Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Aging Flower-Child Wannabes Follow Bernie to Russia. But They Come Back.

 

I practice concierge medicine in Hilton Head. As you might imagine in an upscale retirement community like this, my patients tend to be older (average age is around 75) and fairly affluent. I’m starting to notice an existential crisis that many of my patients share. I doubt that many of these people were actually hippies in the ’60s, but with peer pressure and societal trends, they’ve grown to admire and adopt the “flower child” persona of the ’60s. But every movement needs a bad guy, and for the flower children, the bad guys were old people and rich people. “Never trust anyone over 30,” and “eat the rich” are really cool ideologies to poor college kids, but it grows harder to keep the faith when you’ve become both old and rich. And white, heaven forfend… So my 75-year-old flower-child wannabes with Obama stickers on their Beamers face an existential crisis, which can lead to odd behavior.

Bernie Sanders has started a trend among aging baby boomers who feel the need to polish their left-wing hippie bona fides. I have had several of my leftist sympathizing patients in their 70’s vacation in Russia recently. Don’t get me wrong – other people vacation in Russia too – I’d like to go. But the flower child wannabes are flocking to Russia (…and Cuba, although strangely, not Venezuela…), and professing to have life-affirming experiences, rather than just fun vacations. Strangely, despite their incredible, beautiful experiences, learning what an incredible, beautiful place Russia is, they always come back. And they come back eager to talk about it. Our conversations are often a bit strange, as they try to make the following points, either indirectly, or more commonly, explicitly:

  1. There’s nothing odd about vacationing in Russia. Those evil, stupid Republicans were attacking Bernie Sanders for simply going on his honeymoon! What’s the big deal?
  2. We are just as hip, radical, and cool as Bernie. You gonna attack us? Huh?
  3. Evil, stupid Republicans say that socialism is so bad, but Russia looked like a nice place to us!
  4. The Russian people are very nice. We don’t hate them. It’s evil and stupid that the evil, stupid Republicans hate them.
  5. World peace is attainable if nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people reach out to traditional enemies. Nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people like us, for example.
  6. This trip was not simply old, rich, white people spending an embarrassing amount of money to amuse themselves and drink wine on a cruise ship. No, this was idealistic flower children sacrificing their money and time to save the world.

We conservatives are fortunate that virtue signaling is less important to our sense of self-worth. But it was depressing to me, listening to my third or fourth such conversation, wondering where I would go if I wanted to signal my belief in limited government, personal liberty, and a nation of laws rather than of men. Where would I go? England? Of course not. Singapore? Heck no. Canada? Mark Steyn would say no.

It’s sad that socialists and communists have more options than I do.

Anyway, I was having one of these conversations with a patient of mine who had just gotten back from a river cruise in Russia. He was making the above points explicitly enough that he was starting to annoy me. He really believed that he had not been on holiday, but rather on a vital mission to achieve world peace despite the best efforts of Donald Trump and his evil, stupid supporters.

Construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal (Belomorkanal). The canal was constructed between 1931 and 1933 by forced labor of Gulag inmates. According to official records and accounts in the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, between 12,000 and 240,000 laborers died during the construction of the canal, Russia, 1933. (Photo by Laski Diffusion/Getty Images)

I rarely respond to this stuff. But then he said, “I don’t think that anyone should be allowed to vote Republican until they visit Russia and see what a nice place it is.”

So I responded, “I don’t think that anyone should be allowed to vote Democrat until they read Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn.”

I immediately regretted it. I always presume that if someone is a leftist, they just can’t be very well-read, or very well-educated. There are exceptions, though, and I immediately wondered if he was one of them. He is a retired CEO of a major retail chain. Perhaps he’s a cut above.

Thankfully, he was not. He looked confused for the slightest instant, and then brightly replied, “So true – Russians have such a rich artistic heritage!” I took this to mean that he wasn’t sure if Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn were poets, or novelists, or philosophers, or whatever. And he apparently had not read them, so he couldn’t debate my point.

So Mr. Smooth CEO moved the conversation along quickly. Which both of us were thankful for. He wanted to talk about what a nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan person he was. I wanted to talk about heart disease. Neither one of us wanted to talk about the brutal, soul-crushing disease of socialism. Plus, I had more patients to see, and he had a tee time at Harbor Town right after our appointment.

Us human beings are strange creatures. Mr. Smooth and I are both pretty smart guys. We both look at Russia, and we both believe that Russia has a lot to teach us. But we see completely different lessons to be learned in Russian history. That really is remarkable, if you think about it.

