Need To Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger
Episode 24: Abby and The Tour Guides

Guest: Abigail Thernstrom
Mar 16, 2013
Direct Link to MP3 File

This week on Need To Know, Abigail ThernstromVice-chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Adjunct Scholar at AEI joins for a fascinating discussion on race, politics, and the voting rights act. Then, Jay and Mona on the death of a Cambodian mass murderer, White House tour guides have been sequestered, diversity in the Obama cabinet, the left’s justification for hating Israel, and Jay gives i to peer pressure and agrees to do a podcast with Mona of highlighting favorite classical pieces. Huzzah!

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  1. Leslie Watkins

    Wonderful podcast! My only quibble would be to say that I don’t think the hard-left base comprises mostly black voters but, rather, environmentally fanatical voters, whom the president resembles much more than his ethnic base. This, I think (I hope) is the potential schism site on the Left, which might well be reached as blacks become more and more aware of the disconnect between the grand claims begin made and actual events on the ground. (Take the recent tax battle: everyone on the low side of the earnings scale has received less in their paychecks since the vote–whatever the deductions are called–and surely this will elicit a growing recognition that money needed to pay for the Progressive agenda will come from the middle more than from the top). You see this tension at the local level (except in the big cities, of course) with black politicians being far more motivated by jobs than environmental issues. Also, black Americans tend to be far more socially conservative than black politicians and pundits. One good disagreement could be all that’s needed to split the base cell into two distinctive smaller cells. Until then, racial demagoguery will pertain.

  2. Rightfromthestart

    In a classic Simpsons episode Lisa is a finalist in a national essay contest. One of the other contestants is Virtnamese, he’s introduced as having already won the National Spelling Bee, the Westinghouse Science competition and the NFL Punt Pass and Kick competition, his family owns a nation wide chain of wheel balancing centers. His essay begins ‘ When my family arrived in this country six months ago…..’

  3. Mona Charen
    C

    Dear Ms. Lydick,

    Yes, we first discovered Hummel because our son is a trumpet player. All trumpeters play the Haydn and the Hummel. One day, we were listening to the car radio and heard one of his piano concerti. We did the car game (“guess the composer”). Both of us were throwing out big names and  became saucer-eyed when we learned it was Hummel.

    I’m jealous that you heard Maurice Andre. Must have been a memorable concert. And the Pittsburgh is great too. Lucky you.

  4. barbara lydick

    Wonderful to hear Mrs. Thernstrom.

    My apologies for not sending this before now.  When you mentioned having heard from listeners about Hummel, I was reminded of my delinquency.

    I think he is marvelous. His trumpet concerto in B flat major is one of my favorite trumpet pieces. Was very fortunate to hear Maurice Andre perform it with the Pittsburgh Symphony.  And who better to celebrate Hummel?

    Do so enjoy your podcasts.

  5. Richard Fulmer

    The podcast touched on something I call the economics of self-esteem, which is based on the idea that some people try to increase their self-esteem at least cost to themselves, just as they try to improve their material well-being as efficiently as possible.  One strategy for low-cost self-esteem is rationalization.  Excuses are easier than effort.  For example, people may refuse to take an entry-level job or obtain an education – actions that will eventually improve their material well-being – in favor of the immediate gratification of blaming their poverty on someone or something else (Jews, whites, blacks, immigrants, the system).

    Just as government interference can provide the opportunity for economic “rent-seeking,” it can also lead to “emotional rent-seeking.”  For example, a sense of self-worth can come from generously helping the poor, while a false sense of generosity can be obtained by forcing others to help.  One can vote money out of another’s pocket in the name of charity, obtaining self-satisfaction at no cost.

  6. Richard Fulmer

    [Continued]

    Ad hominem attacks are another manifestation of the desire to feel good about oneself at the least cost.  People can feel morally superior to others with whom they disagree by dismissing them as “Nazis” or “racists” without bothering to marshal the facts and logic needed to reply to their opponents’ arguments.  For those too sophisticated to resort to mere name calling, there is Marx’s technique of rejecting the argument by identifying and belittling the class of the person making the argument.  Jacques Derrida’s postmodernist “deconstruction” provided an even more erudite method of demonstrating moral and intellectual superiority while avoiding actual thought.  By claiming to reveal the “context” underlying an argument or the person making the argument, deconstructionists can dismiss the context (and therefore the argument) with an appropriate label.

  7. Richard Fulmer

    [Continued]

    Consider also people who promote policies in the name of helping others, but who exhibit no interest in determining the actual impact of their programs.  The anti-sweatshop movement, for example, has been responsible for tens of thousands of people losing jobs in third-world countries.  The result has been a marked increase in malnutrition and starvation.  Some have escaped these fates by resorting to hustling, prostitution, and other jobs more dangerous and exploitative than those from which they were “rescued.”  Yet the battle to eliminate jobs that are low-paying by western standards continues relentlessly, leading to the suspicion that the fight is more about the crusaders than it is about those they claim to be helping.

  8. Richard Fulmer

    [Continued]

    Minimum wage laws, payroll taxes, and regulations that raise the cost of hiring result in increased unemployment – especially among the least experienced, least educated, and most discriminated against.  In the United States, this translates into African American teenagers while in Europe it means young Muslims.  In the name of helping the poor, those most in need are hurt.

    Worse, young men denied constructive outlets for their energies by such market interference may turn to gangs and violence to bolster their self-images.  Adolescent Frenchmen whose parents emigrated from the Middle East may have little knowledge of Islam as a religion while still understanding that radical Islam inspires fear in countrymen who look down on them.  The combination of unemployment, anger at discrimination, anger at their lack of opportunity, and a need for self-respect and respect from others may lead them to gravitate toward radical views and violence.

  9. Richard Fulmer

    [Continued]

    The phenomenon of emotional rent-seeking is demonstrated once a year at Earth Day observances around the United States during which activists demand the passage of laws to force others to act in ways deemed “environmentally friendly.”  Typically, and tellingly, the demonstrators leave with a heightened sense of moral superiority while leaving behind tons of litter.

    A recent study by Arthur C. Brooks of Syracuse University revealed that liberals donate less money, time, and even blood than do church-going conservatives – a finding in accordance with the two groups’ differing world views: coerced charity on the one hand and personal responsibility on the other.  Ralph Nader, when he was running for president in 2000, gave voice to the liberal rationalization when he said: “A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.”

  10. Mona Charen
    C

    Dear Mr. Fulmer,

    Well said all around.

    Thank you!

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