Karl Marx and Opiate De-tox

marx

This Karl Marx guy might be on to something.

I’m not referring solely to his sweet neck beard– though that is quite sublime. No, it turns out the 17th century revolutionary had at least the kernel of a good idea buried in the reams of nonsensical theory he churned out.

Yep, the man whose ideas launched centuries full of bad politics may have only been 98% batshit.

That other 2%? That is the nugget of truth in half of his famous quote.

“Religion is the opiate of the masses”

You see Marx felt that religion was the ultimate answer to “life sucks, then you die”. He felt that to a poor person living in the 1800’s life really had no meaning.

You busted your hump, never progressed and never had anything to look forward to except more subservience.

To Marx, this perfectly explained why religion was so big.

If there is no meaning or happiness in this life, why not create an imaginary next life where everything works out for you. In so do doing you might actually be able to stomach the oppression of today. “Blessed are the meek” sounds pretty awesome to the meek after all. To Marx, religion was akin to the Fleetwood Mac mantra “Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow.”

Marx was famous for harebrained theory like this. In fact he was so kooky he was fairly maligned in his age. So much so that He was routinely kicked out of every country he ever called home.

I guess California wasn’t around back then.

But I think Karl may have actually been on to something. Oh sure he was 150+ years early and he misdiagnosed his opiate, but other than that his theory is at least 6-10% sound. It wasn’t however religion that is the opiate.

Today we have a new opiate to keep us happy in our oppression– it’s called politics.

It turns out our two party political system is set up not to govern, but rather to distract us. The R’s and the D’s have us believe that there are two sides to every issue and that they each inhabit one. FoxNews and MSNBC perpetuate the myth.

The truth is that this is just a ruse to keep us distracted while our “leaders” print money we don’t have, hire consultants, collect pensions, have affairs and make new rules to retain power.

Think Marx and I are lying? Consider President Obama.

To Republicans his statist agenda is marching us into an abyss of debt, he routinely wipes with the Constitution, and some even thing he may ultimately deliver the Revelation. So the democrats are winning right?

Wrong.

To hardcore democrats he’s an abject failure. Gitmo is still open, the war in Afghanistan rages on, he’s authorized more drone strikes than Bush & Cheney and civil liberties are beaten daily. The left wing of his party is enraged.

So what are the congressional Republicans up to?

They have abandoned their position on every meaningful social issue, are focusing on obstructionism and have taken to trying to figure out which demographic group they need to pander to in order to stay viable.

And all the while Rome burns. Nothing gets done and the fed keeps greasing the printing presses at the treasury.

The debt we think is chugging toward $20 trillion is more like $200 trillion when unfunded pension liabilities and entitlements are factored in and yet the budgets keep multiplying, the staffs keep getting rich, and the lobbyist dollars continue to roll in.

So what is a God-fearing patriot to do? Pack a lot of canned food and head for Montana?

Maybe, but not yet. I refuse to believe this constitutional republic cannot persevere. Wimps like Marx ran from a challenge, we need to do what Americans do best. Stand and fight.

What does that look like? Four humble suggestions

1. Vow to never vote for another incumbent.
Politicians are our employees, their job performance is tanking, and they should all be fired. This is indisputable.

2. Find a third party that you like and support their candidates.
Independent, Libertarian, Constitution party, Green party, American Socialist party it really doesn’t matter as long as they speak to you and your issues and they aren’t affiliated with the crooks in DC today.

Heck you could even steal a page from Montgomery Brewster and vote “none of the above” just don’t for one minute support the status quo. The status quo built this mess. John Boehner is more like Harry Reid than you’ll ever know.

3. Encourage your honest friends with integrity to run for public office… any public office.
One honest soil conservation commissioner is better than none. Don’t be surprised if your friends decline however. It will be a tough sell as politics is one step below prostitution, but the only way to take back our country is to get honest people in the system.

4. Pray.
For our current leaders, our candidates, your detractors, your kids and the future of the greatest country on the planet.

***
What do you think?

• Are my four ideas viable? If not, why not?

• Jeremiah looked for one righteous man in Jerusalem and failed. Would DC generate any hits? — be specific

• Am I full of it? Is your politics glass half full? Why?

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Christian. Father. Hawkeye. Pursuing truth... frequently in a minivan.

13 thoughts on “Karl Marx and Opiate De-tox

  1. All four ideas are extremely viable, but it comes with a lot of patience. Even if everyone you knew implemented all four today, our grandkids’ kids might start to see the beginning of change. Politics has been dirty forever and the pushback from those “in charge” will be astronomical. If you could bottle the energy expended by Washington to ensure nothing changes, the planet could survive 50 years after the sun burns out.

