Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Everything is scarificed on the altar of consumption

On the scale of conservative outrages, there are worse crimes than Rush Limbaugh's latest oral flatulence. Still, it's striking:
Folks, I don’t know what the price of gasoline is in China and I don’t know to what extent, if any, it is subsidized — okay, it is subsidized. See, the ChiComs need their economy growing. They need people driving around, moving around. They need people to be able to afford fuel, so they’re subsidizing fuel. They’re not bailing people out of stupid home mortgage messes. They’re buying their gasoline for them, because they need an economy. Know what energy means to this, the whole subject of economic growth. So meanwhile, the ChiComs, a country certainly growing, certainly on the rise, but it ain’t the United States of America. How does it make you feel that Zhang Linsen has a big Hummer with nine speakers blaring as he pulls out into a four-lane road with so much smog he basically can’t see the car in front of him, and you are trading in all of your cars and trying to go out and find basically a lawn mower.
So you've got a man who is, by any measure, American conservatism's leading light, not only praising the authoritarian, anti-American government of Beijing and indeed saying that Americans ought to envy residents of China. Why? Because of gasoline prices. China subsidizes them and doesn't do a lot to effectively control pollution (except, ironically enough, from cars -- where China's standards are actually higher than America's.)

But there you go -- America can trade in the bill of rights, because China's got lower gas prices. Not even that much lower, mind you -- the Chinese still pay above $3 a gallon. So when Thomas Paine, in The American Crisis wrote -- in the depths of winter of 1776, his not-yet-a-country's darkest hour:
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.
He clearly had no idea what he was talking about. Heaven has put a price on freedom, an apparently it's somewhere south of $4 a gallon for regular unleaded. I mean, we expect the decadent leftists to be all pro-Communist China, but when even El Rushbo is singing the praises of our masters from the Mainland, then clearly it's just time for all of us to give up and learn the lines to "The East is Red."

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