Punchinello’s Chronicles

April 3, 2009

Wildfire and Frankenstein

Filed under: Word of the Day — Punchinello @ 11:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Many conservatives today are worried about what’s already been put in place by the new administration, not to mention “measures” that are coming in the near future. Using logic, analysis, and historic trend data, it seems almost inarguable that America is headed for disaster. Those conservatives are labeled naysayers, pessimists, doom-and-gloom worriers, and generally bad people. Is that true? Is making an analysis today the same thing as having a bad attitude?

Yes, if you believe in New Age ideology, mysticism, and today’s feelings-based nature of reality. If you say bad things, you will cause them to happen. Words have power, we’re told, and simply thinking bad words will cause the bad things to happen.

Psychiatrists and psychologists understand this to be a common developmental stage in toddlers, calling it omnipotence. It’s the belief that each of us is all-powerful, the center of the universe, and in total control of all of existence.

Liberals, on the other hand, propose a “wait and see” attitude. That’s the foundation of empiricism, which simply put, comes down to “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Those liberals have what they call a progressive attitude. Progress toward what, nobody knows. It’s a mystery. But it’s progressive.

They see the massive amount of spending we’re doing as a solution, not a problem. They see a major new tax burden on income-earners as paying “their fair share.” They see centralized “thinking for the masses” as a better form of social engineering. In fact, they believe that a society should be and ought to be engineered in the first place.

Meanwhile, lots of people believe (or feel) that Frankenstein refers to a green-skinned monster with bolts in its neck. They haven’t read the story, don’t understand the movie, and so they don’t know that Dr. Victor Frankenstein was an inventor. He wanted to create life, and in his castle he put together a body out of stolen parts. Connecting with lightning, which people believed was the source of life, Dr. Frankenstein animated this body.

Frankenstein’s monster had no name. But the word came into the language to mean a certain thing. “Frankenstein” means an invention or development that was intended to be wonderful, then got totally out of hand and became catastrophic. It refers to mankind’s arrogance and hubris, indicating that we can produce causes with out-of-control results.

That’s a lot like wildfire, literally fire that burns out of control.

In many areas of the country, annual droughts and lack of rain lead to dead vegetation. That dry plant life can easily catch fire. Additionally, in large areas there can be a lot of brush, dead trees, fallen branches, and old grass. That too ends up very dry.

It would be far too expensive to manually clear out the dead brush, but that cover of old vegetation causes problems for the land. Water doesn’t get into the soil, fire becomes a hazard (if there’s a lightning strike), new plants can’t get started, and it’s generally annoying.

The solution is to initiate a controlled burn. Professional forestry rangers and firemen (and women) will light a fire in order to clear out all this old brush. The theory is that by containing a small fire, starting it when there are controls around, we can improve the land. At the same time, we don’t leave a hazard for accidental fires that start when nobody’s around.

The problem is that fires can and do get out of control. It may be weather and wind conditions, or it may be lack of enough containment. Whatever the case, a fire can quickly grow beyond the intended purpose and go wild. Each year we hear about major fires around the country, some started by accident, some by arsonists. And some started on purpose.

Bringing it together, we have an economic drought. We have a dead credit-lending system, with many parts laying around in banks of all sizes. On the one hand, old toxic assets are preventing new growth. On the other hand, if we could only call down the lightning energy of optimism, we could create life in the economy.

And so we have many people who want to do a controlled burn. They want to burn off some living assets in order to get rid of the hidden, fallen assets tangled up in a complex “free market” system. Sort of like Wilderness Nature.

Those people believe they can create life, if only they cobble together what appears to be an economy, then charge it with energy. They believe that a controlled animation, managed by a central “mind” (the federal government) will be the same thing as a naturally born human being (free market capitalism).

Everywhere, we see new members of the government starting fires. Their explanation is that it’s a controlled burn. They hope to clear things up and start all over again. Do we see any professionals? Do we see any containment equipment? How about professional firefighters who understand the principles? Do we see any professional economists on the news telling us, “Don’t worry, it’s all under control?”

I haven’t seen them. Then again, what do I know. I’m just a poor person.

Liberalism holds as a major premise that although consequences may be bad, intentions are all that matter. It’s why “remorse” and “showing remorse” solve all problems. If our intentions are good and altruistic, then regardless of the ensuing catastrophes or failures, nobody should be blamed. Particularly if they say “I’m sorry.” (And really, really mean it.)

What happens when the fire goes out of control and burns the homes and families of those who started the fires? What happens when the Frankenstein comes to life and has no conscience, soul or empathy?

Can people go into a charred ruin of demolished homes, dead animals, and wrecked environments and say, “Gosh, I’m sorry?” Is expressing remorse enough to balance the total destruction? Can we go back and have a do-over, when what once existed has been utterly annihilated?

A strong liberal argument right now is that if the measures being taken fail, then conservatives can get to say, “I told you so.” They’ll feel happy, vindicated, and we’ll get on with our lives. If the measures succeed, we’ll all benefit as a society.

The flaw in the argument is that if those measure burn the entire concept of America to the ground, saying “I told you so” won’t mean a damned thing. No amount of remorse brings back the dead. No amount of “sorry” will fix what once lived.

Another argument is that a logical, planned, centralized government (either for America or the entire world) will bring about Utopia. Everyone will share equally in the wealth (that comes from nobody-knows-where). The poor will be healthy, the rich will be charitable. If only this central control system were in place, we’d be in paradise.

What if it becomes Frankenstein’s monster? Can we go to the families of those who died waiting for healthcare, and tell them, “Well…it SHOULD have worked!”

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