Idealism versus Realism

I was reading the article below and it immediately brought a moment of clarity to the recent political upheavals, Trump was elected because enough people were irritated with idealists talking about what might happen, and didn’t.

Having been in Alaska and after talking with those who live there polar bears are, well bears, who goal for 7 months is to eat, just about anything they can. Bald eagles, really pretty, symbol of the country, strong, free, wow. Scavengers who defecate all over wherever they are, turn over trash cans, get in your way, can really hurt you in the right circumstances. Bears in the Great Smokey mountains are sooooo cute, let’s feed them, until they decide you look better to eat than the morsels you throw at them.

Well, politics should be realism with a tinge of idealism. What is the data concerning the results of an idea to fix a problem should be the driving motivation behind a policy.  Not whether the policy pleases your supporters. Education, Trillions of dollars and falling results. Regime change, more trillions. Loans to favorite industries. Forcing banks to loan to those who obviously will never repay a loan. Zero percent interest rates that beggar savers. OK, no more.

Are we making better decisions that we made in 1916?  Has 100 years taught us anything about how to govern ourselves, I would say yes, but only slightly so.  Progress is progress, it would be faster if we used more data.


Read more at:

In our culture, animals are portrayed as cuddly and innocent, but some of them actually want to eat your face. It’s time for an open and frank national conversation about bear propaganda. Having grown up in New York City, I had not been made aware of the problem until fairly late in life. This was remedied by my lovely wife, who grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, where bears are not an abstraction. In policy terms, I was an idealist and she was a realist. The issue didn’t come up much during the wooing stage or the early years of our marriage. But as often happens with matters of core conviction, it was when we had a child that my wife’s passion on the issue was made clear to me. Any time my daughter and I watched something on TV featuring a bear behaving like a cuddly companion or some majestic, gentle denizen of the woodlands for hippies or retirees to take pictures of, my wife would shout, “That’s bear propaganda!” I was once watching a credit-card commercial with my daughter in which a middle-aged woman was fulfilling the dreams that only MasterCard or Visa can make reality. She sat on a bus snapping pictures of some glorious polar bear that came right up to her window. At that moment, the mother of my child walked into the living room with a look on her face like she’d caught me watching Apocalypse Now with a five-year-old. “Bear propaganda!” she shouted. “It wants to eat her face.” It’s been one of the staples of home life. If we’re watching a documentary about adorable bear cubs, she’ll explain that they’re just waiting to get big enough to eat our faces. Performing bears? Biding their time for the right moment to eat your face. And even though my daughter and I tend to make fun of Mommy’s obsession, over the years I’ve become convinced. The culture is shot through with bear propaganda. Coca-Cola runs elegant Christmastime cartoons of polar-bear families celebrating the season. Never mind that polar bears don’t live in intact nuclear families. The males are cads who spend a few days with the single white females before scampering off to spend the rest of their lives as deadbeat dads. Also, if the supply of adorable (yet tasty!) seals runs low, the males have been known to eat bear cubs. They also eat other things when the opportunity arises. Which is what prompted this column in the first place. Last month, a video of a polar bear palling around with a dog went viral, appearing on numerous news shows and eliciting a chorus of “awws” from audiences and anchors alike. But experts in polar-bear behavior recognized that the bear was checking it out the way an experienced shopper squeezes a cantaloupe. Indeed, the bear was baited to come check out the dog so that a Canadian businessman could provide better photo-ops for tourists. “To me, it’s like it’s trying to see if the food’s ready or not,” Tom Smith, a wildlife biologist, laughingly told the Washington Post. “It’s not surprising that it would try to explore this dog . . . but I guarantee if you left that bear there long enough, it would say, ‘I wonder what this dog tastes like?’” Well here’s the good news: The bear didn’t eat the dog. The bad news: It (or another bear) ate a different dog. Why? Because that’s the kind of thing polar bears do. But you wouldn’t know that from popular culture. Every couple of months, a new big-budget animated film comes out — Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets, etc. — in which animals have human personalities. Many animal lovers think it’s harmless and entertaining — and in one sense they’re right. I like a lot of those movies. But it’s a remarkable thing if you take a step back and think about it. Many of these movies treat humans as the enemy — cruel, careless despoilers of the environment — while at the same time telling us that the highest compliment we can pay to animals is to assume they’re just like us. These movies tell us virtually nothing about animals but a great deal about ourselves. Warthogs don’t sing No Worries, and sharks have never joined a support group that says, “Fish are friends, not food.” By all means put down the crystal and swim with your spirit-animal dolphin friends. But bear in mind, male dolphins are rapists. And should you get a chance to steal a hug from a polar bear or grizzly, don’t be surprised when it eats your face.