    All one needs to do is find out how many congressmen have voted in favor of term limits. Then cut that number in half when you factor out those who voted in the affirmative only because they knew it would never pass.

    All that being said, I agree we do need to act. Prayer seems like the easiest step today but it might be the most powerful.

  2. The whole political scene just wears me out, and I think most Americans are getting tired of it as well. It’s a never ending campaign. As soon as they are elected they start campaigning for the next election. I think most Americans are trying to hang on for dear life to a spot in the so called middle class, or check to check world as wages stay stagnant and every expense leaps upwards. I am not sure the answer to our political/ governing issues, but I believe in the American people. We are people who work hard and when things get tough, we tighten things up and work harder. Even as the last great recession waas churning and housing was collapsing, individual productivity was going up and corporate prosuctivity rose as well. We may have to start to go over the cliff before we actually do a real fix on the debt. I hope that is not the case, but I fear this will happen. That being said I believe in America and our abilty to work, survive, thrive and prosper.

    1. I agree that the fact that we are already talking about 2016 is pathetic and I don’t even live in Iowa where it is 100 times worse.

      I like your optimism, but I am not as confident. I am not sure that your average joe understands the level of government we get versus the level we pay for. Everyone wants cuts until it is to their pet program (student loan rates, ag subsidies, interest loan deduction).

      The bottom line is that we need entitlement reform and fiscal control and that means either ramping up taxes or dramatically decreasing services. I favor the latter as I have not seen that the federal government (or state, or local) can use my tax dollars efficiently or effectively at anything except building more bureaucrats and using them to malign those that fund it.

  3. As you might expect, I am not entirely in agreement with your suggestions, but surprisingly, more of the underlying foundation that I would have expected. I’m going to ignore the non-sequitur that was the Marx and religion stuff, as well as our differing views of President Obama.

    That said, I think your three real points below, probably fall short of actual, fundamental change you seek. While most on the right would consider me neither God fearing, nor a patriot (don’t own enough guns, nor am a tea-bagger), but I do consider myself a patriot. Many of your points simply fail in the face of reality, let alone logic:

    1. Incumbents – so, you’re going to reelect a brand new House every two years? This year’s freshman instantly becomes an incumbent
    2. 3rd Parties – have you read the planks of any third parties? Most are single issue parties that have no interest in governing, but rather only getting attention to their one issue
    3. Running for office – most people have neither the energy or interest to read 600 page bills and lose all of their free time as they commute between DC and their districts
    4. Prayer – it can’t hurt, right?

    However, none of those things address these real issues:
    A. Money – the SCOTUS decision in Citizen’s United only ensured that elected officials, that were already fundraising constantly, now had to contend with even more money entering politics. That has to be addressed before politics can be cleaned-up, along with true transparency on political donations – issue or candidate related.
    B. Money part 2 – although I have long resisted this idea, and am still not sure I am a proponent, there is something to be said for the idea of publicly funded elections. While the cost is a challenge in this environment, if one believes that better elections would drive pork-barrel politics out of the system, perhaps it would be self-funding though future economic sanity?
    C. Kumite – with apologies to Jean-Claude, we’ve turned our elections into a blood sport. Never has compromise been more discouraged that today; in years past, LBJ would gather Senators of both parties in his Senate office, and over bourbon, hammer out historic legislation that would appeal to both sides. However, now, the Tea Party, NRA, NOW, and Soros all demand no surrender, no retreat. Congress has largely stop reflected the views of the masses, but instead only reflect the views of primary voters. We don’t need to vote for third parties, if we all voted in primaries, or caucuses (Iowa, represent), we would like get less extreme candidates. This leads into the last point:
    D. Tocqueville – he once wrote that, “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” Have we become so angry, and religious/secular, and simply polarized as a nation that this is what we deserve? He also wrote, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” So many voters are so angry, and single-issue focused (immigration, abortion, taxes, DOMA, etc.), that we now are willing to deny the most vulnerable of our population food stamps and health care to win points. Even if people disagree about Obama-care, and even if people frown on welfare, I can’t believe we can’t agree that there are people that lack access to food and healthcare, esp. children, that we should be obligated to protect.

    We could go on and one about this issue, but there are real, fundamental obstacles that need to be overcome before 3rd Parties and Prayer will do anything other than as a therapeutic activity – which is the same role that Opiates play for many, isn’t it?

    1. My motto is “no pitch, no bitch”. If you don’t like an idea, let’s hear yours.

      Lucky for me you did lay out a plan so let’s summarize. (I’ll ignore the ad hominem attacks on the tea party, or your comically simple characterization of the right of center for now).

