Monday, February 01, 2010


Caving In


In "The Republic," Plato imagined a world filled with people living in a dark cave. Their eyes were capable of seeing only silhouettes and were permanently fixed to a cave wall. They could not see the events and objects that created the shadows. When one of the cave dwellers emerges to take a look at the real world, his senses are overwhelmed. For Plato, it was the duty of the elite, or enlightened leaders, to educate those bewildered by the shadows on the wall, and the events that created them.

Herein lies the problem that plagues our world. What happens when the leaders are as equally clueless about the shadows on the walls as Plato's cave dwellers? It looks like we're going to find out at this year's Bakersfield Business Conference, to be held Oct. 9 on the campus of California State University, Bakersfield. ...

[W]hat's really disturbing about inviting Sarah Palin to our regional cave convention is her complete and utter disregard for the historical record, and how her rhetoric is at odds with her reality. Let's consider what she supported while she was in her Alaskan cave, and how her life is more socialistic and tied to the redistribution of wealth than anything President Obama has ever concocted.

Consider this little nugget. Alaska ranks number three nationally when it comes to what its citizens pay out in federal taxes, and what it receives from the federal government. For every dollar Alaskans pay into the system, they take $1.84 out. Put another way, Alaska's hardened sense of "rugged individualism" is really built on a foundation of communal welfarism, direct from the American taxpayers in the lower 48.

This probably explains why Alaskans have come to see oil within their borders as a form of community property. Big oil in Alaska must send the state a check for every barrel they pull out of the ground. The state then turns around and redistributes the wealth. So much so that Sarah Palin and the federal government watch over a system that wrote a $3,428 check to every eligible man, woman and child in Alaska in 2007, and distributed at least $2,475 for 2009. In case you're wondering, that comes out to about $23,996 for Sarah Palin's family of rugged individualists in 2007, and $17,325 in 2009 (wink, wink).

With that much money you would think someone might inform Alaska's cave dwellers about their socialist tendencies. Not Sarah Palin. Instead of calling it the "Redistributing the Wealth Because We're Really Communists Fund" – as Sarah Palin might call it if President Obama suggested the same program nationally – the state of Alaska calls it the "Permanent Fund Dividend." Just more shadows.

Does anyone think Palin's going to explain her shadows at our regional cave convention? Imagine what would happen if she carried her redistributive message to oil-laden Kern County. But the chances of this happening are about as good as Dick "Chicken Little" Cheney explaining how his five deferments make him a true patriot. ...

Instead, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin are going to explain the silhouettes they see on the wall, as they want to see them. Palin's a rugged individualist. Cheney's a warrior-nationalist. Forgive me for saying this, but I think we are better off in the dark.

- Mark Martinez, professor of political science at California State University, Bakersfield, "Business Conference or Plato's Cave?"

I'm glad I'm not the only one who is ready to reach for a cave man metaphor when Sarah Palin appears.
Hmmm ... "cave men" had art, toolmaking capacity and social cooperation. Maybe we're giving Sarah too much credit.
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