There was a saying popular in the Soviet Union: "Under communism" they said, "the future is certain, it's the past that's always in doubt."
This was a cute way of saying that under the soviet system, the way the facts of history are reported will reflect only what the current political leaders want it to. In the case of the soviet union, they would extol the virtues of the soviet man, a mythical creature created out of whole cloth by the state, who has been purged of all desire for himself, and only interested in well being of others. The very air he drew into his lungs would not be for himself. His alleged "desire" for air wasn't part of his being alone, but was to keep his body alive as a vessel of the "people's will." No one ever really believed it, but it made for entertaining fiction. In truth, it was a silly idea so fraught with sarcastic opportunity that I could write 5 essays on it.
But my point today is how everything these days seems to be turned upside down, and words don't seem to mean what they ought to. As a specific example, I am about the single most anti-establishment person I know. This entire blog is basically designed to ask the question "Can we find a way to fix our government that doesn't involve the use of force? (and if we can't... can someone make me a good deal on some 7.62x39mm ammo?)" I am constantly chattering on about trying to find a way to take power away from the establishment and give it back to individuals, and yet in our popular culture, I would be described as "a conservative". What, I wonder, do they imagine I'm trying to conserve?
Another example is the word "liberal". Traditionally it has meant someone who believes that each individual gets to decide for themselves how to spend their time, money and energy. But in the US at least, "a liberal" is someone who believes that we should increase taxes on everyone, increase all state regulation, enhance the power of government by taking it away from the people, slash the military budget to send illegal immigrants to college for free, make going to church illegal, and give dogs and cats the right to vote. Obviously I'm exaggerating a little... they don't really want to raise taxes on everyone, just on other people.
Some people, it turns out, have a problem with words always meaning the same thing. They concentrate on "spin" and "color" and will stretch the meaning of fairly rigid terms continually to their breaking point. Marxist becomes "progressive", "liberal" becomes "conservative", "retreat" becomes "redeployment", "illegal alien" becomes "undocumented worker", "Tax Increase" becomes "Tax Reform" etc. It's no wonder we of different political persuasions have so much trouble communication. We're not just talking past each other, we're using the same words to speak two totally different languages. And it isn't that we say "toe may toe" and they say "toe Mah toe", it's more like we say tomato and they say, "organically grown, free range, gluten free, fair trade gathered, non GM, salad enhancer... (that will $1.79 in individual agriculture tax please)". We're on two totally different wavelengths, and recognize two totally different sets of things to be true.
So for those of you on the far side of the partisan gap who probably don't have any idea what I'm talking about (except for the part about raising the tax on tomatoes to $1.79) let me clue you in on some of the things that we (gulp) "conservatives" believe is true.
We believe that if one person works harder than another, it's perfectly fair for the first person to get more for it than the second. We think that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and that if someone has gone to the trouble of making something, anything, they should be allowed to sell it for whatever the market will bear, and no law can make that number higher or lower. We believe that an individual knows more about what they want, and what they are willing to give up to get it, than any government bureaucrat, so you can't make laws that are more "fair" than that no matter what party you say you belong to.
And foremost in my personal agenda, we believe that it's unjust for the government of New Jersey to make 8 million people suffer under the burden of paying for a benefit that goes to only one person in nine. That one person in nine, is the person who worked for the government of New Jersey. They are going to get 100% of their salary, and free medical care for themselves and their families for life, simply for having worked for the government.
This last one is based on the fact that economic growth comes from productivity not consumption. It's building the house that contributes to economic growth, not living in it as a squatter. And since that's so, our government has done nothing to contribute to the growth of the state, other than impose a tax and regulatory burden high enough to make it more difficult. And for the gift of making all of our lives harder, they will be generous enough to present a bill to us every day till they die. They're in bed with the governor, both literally and metaphorically, so he won't be trying to stop it. And our legislators of both political parties are in on the game. They've got us cold, and since they also control the courts, there are few options left for us under the law.
So following the fine example of the socialists who went before us it turns out that, "In New Jersey too, the future has become certain". We'll be paying the bills of the NEA and the CWA members till the last pensioner dies off many ... MANY decades from now. But if I have my way, at least we'll no longer be told a single government approved version of the past. Maybe I can shed enough light on what's happening to cast some doubt on the official version of history: "How the brave civil servants stood up to the massed forces of the free market", to defend the state's taxpayers from freedoms that they lack the wisdom and energy to handle."
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the official version sounds just as silly to me as the "soviet man."