I live in New Haven CT where registered Republicans are 4% of the voting population and 70% are Democrats with the rest Undeclared. So I welcome Fox News and Talk Radio as one who might have welcomed The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe during the Cold War days.
I can’t help but respond to the following “Commentary” in our local weekly free newspaper New Haven Advocate because it so clearly illustrates an ignorant anti-American viewpoint I find wrong; repulsively wrong. You can read the commentary at http://www.ct.com/news/advocates/commentary/nm-nh07stoehrcommentary-20120207,0,1375221.story. My rebutal follows. By the way, my rebutal was removed from the Advocate site.
Let the Education Begin – My rebuttal to Mr. Stoehr
Mr. Stoehr structures his commentary around several ideas:
- The destructive nature of America’s “enormous income inequality”.
- The defense of socialism.
- An attack on the rhetoric of the Cold War.
- An attack on American free-enterprise Capitalism.
- The supposed wisdom of the youth against the outdated views of the old folks.
I don’t know how old Mr. Stoehr is; he may be in his youthful years or in his late 60s as I am. But his thinking is adolescent, full of shallow and empty thinking and lacking historical underpinnings. So let the education of Mr. Stoehr begin, in order:
I find curious the claim that someone richer than I am, even spectacularly so, in some way harms me. Quite the opposite is what I have experienced in my own life, what I know intuitively, and also in my reading of history.
Henry Ford became very rich because he was able to figure out how to manufacture automobiles in such a way as to provide an affordable car for the public. Ford’s assembly line spurred his competitors to emulate him thus creating many jobs and much wealth. Parts suppliers sprung up around the various auto plants thus spreading the wealth in a capitalist manner.
How about Cornelius Vanderbilt and his spectacular wealth from the rail lines he built? The “Commodore” created much wealth for him and his family as well as jobs and wealth for others who supplied steel and timber for the rail lines, factories building rail cars, locomotives and all of the infrastructure associated with a rail line. Certainly Mr. Stoehr can relate to this since both he and I live along one of the busiest commuter rail line in the country between New Haven and New York City.
Many others of that guldid age provide more examples of men achieving great wealth, as well as wealth and good livelihoods for tens of thousands of others as well . Good for them I say!!
Moving to my own contemporaries I point to Bill Gates, the richest man in the world for many years running. His income is light years above mine and yet I am thankful for his wealth, not resentful. Gates was instrumental in igniting a computer boom that created much wealth for him as well as many others inside and outside of Microsoft. I was a software developer for close to 40 years, with the last ten years programming in the Windows environment. My family and I were direct beneficiaries of the obscene success of Mr. Gates. Steve Jobs is another 1%r that left behind a legacy of job creation by creating innovative products that people all over the world are clamoring for.
Are these “millionaires” and billionaires” paying their fair share? Subtract their contributions to the economy Mr. Stoehr, and see if I am not right when I say they are contributing far more than their “fair” share.
Mr. Stoehr, you defend socialism, but where has socialism succeeded in world history, that you would replace our successful free-market capitalist system with it? Would it be Great Britain prior the the Margaret Thatcher rescue of that dismal socialist economy? Would it be the Greece of today, on the brink of economic collapse and riots in the streets? Would it be the National Socialist regime in Germany during the 1930’s and 1940s? Would it be the Communist regimes of the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Cambodia? Pretty much everywhere socialism has been tried the end results have been failure, and often times massively tragic failure.
Yea, I’ll give it to you that there was a lot of Cold War rhetoric during the 40+ years of Communist domination in many parts of the world. I lived through most of it having been born in 1944. But you speak of this Cold War rhetoric in a derisive manner as if it was only a tool used such that, in your words “the power elite no longer had an alien bogeyman with which to dampen radical dissent”.
Mr. Stoehr let me continue your education with a review of the world in those dark days of the Cold War. There were gulags and work camps in the Soviet Union where millions suffered and died. There was a blockade of Berlin with the threat of mass starvation; broken by the will and power of the American nation. There was the Hungarian revolution of 1956 brutally crushed by Soviet tanks and soldiers. There were thousands of Christians tortured and murdered in places like the Romanian prisons; their crime? believing in Jesus Christ. There were millions starved in Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution”. In Cambodia, one third of the population died under the regime of the Communist Pol Pot. Thousands died in Eastern Europe trying to escape to the free West. A small and by far incomplete list, but a real list. You get the idea I hope.
In condemning capitalism, you say”Implicit in their Cold War rhetoric is the assumption that good-old American capitalism is the best there ever was, but we know now more than we ever did during the Cold War that that’s really not the case.” You then follow up by quoting some polls showing that many Americans have a positive view of socialism. Polls of such a nature do not substitute for the facts of history. I imagine that a poll taken in North Korea today would show that most North Koreans think their system is the best. Likewise in Cuba, Iran, Syria and other such dictatorial nations. The American free-enterprise capitalistic economic system came on the scene pretty much coincident with the American Revolution, with the thoughts and writings of Adam Smith in the “Wealth of Nations”. History and the experience of countless immigrants to this great nation bear witness to the fact that the free-enterprise capitalism of this nation has created more freedom, success and opportunity than any system ever tried no matter where or when.
Your writing shows an implicit disrespect for those of us who have lived through many decades of the twentieth century and have seen or read of the brutalities it wrought. Some witnessed it first hand in the wars of that century. Believe it or not Mr. Stoehr , there does indeed come a wisdom from just hanging around and paying attention. Thus my final thoughts towards you are in the form of a plea. A plea that you will pause and reconsider your world view.
I sense that you are a young man, and thus perhaps open to ideas that may be anathema to you presently. Pause where you are and examine carefully that which you may believe to be true; wrestle with your questions until you know in your heart that you have found the truth in a matter. Truth can be found! I believe that with all my heart, but the quest for it is not easy and the easy answers are so often the wrong answers. You are not the first, nor will you be the last to rebel and shout out against the established order. Read articles and opinions such as the very one you have just written. I do, but I’ve learned to see the BS in such articles mainly by having paid attention for these many years to that which is going on around me, and around the world. I have been to “Occupy Wall Street” and have talked to young people like yourself with a world view like yours. I’ve talked in person in the street to Beck protesters and I seem to have a drawing to folks like you. But Know this, I do this because I have a great love for my country and I want folks like you to see it for what it really is, the greatest civilization, and the greatest force for good that has ever existed on the face of the this earth.
Lastly Mr. Stoehr , choose your heroes carefully ; know who you are standing beside, know the difference between a George Washington and a Che Guevara. Know the difference between a James Madison and a Karl Marx.