The hard lessons that they don't teach you at Indoctrination U.

"There's nothing more dangerous than a shallow-thinking compassionate person."
- Garrett Hardin

This article from Canadian writer Tim Murray offers a perspective on millennials, politics and the current U.S. election, and the reality of living within limits.

Millennials and political reality

My friend has a problem. Her granddaughter, an honors student about to graduate from a reputable American university, chose the occasion of a family get-together to preach the gospel of Bernie Sanders. Fearing that a heated argument might ensue, she attempted to disengage with a polite reply, "I disagree." It was a graceful retreat, and remarkably constrained. It was difficult to let her granddaughter’s cliches go uncontested, cliches like “Health Care is a human right.”

I sympathize with her problem. I’ve been there.

When I find myself in a family setting, or in mixed company, it is all that I can do to restrain myself from "creating a scene" by checking a regurgitated PC statement. Particularly when it issues from the mouth of someone has been programmed at Indoctrination U.

If find the situation ironic. It seems that I am the victim of poetic justice. I am getting a dose of the medicine I dispensed when I was the prototypical “social justice crusader” in the civil rights era. Self-righteousness is an addictive drug.

The term "generation gap" was coined in the 60s to describe the gulf that it existed between people of my know-it-all generation and people of my father's generation, who went through the Great Depression and the war. People who learned their lessons from life, rather than at the feet of propagandists in the guise of university teachers. How they must have gritted their teeth when the likes of me proceeded to tell them what the world was all about simply on the basis of the books that the imams of the New Left prescribed. Books by gurus like Saul Alinsky, Herbert Marcuse, Marx and Lenin and Andre Gorz. My bookshelves are still full of them.

But as wide as the 60s generation gap was, the gulf which now exists between me and ‘millennials’ is even greater. That is why, in retrospect, I tend to think of my middle-age focus on overpopulation and the preservation of Western values as time-bound. My views may be right, but they are certainly unfashionable. The zeitgeist is going one way and me another.

It seems that most young people today, especially those processed through a collegial boot camp of political correctness and cultural relativism, lack a quantitative understanding. They can't grasp numbers. They can’t count. They emote, rather than think. They are obsessed with “feelings”, but indifferent to facts. They are maniacally concerned about offensive speech, but unconcerned about whether offensive remarks are factually correct.

Thus when they are told that Bernie Sanders' shopping list totals $19 trillion, a number that matches the federal debt, it makes no impression on them. So when they are promised free college tuition and free access to universal health care because they are "human rights", they give little thought to how these things can be paid for, except of course, that the "one percent" will pick up the tab. Have they done the math? I thought I just told you. They don’t do math.

Progressives do not accept the reality of scarcity. The premise that there is "enough to go around" if resources are fairly distributed is the launching point for their proposals. Therefore, to have a reasonable conversation, one must first disabuse them of this fantasy. Not an easy task.

Let’s take on one of the fundamental axioms of Leftist Group-Think. The idea that all human beings have a “right” to a given resource. That, for example, migrants have a “right” to enter the country legally or illegally to share the ‘bounty’. That all citizens have a “right” to affordable housing, proper nutrition, or education. You know the drill. It’s the staple of every Sanders’ speech.

Let’s deal with the most oft mentioned shibboleth of the progressive world-view:

"Health care is a human right".

Who in the world could possibly take issue with that? I wouldn’t . But what I would say however is that if health care is a human right, so what? There are a lot of things that I have a “right” to, but cannot obtain. If I am dying of dehydration in a desert, I have a right to quench my thirst, But if there is no water available that right is meaningless. The passengers on the Titanic had a right to survive the voyage, but that right proved meaningless when the ship went down. There were not enough lifeboats to accommodate all of them. Those left behind were denied their human rights.

Progressives, bathrooms, and health care

Progressives assume that if a UN Convention or a Parliament or a Congress declares that people have a “right” to access a given resource, then that it can be provided for them. Pass a resolution and poof goes scarcity. Oh, if only I could believe in magic, I could return to the idealism of my youth. Idealism without acne.

