If you visit Mount Olympus, you will see scores of crumbling statues to false gods once worshipped by ancient Greeks. The same is true in Rome, where statues of political gods, notably those named Caesar, lay in ruins.
We are more sophisticated today. Moderns don't bow to Zeus. Many of us, though, put our faith in the false god of politics, despite its track record of not being able to achieve all of the things we project upon it.
The late comedian George Carlin may have put the blame for this where it belongs: "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."
In order to accurately judge an idea, policy, or individual "stupid," one must first have a standard by which stupid can be measured.
Now comes two far-left politicians who apparently believe their philosophy is not receiving the worship it is due, despite a track record of failure. Hillary Clinton continues to move left, jettisoning positions she once held -- from support of the Iraq War, to her "evolving" stance on same-sex marriage -- believing voters headed that way will put her in the White House.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has one-upped Hillary Clinton by publishing a 13-point plan he calls "The Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality," which some have compared to Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract with America." Mr. de Blasio's proposal, though, might be likened to a contract hit on America.
As The Economist noted, Mr. de Blasio's plan is "short on detail (such as how to pay for anything), but big on vision, it calls for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to inflation; bolstering unions; bringing in national paid sick and family leave and universal pre-kindergarten; ending tax breaks for firms outsourcing overseas, and closing tax loopholes for the rich."
Where to begin? Not worrying about paying for anything is classic liberalism. If they aren't raising taxes, they are borrowing money from China to achieve their "vision," though it's more like a mirage.
The minimum wage has been converted into something it was never intended to be -- a permanent salary regarded as the chief support for a worker's family long term. Instead, it should be taken for what it is, an entry-level position that gives workers an opportunity to move up to a better job at higher pay, taking full advantage of advanced training programs offered to them.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, however, may result in robots replacing workers. Food will be ordered from a computer at your table. It's already happening in some restaurants.
Bolstering unions means more workers paying more dues so more unions can give more money to the Democratic Party.
National paid sick leave? Why do liberals focus so much on time off instead of productivity? Such a policy would be ripe for abuse.
Pre-school, if it's public and made mandatory by politicians, would give liberals an even earlier start at shaping young minds into their political and social image by getting kids attuned to the things liberals believe to be true. Many argue that the progressive outlook seeks to undermine the authority of parents and teach that government is good, especially when headed by Democrats. Parents, not politicians, are the ultimate deciders on how and where their children should be educated. School choice is the answer. Providing vouchers lets parents sidestep failing public schools and the indoctrination in favor of an academic environment that offers a better education and less brainwashing.
The answer to firms that outsource jobs overseas is to reform a tax structure that has caused them to flee the country. Ditto on loopholes. A flat tax or fair tax eliminates all loopholes and most deductions and would free up capital that would produce more investment at home, leading to more jobs, more people working and more tax revenue.
Though false gods can't deliver, stupid people still act as if they can. Republican presidential candidates must have a message that will bring Americans to their senses and remind them of economic, foreign policy and moral standards that once produced results.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.