Stein, writing "When Scarcity Leads to Madness" in the NYT's "Everybody's Business" column, once again contributes a magically insightful article for his readers. Like Christopher Hitchens and Mark Steyn, this polymath knows how to think critically.
In the column Stein uses a visit to a death house in Hadamar, Germany, to remind us of one of the root causes of Nazi Germany's killing binge prior to and during World War II. His anecdotal insights alone are worth the trip, as it always is! However, I take issue with one particular claim he makes about the good ol' US of A.
Stein begins by setting the stage ...HADAMAR, Germany, is a small, picturesque town not far from the fabled medieval storybook town of Limburg, with its oddly Russian Orthodox onion-domed cathedral. For many years before the advent of the Third Reich, it had housed a large church with a psychiatric hospital attached.Stein then explains the reason for the title of his piece ("When Scarcity Leads to Madness") ...
When the Nazis took power, on the direct orders of Hitler, Hadamar's mission was changed. It became a T-4, a euthanasia center. Persons with mental diseases, with retardation, with vaguely defined "antisocial tendencies," which could include being divorced too often, changing jobs too often, drinking too much, or, of course, being Jewish or "Negro" or Gypsy, were sent to Hadamar in buses with curtains over the windows.The perpetrators of this inhumane horror were, as [John Maynard] Keynes might have said, not madmen, but thought of themselves as "practical men." (Hitler thought of himself as a genius not just at science, military policy and diplomacy, but at economics as well.)In other words, it just made economic sense to deny provisions to those who were not in the ruling class; since logically it would deny the upper classes provisions during times of economic hardship. Rather than starving them they simple ended their lives. Thus scarcity resulted in madness.
As explained by [my guide] and documented by posters from the day, the Nazis believed thoroughly in a vicious corruption of Malthusian economics. That is, they believed there would inevitably be shortages of food, and it should not be wasted on so-called undesirables, including mentally retarded people (who supposedly tended to reproduce much faster than careful, prudent Aryans of good mental health) and unemployed vagabonds, who were portrayed as weighing heavily on the shoulders of the German working man.As I thought about this horror show and walked among the [grave] markers, I wondered if we in America were unintentionally following any similarly sickeningly mistaken ideas. Is there some Thomas Malthus in our economics policy-making world who is proposing seemingly scientific theories that will eventually be misused to take innocent life?Ben, Ben, Ben! As brilliant as you are, have you forgotten the holocaust of unborns ... somewhere around 60,000,000 since 1973. And what about the scientific fruit of that sweet little eugenicist Margaret Sanger who pushed it all?
Thankfully, and this is a great credit to American policy, I could not think of any. Despite our problems, especially stunning misconduct by our corporate ruling class, we do not have any doctrine that could be warped to say it was sensible to kill the innocent on economic grounds, at least not on a mass basis. [CRIB Emphasis]
In fact, the great glory of America is that our economics has always been based on the idea that abundance is the natural order of things, interrupted only by the Great Depression, in which all kinds of crank Marxist and right-wing theories grew but soon died in the glow of mass prosperity. If there is always plenty, there is plenty to go around. No one need be killed for others to thrive.
And you do not recognize the philosophical-science behind Oregon's Dr. assisted
murdersuicide and Dr. Death's (Jack Kevorkian) maniacal medical philosophies.
Just to be sure I am not misunderstanding you (which is still a possibility):You say you were wondering "if we in America were unintentionally following any similarly sickeningly mistaken ideas"; you suggest you are unaware of any.My cynicism gets the best of me over the latter few examples I've listed; I know there is always hope that this wonderful country and its people will correct the errors of their ways, but it will take some sizeable national and local leadership and I've not seen any since Kennedy and Reagan.My examples above are anything but unintentional; they are deliberate and intentional to the extreme, so much so that supporters spend billions promoting them.You wonder aloud if we have our own home-bred Thomas Malthus "proposing seemingly scientific theories that will eventually be misused to take innocent life?"Is there anything on earth more innocent than an unborn child? And eugenicists claim a scientific footing for their proposals ... tell me, how much different are they than the Nazi's or Sanger's ideas? at least Johnathon Swift's "A Modest Proposal" was tongue in cheek!You say, "Thankfully, and this is a great credit to American policy, I could not think of any."Aside from those above, let me suggest one more: our Social Security System!
Time and again the emperor has been shown to be stark naked and yet our leaders take no action on the basis of opinion polls.
This is no way to lead America, unless you mean to lead the innocent down the proverbial path to destruction. And you know this!
Read Full Column