to do so.

Please, see the following.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2006 7:49 PM
Comment #118292

Marysdude,

Lobbying is not the problem.

The problem is corrupt, bought-and-paid-for incumbents that only care about self-gain.

The constitution will not let us restrict lobbying completely, and probably rightly so.

Yes, people can band together to influence legislation. But the problem is that the biggest influencing factor is money. Government should not be FOR SALE.

Yes, influence of the government by the few with vast wealth and power is a bad thing.

The only way to beat it is for voters to not allow it.

The fact of the matter is that voters will eventually have to wake up and notice that they are being screwed over royally.

Until then, the path back to the right path is becoming increasingly difficult and painful.

Like I’ve said many times, we may not figure this out in my lifetime. But, I think people will figure it out some day.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2006 8:03 PM
Comment #118293

lobbying is guaranteed by the constitution; what is considered ‘lobbying’ these days is not, and *should* be (and is) *illegal*.

meeting a politician and attempting to sway the politicians opinion is legal, and should be.

taking that politician out for a night on the town, giving *any* gifts to said politician, and making exhorbitant ‘donations’ to that politician’s campaign are among a number of practices which are backdoor methods of bribery.

if a lobbyist wants to talk with a politician, they should meet that politician in their office; if they think a restaurant is a better setting, then they can attempt to persuade the politician to take *them* out for dinner. their only power for persuasion should arise from those that they represent (potential votes for the politician) - not through financial transactions of *any* sort.

lobbying in its current form is certainly *not* a right. in fact, it’s criminal - hence the investigations.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 29, 2006 8:05 PM
Comment #118297

in essence, what i’m saying is…

“Lobbying is not the problem”

actually, yes, in fact it is. at least one major component of a larger problem.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 29, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #118367
I think you find more diversity among those of us who write on the red side. I personally have praised President Clinton (without irony), supported gay marriage, wrote a nuanced view of multiculturalism and talked about business government and society.

LOL! Jack, the harshest critics of your out-of-step position on those issues have been everybody else on the red side.

Every time you come out for gay marriage, you get a barrage of abuse from your compatriots. You’re writings are not an example of diversity, you’re merely the exception that proves the rule. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at January 29, 2006 11:59 PM
Comment #118421

Jack,
I agree with you. I would not like to see the extremsits, radicals of either side attributed to the mainstream parties. That is what is being done.

I have supported our staying in Iraq until we fix what we broke. As I have also mentioned in posts, I do not agree with all of the democrat’s stands on issues, but they most closely reflect my beliefs.

Such as the loss of retirement benefits to the workers at some of the major companies. IBM, Verizon, etc.. Without a countering force there is absolutely no reason for companies to provide benefits to their workers. If they don’t like it.. they can go somewhere else. But! As more and more companies are dropping them and then there is no alternative.

Legislating the benefits a company should provide might be the “democrats” respone. After all, it is not legal for companies to set prices to manipulate competition… but there are no corresponding laws to keep them from meeting and deciding to eliminate worker’s benefits which could be seen as manipulating the competition for workers.

My answer it the market forces that you talk about. However, a lot of people don’t see unions as a vaild market force, but I do. Companies are free to work together to set wages and benefits so workers should be able to do the same thing.

A balance of power. One that insures that there isn’t abuse by one over the other. There many be individual instances of abuse, but over all it would be better than trying to legislate, don’t you think?

The tension and competition between business and labor, I believe, is the same as between the 2 parties. They are needed to an extent to keep the other party from having uncontested power.

As I have asked in posts… can anyone show me where a one party system has been a good thing?

Denigrating the labor unions has lead to their being seen as the enemy to benevolant companies who only have their employees best interests at heart. Is this supported by the evidence?

Did you read the link I posted concerning the loss of benefits to workers?

What surprises me is that the people who are losing their benefits are not the traditional lower economic classes that the democrats have been representing… but the middle class that have been supporting the Republicans.

Instead of fear at the loss of benefits for themselves and their children they would rather blame the unions! These cuts at IBM, Verizon and others has nothing to do with “cost savings” associated with high labor costs… these companies are profitable… they are just cutting benefits to their workers because they can!

Before unions became synonomous with “evil” the middle class knew that whatever the union shops in their company got, they would get a fairly close matching raise. It was a hidden little secret.

But, turning unions into the enemy has allowed companies to now have no restraints. And, the results are not looking good.

