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Self-indulgence, self-delusion and, finally, abject paralysis

Friday, October 14, 2016 17:25
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When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.

…Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard.

…Race relations pose comparable paradoxes. Inner-city Chicago has turned into a war zone with over 500 murders so far this year alone. As tragic as occasional police shootings are of African-American suspects, they do not occur at an incidence higher than the percentage of African-Americans who come into contact with law enforcement or who commit violent crimes. Yet when an African-American officer, in a department overseen by an African-American police chief, shoots an uncompliant but armed African-American suspect, a full-scale urban riot ensues, well beyond the ability of police to control.

No one would object that Americans need to be engaged in helping the inner-city poor—nor would anyone deny the moral importance of evaluating others by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin. But Americans also accept society’s obligations to maintain law and order in communities racked by gang violence. The African-American community must, in the fashion of other ethnic communities in the United States, change its cultural norms around masculinity. It should define maleness in terms of a two-parent household and a father’s daily guidance and support of his own children. In a larger sense, the misogynist, anti-police, violent, and often racist lyrics of rap music should be as ostracized as Jim Crow-era stereotypes of blacks eventually were.

The cures for the maladies of the inner city are civic reengagement, honest talk, economic entrepreneurship, self-help, and self-reliance in the black community. Liberal elites who avoid the inner city and send their children to mostly white and Asian prep schools fear honest talk as intensely as they mouth off about racism. But because we do not wish to talk honestly about the absence of parity in racial relations, and the causes for it, we plod on ahead, struggling with a slow wasting away malady rather than the chemotherapy of tough and honest solutions.

Donald Trump, in supposedly reckless fashion, questioned the present status of the seven-decade-old North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the cornerstone of Western collective security that deterred 500 divisions of the Soviet Red Army from overrunning Europe west of the Elbe River. Trump blasted away at our European Union allies in NATO, the vast majority of which do not contribute their fair share to the alliance. Most forget that the sole obstacle to an outlaw world led by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Iran, ISIS, China, and North Korea is the deterrent ability of the United States.

…The same lose/lose dilemmas plague current foreign policy. Under the Obama administration, the old postwar order led by the security guarantees of the United States abruptly ended—the vacuum filled by ascendant regional (and often nuclear) hegemons. Russia is expanding control, or at least influence, over the old Soviet republics and Eastern Europe. China carves out a new version of the old Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere at the expense of the democracies in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. Iran is on the path to be the nuclear adjudicator of the Persian Gulf’s oil depot. Radical Islamic terrorism has made the Middle East a wasteland.

What would once have been seen as radical neglect of our existential problems is now the normal way of getting by one more day. What destroys civilizations are not, as popularly advertised, plagues, global warming, or hostile tribes on the horizon, as much as self-indulgence, self-delusion—and, finally, abject paralysis.

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