Are There Two Americas?

Jen Kuznicki
By Jen Kuznicki | December 10, 2013 | 2:22 PM EST

"The Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013" was featured on the Drudge Report for the past couple days, and I found I really wanted to see what David Simon had to say about inequality in America after I read the pull quote, "My country is a horror show."

Simon's speech was given to Australians, who were also treated to other unpopular and dangerous ideas such as:

  • Infidelity will make your relationships last longer,
  • Akiller can be a good neighbor,
  • Growth equals poverty,
  • It's time to get soft on crime,
  • Stories matter more than facts, and
  • Teach your children to fail.

It's no joke.

Simon would like America to listen to Karl Marx's attention to two classes without following Marx's remedies.  He believes the argument is over between capitalism and a state-run economy, and capitalism is truly the only way to produce wealth for the masses.  But, he does not think socialism should be such an ugly word in America, and its embrace is the only way forward in a nation that he deems, is, "going down the tubes."  He believes the libertarian argument of self-determination should not be a part of the argument, because, "we're all in this together."

In part of his explanation, Simon laughs off the arguments coming from "Republican conventions," especially in 2008, where small-town American values were pushed to the fore.  He sees an inherent racism code in the term, "small-town America" and that the values of such a society aren't going to work in the big city.

So, in trying to put his finger on the problem of two Americas, Simon dismisses rural American values and wonders what is to be done with the approximately 10-15% of the nation's population that no longer are relevant to the economy.

Putting aside his obvious contradictions, his premise is completely superficial.  He sees two Americas within the big city, sees that 10-15% of the populace within the cities are not helpful to society, and yet there is not yet enough socialism.

To rebut his argument, small town doesn't mean small-mindedness, but perhaps a resistance to fads, and every small town is a microcosm of the larger city.

There is capitalism and socialism in our economy, yet Simon forgets that without capitalism, there can be no socialism, only a totalitarian state.  Where Simon sees 10-15% of a large city's population to be such a great number, a person in a small town could identify approximately the same percentage, yet a much smaller number.  The difference between the attitude of a small town and that of those in a large city resides mainly in local control, and life with less distraction.

Yet, Simon thinks there must be more socialism within the cities, and that the deck needs to be re-shuffled as it was in the 30s and 40s, and that if America does not get the city right, there is no future.  If government doesn't embrace a new New Deal, things will devolve to violence.

Now, some might say that this is just another example of a liberal's angst against the machine, and that his arguments are being implemented right now, and have been for over 100 years.  And some would remind us that he's at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.

What Simon betrays is his personal guilt in not being able to perfect society through redistribution.  He calls on society to act, but is really calling on government to act.  In doing so, he betrays his conviction that government must force people to do things they do not want to, to make things equal.  A kinder, gentler Marxism of sorts actually gives rise to the full-fledged stuff.

Simon does not see that society is not government; he sees government as the great and noble puppeteer of society, held back by those who believe in themselves and liberty.

There are two Americas.  One that believes in the blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and one that feeds off the product of those efforts; Middle America versus unlimited government.  But to think that capitalism has the upper hand in this nation is to be extremely uninformed of the puppeteer's strings.

Middle America goes to work every day, feeds their family, pays their bills and taxes, and finds enjoyment in hobbies, all the while trying to make a better life for their children.  The massive government takes from them, pays themselves and their friends, and those in that lower percentile, squeezing all it can from Middle America, lowering their lifestyle to throw more gold at those who produce nothing.

That cycle of socialism is where the true greed lies, as well as sloth, envy and the rest of the seven sins.  These moral trappings are what Middle America avoids to keep the civil society civil.  They are not prone to violence as in the inner city, nor are they constantly on the take.

Simon says that if socialism is not embraced by America, "if we keep going like were going, there's going to be enough people standing outside of this mess, that someone's going to pick up a brick."  He is right, for when the socialism of Greece devolved to violence there was no civil society to be found.

The values of Middle America must be what are promoted by government, but right now, they are treated as enemies to the State.

Your country isn't a horror show, David. You just don't see the goodness, but it's there.