Last week I had a conversation with a chap who is very fond of his own opinions. In other words, the irresistible force met the impenetrable object. Well, he said the trouble with so-and-so is that he is incapable of deductive reasoning--which in this case meant that so-and-so did not agree with him. Eventually the talk drifted to the tribulations of English kings, and from them to aristocracy in general. Then, with all the solemnity of a judge passing sentence, my friend pronounced his final verdict on this subject. Believe it or not, there is but one true aristocracy: the aristocracy of brains! At least, that is what my friend has concluded after years of pondering. (I suspect he read it somewhere; but he didn't mention that.) I wasn't prepared to argue the case with him; but when a person makes a sweeping general statement it is a pretty sure bet that it can be shot full of holes. Perhaps he meant that he didn't recognize any other form of superiority, such as popular esteem for rank or fortune. And perhaps I am with him as far as he goes. But I don't believe he scored a bull's-eye. He needs his second sight raised. Is not character a truer measure of superiority? If I remember right, Dillinger and Capone had brains.
And that makes me wonder if expressing opinions is not about the easiest thing on earth to do. And the most difficult thing in the world is to get somebody to put any stock in your opinions, for no other reason than the fact that you stated them.. Any unknown student can be convincing if he supports some contention on the premise of commonly accepted facts. But opinions are based on intangibles, and are therefore acceptable only when backed up by good authority. The cock-sure individual is the last person to recognize this; and so we find him blaring out his words of wisdom to no more effect than flies butting into arc lights. From away back in the dark recesses of dim memory I recall an old saying: It's not what he says, that counts; but who says it!
So I do not have any illusions as to what you may think of my opinions. And I assure you, the feeling is entirely mutual.
And that is just what happened in the recent political campaign. We were treated to the grandest array of what were, to me, the most convincing arguments to the effect that the New Deal was the most calamitous influence that grabbed this country by the scruff of the neck. I was convinced because the gentlemen who made these assertions rated high in my esteem. And it seemed utterly incredible to me that anyone could be blind enough to swallow the bait of the opposition.. As you may suspect, I got my ears gently smothed in reverse. What I failed to recognize was that most people were respecting authorities other than mine. And what I thought was sound logic was merely a mad scramble of temperamental interpretations, designed solely for biased ends.
And there is no use thinking politics will ever be anything else but. The only way expanding governmental powers can be lasting benefit is through the exercise of a long-standing benevolent autocracy. We think we have that now. But don't forget this is a precarious situation: one dependent on a few strong personalities. And also, don't forget that we are paying a price for the advantages we think we have attained. Perhaps survival of the fittest is out of date; and perhaps present collectivism is equally intolerable. Is not the sane middle-ground the exercise of individual initiative which recognizes the interdependence of all enterprise? Government distinctly enters the picture as a referee and co-ordinator; but in no sense is it justified in supplanting the functions of its free citizens. The picture in Washington today is a hodge-podge of both. Under the guise of regulating industry, commerce and agriculture, the bureaucrats are building the most amazing conglomeration of jobs for the faithful that the world has ever seen. Every one of these jobs is paid out of the public treasury and their perpetuation will be fought for, tooth and nail. Is there a limit to government dependency? Read Roman history.
Who says so? Well, maybe I should not have expressed my opinions for a week or two. Being candid is embarrassing sometimes.
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