Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Enemies Are Always Omnipotent

For most people, good news is good news. They're happy to hear that things are working out, and that the sky's not falling.  But...for people who DO think the sky's falling, good news is the worst news of all.

They truly believe that things are so fucked that nothing can possibly work without their specific remedy for intervention; which is so radical that normal folks wouldn't possibly agree to it under normal conditions.  After all, if it wasn't that radical, they wouldn't require a falling sky to convince people to do it  And that's why they're so deadset on reminding us of how abnormal everything is, and why we should never trust our lying eyes.

And so for these people, crises are good news, while any news that suggests a crisis is being effectively dealt with by the "inherently corrupt" system they oppose must be knocked down immediately. And if there are no facts to support their negative view of the story, they won't think twice about inventing conspiracies which not only negate the story, but actually suggest that things are now WORSE due to this development and the system is even more corrupt than they first assumed.

And so it is with the recent announcement that Obama got BP to agree to set aside $20 billion to cover liability claims from its oil spill in the Gulf.  Now, a normal person might think of this as a bit of good news, as it lays to rest some of the worry about how quickly BP might be helping the people they hurt.  And you'd think progressives would be happy about this, as many of them have been speculating endlessly about how likely it is that BP is busily hiding assets in order to avoid any liability claims. 

But if you think that, then you don't read this blog, as I've pointed out before, progressives don't like good news.

When Speculation Beats Facts

Here's a few responses to this story:
"How much do we get NOW? We don't have "several years" to repair this MASSIVE fuck up.  Also, people are nuts if they think $20 billion is enough to fix this mess. I'm getting the feeling there is a quid pro quo that's not being covered here. It's not a good feeling, either.  $20 billion is a small downpayment IMO. Obama better not sell the farm for that pittance."

$20 billion is a lot of money, but I bet the damage will end up being around four or five times that.  Is this gesture intended to absolve BP of criminal or other liability?  Did they sign something to that effect?

Obviously, the devil will be in the details and whether, in fact, BP complies. What lucky bank gets this escrow account? What if it disappears in the next financial meltdown since nothing has been done since the last? Who is going to monitor compliance? Too many potential loopholes for my liking.

I agree that $20B may end up being small potatoes for this mess. BP may be very, very happy with that number.

Yes, he got these concessions without Congress acting to lift the liability cap, but doesn't that strongly suggest that BP thought it was a better bargain?
Now remember, the initial news story on this states that this fund is for liability claims only and isn't a cap on much BP will pay for claims, and that BP will still be responsible for the total clean-up.  Yet these folks had to invent speculation which contradicted those facts, in order to figure out some way for this to be a bad idea. 

The System Can Work

Overall, their basic story is all about how Obama got rolled, with claims of "too many loopholes" from people who didn't know even the basic facts.  The idea that Obama actually stuck it to BP is simply inconceivable for these people.  Not that they have any evidence to suggest that Obama is a moron, it's simply that they "know" that the system can't work and that corporations always win.  And that meme is stronger than any facts known to man.  Either Obama got played as a sucker or he's playing us like suckers; that's all there is to it.

But what if they're wrong?  What if the system CAN work?  What if an oddly named half-black man from a broken home really CAN work hard and become president?  To me, that shows what I love about America and why I'm a liberal: Because I want more of this sort of thing and believe we can do so from within the system we already have.

But these people don't see it that way, because that destroys the entire rationale for their radicalism.  If we already have a system that allows a regular guy to run the country, then why the hell are they working so hard to destroy the system?  And even worse, if all the problems we have aren't due to a corrupt system, but are inherent problems caused by basic human nature, than a radical change won't really fix anything and might even leave us with something even worse!

And if you start having those sort of doubts, the whole shitpile comes crashing down and they lose their entire sense of purpose. 

Creating our Enemies

But of course, I suspect that's what's really behind all this.  Modern life is pointless, as all the real problems have been solved.  And even worse, it appears to be a random shitfest, where anything can happen and there are no guarantees.  And just as primative men invented ghosts and demons to explain why bad things happen, modern men invent their own bogeymen. 

For conservatives, the bogeymen are minorities and government bureaucrats.  For liberals, it's evil corporations and government thugs.  But it all amounts to the same thing: An all-powerful foe to explain why everything isn't working the way they think it should.  And if there's one thing about all-powerful people, it's that they're all-powerful.  And for progressives, that means that corporations will always win, even if they seem to be losing.  It's not a matter of "if" corporations win, but figuring out how they did it.

But what if that's not the case?  What if anyone CAN be president or senator or mayor?  What if we really ARE the masters of our own destinies and the only one holding us back is ourselves?  Then we lose all the crutches we've been using to explain away our own deficiencies and have no one to blame but ourselves.  And that's the scariest thing of all.  It's much better to blame everything on a faceless enemy than to learn that the face of the enemy is our own.

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