I love this. President Obama today will hit the Ryan Budget hard, calling it thinly veiled Social Darwinism:
“In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled-down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class. That’s how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill, including my grandfather, helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. That’s why studies have shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run....quoted in WaPo, The Plum Line, Greg Sargent
“This Congressional Republican budget, however, is something different altogether. It’s a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism. It’s antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who’s willing to work for it — a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last — education and training; research and development — it’s a prescription for decline.”
That is excellent.
To me, that's what our election is about in 2012. The 19th century or the 21st century. Robber-barons or unions.
Update I: For those unfamiliar with Social Darwinism and its history, here's some background:
Social Darwinism is a belief, popular in the late Victorian era in England, America, and elsewhere, which states that the strongest or fittest should survive and flourish in society, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die. The theory was chiefly expounded by Herbert Spencer, whose ethical philosophies always held an elitist view and received a boost from the application of Darwinian ideas such as adaptation and natural selection.http://library.thinkquest.org/...
Spencer and Social Darwinism
Herbert Spencer, the father of Social Darwinism as an ethical theory, was thinking in terms of elitist, "might makes right" sorts of views long before Darwin published his theory. However, Spencer quickly adapted Darwinian ideas to his own ethical theories. The concept of adaptation allowed him to claim that the rich and powerful were better adapted to the social and economic climate of the time, and the concept of natural selection allowed him to argue that it was natural, normal, and proper for the strong to thrive at the expense of the weak. After all, he claimed, that is exactly what goes on in nature every day.
However, Spencer did not just present his theories as placing humans on a parallel with nature. Not only was survival of the fittest natural, but it was also morally correct. Indeed, some extreme Social Darwinists argued that it was morally incorrect to assist those weaker than oneself, since that would be promoting the survival and possible reproduction of someone who was fundamentally unfit.
Applications of Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism was used to justify numerous exploits which we classify as of dubious moral value today. Colonialism was seen as natural and inevitable, and given justification through Social Darwinian ethics - people saw natives as being weaker and more unfit to survive, and therefore felt justified in seizing land and resources. Social Darwinism applied to military action as well; the argument went that the strongest military would win, and would therefore be the most fit. Casualties on the losing side, of course, were written off as the natural result of their unfit status. Finally, it gave the ethical nod to brutal colonial governments who used oppressive tactics against their subjects.
Social Darwinism applied to a social context too, of course. It provided a justification for the more exploitative forms of capitalism in which workers were paid sometimes pennies a day for long hours of backbreaking labor. Social Darwinism also justified big business' refusal to acknowledge labor unions and similar organizations, and implied that the rich need not donate money to the poor or less fortunate, since such people were less fit anyway.
It is no accident that Paul Ryan makes his staff read Ayn Rand. Extreme selfishism, egoism, and disdain for the purported "weak."
Update II: One important thing with this speech is that President Obama is wrapping the Ryan Budget around Mitt Romney while the primaries are going on (and Romney has already embraced it) and before Romney can Etch-A-Sketch it away.
The Ryan Budget is the Romney Budget and Romney approach.
Mitt has been having trouble playing in the sandbox with Santo and Newt, outspending them 5 to 1 and still not putting them away.
Now Mitt must face the President of the United States. Mitt is out of his league.