Vail Daily letter: What is he smoking?
January 26, 2014
Every time I finish reading a column by Butch Mazzuca I feel like I should leap to my feet, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and lead a cheer culminating in truth, justice, and the American way. Then when I calm down reality sets in and I wonder if he was smoking pot before it was legal. When I read his current piece, "Lessons of History," Jan. 6, I felt a more appropriate title would have been "The Ends Justify the Means." His first paragraph informs us that the "founding fathers were exceptionally well-educated men who placed an enormous amount of importance on education, understanding that a system of government they envisioned would flourish only if an educated electorate were involved and informed." So, you might ask, what did the founding fathers do; take steps to ensure everybody had access to education? Sorry; they eliminated an entire race from the opportunity to gain freedom let alone get educated and while they were at it they saw no reason to enfranchise women. The founding fathers were almost entirely WASPs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) who were under no illusions about the "lessons of history." They were men of position, wealth, education and power. They had already perceived as the 20th century historians Will and Ariel Durant so deftly concluded in a must-read book of short essays on history entitled "The Lessons of History" that freedom and equality cannot exist together because they are diametrically opposed to one another. Let that statement sink in a bit. In addition, consider that the entire history of the world can be summed up in one succinct sentence. Those who have wealth and power want to keep it; those who don't have wealth and power want to get it. The founding fathers were on the top of the heap in 1776 and they were more concerned with freedoms than equality, and they probably were right in that regard. But it's not a stretch to suggest that the purposeful exclusion of a race from the benefits of freedom led directly to the Civil War and the loss of close to 700,000 young men fighting to extend slavery or end it. Even after the war was over, it took another century for recalcitrant Southerners to give on some fundamental human rights. In the United States, race has always mattered.
Mr. Mazzuca then praises the virtues of capitalism and there is no question that capitalism has generated the greatest benefits to humans than any other economic system ever devised. But, just think what capitalism could have been if this country hadn't spent so much time denying opportunities to so many of our people. Adam Smith's great economic treatise, "The Wealth of Nations," was published in 1776, interestingly the same year as the Declaration of Independence. Smith did not suffer fools gladly and he cautioned the reader that the acquisition of wealth would lead to abuse of power and regulatory remedies might be necessary. He understood human nature. The 19th-century English historian, politician, and observer of the human condition, Lord Acton, said it best. "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Mr. Mazzuca would have you believe that the Great Depression wasn't caused by reckless capitalists and entrepreneurs. Who else could have possibly caused it — the poor; unions, foreign immigrants, Communists, the tooth fairy? He would have you believe that the economic policies of the Republicans, who were in office for 20 of the 28 years between 1980-2008, were not complicit in the economic disaster that befell this country during those years. He seems not to know that government spending increased in every one of those 20 years and that in the eight years a Democrat was in office the deficit was decreased to the point of leaving a surplus for George W. Bush. Bush then proceeded to engage the U.S. in two wars, cut taxes, increase spending, deregulate, and create the greatest deficit and debt in U.S. history spending at a rate 2 times greater than Obama. Ironically, the Republican Party is the great spender, not the Democratic Party. The focus of the new Republican Party is to regain power, pure and simple.
When it comes to guns, Mr. Mazzuca apparently believes that the right to bear arms is more important that the right of our children to grow up. The NRA could be pro-active in working with any group to somehow address this problem; we're killing our kids for God's sake. But no; they choose to be indifferent to the problem giving incentive to gun manufacturers hoping to make guns available to everybody so we'll all be armed and dangerous. Terrific!
Mr. Mazzuca would also like you to believe that income inequality is some diversion to deflect the public's attention away from the rollout of the Affordable care Act. He sloughs it off even though he acknowledges that there has always been income inequality. Gee, thanks, that's reassuring. I guess we should just ignore it like bad breath. Maybe it will just go away. He might want to rethink some lessons of history because history is replete with examples of people revolting precisely because of income inequality. Let's hope it doesn't happen in the U.S.
Lastly, Mr. Mazzuca mesmerizes the reader with information on climate control. He asks if man is the cause of our changing climate. He can't answer that and neither can I. All I know is I listen to the news and hear how unbelievably cold and miserable it is just about everywhere in the U.S. with every state experiencing below freezing temperatures for the first time ever and I realize how fortunate I am to live in Colorado. If I get too depressed I can now go to my local marijuana shop, buy some pot and just mellow out. What a country.