No wonder we can’t agree on light bulbs, or Social Security, or vegetarian versus balanced diets, or much of anything else.

What I find most concerning about all this, is that I find this Conflict of Visions to be a perfect argument for federalism, while my patient views this as a perfect argument against it.

Now that is terrifying.

 

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There are 53 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    You do know the most interesting folks, Doc.

    • #1
    • June 21, 2019, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  2. JoelB Member

    So… @drbastiat , your wealthy older patients would not rather be on an Obamacare/Medicare/Single-payer system than in a concierge arrangement. Why do you think that is?

    • #2
    • June 21, 2019, at 10:47 AM PST
    • 22 likes
  3. MarciN Member

    Dr. Bastiat: and then brightly replied, “So true – Russians have such a rich artistic heritage!”

    That’s really funny. :-) Can you laugh at your patients? :-)

    • #3
    • June 21, 2019, at 10:50 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Doug Watt Member

    I assume none of them are a building a beach front condo in North Korea, or Venezuela. To be fair neither do Russians. Even Russians have their limits when it comes to a desirable Socialist Worker’s Paradise.

    • #4
    • June 21, 2019, at 10:54 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    You do know the most interesting folks, Doc.

    That may be true. 

    But I’m not sure, because I find everyone to be interesting.

    I have a fascinating job – I talk to lots of people all day long. I learn so much. It’s fun.

    • #5
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:12 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    JoelB (View Comment):

    So… @drbastiat , your wealthy older patients would not rather be on an Obamacare/Medicare/Single-payer system than in a concierge arrangement. Why do you think that is?

    Hmmm… That is curious. Let me think about that…

    • #6
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:13 AM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Arahant Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    I have a fascinating job – I talk to lots of people all day long.

    I’d probably know more interesting people if I ever left my cave.

    • #7
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:13 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  8. Richard Fulmer Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: and then brightly replied, “So true – Russians have such a rich artistic heritage!”

    That’s really funny. :-) Can you laugh at your patients? :-)

    Solzhenitsyn was so creative! How ever did he come up with that gulag thingy? Sort of like Tolkien and Mordor.

    • #8
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:32 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  9. Jon1979 Lincoln

    When they said, “There’s nothing odd about vacationing in Russia. Those evil, stupid Republicans were attacking Bernie Sanders for simply going on his honeymoon! What’s the big deal?” you probably should have told them you agree that there’s nothing odd about it … since Reagan brought the Berlin Wall down and helped lead to the demise of the Soviet Union.

    The replies to that would have been interesting, even if a few of them had to be bleeped for family content purposes.

    • #9
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:33 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    A friend of mine in Tucson is from a wealthy family, well known in Arizona. Her mother left her father and took her four daughters to a commune. Total hippie. She eventually met a guy there and married him. He turned out to be an ophthalmologist with a very successful practice in later years. The daughter I know, is a fierce conservative and very religious. She married a great guy and they have three great sons. After 9/11, I was visiting them and the mother and I got into a discussion about the origins of 9/11. She argued with me about some point I can’t recall but it was related to Bill Clinton and his role. She told me I was wrong and all I did was point to a copy of the 9/11 commission report on a bookshelf behind her. There was even a bookmark in the page that made my point. She went over, got the book and sat down to read it. She never mentioned the matter again. 

    • #10
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:38 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  11. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    You do know the most interesting folks, Doc.

     

    I have a book about the interesting patients I met in 50 years.

    https://www.amazon.com/War-Stories-50-Years-Medicine-ebook/dp/B00ZQLNHXU/

    I don’t envy you practicing in this era.

    • #11
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:41 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  12. Bill Nelson Member

    I am close to this age group. My liberal bona fides are that I attended an anti-war protest in 1972 (these were winding down so not much of a big deal-and I had a copy of Mao’s Little Red book).

    Now, I am honest enough to tell you I had little to no knowledge of the issues. But I knew with certainty that this is where the more liberal chicks, those most likely to put out, could be found.

    Unfortunately, it was a wasted effort. And I went to my job, then did my homework. So I traded in my “liberal” credentials for a career in engineering, and making very good money. Still didn’t attract any chicks. Except my wife.

