In today’s Impromptus, I have a longish note on equality and inequality. Getting a handle on these notions was part of my becoming a conservative. Part of my growing up, actually. (Those two things — becoming a conservative and growing up — are to a degree the same thing.)
The equality to stand on and fight for, I believe, is equality under the law. We also have our friend equality of opportunity.
There have been some interesting letters on this subject, none more interesting than that of a father with five children. He writes,
They all had the same upbringing. They went to the same schools. They shared the vicissitudes of the itinerant military lifestyle. They grew up in places as varied as Panama and Germany, California and Alabama. We had limited resources because of my choice to make the U.S. Air Force my career. We always had enough but never a lot. From that background, we generated the following outcomes: . . .
He then describes what the five kids are doing today. There is a dizzying variety of “outcomes.” Some of the kids are high-flying — about as high-flying as you can get. Others are flying much less high, as success is usually measured.
Our reader says, “As a father, I am proud of all of them, but I often wish that for a couple of them the outcomes had been different.” There was some luck involved, both good and bad. There were also choices involved: good and bad. There were also different doses of initiative and energy.
We could talk about this forever, but let’s move on to another topic. In Impromptus, I have a note on President Obama’s habit of using the word “folks.” He does this, I think, when he’s trying to sound all moderate and reasonable. And this habit has trickled down to his staff, I’ve noticed.
A reader writes,
Is there a phonier moment in all of American politics than when Obama says “folks”? Can he really think that he sounds remotely natural? I can’t imagine that anyone anywhere hears his “folks” and doesn’t think he’s talking down to people. Or simply think that he’s a fraud.
Hmmm. Years ago, I had a lesson in the differences between my own perceptions and those of the general public. To me, Bill Clinton was a transparent phony, charlatan, and huckster. You could detect the snake oil from a mile away. To the public, he was the guy they wanted as their president, twice. He would have continued to be reelected, if not for the Twenty-second Amendment (which Reagan said he wanted to spend his post-presidency trying to repeal).
Let me end here with some music. In my column, I link to a review I wrote of Chanticleer — a Christmas concert they gave in New York. (Chanticleer is the twelve-man singing group from San Francisco.) At the end of these concerts, they always sing a medley of spirituals. One of those spirituals, in the most recent concert, was “(Everywhere I Go) Somebody Talkin’ ’bout Jesus.” To hear this music, go here.
While I’m in the mood, here are the Cleveland Singers and the Angelic Choir, from 1968: “Oh, What a Pretty Little Baby.” Don’t say I never did anything for you.