My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Democratic Pathologies, part I 

The Scarcity Mentality

I am, for a variety of reasons, on a number of mailing lists. Occassionally, I get invited to take part in internet surveys. Most of the time I turn these down; but today, I decided to take part in one, and it was very revealing to me.

First of all, the source of this particular poll was Peter D. Hart Research Associates, who are described by SourceWatch as:

Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, the political division of Peter D. Hart Research Associates, is "one of the most respected and successful political polling firms in the country for Democratic candidates. . . Garin-Hart-Yang also has been the lead pollster on the influential Women's Monitor national polling projects for EMILY's List over the past four election cycles,"

So that was my first tip-off. I figured it would only get more interesting from there.

After dispensing with the preliminaries (are you following the election closely? do you consider yourself a a. progressive b. conservative , etc. . .) the poll got into some of the meat and bones. And here is where I had the revelation that led to this post.

(For proprietary/copyright reasons, I am paraphrasing the following question--I am making my best effort to be faithful to the spirit of the questions)

One of the early questions was this:

When you consider the legislative priorities for the 2008 Congressional candidates, which of the following positions would make you more inclined to support a candidate:

a. maintain all of the Bush tax cuts
b. maintain the Bush tax cuts that helped the middle class, but eliminate the ones that gave needless and expensive tax breaks to the very rich
c. eliminate all of the Bush tax cuts in favor of paying for other priorities and reducing the budget deficit

Now, my first response was "what a piece of &^@!! question!" There is almost no chance that a balanced reflection of where America really is at this point would ever emerge from that question. And that wasn't the only one like that--in quick succession, there were about six questions with exactly the same mindset. And, after laughing at the folly of it all, I was about to just log out and go do something else.

But then, a deeper thought hit me. I have recently been reading "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People," and Steven Covey dealt with this attitude very directly in this book. Here is what he wrote:

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life.

People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit--even with those who help in the production. They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people--even, and sometimes especially, members of the their own family or close friends and associates [and fellow citizens].

Does that sound like the Democrat's approach to tax policy--TO A "T" (tee? tea?)? Could there be any better way to describe Democrats' approach to taxes than to say that those who have money deserve to sacrifice more of it to the government, regardless of how they got it? The best neurosurgeon in the world should pay vastly more in taxes--regardless of how much he (or she) donates to charity in money and time and expertise--than the most "noble" garbage collector, because he (or she can).

The sin, which Democrats will always want to punish through taxation, is success. Regardless of how much "penance" the rich do, they will always be guilty of taking a bigger piece of the pie.

Which is why the most telling statistic from the 2004 election was this: those who have never obtained even a high school diploma voted about 12-1 for John Kerry.

Who, by the way, is filthy STINKIN' rich because he married a rich widow.

Hear that clearly: Those who, through their own actions, have very little access to the economic engine of the country will almost always vote for the Democrats.

The pathology is the scarcity mentality: regardless of how much evidence there is that a strong economy fueled by leaving earned money in the pockets of those who earn it, the Democrats are absolutely married to the idea that the government has a right to take money out of the deep pockets--nay, they think the government has a DUTY to take from the rich to give to their constituents. . . er, the poor.

The problem Republicans have is that, as Covey wrote, "MOST people are deeply scripted with the scarcity mentality," so most people think there is something all right with this Democratic pathology.

Republicans had better be able to counter this with a strong and forceful argument that "rising tides raise ships," or something like that. Because I'll tell you what: with the complicity of the media in hiding the strength of the economy, this message will be one of the dominant themes in 2008. John Edwards is only the most egregious practitioner at the moment: expect Hillary and all the down-ticket candidates to buy into this approach, as well.

A Republican candidate had better be able to appeal to the better angels of our nature, and reject the petty, small-minded mentality of the Democrats on this. I don't know what, exactly, that message should look like, but I take comfort in this: in 2000 George Bush was able to change the argument from "tax cuts or not" to "exactly which tax cuts" by nothing more than staying on message.

Learn the lesson, candidates.

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