     

    • #12
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:52 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  13. John H. Member

    I hardly know anyone who travels, but everyone who knows me knows I travel a lot. I am seldom if ever asked questions about where I’ve been or what I’ve learned. I like to think people are afraid to ask. I do know many of them listen to NPR and read the New York Times. They’d be fools to invite me to rock their boat.

    • #13
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:56 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  14. tigerlily Member

    Dr. Bastiat:

    1. The Russian people are very nice. We don’t hate them. It’s evil and stupid that the evil, stupid Republicans hate them.
    2. World peace is attainable if nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people reach out to traditional enemies. Nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people like us, for example.

     

     

    It’s too bad they (progressives) can’t find it within themselves to extend this same attitude towards their political opponents (Republicans and conservatives) here at home.

    • #14
    • June 21, 2019, at 12:02 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  15. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    You do know the most interesting folks, Doc.

     

    I have a book about the interesting patients I met in 50 years.

    https://www.amazon.com/War-Stories-50-Years-Medicine-ebook/dp/B00ZQLNHXU/

    I don’t envy you practicing in this era.

    I just bought a copy on Amazon – I look forward to reading it!

    • #15
    • June 21, 2019, at 12:16 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Seawriter Member

    Gee . . . no one has yet pointed out Russia today is not a socialist country. It may be an oligarchy or even a dictatorship, but it is not socialist.

    The Soviet Union (1917-1991) was. Did your patients visit Russia when it was the Soviet Union?

    • #16
    • June 21, 2019, at 12:21 PM PST
    • 15 likes
  17. Randy Webster Member

    Dr. Bastiat: We are just as hip, radical, and cool as Bernie. You gonna attack us? Huh?

    Sure, if you consider pointing and laughing an attack.

    • #17
    • June 21, 2019, at 12:31 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Gary McVey Contributor

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Gee . . . no one has yet pointed out Russia today is not a socialist country. It may be an oligarchy or even a dictatorship, but it is not socialist.

    The Soviet Union (1917-1991) was. Did your patients visit Russia when it was the Soviet Union?

    I’ve seen ’em both, and Seawriter is right. Today’s Russia is roughly as socialist as Las Vegas. Like Las Vegas, the government and rich businessmen are virtually the same thing, like Chicago in 1925. Another thing about Russia: it’s a paradise for a certain type of social conservative. Russia’s attitudes about gays are roughly what ours were 50-60 years ago. Women’s rights? Don’t make me laugh.

    • #18
    • June 21, 2019, at 12:45 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  19. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Another thing about Russia: it’s a paradise for a certain type of social conservative. Russia’s attitudes about gays is roughly what ours were 50-60 years ago. Women’s rights? Don’t make me laugh. 

    This is true of much of the world. Including much of Europe.

    • #19
    • June 21, 2019, at 12:47 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Full Size Tabby Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    So… @drbastiat , your wealthy older patients would not rather be on an Obamacare/Medicare/Single-payer system than in a concierge arrangement. Why do you think that is?

    Hmmm… That is curious. Let me think about that…

    I’d also be too tempted to ask, “So why are you talking to (and paying) me? Why aren’t you being treated at the charity medical clinic or seeing a doctor who also sees Medicaid patients?

    • #20
    • June 21, 2019, at 12:57 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  21. Full Size Tabby Member

    If people really want see life in Russia, they should not be taking a luxury river cruise that caters to Americans. A couple of years ago I took a river cruise through central Europe (possibly the same cruise line, since the line also operates in Russia) and I had no illusions that I was seeing “real” or everyday life. I knew I was being shown a carefully curated view that had been composed for us Americans who could afford such a cruise. We enjoyed the trip. We learned things. But we were under no illusion that what we were seeing represented what most of the countries’ local populations saw on a daily basis. 

    • #21
    • June 21, 2019, at 1:04 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  22. Arahant Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    If people really want see life in Russia, they should not be taking a luxury river cruise that caters to Americans. A couple of years ago I took a river cruise through central Europe (possibly the same cruise line, since the line also operates in Russia) and I had no illusions that I was seeing “real” or everyday life. I knew I was being shown a carefully curated view that had been composed for us Americans who could afford such a cruise. We enjoyed the trip. We learned things. But we were under no illusion that what we were seeing represented what most of the countries’ local populations saw on a daily basis.

    And Russia was the one who started that sort of thing in the time of Potemkin.

