A bounty of irony for sense-seek­ers

Hu­man flaws would be hu­mor­ous if their con­se­quences weren’t so se­ri­ous

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Thomas Sow­ell

Ran­dom thoughts on the pass­ing scene: Many peo­ple take pride in de­fy­ing the con­ven­tions of so­ci­ety. Those con­ven­tions of so­ci­ety are also known as civ­i­liza­tion. De­fy­ing them whole­sale means go­ing back to bar­barism. Bar­bar­ians with elec­tronic de­vices are still bar­bar­ians.

Af­ter the gov­ern­ment shut­down cri­sis, the one thing that con­gres­sional Democrats and Repub­li­cans fi­nally agreed on was to kick the can down the road a few more months, so that we can go through all this again — and per­haps again af­ter that.

One of the best peace speeches I ever read was one de­liv­ered back in the 1930s — by Adolf Hitler. He knew that peace speeches would keep the Western democ­ra­cies from match­ing his mil­i­tary buildup with their own, or at­tack­ing him to pre­vent his buildup from con­tin­u­ing. Peace speeches by Iran to­day serve the same pur­pose of buy­ing time — un­til they can cre­ate a nu­clear bomb.

Pres­i­dent Obama re­ally has a way with words, such as call­ing the prob­lems that mil­lions of peo­ple have had try­ing to sign up for Oba­macare “glitches.” When the Ti­tanic sank, was that a “gl­itch”?

Among the painful signs of our time are TV pro­grams built around pa­ter­nity tests. Ap­par­ently, the way th­ese women live, it is any­body’s guess who their child’s fa­ther might be.

Don’t you love it when a politi­cians says, “I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity”? Trans­lated into plain English, they are say­ing, “Now that I have ad­mit­ted it, there is noth­ing more for me to do [such as re­sign], and noth­ing for any­one else to do [such as fire me].” Say­ing “I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity” is like a get-out-of-jail-free card in a Mo­nop­oly game.

No one seems as cer­tain that they know what the Repub­li­cans need to do to win pres­i­den­tial elec­tions as those Repub­li­cans who have lost pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, such as Mitt Rom­ney, John McCain and Bob Dole. More­over, peo­ple take them se­ri­ously, and seem not to no­tice that what the losers ad­vo­cate is the op­po­site of what won Ron­ald Rea­gan two land­slide elec­tion vic­to­ries.

If you be­lieve in equal rights, then what do “women’s rights,” “gay rights” mean? Ei­ther they are re­dun­dant, or they are vi­o­la­tions of the prin­ci­ple of equal rights for all.

One of the painfully sober­ing re­al­iza­tions that come from read­ing his­tory is the ut­ter in­com­pe­tence that is pos­si­ble among lead­ers of whole na­tions and em­pires — and the blind faith that such lead­ers can nev­er­the­less in­spire among the peo­ple who are en­thralled by their words or their pos­tur­ing.

The one thing that the na­tional debt ceil­ing does not do is put a ceil­ing on the na­tional debt. It just pro­vides po­lit­i­cal melo­drama when the ex­ist­ing ceil­ing is re­peat­edly raised to ac­com­mo­date ever-higher spend­ing.

Those who want to “spread the wealth” al­most in­vari­ably seek to con­cen­trate the power. It hap­pens too of­ten, and in too many dif­fer­ent coun­tries around the world, to be a co­in­ci­dence. Which is more dan­ger­ous, in­equal­i­ties of wealth or con­cen­tra­tions of power?

Mr. Obama said to the world that Bashar As­sad’s days as ruler of Syria are num­bered. All our days are num­bered, but Mr. As­sad will prob­a­bly still be rul­ing Syria on Mr. Obama’s last day in the White House.

Pa­role is just another way of ly­ing to the pub­lic — in this case, ly­ing about the time that con­victed crim­i­nals will spend be­hind bars. Sus­pended sen­tences are another form of make-be­lieve pun­ish­ment to mol­lify the pub­lic. Writ­ing about the Hab­s­burg Em­pire, dis­tin­guished Bri­tish his­to­rian Paul John­son said, “Ev­ery re­form cre­ated more prob­lems than it solved.” That was not pe­cu­liar to the Hab­s­burg Em­pire. The same could be said of mod­ern wel­fare states, and es­pe­cially our own Oba­macare.

Be­cause many of us make mis­takes that can have bad con­se­quences, some in­tel­lec­tu­als think that it is the role of gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene and make some of our de­ci­sions for us. From what galaxy gov­ern­ment is go­ing to hire crea­tures who do not make mis­takes is a ques­tion they leave unan­swered.

One of the rea­sons it has taken so long for some peo­ple to fi­nally see through Barack Obama is that peo­ple do not like to ad­mit, even to them­selves, that they have been played for fools by a slick-talk­ing politi­cian.

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