Hoover Dam by Ansel Adams, National Archives (Wikipedia)

Paul Ryan’s speech to the Republican National Convention will be praised by unthinking pundits today for its success is revving up the GOP base — and you can only shake your head at what that takes these days. From early reactions, I suspect the speech will be a litmus test for how much of the media made it to adulthood. Those who failed will likely ignore the destructive, infantile message Ryan was sending to the American people, proving how little he understands about a modern economy and how nations become strong and its people prosperous.

At a key moment, his voice rising, Ryan told the nation they should fear the “central planners” who are apparently sapping the entrepreneurial life juices from the American soul. That got a standing ovation from today’s Republican Party. Meanwhile, a thousand miles away, the Army Corp of Engineers, the epitome of government central planning, was operating the pumps and flood gates along the levees in and around the City of New Orleans desperately trying to keep the city from drowning again.

New Orleans did drown, seven years ago, as the nation and a clueless President watched helplessly from above. Mr. Bush was someone who believed, just as Paul Ryan does, that collective action in the public interest and government-funded public investments done with careful central planning are not an essential part of his job, unless you’re building aircraft carriers to facilitate wars you just lied the country into. As he circled the disaster of a drowning city, the pathetic President may have foreseen his approval ratings tanking as the unchecked flood waters rose, stranding thousands of victims. But that’s not the nightmare little Paul Ryan has.

No, 12 year old Paul Ryan worries that if the government at any level acts in the community interest to further the public good, then “some” *cough* kinds of people will view government programs as a “hammock” in which they will lie back and cease to strive. They will just live off the dole, at the expense of the “real” Americans, who themselves will get lazy and stop building all those small businesses that somehow sprang up in towns whose histories we’ve forgotten, whose streets, and lamplights, and water and sewer systems somehow spontaneously appeared. And we won’t mention the highways that carry goods and customers to and from that I-built-this self-made business, nor mention the small business loans, or the courts that enforce the contracts, or the levees that protect the city, nor the National Guard that helps out in times of crisis.

Today, my 93 year old dad — bless him — will be a passenger in a two truck caravan leaving Sacramento, California, packed with his last belongings, and driven by my little sister and brother in law. They’re headed towards Las Cruces, New Mexico, my home town and where my Dad worked for 45 years before retiring. They’ll be traveling partly on relatively safe highways, part of the Interstate Highway system built by that commie collectivist, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Las Cruces began as a thriving farming community that survived on the controlled waters of the Rio Grande River. Its flows are centrally managed from two modest up-river dams and reservoirs built by government in the Great Depression by a country knocked flat on its back by another private market financial collapse, but with the gumption to get up, willing to invest in the nation’s future and realizing it had an obligation to put able men to work to feed their families and build the things that needed building.

The town thrived again when it became the location of what is now New Mexico State University, one of those land grant ag colleges authorized by the American government starting a century and a half ago because the American people believe there was a community interest in educating its citizens at low cost to students and struggling families. It’s now a center of knowledge, engineering and agricultural research for all of Southern New Mexico.

Later on, Las Cruces would grow further from defense contractors and military researchers who worked out at the University’s Physical Science Lab or at White Sands Missile Range, just across the pass in the Organ Mountains to the east. That industry has since grown and there’s a NASA facility just up the mesa near the pass.

Today, Las Cruces is also becoming a retirement community, like much of the Southwest, and it’s a nice place to retire. Seniors can do that now, because no matter what else happened, they know — or knew until Paul Ryan’s band of juvenile delinquents came along — that they can count on Medicare covering most of their medical costs and Social Security providing a modest retirement income, even though the private investment markets looted and wiped out their life savings and the unregulated private banksters blew up the home equity they thought they’d have for retirement.

Thank heaven for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, because they too will help make Las Cruces a good place to retire. But don’t thank 12 year old Paul Ryan, because he just flat lied last night about how Medicare is still going to be there, not just for his mom, but for his kids. He’s going to replace it with a voucher system whose funding will grow more slowly that the cost of care, and Medicare beneficiaries will have to make up the difference or go without care. As for those seniors who rely on Medicaid — their security is now at risk because of Ryan’s budget plans.

Social Security may/may not fare better, but if it survives the 12 year olds and the faux adults in the White House and the scoundrels on the infamous catfood commission, it will only be because in 1983, a group of central planners decided they should raise the retirement age and increase taxes to create a multi-decade Trust Fund — now up to $2.7 trillion — that would cover retirees in the post-War baby boom while the federal government let taxes on the wealthy fall. Now it’s time for the wealthy to pay their share of that bargain, but 12 year old Paul Ryan wants to give them even more tax cuts in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” Give little Paul Ryan an “F” in responsible fiscal policy and civics.

Paul Ryan’s entire premise is so juvenile, so ridiculous, so oblivious to the reality of everyone’s everyday life that his speech should go down as one of the most absurd ever delivered at a national convention. But will any of our elite pundits notice?

As I said, this is a litmus test. Let’s see how many of our elite media make themselves look ridiculous by praising little Paul Ryan’s juvenile speech vs how many actually made it to adulthood. God helps us all, god save the central planners, and keep my family safe today.

John Chandley