      First, you call for taxpayer funding of candidate campaigns at the federal level. So MORE federal spending will solve the problem? That seems prudent. The Federal government does a great job of oversight and as stewards of the money we entrust to them with presently. Let’s double down.

      Second you call for more Bourbon and LBJ. Unclear how this would be applied. Obama strikes me more as a weed man anyway.

      Third: You call on all of us to vote in primaries. Again, unclear how this helps. We have wildly divergent politicians because we have a wildly divergent electorate. I have news for you, the Senators from Texas and the Senators from California won’t start agreeing based on bigger primary voter pools.

      Fourth: You site the Frenchy Tocqueville and outline how we have left our most vulnerable by the wayside. Under Obama the food stamp program has more than doubled. So how exactly is that an attempt to “deny the most vulnerable of our population food stamps?”

      FYI- food stamps are now called SNAP. Get with the new lingo. You’ll also note they get credit cards now, and free cell phones.

      Finally, your argument seems to imply that the federal government is the lone source of solutions available. Private charities, families, communities etc. don’t ever enter the equation?

      I hear a lot of “something must be done” lately and the only solution is the federal government and a new program.

      Not at all the role of the government our founders envisioned and not something we can afford. The USA is bankrupt. Monetarily and morally.

  4. I’m not going to even attempt to embarrass myself and pretend I know 10% of what you guys know. 1 candidate and 1 party does represent 1 idea and it’s not bad. Ron Paul and the Libertarian party believe in live and let live. Do we need foodstamps when the local foodshelf (donations from citizens) can feed the community? Hardships are not fun to be part of or witness, but non-government funded organizations happen to be better run, better supported and oh, do what they were set out to do. And what’s wrong with freshman legislators? They are there to do a job and if they are qualified to get elected, then I’m not worried about it taking them 24 months to get accustomed to falling in line with the life long reps. 600 page bills and multiple trips between their home and DC about sums it up. Remove the lawyers and get something done while congress is in session. By the way, I went to a concert this week and bought a pack of cigs with some buddies to share. Besides being banned from smoking outside except in back alleys, the cost was $8.32! What’s left to tax! Don’t answer that.

  5. Duffman, Ron Paul isn’t a legitimate candidate; he is primarily an agitator and mostly against things, than for things. The problem with freshman legislators is this – name a single significant law they have sponsored and passed. They are like the new guy at work – it takes time to learn the job. This isn’t 5 guys in the fraternity house that happened to memorize Robert’s Rules of Order.

    Blake, first, even ignoring what is not a clear call for taxpayer funding, it does address the issue of money in politics, which your solution of “prayer” clearly doesn’t do. Second, meaningless point – mine was about compromise, while yours is about the same recreational drugs the Urbandale High School used to treat as party favors.
    Third – the issue is that the candidates that come out of primaries are not generally in step even with many of the states they represent. Every republican that votes would never have selected Michelle Bachman if they all had participated in the primary. The issues isn’t the views of the candidates that go into it, but those that come out. That is why you’re left with Ted Cruz and Barbara Boxer.

    Food stamps – Factcheck.org clearly states your Obama claim is wrong, so I’m not going to dignify it. Yes, food stamps are up – when Barry took office, the economy was in the crapper and unemployment was rising – they tend to go hand in hand (que you starting to go off on Barry for the economy).
    Finally, we can, and are debating the role of government. Not everything is the government’s job, it is has clearly, and for quite some time, provided the social safety nets we are discussing. Between the Bonus Army after the Civil War, Hoovertowns in the Great Depression, or Johnson’s War on Poverty, this idea of welfare queens is more a Roger Ailes creation than anything based in fact.

    Finally, faith. You would argue we are morally bankrupt due to DOMA and the election of Obama. I simply postulate the one of the things that makes the Constitution the greatest political work of all time, and the foundation of our great nation, is its ability to adapt to contemporary society. The Bill of Rights struggles to reconcile 1789 with 2013, as it should; but the foundation is there. My fear about those “right of center” essentially want to turn our great nation into a theocracy. While we were founded on Judeo-Christian values, we were not founded as a religious nation. Pat Robertson and many on the Right would essentially turn us into Saudi Arabia, but with bacon and Budweiser. The real mark of freedom isn’t just what you can say “yes” to, but what you have the right to also say “no,” too, as well.

    1. Is marijuana legal in Libertyville? I can’t speak for factcheck.org, but I can read what the congressional budget office puts out.

      http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44080

      In an early post I contended that SNAP has more than doubled under Obama. The stats from the CBO support that claim. Total spending on SNAP in 2007 was $35 billion, in 2012 it was $80 billion. It will be higher in 2013, it has “more than doubled”

      Citing Tocqueville and LBJ may make you feel like an elite mind, but taking people to task for supposedly erroneous facts that are easily verified tends to dispel that myth rather quickly.