The best and most efficient way to deal with this assertion is to use Isaac Asimov's Bathroom Metaphor. It goes like this:

If you live alone in an apartment with one bathroom, you can be assured that your 'right' to use it can be freely exercised. It is there for you as soon as you need it. No problem. But if you have a roommate, that changes the equation. The bathroom is there, but there is no guarantee that it will accessible when nature calls. And the more roommates you have, the more often you will find that your "right" to relieve yourself will be thwarted by someone else exercising their 'right' to relieve themselves. You can declare that everyone in the apartment has a human right to free, universal and timely access to the bathroom. You can even put it in the Constitution if you can get Congress to agree to it, but it won't address the problem. The problem of scarcity. Too many people competing for two few resources.

No doubt Bernie could draw up a bathroom schedule that would guarantee that every roommate would have access to the facility free of charge. But like socialist politicians and governments from time immemorial, he couldn't eliminate the queue.

As a lifetime consumer of Canada's much vaunted health care system, the one that people like Michael Moore or Bernie Sanders love so much from afar, I know that to be satisfactory, healthcare must be provided in a timely fashion. There is no point in being able to access it - regardless of income - if you cannot be treated on time. Immigrants from the former Soviet bloc tell me the same thing. And so did my brother, who waited two years for "free" hip replacement surgery, during which time he became addicted to pain killers - a common story.

So if you are in great discomfort and have to stand in a long queue for the treatment that it is your 'human right' to have, it is of little consolation that the treatment or surgery will be provided on the taxpayers' dime. I got a free taxi ride to the movie, but the line-up was so long when I got there that all the seats were taken up before I could get in. So I had to wait for the next showing in the rain. Too late for my baby-sitter. Just like my brother’s hip surgery appointment was too late for him. He died before the appointed day arrived. That was so awfully Canadian of him. But I don’t expect that Michael Moore will make a documentary about that.

The theatre owner could have shortened the line up if he jacked up the price, but we can’t have that, can we? That would mean that some people would be “excluded”. Newsflash: They already are, but in a different way. Customers and patients are either excluded by purse, or excluded by ration. Either pay top dollar, or stand in line. That is the reality for every country on earth, even Sweden, the poster boy of the social democratic welfare state, which now seems have embarked on the road to becoming a third world shit-hole. Who would have thought.

We have a two-tier health care system because it is a two-tier world. Under capitalism the rich get in by jumping the queue. Under socialism party apparatchiks gain access to their private theatre. Like scarcity, hierarchy is a fact of life, and electing Bernie Sanders won’t change that.

The irony is, the demands on our wonderful "free" Canadian health care system are so great that there are more and more "out of pocket" expenses that citizens must pick up. Some people die because they hesitate to call for ambulance because they can't afford to pay or the trip. Others go without eyeglasses or dental attention. Some of the many things that are not covered by Medicare.

The socialist answer is to throw more money at the system, whose appetite is insatiable. Health care costs keep rising, and rising steeply. It is by far the biggest item in every Provincial government's budget. But when socialists form the government - as they have many times in various provincial jurisdictions - they find that they don't have the money.

Raise taxes? Enter the Laffer Curve. There comes a point when higher tax rates yield less tax revenue. Investors move their money to sunnier tax climes and workers work under the table. Borrow more money? The costs of servicing the ballooning debt eventually force cutbacks in all government services, inevitably provoking a confrontation with the public sector union unions, the very people who helped elect the socialist government that is now imposing austerity on them. How many times have you seen placard-carrying public sector workers out on the streets, shaking their fists in anger and chanting defiant slogans? But the cut-backs and the contracting-out continue.

Then reality hits. Voters realize that there is no free lunch, and that no health care system in the world can provide everyone with everything they want in the time they want it. Resources, however equally and 'fairly' distributed, are limited. Out go the socialists..