If you look through my posts you will always see that I address the President as President Bush. I also address all elected officals by their proper titles… because I want to make the discussion about issues not personalities. That is why I wanted to question a comment such as “Kool-Aid” mentaltities.

It is deceptive, it takes the other person’s argument and denigrates it to something being unworthy of consideration. There are examples of people lacing direction and looking for someone else to provide the answers for them.

They can be easily manipulated, either through a right or left wing promise of salvation or life or harmony.

If we want to talk about lock-step mentality it is the hard-core conservatives, not the mainstream republicans that say it is “wrong” to question the President. It is wrong to insist on a clear goal in the war. It is “wrong” to have a debate as to the use of our military forces. It is “wrong” to determine whether or not a law has been broken (I am not saying it was or wasn’t, but some don’t even want to investigate).

Without legitimate, concerned Americans in two opposing parties we will go to a place most people would not want to go. That is one of the reasons that I want so much to have the issues framed in adult discussion.

The stakes really are too high to blindly follow any party. People who childishly repreat “name calling” as if they are in 3rd grade do nothing to create progress towards moving forward.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 30, 2006 6:56 AM
Comment #118453

Diogenes,

We may be splitting hairs here.
Lobbying only is not the problem, unless as you say, it is accompanied with bribes, wining, and dining.

Then it is no longer lobbying. It is bribing.

There is a difference.

Our Congress people must be accessible.
They just shouldn’t be bought-and-paid-for.
Accepting gifts or money is a clear conflict of interest, and should be illegal.

But, bought-and-paid-for incumbents won’t pass that law, or any other common-sense, no-brainer, responsible reforms, and incumbents (who outnumber newcomers to Congress) won’t allow allow newcomers to pass any reforms.

Incumbents won’t pass any reforms that will reduce their opportunities for self-gain.

Newcomers that try to pass common-sense reforms soon find themsleves shunned, isolated, and threatened with the loss of their party’s support.

Newcomers need the voters help.

IMPORTANT: It is not as important who voters vote for as it is what they can and will accomplish after being elected. Incumbents, who outnumber the newcomers, tempt, pressure, and threaten newcomers from passing badly needed reforms. Incumbents force newcomers to accept the status quo. That is why it seems like they are stricken by the jelly-brain disease soon after being elected. That is why they soon forget all of their campaign promises. That is why they all look the other way.

Darren7160 wrote: As I have asked in posts… can anyone show me where a one party system has been a good thing?

Darren7160,
The parties are not the problem. But it can appear that way, when they abuse their majority, and the other minority party can not oppose it.

But, I would challenge anyone to show me where one party is the problem. For example, some want to blame the Republicans for everything, but the Democrats are in lock-step with almost every BILL passed. The only dissenters are a very few (and not in office for long either). I personally no longer feel a need for a party (i.e. used to be Republican). But, it isn’t because I think they are any worse or better than Democrats. After removing the partisan blinders, it is clear that they are more similar than not. People gravitate to parties because they believe there is strength in numbers, and they believe their party stands for their beliefs. But, the minor differences in what both parties say belie what both parties actually do.

Darren7160 wrote: The stakes really are too high to blindly follow any party.
Exactly ! That is the challenge. Education is the key. I used to be one of those brain-washed that was seduced and participated in the circular pattern of thought and behavior that distracted me from reality. I was one of those the childishly called Democrats “liberals”, “whiners”, “tax-and-spenders”, etc. No more. I removed the partisan blinders at age 47. But, that goes to show you how effective the brainwashing is. Why did I remove the partisan blinders? Because it suddenly became clear to me that incumbents in both parties are extremely irresponsible and corrupt, and refuse to pass many badly-needed, common-sense, no-brainer, responsible reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and responsibility. The problem is now crysal clear. The solution is also crystal clear. But the peaceful solution depends on the voters too. The voters can and should simply do the right thing. Simply do the one simple, common-sense, non-partisan, inexpensive, safe, peaceful, responsible thing voters were supposed to be doing all along. Vote out (or recall) irresponsible incumbents, repeatedly until they agree to pass badly-needed, common-sense reforms, and stop ignoring our pressing problems that threaten the future and security of the nation. Posted by: d.a.n at January 30, 2006 9:22 AM
Comment #118526

semantics, agreed.

the accepted contemporary ($=speech) definition does not fit the constitutionally protected definition.

i feel that it is necessary to underscore this distinction, as many do not realize there is a difference.

Posted by: Diogenes at January 30, 2006 2:18 PM
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