In case you missed Glenn's Wednesday Night Special last week, it is about the tragedy of the wildfires in Maui that completely destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, a community of 13,000 people. There are 115 confirmed dead, with several hundred people—perhaps over a thousand—still missing. On the show, Glenn went through the over-the-top failures of progressive government that contributed to the fires. This was a preventable tragedy.
The debate over how this happened is a microcosm of the philosophical divide between left and right. True conservatism has long emphasized personal responsibility, while the left increasingly emphasizes blame and victimization. That wasn’t always such a political dividing line. President Truman, a Democrat, famously had that sign on his desk that said, “The buck stops here.” It’s the opposite of “passing the buck.”
The debate over how this happened is a microcosm of the philosophical divide between left and right.
Do you know where that phrase originated? It came from poker players during the frontier days. They would use some kind of marker to indicate whose turn it was to deal. They often used a knife with a buckhorn handle. So, if a player did not want to deal, he would pass the knife, or the “buck” as they called it, to the next player.
“Pass the buck” is practically a left-wing motto now. And the trend in recent years is to see how far down the line they can pass the buck to make their case for absolute victimization. So, in the case of the Maui wildfire tragedy, the New York Times ran a column on Sunday, titled, "A Legacy of Colonialism Set the Stage for the Maui Wildfires.”
The article says:
To understand these fires, you have to rewind to the 19th century, when Christian missionaries transformed an area that was mostly wetlands into large-scale sugar plantations that required the digging of tunnels and the building of reservoirs to divert water to mills and away from sustainable agriculture. Dominated by American investors, the sugar and pineapple industries led to deforestation and left native Hawaiians with insufficient water for their crops.
I’ll spare you the rest, but spoiler alert: the article doesn’t make much sense as it takes a vague and wild leap from missionary farmers to an economy that hinges on tourism.
“Pass the buck” is practically a left-wing motto now.
Even if you could prove with 100 percent accuracy that 19th-century Christian missionaries and their darn farms caused all the wildfires, how does it help any victim of the Maui tragedy right now? How does it help the parents who have lost children? How does it help the children who lost a mother or father? How does it help the thousands who lost their homes and all of their belongings? How does it help prevent the next wildfire? It doesn’t. Of course it doesn’t.
Part of responsibility means looking at the current facts of a situation, admitting where you may have messed up, and figuring out how to do better. Passing the buck to ancestors just stokes bitterness and keeps people stuck in the past—ironically, it’s not very progressive.