Budget Deal Triggers HuffPo’s Childhood Trauma
Posted on April 11 2011 3:00 pm
Star Trek fans will recall the Mirror Universe, a parallel dimension where Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise were part of an evil empire instead of the peaceful Federation. The shtick was revisited throughout the franchise and always followed the same basic premise. Everything in the Mirror Universe was precisely the opposite of our normal universe. The good guys were the bad guys. The bad guys were the good guys. Even some laws of nature were inverted.
Every time I read Robert Reich, I feel as though I have crossed over into that Mirror Universe. If I were ever feeling particularly lazy, I could craft a blog post by copying his and adjusting the language to state the opposite.
In his latest piece from The Huffington Post, Reich’s detachment from reality skirts the comical. Take a look at the analogy he comes up with for House Republicans in the wake of the budget deal.
When I was a small boy I was bullied more than most, mainly because I was a foot shorter than everyone else. They demanded the cupcake my mother had packed in my lunchbox, or, they said, they’d beat me up. After a close call in the boy’s room, I paid up. Weeks later, they demanded half my sandwich as well. I gave in to that one, too. But I could see what was coming next. They’d demand everything else. Somewhere along the line I decided I’d have a take a stand. The fight wasn’t pleasant. But the bullies stopped their bullying.
I hope the president decides he has to take a stand, and the sooner the better. Last December he caved in to Republican demands that the Bush tax cut be extended to wealthier Americans for two more years, at a cost of more than $60 billion. That was only the beginning — the equivalent of my cupcake.
Last night he gave away more than half the sandwich…
Completely lost on Reich is the fundamental principle his childhood experience conveys. People are entitled only to that which they own. How do you turn a story about bullies taking what is not theirs into an indictment of Republicans struggling against that very coercion? If anything, Reich’s story affirms the Republican position.
It is sobering to consider the mentality required to conjure this mirror image of morality. In order for Reich’s anecdote to make sense in the context he presents it, you have to reverse the axiom of ownership. Taxpayers don’t own their wealth. The state does. Republicans are “bullies” because they want more of what – to Reich’s mind – does not belong to them. That’s how he can speak of maintaining tax rates as a “cost.” It’s like one of those bullies, in their benevolence, “allowing” Reich to keep his cupcake.
By conceding to the conventional wisdom and avoiding a government shutdown, Republicans have missed an opportunity to take on this worldview. Reich’s rhetoric is akin to slapping us with our own hand while urging us to stop hitting ourselves. If you can’t win a debate against such illogical, with a bloc that rejects the fundamental concept of private property and institutionalizes bullying while accusing the rest of us of their crimes, the country is too far gone to be saved. As Reich himself asserts, somewhere along the line, you have to take a stand.