That Rising Tide

Libertarians of the sort who like the works of Ayn Rand perennially use this hoary analogy: “The rising tide which lifts all boats.” It’s a catchy metaphor, vivid and easily visualized, but like many such convenient sayings it oversimplifies complex economic situations and can be used to justify malignant policies. The quote is from a 1963 speech by John F. Kennedy, but its current usage has morphed into a justification for conservative economic policies such as, “Don’t you dare tax the rich!”

Here are some variants from anonymous commenters at the Pharyngula blog:

A rising tide DOES raise all boats.

If you have a boat.

A rising tide may indeed lift all boats. But when roughly half the boats are permanently anchored on a short chain, that rising tide does nothing but submerge them.

Ooh! Let me play!

My variation is: A rising tide does nothing for a boat with a hole in it.

One need only envision a situation where it is only the rich who actually have boats – the rising tide analogy then works pretty well.




Filed under Essays and Articles

10 responses to “That Rising Tide

  1. Jeff

    One of my favorite recent sayings concerns the “Texas miracle” Rick Perry touts: “Yeah, Rick Perry created 70,000 new jobs- I’m working three of them.”

  2. Joan

    Larry, I’m e-mailing you a ‘condensed’ version of a Doonesbury cartoon. I can’t link it and I can’t upload it..but it’s on this general economic theme and it’s good. .

    Another horror factor concerning Rick Perry is in Today’s NYTimes column by Paul Krugman. “Republicans Against Science” . In it he quotes Perry saying evolution was ‘just a theory’…. which had ‘some gaps in it’ . But the one which really freaked him was his saying that scientists’ manipulated data on global warming so they could have dollars rolling into their pockets,’ and that they were coming forward almost daily questioning the idea that global warming was man made. Sooo other than the fact that that last statement is a lie.. we now have another possible president coming from an oil state who will be suppressing global warming proofs. He’s either going to be Bush’s MiniMe or his Frankenstein.

    In the same issue is a section on the U.S. possibly becoming a theocracy. (shudder)

  3. Here’s your Doonesbury strip,Joan. It is a good one!

  4. Here are some more Ayn Rand quotes for criticism . . .

    “Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves–or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”

    “The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive- a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence…Man’s mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God… Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man’s power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith….The purpose of man’s life…is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. ”
    Seems to be in concert with “shudders “over a “theocracy”??

  5. Joan

    Well.. the woman whose god was capitalism, could hardly have written anything else, but I will admit, it’s pretty good.
    I rather enjoyed ‘Fountainhead’, back when I was a kid, despite her penchant for rough sex, because the hero was a thinly disguised Frank Lloyd Wright, and I was not all that aware of the political implications . But I shrugged off Atlas Shrugged a lot easier.

  6. Rough sex? Donno. Wasn’t there, thank heaven (or whatever will suffice as a substitute). Frank Lloyd Wright . . . don’t know where to “house “that one?

    BTW, regarding the NYT’s Bill Keller’s remarks about the non-enlightment of transubstantiation:

    Also don’t forget Mit Romney’s Mormonism . . .

  7. Jeff

    Ayn Rand’s obsessive absolutism, her massive novels, and her paranoia towards even those in her “inner circle” are easily explained by the fact that she had a long-term addiction to Dexedrine, something few of her fans are aware of.

  8. Joan

    Well, that’s interesting, Jeff. Of course Dexedrine is just an upper to begin with. Maybe it helped her stay up to write those massive novels. (grin) It does not explain her philosophy while she was on it, although it does explain the paranoia. I begged one Dexedrine pill from my at that time med student boyfriend, in order to stay awake studying for a final. It was just terrible. Only took a half, but it made me so nervous I could not concentrate to study. That was my last drug experiment period.

    Darrell..the book Fountainhead had a heroine who only seemed to respond to brutality, who hated anyone who was not self made. Who loathed the poor….etc. and a hero who was an architect who would bow to no one as far as his modern designs were concerned. He blew up a skyscraper because they wanted it modified for more pedestrian tastes. There was a movie, with Gary Cooper, I believe. Forget who the heroine was. As for the lady Ayn herself, I have no idea what her personal sexual penchant was. I rather doubt it was for men even… but that is just a wild guess so don’t hold me to it.
    As for the rest, I tried.. I really tried to get through Michael Medved’s article. but I just can’t stand him. I’ll give it another run after dinner.

    The N.Y. Times has gone to pay for view, so with the exception of 20 articles a month, I’m limited to what I can read. I am trying to sneak through the back door by using links from Google News or others but I don’t want to get a bill.

  9. “Just an upper”, Joan? Chemically the drug is quite close to methamphetamine. It has a milder effect but this is mainly because it is taken in pill form rather than smoked or shot up. It’s an addictive stimulant, and it is one of the primary ingredients of Adderal, a commonly abused prescription drug.

  10. Joan

    Ok so I’m not an expert on dope. It’s still a stimulant, and from my 1/2 pill point of view, a pretty dangerous one. . The point I was trying to make was that you could blame the paranoia on the drug, which is an upper rather than a downer but the content of that woman’s mind and her books came from her. Borroughs wrote Naked Lunch on what? Heroin and practically anything else he could get, but obscene as it was, it did not demonize the have nots and spawn a goodly bunch of self worshiping followers.

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