How Do We Say the Things We Cannot Say?

Society becomes polarized and impoverished when obvious truths are denied. To address the ensuing malaise, government expands. When government expands, government unions flourish. And there are few things generally less understood yet more consequential than the symbiosis between expanding government and government unions.

On nearly every controversial issue of significance, certain perspectives of vital importance disappear. Purveyors of these perspectives, critical to informed debate, are marginalized. Conventional wisdom as defined and enforced by a supermajority of influencers in politics, academia, entertainment, mainstream media and social media, deny these voices access to critical avenues of logic and reason. The price of transgression is oblivion.

On the issues of ethnicity, sex, culture, immigration, and environmentalism, there are powerful counterarguments to the conventional wisdom. They are motivated by a desire to offer the most happiness to the most people, all over the world. These counterarguments rest on premises that form the foundations for broad policy agendas. Without accepting these foundations as at least as credible as the conventional wisdom they are challenging, honest and fair debate is impossible.

Here are three forbidden premises:

Because individual qualifications and aptitudes are not evenly distributed across all ethnicities and genders, ethnic and gender quotas are a bad idea. How can anyone make this assertion in a convincing and compassionate way? How does a caring person explain that when less qualified applicants are institutionally preferred for jobs, promotions, housing, loans, college admissions, political candidacies, corporate boards, etc., the negative consequences eventually outweigh the positive ones?

How do we convey with charity that quotas foster tribalism, corruption, hypocrisy, and mediocrity? How might anyone appeal to members of so-called disadvantaged and disempowered communities to accept uniform standards for achievement? How can they be convinced the system isn’t rigged in favor of the privileged, if they are persistently underrepresented?

Conformist thinkers, of course, are well-intentioned. Yet they search diligently for statistical evidence of disparate group outcomes so they can encourage resentment then rescue the resentful. For them, historical depredations and contemporary discrimination can only be countered by mandatory quotas. Those who object are trying to hang on to unwarranted, unearned privilege. And leading the charge? Public sector unions, funded with billions per year in mandatory public sector employee dues, relentlessly pursuing equality of outcome regardless of qualifications or effort, because wherever meritocracy is banned, new armies of unionized government bureaucrats step in as referees.

All cultures are not equally successful in nurturing prosperity, scientific achievement, and individual rights. Here again, making a statement like this invites withering criticism. But absent this premise, there is no foundation to promote our values abroad or protect them internally. There is no moral basis to resist mass immigration of millions of destitute, unskilled people who are resolved not to adopt our values, but to instead transform our own society to accommodate their values. There is no moral basis to resist the liberal agenda in public education, which seeks to indict Western Civilization instead of inspiring students with the hard-won virtues our society offers them.

And from California onward across America, what organization works the hardest to undermine America’s splendid culture—one that has evolved from its luminous founding principles to become, now more than ever, the most inclusive, tolerant, prosperous society on earth? Public sector unions, the teachers union in particular, that advocate for curricula from kindergarten through the university steeped in negativity towards American culture. Public schools in America are increasingly oriented to training students, immigrant and native-born alike, to believe they live in an irredeemably racist and sexist nation.

Fossil fuel and nuclear power are essential preconditions for prosperity and peace. For the mainstream conformist, this is heresy. Making a statement like this, despite it being utterly, inescapably true, stamps one as dangerously delusional. Yet the moral argument for scaling up worldwide production of cost-effective, clean and abundant conventional energy is compelling. For global per-capita energy consumption to reach just half the level of per-capita energy consumption in the United States, global energy production would need to more than double. Currently, renewable power accounts for less than 3 percent of global energy production. Only an aggressive “all of the above” energy strategy can hope to extend to all nations the opportunities Americans have had, and the sooner the better.

Here again, forming the vanguard of the anti-energy coalition are public sector unions. When enforced scarcity in the name of fighting “climate change” leads to soaring home prices, government unions enjoy higher property tax revenue. When policy-driven asset inflation creates investment bubbles, government unions can more easily pretend their pension funds are solvent. And, of course, policing a society where energy use is strictly rationed requires thousands of new unionized government bureaucrats.

The Things We Cannot Say Are True
These things we cannot say are not only true, they are essential to the vitality of our nation, for our own prosperity and freedom, and also for our ability to be a role model for the rest of the world.

In that context, they are not misanthropic according to any reasonable understanding of misanthropy. On the contrary, they are empathetic. They are compassionate. They point the way for people here and abroad to aspire to a better future, an achievable future grounded in reality. A future that is based on dreams backed up by hard work and faith instead of resentment and delusion. Conformists and contrarians alike should proclaim these things we cannot say as loudly and as often as they possibly can.

If some groups of people don’t achieve as much as other groups of people, then reform the public schools that denied them the education they deserved. That can start by getting rid of the teachers’ unions in public schools.

If some cultures don’t want to embrace individual rights and emancipate women, and some of them really don’t, then stop pretending American values are no better. Stop teaching children to find more bad than good in American culture. That too can start by getting rid of teachers’ union in public schools.

And if you care about global prosperity and all the benefits that come with that—female emancipation, public health, public education, population stabilization, and the wealth required to protect wildlife and wilderness—then stop pretending that “global warming” justifies shutting down the expansion of production of clean conventional energy. And that includes exposing how public sector unions profit when development is curtailed.

The things we cannot say must be said, because they are good things to say, by people who care about people.

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

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