Monday, April 9, 2012

Fred Reed Shows Why There is Still Hope for America

Fred Reed has a mind like a caustic bath.  Dip something in, and it will be dissolved away until there is nothing left but the insoluble grit.  This seems the only material that interests him, and in it he cavorts and revels.

So, it should not surprise anyone that tends to favor topics like violence, death, and corruption.  But, occasionally, he outdoes even himself, and an unintended ray of hope comes bursting forth from the grime and wreckage before he can manage to blot it out:
Several things characterize countries of the Third Word, whatever precisely "Third World" means.

The first is corruption. America is rotten with it, but American corruption is distinct from corruption in, say, Guatemala or Thailand, being less visible and better organized.

Several major differences exist between the usual corruption in the Third World and that in America. In most of the Third World, corruption exists from top to bottom. Everyone and everything is for sale. Bribery amounts to an economic system, like capitalism or socialism. By contrast, in the United States, graft flourishes mostly at the level of government and commerce. You don’t (I think) slip an admissions official at Harvard twenty grand to accept your shiftless and dull-witted slug of a misbegotten offspring. Nor do you pay a local judge to drop dope charges against your teenager. And in the Guatemalas and Egypts of the planet, corruption tends to be personal. The briber and the bribed act as individuals.

In the United States, corruption occurs at the level of policy and contracts, between corporations, special interests, and Congress. It is done gracefully and usually legally.
Did you catch it?  It takes a little reading between the lines.  He says that corruption in America vs. Most Third World Places, though similar in scope is fundamentally different.  And the key difference makes all the difference -- in most places, it is endemic and thoroughgoing at all levels of life, i.e. there is a systemic consistency.  All levels and nooks and crannies operate along the same lines.  In America, it is limited primarily to 'the high places.'

This is a thesis I have long advanced -- that corruption here is a different animal altogether.  It is an institutionalized, not a personalized, corruption, meaning that in America, deep down the fundamental kernel of personal virtue is still mostly intact.  Corruption has been forced to adopt an intellectual facade to hide behind and to confuse, because most people would resist it if it actually showed its face.

This is why I am not one of those who forecasts widespread street violence, mass starvation and other end-of-the-world mayhem here in the states.  Americans are simply not that kind of people. 

Yes, there are problems.  A century of rule-by-planners, mis- and mal-education at the hands of bureaucrats, and a deep-seated tendency to find contentment in one's own affairs which leads too often to a general incuriousity have produced a general case of scrambled-eggs-for-brains.  And so the intellectual contortionism creeps in, which calls good evil and evil good, insists that paper money is better than gold or silver, that if we don't have public education for all, the underclass will slip through the cracks and multiply willy-nilly, that if the president doesn't have a plan for the future, the children will starve, the environment will die, and dogs and cats will lose their rights to privacy etc, etc, ad nauseum.

So the egg-heads design their rules, build up the system, and let it dumb the population down and suck them dry.  It is a sad thing, yes, but I still do not think it has hit this country where it really counts.

That core of personal virtue, not political ideology, or technology, or economic or military might, or any enlightened set of rules, is ultimately the spring from which all the others flow.  That is where our hope and faith should be.  The ancients knew that.  Too bad we seem to have forgotten.

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