What is the first thing my dogs do when I offer them something to eat? They smell it, of course. My youngest is six years old, and my oldest is thirteen. I have been giving them the same dog biscuits for their entire dog lives, and they still go through a long sniffing process before taking the treat.
You could call this investigation “nose sense”. It is an extremely important and adaptive ritual, because their superlatively sensitive sense of smell is fine-tuned to ferret out anything that might do them harm. They are sufficiently intelligent and vigilant not to fall for a morsel that looks like something that was tasty in the past – they insist on giving each new presentation a thorough going-over before they chow down. This is one of the reasons that we still have dogs.
People used to have a similar “nose sense”, but it applied to far more than what they were about to eat. We still smell milk, for example, to determine whether it has soured, and we are pretty familiar with the difference in smell between fish that is fresh and fish that has been out too long. What I am referring to, however, is the cognitive sense that alerts us to untruths, shady deals, and so forth. In today’s cruder parlance, many now refer to this a “BS detector”.
Whatever you call it, Shakespeare obviously knew about it when in Hamlet” he had Marcellus say, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” The government was rotting from the head down, a state not unfamiliar to those of us today. Hamlet had earlier said that Denmark was “an unweeded garden” of “things rank and gross in nature”. In other words, the government stunk.
More recently, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Patrick Henry said he “smelt a rat” when the Federalists proposed to replace the Articles of Confederation with a Constitution, not wanting, he said, to have fought a Revolution to rid ourselves of one despotism only to replace it with the despotism of a central government. Time and Obama have certainly proved him right on that score.
People used to have pretty acute nose sense. English is full of metaphorical references like “smelling a rat” and something “smelling fishy”. In my youth, and before, people could smell a lie, a con job, or a payoff a mile away. Everything was not perfect in government by any means, but if a shady situation were exposed by the formerly responsible press, people were astute enough to recognize it for what it was.
When I was taking high school French, I remember a phrase we learned that was supposedly common in France: “Evidement tout c’est la faute du gouvernement”, or “Obviously it is all the government’s fault”. In those heady years, some 20 years after the close of WWII, Americans looked askance at France and other European nations that were following the big government, socialist model, and laughed at the result when compared to our robust capitalist economy.
Since 1787, however, something has happened. It would appear that nations, at least our nation, lose their sense of smell as they get older. However, this process can be hastened by environmental factors. When I was stationed in Germany, we lived in a little town or dorf, which was populated by pig farmers. Their houses were reminiscent of the split-level houses that were popular in my youth, except that the garage that was under the bedroom wing was a pig sty. When I would run past these places in the morning, the stench of pig poop hit me like a sledge hammer. These farmers, however, were not troubled by the odor because they had become accustomed to it.
So, perhaps our inability to smell a rat anymore is the result of the constant, overwhelming stench coming from Washington and the lapdog media these days. A case in point is the document that appeared today from the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) claiming that the federal government bailout of General Motors saved 1.2 million U.S. jobs, and that if the government had not come to the rescue the U.S. auto industry would look considerably different.
It claims that the government can take credit for both GM and Chrysler, but there is a huge difference. Chrysler borrowed the money, then paid it back early. GM, on the other hand, was taken over by Obama and his minions, who illegally used TARP funds to bail out the company, and illegally put unions ahead of stockholders in order to repay the unions for their support.
GM was a company in trouble for a long time. GM and the unions have been working hand in glove for years, which has resulted in unnecessarily high auto prices. The unions rotated their annual strikes among the three auto giants, and their managements put up token resistance, ultimately conceding to union demands. They had difficulty in the marketplace because the shoddy quality of their vehicles, which was the result of the need to cut corners to make up for the thousands of dollars in union pension money built into every vehicle, made it difficult to compete with non-unionized foreign competitors.
Much of the Left uses this and similar examples to illustrate how “capitalism does not work.” That is preposterous. This is not “capitalism”; this is not the market working. This is crony capitalism, which is why US auto companies no longer are preeminent in the world market. If these companies could not make it on their own, there was a reason for it, and like the banks, they should have failed. Instead, Obama funneled your hard-earned money into a company with bad management and cancerous unionization.
But what about all those 1.2 million jobs? Shouldn’t the government be preserving and creating jobs? If the government divests itself of its GM “investment” now that the stock is high, it will have cost the American taxpayer nearly $10 billion. That is $8,333,333.33 per job. I certainly these unionized workers, who now own a substantial portion of the company as well as a part of the bailout, appreciate it. No need for ACORN to get out the vote for Democrats among those folks.
Everyone wants jobs, but conservatives differ enormously from the Left in how to create them. Government jobs, which are the fastest growing sector of our otherwise stagnant or declining economy, and are also the most highly unionized, is simply the transfer of money from taxpayers to government employees.
That is not to say that government employees do not do anything worthwhile. Obviously the essential services provided by the military, the police, the firefighters, the folks who build and clean the roads, and so forth are important. But they add nothing to the economy. When a soldier spends a dollar, it was taken from a taxpayer, so the only change is who is spending the money. There is no creation of wealth, no more money to spend. Conservatives want to deregulate the economy and reduce taxes so that wealth can be created. The Left wants to transfer money from those few who still pay taxes to fund the growth of the government and to bribe those who do not pay taxes to vote for them.
That is why the Left does not talk about “creating” wealth, only “redistributing” it. They believe in a zero sum economy, that there is only a fixed amount of wealth and that it is unfairly distributed. They believe that this money fell like manna from Heaven and should therefore have fallen equally on everyone.
If someone has more manna than someone else, he has stolen it and it is the job to the government to make it right. I’m not sure that logic would have impressed the Israelites, because if someone was too lazy to go out and gather manna in the morning, the likelihood that his neighbors would do it for him was pretty slim.
Why do people’s noses not wrinkle up in disgust when they hear about these atrocities that are committed on a daily basis, and that are draining away the fruits of their labor to support a government by people who are at best hopelessly incompetent and at worst unconscionably corrupt? Like the pig farmers, they have been surrounded for so long by manure that they can no longer smell it. Maybe it is time to bring some fresh air back to Washington.