    • #22
    • June 21, 2019, at 1:07 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  23. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    Tell him Obama says you should just take an aspirin for the heart problem

    • #23
    • June 21, 2019, at 1:32 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. Full Size Tabby Member

    Two episodes in my life meant I was never tempted by the hippie / Commie fad that so many my age followed (I was born in 1956) (and subsequent conversations with several people who had escaped Communist countries cemented my dislike of Communism):

    1) Seeing (in 1963, when I was 7 years old) the Berlin Wall, East Berlin, and a West Berlin museum about the then-new Berlin Wall and the efforts people made to escape East Berlin through, over, and under the Wall; and

    2) visiting two Soviet resort towns on the Baltic Sea while on a sea cruise from Italy and Greece just after graduating from high school (1974) . The Soviets told us they were luxury vacation resort towns for favored citizens. But to my American eyes they were pretty grimy, and from which hundreds of people supposedly on a luxury vacation spent their entire day standing near the harbor watching our cruise ship (don’t they have something more fun or interesting to do on vacation? Apparently not.). In one of the stops a few of us did get the very pretty young guide to admit, after touting that everyone in the Soviet Union had a guaranteed job, that they had no choice in what that job was (which as an 18 year old just embarking on figuring out what I wanted to do career-wise the idea that I would have little or no say in what is did was a horrifying thought). I was more amused than horrified by the antenna-laden “fishing trawler” that followed our cruise ship into port and stayed nearby while we were in port.

    • #24
    • June 21, 2019, at 1:41 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  25. The Reticulator Member

    Dr. Bastiat: What I find most concerning about all this, is that I find this Conflict of Visions to be a perfect argument for federalism, while my patient views this as a perfect argument against it.

    Did he articulate that argument? I’d be curious to know how it goes, as I am incapable of imagining it.

    • #25
    • June 21, 2019, at 2:22 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: What I find most concerning about all this, is that I find this Conflict of Visions to be a perfect argument for federalism, while my patient views this as a perfect argument against it.

    Did he articulate that argument? I’d be curious to know how it goes, as I am incapable of imagining it.

    This is a very common argument from the left.

    Mr. Smooth has said that the election of Donald Trump proved that there were people in the United States who should not be allowed to vote. I laughed. He didn’t.

    I think he really believes that those who disagree with him are not voices that should be listened to. And he’s not alone.

    Democrats hate the electoral college, because it places too much emphasis on the uninformed opinions of rural rednecks.

    Leftists believe in the use of government power to create Utopia. The idea of avoiding centralized power is contrary to that. The more power the states have, the less power the federal government has. Alabama should not be able to restrict abortion. C’mon – they’re from Alabama! Why should we care about their views on, well, anything? Wilson and FDR were right – we need coastal Ivy-leaguers to lead the unwashed.

    The fact that I dislike centralized government is proof enough that I should not be consulted when it comes to government.

    The only defense against this is federalism.

    • #26
    • June 21, 2019, at 2:46 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  27. Randy Webster Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    The only defense against this is federalism.

    That ship has sailed.

    • #27
    • June 21, 2019, at 2:57 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    The only defense against this is federalism.

    That ship has sailed.

    I have friends in Texas who would disagree.

    But as for me, I think you’re right.

    • #28
    • June 21, 2019, at 3:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Kozak Member

    Dr. Bastiat: There’s nothing odd about vacationing in Russia. Those evil, stupid Republicans were attacking Bernie Sanders for simply going on his honeymoon! What’s the big deal?

    Bernie didn’t visit Russia. Bernie honeymooned in the USSR.

    Equivalent : There’s nothing odd about vacationing in (Nazi) Germany…. etc etc.

    Dr. Bastiat: Evil, stupid Republicans say that socialism is so bad, but Russia looked like a nice place to us!

    Again, morons Russia is not a socialist country. They tossed the socialists to the curb.

    Dr. Bastiat: The Russian people are very nice. We don’t hate them. It’s evil and stupid that the evil, stupid Republicans hate them.

    If Russians are so nice, why are their panties in a wad for the last 2 years over Trump and Russia?

    Dr. Bastiat: World peace is attainable if nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people reach out to traditional enemies. Nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people like us, for example.

    I can’t imagine a better way to engender hatred for America and Americans then a bunch of spoiled effete rich old liberals condescending and moralizing to the locals.

    • #29
    • June 21, 2019, at 4:27 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  30. Kozak Member

    I’d like to sentence those idiots to a 2 week “vacation” in Vorkuta or Kolyma.

    • #30
    • June 21, 2019, at 4:50 PM PST
    • 8 likes