      1. Mea culpa, I guess. My initial read of your point was around participants, not spending. So, if you were speaking only about dollars, then I agree with your point about a doubling of the SNAP program. When I read your post, you seem to assign blame to Obama for this rise, but it seems that you skipped key sections of your own reference.

        “Those increases are largely related to the severe recession and slow recovery: SNAP participation and spending automatically rise during periods of economic weakness because people’s incomes are lower. Legislation has also affected SNAP participation and spending in the past few years; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (as amended) increased the maximum SNAP benefit until November 2013. SNAP participation generally declines when the economy improves, though typically with a substantial lag. CBO projects that participation will follow that pattern again in the coming years.”

        In the link, the accompanying graph clearly shows the upward trend line preceded Obama’s election. So, yes, in a recession, spending went up on programs that are part of the social safety net – shocking. Perhaps the Constitution Party, oh, and prayer, would have feed these people.

        As for my alleged elitism, maybe my youth was slightly less misspent and I’m able to remember most of my formative years. Essentially, I went to identical public institutions as you. When you were burning the “U” in our field, did it look like Exeter? While you were strolling back from Campbell, did you confuse it for Harvard Yard? However, what I find interesting is I am certain we didn’t do undergrad at Bob Jones – so, when did you have time to get your graduate degrees from there?

  6. First, you initially stated that we are denying all the needy people food stamps. That is how this started. My point is that regardless of what economic conditions precipitated it, the program has grown exponentially. People are apparently getting the help they need.

    Secondly, the article you are big on quoting also alludes to legislative action being a factor to the increase, which you conveniently leave out.

    Third, it DOES give us numbers of recipients. 26 million in 2007 and 47 million in 2012.

    Fourth, and most important. Only the federal government could more than double the amount of spending on a program and not double the number of clients served. Any company in the private sector that did that would go belly up.

    The feds however call that success and decide to try to work similar magic to fix healthcare.

    Good thing they print their own money.

  7. In order of your points:

    First, my reference to SNAP was specifically based on the Farm Bill brilliance of the House this week. It is a program that works, that supports the people most in need, and the House punts on its responsibility. So, yes, there is an effort by the House to “deny all the needy people of food.” Second, yes, legislative action was a part of it – they extended benefits to reflect the realities of the economy; given the self-evidence of this point, and the fact IT WAS YOUR SOURCE, I didn’t think including it was required.

    Third, to my original point, 47MM is not more than 26MM x 2. Again, what is your point – that math is difficult?

    As for your last point, I certainly hope upon reflection that you’d like to restate it. Perhaps you’re a former Bain consultant, but with no knowledge of the overhead, or acknowledgement that food prices rise, you make a business statement like you’re Adam Smith. You’re in financial services – I hope you understand interest rates, but have you never heard of inflation – the “Food at Home CPI” (grocery stores) from just Nov. ’12 – May ’13 was 0.8% – your data is from ’07-’12! This isn’t Coke where economies of scale drive the factory’s average unit cost down – the value of the food stamps get adjusted for inflation. Thus, it is easy for even people who didn’t’ take economics to that a 2x cost increase easily can lead to a less than 2x population increase over a 5 year period.

    Here is an idea for you as you tout your compassionate conservatism. You could argue that by cutting SNAP, it is a humane move to address America’s growing obesity problem. What do you think?

  8. Wow, thanks to Matt and Mize for the PoliSci review. Their posts alone demonstrate how strong opposing views create division and why it is a challenge to get anything done in DC.

    The origins of this post reminded me of another very similar political quote, from one of the locals — James George Janos: “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.” My guess is Jesse took Marx’s quote a bit further and didn’t care if it offended people (including his own wife, who has strong religious values).

    As an everyday citizen, I get very frustrated by the turmoil in politics and the abuse of power that eventually occurs (don’t get me started on the topic of phone records). Would we really want to send our close friends into that fire? Locally, John Kriesel became a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2011/2012, only to serve one term because of the stress and demands it placed on his family. He got smart and got out, to ensure that he could focus on his family and not on the constant infighting and lack of compromise that we witnessed each day as part of the legislature.

    I agree that we have to take a hard look at the incumbents and ensure that they have our interests in mind (us as constituents), yet can make the tough decisions and not hide from them. The good thing is that there are good politicians. Like any other facet of life, we just don’t hear about them because what they do day in and day out is not newsworthy. Prayer can certainly help, however, it is important that we take action as well.

    James 2:17
    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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