Friday, January 04, 2013

Does the left really want us to look like Russia?

One thing that I've thought differentiated the US from other countries is how we look at other people's success. While some other countries look at it in a negative light we tend to encourage it and celebrate it. While it might seem like a weird thing that stuck in my head, this difference was made very clear to me years ago when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was one of the more popular game shows. I remember reading, or hearing, about how the audience in some foreign countries would try to give the contestants the incorrect answer because it wasn't fair that they might win. I managed to find references to this: here, here, and here. And from the last one:
"...Russian audiences often deliberately provide incorrect answers to sabotage a contestant reaching out for help. A Russian historian, Geoffery Hosking, speculates that this behavior is born from the long history of communalism in Russia, which existed long before the commies took over, when individual responsibility was a collective chore, and those who rocked the boat made everyone else tipsy. Russians see the would-be millionaires on the show getting rich off the backs of audience members, so why help them along when you can take them down a peg or two?"

No doubt a normal human reaction is jealously and America are not immune to it. But there are different ways to react to it. For me, and I suspect a lot of people, its a bit of a motivator. In other words, when I see someone who is more successful than I am I try to think about what they've done that I could emulate - in other words, try to learn from them. But, and here's the difference, no matter how jealous I may get, I don't think its ever turned into a desire to "get even" with them in some way. Of course, the exception to this is when I think they may have cheated/stole their way to the top, but I actually think those are more rare than most people want to believe. And I think its this "get even" attitude that has not been prevalent in the US... up until now.

In recent times the class warfare rhetoric has heated up and while some of it is nothing new, I find it more than a little disturbing when I see things like this where people are cheering the government soaking "the rich" via the tax system. I think this bothers me more today than previous instances because instead of it being simply a grumbling from the "jealous people" who are just never happy as long as someone else has one dollar more than them, we now have a president who is trying to change the attitude of the country about it - meaning, I fear he is trying to turn our country into what we see in countries like Russia where we want to "take people down a peg or two" if they have more than us, rather than look at it a something to strive for.

Of course there have always been people in the US with this attitude but for the most part it has been the fringe left-wing communists who have spouted this garbage. It wasn't too long most people would have avoid this kind of divisive talk - anyone remember this (also here) from Chris Matthews. I really wonder if he would make this statement again today.