Michael Barone talks about the end of Big Unit America. He means the end of the Galbraithian universe of countervailing powers: Big Business versus Big Labor with Big Government as the referee in the middle.
The problem with Big Unit America, apart from its economic impossibility, was that it turned into an inside job. The Galbraithian assumptions were wrong. The three parties didn't countervail for the greater good like he said. Instead they colluded to rip off non-Big Unit America. Now, of course, Big Unit America is broke.
But the Goliath of Big Unit America wouldn't be in trouble today without an army of Davids slinging well-aimed pebbles at it. The climate denier movement (Rule One: embraced the pejoratives of the other side) has been driven by Davids, men like Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts.
But in the second rank has been the curious character of Willis Eschenbach, a college dropout going fearlessly up against the Big Unit climate champions like Phil Jones, Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt. You always wonder about people that go up against the System, because there are so few of them.
Now Willis has published a quickie bio, "It's Not About Me," in Wattsupwiththat.com, and if I were a Big Unit climate guy, I would tremble. Willis is the kind of guy that flourished in the 19th century: He's lived his entire life outside the System, and when he and the System came to blows the System lost. As in: getting himself thrown out of the US Army in the mid 1960s after a harrowing trial of strength involving Army mental hospitals and copious quantities of thorazine.
And no wonder. Willis was raised on a ranch, went to a small school, and has lived by a simple code:
I made some rules of thumb for myself that eventually turned me into a generalist. One was that my motto would be “retire early … and often”. Another was that given a choice between something I had done and something I had not done, I would always do the new thing. Another was that if I was offered security or adventure, I’d choose adventure.
I'm familiar with the Willis kind. I've read about them. They flourished in the middle of the 19th century, right before the rollout of the modern Government Child Custodial Facilities in which children are confined from age 6 to 18 with no possibility of parole. They were remarkably intelligent, remarkably courageous, remarkably sociable, and remarkably difficult to control. That's why the modern Government Child Custodial Facility was invented: to control these uncontrollables. For the most part, it's done its job. But there are always a few that escape the dragnet, and Willis Eschenbach is one such.
The only thing is: We need more of them.