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Saturday, December 15, 2012

OK, Progressives, Can You Think About This?

I have a friend in the neighborhood: let us call him "Herman."

When I met Herman, I thought he was probably homeless. He dressed kind of like he was, his dental state looked like he might be, and he seemed to just do odd jobs for a neighborhood grocery store. But, whatever: Herman was friendly, liked a good joke, and told some himself, so he was alright by me.

But gradually, I saw Herman more and more places in the neighborhood, taking out the trash, sweeping the sidewalk, moving a piece of furniture. Well, a very energetic homeless man.

Then he told me he was renting a place in the neighborhood for his business. We chatted a little about that, but it didn't make much of an impression on me.

Yesterday I saw him blocks from his usual stomping grounds. "Herman, what are you doing up here?"

"Oh, I have so much new business. I'm all over. I just got a couple of dozen buildings in Park Slope."

"What? How can you do all that?"

"Oh, I have about 15 people working for me."

"Really?"

"Sure: the only reason I still come out and do some of the buildings is it keeps me healthy. I like using my hands: God's greatest gift to us."

I was more than a little bit startled by this news. I thought for a moment, and then said, "Herman, I do some work with a national magazine: they'd love a story like this. Would you be interested in being interviewed?"

"Oh, maybe in a few months when I get going a bit more."

But I suspect something very different: my guess is that his business is all underground, and a magazine profile might bring trouble.

And here is something I wish progressives would think about a bit more: You know all those forms and forms and forms that businesses have to contend with to make sure they are treating employees fairly and cleaning up their wastes properly and doing double-entry bookkeeping just so that they are paying enough taxes: do you understand the effect these have on stamping out or driving underground enterprise among the very people the progressive program purportedly is designed to help?

One might almost begin to suspect the following: Consider the fact that IQ is, at least as I contend, not a measure of "general intelligence," but a measure of one's ability at the very specialized task of manipulating complex symbolic systems. As those who can manipulate those complex symbolic systems began to gain control of the major productive forces of society (and yeah, I'm a go all Marxist on your asses here, progressives), what they did was to alter the legal system to protect their class interests: they passed law after law making it harder and harder for anyone not adept at manipulating complex symbolic systems to run a business that is both legal, and does not pay out oodles and oodles of money to accountants, lawyers, etc. who can manipulate such systems.

Herman is obviously a bright man. I now begin to suspect he makes a lot more money than I do. Nevertheless, he needs to operate underground, due largely to legislation passed by progressives that purportedly helps people like him but in fact protects the privilege of people like me.

That is progressive?

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