gt book review
Uncle Sam's Plantation by Star Parker
I expected to enjoy Uncle Sam's Plantation, after Star Parker's tasty TV sound bites. Yet, it is well said that 'sound bites do not a great book make.'
Social critics never trust humanity. If her despised "lefties" worship government, Parker believes in god or the church. Others believe in capitalism, an unproven economic theory. I believe the danger is people banding together to save everyone else. Maybe I should write a book.
Any government, religion, rock group, etc, are a band. Government's job is forestalling group coercion, not increasing it. Perhaps abuse is unavoidable, given government's symbiotic relationship with groups like the media.
Power is the problem. If government were limited, groups wouldn't be jockeying for position. Admittedly, even a limited government is comprised of people, so bribery or other chicanery cannot be discounted. No human system is perfect.
But limited power mitigates excesses. A government that controls trillions of dollars, launches wars, ignores its own rules while piling them onto its citizenry exacerbates problems more often than not.
That is not a shortcoming of democracy. When monarchs reigned, there was abuse. When the Pope ruled, there was abuse – and not just self-abuse. Capitalists theorise that companies will behave honourably because it's in their best interests. Often, real corporate moguls do not. For in real life, as Ben Franklin so aptly phrased it, "Shit happens!"
In one of her major themes, Parker derides abortion as genocide against Blacks. Any truth in that view is undercut by her ignoring Planned Parenthood's efforts to promote birth control. Abortion advocates may exist, but pro-choice advocates usually encourage birth control, just as self-proclaimed pro-lifers usually eschew birth control, advocating abstinence in others. Parker knows science, mentioning The Pill in an historic context before neglecting it to the point where she can write, seriously, "Choice: This is where the rubber meets the road in Uncle Sam's attack against marriage."
Parker's argument rests on erroneous notions. Roe v. Wade did not induce abortions. They occurred before they were legal. Legalisation means abortions are performed by medical professionals instead of a "friend of a friend" with a coat hanger.
Just as surely as masturbation is more fun than Parcheesi, adolescents and adults screwed around for centuries without birth control. Married or unmarried, religious or atheistic, rich or poor, radical or reactionary, sexual desire has clouded many a mind. You can blame the government for many things, and I do. But even I wouldn't link government to sexual desire.
Along the way, Star Parker is catty to liberals, like an Ann Coulter without the great legs. [Parker may have fabulous legs, which research was unable to verify.] The author preaches to the choir, insulting those who disagree. One book cannot change the world. She doesn't try.
Early on, Ms Parker says her radio experience taught her that "if anyone would work diligently and enthusiastically, new opportunities would arise and more income would follow." Ridiculous! Expanding personal experience into a general economic rule is absurd. I know talented Broadcasting students who never got a break; I don't infer that success is unattainable.
Nor am I so näive as to believe freedom would end all our woes.
Parker writes, "Uncle Sam has developed a sophisticated poverty plantation, operated by a federal government, overseen by bureaucrats, protected by media elite, and financed by the taxpayers." True, except maybe for "sophisticated." A population dumbed down by state schooling won't recognise that the emperor has better clothes than he should be able to afford.
Not only is Parker newly-devout, she is an avowed Republican, making her difficult to take seriously. She recognises that Bush's faith-based initiative would have government co-opting independent social work. How does that differ from the Democrats' modus operandi? As they demonstrate, Republicans have no problem with power, provided it's theirs.
At the core of Parker's book is her youthful libertine experience, encapsulated by the statement, "Empty-headed young women... have been fooled by liberals into giving up the only power they ever had over men: the power to withold sex..." All I can say is, "How many women have you dated, Star?"
Then there is what passes for education in this country. Parker thinks schools should reflect our Judeo-Christian tradition, personified by Jesus, presumably because he was Jewish. She recommends vouchers, but should be advocating an end to government schools. That way, parents could decide how much or how little religous fantasy a child receives.
Remember: Today's religion is tomorrow's mythology.
In Parker's scared new world, rent control is practically sacriligious. She repeats the free-market mantra that everything will resolve itself and, presumably, housing would become affordable. Ample evidence to the contrary exists.
Finally, she observes that, "Since there can be no proof God does not exist, atheism is merely a belief system too." True. Then again, since God provides no evidence of his existence, his intentions are subject to speculation.
I admit that Star Parker provoked me on her issues and that we share common ground on some. So Uncle Sam's Plantation does spark thought. Still, I was disappointed by her diversions into religious righteousness. Politics plus religion lead to horrors like al Qaeda.