So back to the problem of bathroom scarcity in your apartment. You realize that you have two options. One is to install more bathrooms, and the other is to reduce the number of people sharing the apartment. The latter option is beyond the pale of politically correct consideration. Reducing the population level by evicting those who have illegally entered the apartment or barring entry to would-be tenants is a no go zone. Only a 'bigot" would propose such a thing. Our national apartment now has sanctuary rooms where "No One is Illegal", including squatters, who must now be referred to as "undocumented" tenants. We could, at great expense, turn our apartment into a fortress, or build a wall around it. I’m for that. But if the global ‘housing’ shortage gets so bad that tens or hundreds of millions shelter-seekers want in, I am not optimistic that we can keep them out.

So, like you, we national apartment dwellers are left with only the first option. We must install more bathrooms, or as open borders advocates would say, "extend the table rather than build a wall." That sounds good, except for one problem. There are limits to growth. Like the planet, our apartment has a limited carrying capacity. Despite its enormous land mass and apparently low population density, Canada's "apartment" is stuffed. So said the Science Council of Canada forty years back, when our population was 10 million less than it is now.

America is in the same fix

America is in the same fix. It is not about how many people a nation can contain but how many it can sustain. There may be plenty of room on our extended table, but there is not enough food in the soup kitchen to feed everyone in the world that who wants to sit down for dinner - or wants medical treatment, or education, or housing, or reliable infrastructure. Our welfare state is already overburdened, but bleeding heart refugee advocates are seemingly intent on seeing it crushed under the weight of endless incoming millions of claimants.

If you think that I came to these repugnant conclusions because I have an uncaring heart or I was born with a fascistic mentality, think again. I grew up in a family of Bernie Sanders. I supported and voted for many candidates like Bernie Sanders. I called myself a democratic socialist too. I was a member of an avowedly democratic socialist party (the NDP) . I worked on their election campaigns and I helped elect them to office. I saw them try valiantly to deliver on their promises in five different provinces. And I saw them fail to do so. The wealth and income gap grew even wider. That is what globalism and immigration-driven population does for you, and I have the stats to prove it.

As a consequence, I learned a hard lesson. Unlimited compassion is neither financially or ecologically sustainable and continuing economic growth is not physically possible in an economy that is fatally dependent on non-renewable resources. It is not about paper-shuffling. Governments are no longer bound just by financial limits, but by geological constraints.

You can reform the banking system or resort to more quantitative easing. You can “prime pump” the economy and run up the debt all you want, but rising oil, metal and mineral prices will kill demand, and then all you’ll be left with is “stagflation”. It happened four and half decades ago and is happening now. Oil prices were driven down by demand destruction. And they will be driven up again when lower oil prices provoke more demand, demand that will not entirely be met by more oil production. Result: even higher prices than before, causing the economy to plummet again. The roller coaster ride will continue, until finally, one day the roll coaster will stop. America will never be “great again”. Sorry Donald.

We cannot keep growing the pie, and if we keep inviting more diners to the table, per capita slices will get smaller and smaller, and our environment will suffer in the bargain, as it has.

Social justice rhetoric notwithstanding.


About the author: Tim Murray was a long-time Canadian democratic socialist mugged by the reality of Limits to Growth. His new awareness led him away from traditional left/right dichotomies toward steady-state solutions, and a fierce determination to fight the fake environmentalism of the Sierra Club and their clones. He was the co-founder of Biodiversity First, a director of Immigration Watch Canada, and is currently on the board of Population-Environment Balance. He is an avid hiker and nature-lover who co-exists with wolves, cougars, bears, bald-headed eagles in the North Gulf Islands of British Columbia.


CAIRCO Research

The Political Spectrum

Population Driven to Double by Mass Immigration

Environment and the consequences of immigration-driven population growth

The Sierra Club's $100 million sellout to environmental political correctness

SUSPS - Sierra Club members who understand the immigration component of U.S. population growth

Book: Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos, by Garrett Hardin, 1995.

Ecofuture population and sustainability resources