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  An American Manifesto
Thursday January 29, 2015 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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CHAPTERS

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 BLOG

What Middle-Class Economics Really Looks Like

PRESIDENT Obama introduced a new catchphrase in his 2015 State of the Union speech: Middle Class Economics. As he put it:

[M]iddle class economics is -- the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules.
Then he sharpened his definition.
[M]iddle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change.
What does that mean? The president says it means government subsidized child care, government mandated sick leave and maternity leave, another equal pay law, and a higher minimum wage.

Of course these benefits have nothing to do with any kind of economics. They are simple government welfare state benefits, and the idea is to attract the votes of women and low-paid workers.

Nothing wrong with that. If women and workers want to subject themselves to the feudal mercies of the Great Lord Obama, that is their choice.

The telling point is that President Obama feels he has to cover the ugly reality of his class-warfare authoritarian welfare state in the clothing of the middle class. He's not just handing out loot to his faithful voters; he's upholding middle class values. He's not just appealing to the narrow interest of low-income voters; he's upholding justice for all. The Democrats have been doing this for a while, ever since they stopped openly pitching for the working-class vote. It tells us that they think they are batting on a sticky wicket.

The Wall Street Journal's Dan Henninger charmingly calls the president's policy "Obama's Peter Pan Economics."
In Mr. O’s world, tax revenue is sort of like Tinker Bell’s pixie dust. You just scoop up another handful and spread it wherever you want. As he said Saturday: Middle-class economics “means making it easier to afford childcare, college, paid leave, health care, a home, and retirement.”
 Henninger is right. Middle-Class Economics is a fairy tale. Here's how.

Government doesn't make childcare more affordable; it strangles it in regulations and certifications and makes it more expensive. Government doesn't make college more affordable; its subsidies have encouraged colleges to jack up tuition into the stratosphere so students can't any more work their way through college. Government doesn't make paid leave more affordable; it just forces workers to work for lower wages while their employers bank their vacation pay for them. Government doesn't make health care more affordable; it makes it impossible to afford unless the government is paying for you -- and that's assuming that the government covers the procedures you need. Government doesn't make homes more affordable. It doesn't make a home more affordable. It just crashed the housing market with its "affordable housing" policies and the people hardest hit were the blacks and Hispanics the very people that the policy was supposed to help. Government doesn't make retirement more affordable; it just sequesters middle-class savings and spends the money on buying votes for 30 years.

Hey GOP candidates for 2016! Here's the germ of a stump speech!

OK. Let's get back to first principles. On my view, government is force, and what governments do is distribute loot to their supporters. No loot, no supporters. The purpose of election campaigns and State of the Union speeches is to dangle the promise of loot before potential supporters, and entice them to vote for you.

But real middle-class economics and real middle-class culture is opposed to this. It imagines that it has evolved beyond the child-like complaint of "it's not fair", the wail of the people of the subordinate self. The middle class believes in responsible individualism. It says "tell me the rules, and I will follow the rules, go to work, pay my taxes, and obey the laws." And I will take responsibility for contributing my share to society. I will take responsibility for childcare, meaning that I will work to care for and raise my children. I will take responsibility for college, meaning that I will save for my childrens' education. I will take responsibility for paid leave, meaning that I will work to save money so I can take time off for a vacation, for sickness, for family emergencies. I will take responsibility for health care, meaning that I will select a health insurance plan that meets my particular needs and protects my assets. I will take responsibility for buying a home, meaning that I will save up money for a mortgage and buy a house that I can afford and that won't wipe me out if there is a recession. I will take responsibility for retirement, meaning that I will save money on my own time in my own way, and when I've saved enough (government mismanagement of the economy notwithstanding) I will retire.

That's what middle class economics really means. It means that people of the responsible self surrender themselves to the mercies of the market in the faith that by working and saving and doing useful things for other people, and constantly improving their skills,  they will wive and thrive in a world of constant change. The point of responsible individualism is that it is the taking on of responsibility that makes life meaningful. Otherwise you are just a peasant or a serf.

All the middle class needs is a government that keeps its cotton-picking hands off the levers of economic intervention, and do simple things like defend the nation against enemies foreign and domestic, provide a sound currency, provide a job market free from credentialism and a business environment where you can start a business in one day with one form.

That would be real middle-class economics.


perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/29/15 12:36 pm ET


Free Stuff, Public and Private

WE all know about government "free stuff". It's what governments do; they keep their supporters on-side with free stuff. What could go wrong? The answer is: Greece and Argentina. At some point, governments tend to run out of other peoples' money to give away. What do they do? Generally, they lie, cheat and steal some more, through devaluation of the currency and seizure of bank accounts. Then ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/28/15 1:05 pm ET


Meg and Rodrigo: I Would You Would Accept of Grace and Love

OF course I get the point, Rodrigo Kazuo and Meg Perret. Your op-ed "Occupy the syllabus" in The Daily Californian was designed as a performance in the politics of "taking offense." It is a model of its kind, almost perfectly constructed and executed. The outrage, the injustice, the offense! That two such as you, multiracial differently gendered students should be subjected to non-stop ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/27/15 5:14 pm ET


What Women Want: To Talk It Over

BACK in the dim mists of time some wag asked: "What do women want?" More formally, the German sociologist George Simmel predicted that in the 20th century women would begin to impress their views upon the culture. As I wrote back in 2008: Simmel understood that in the short term the public sphere for women would be defined by the rules “created by men and for men” but that eventually women ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 01/26/15 10:49 am ET


|  January blogs  |  December blogs  |

 FEATURED:

Georg Simmel’s Sociology

Thomas Piketty’s Capital

The Spirit Level

McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”

 OPED


Go Read a Book, Kristol Tells the Kids

WITH THE RUIN of the Obama presidency we have arrived at what President Obama likes to call a “teachable moment.” So finally, writes Bill Kristol, we can get the kids to go read a book: Hayek on intellectual conceit, James Q. Wilson on bureaucracy, Banfield on the city, Churchill on war, Orwell on the obvious, Lewis on chests. Not to mention his dad on “unanticipated consequences.”

But really, what good will it do?

Karl Marx ...

more | 10/06/14


Rectification of Names: Let's Call Obama Era Like It Is

Conservative author Jonah Goldberg has come up with a more | 09/29/14


It's Not "Unwisdom," Peggy. It's Hubris

The Primal Scream of the Tribal Mind

Why Do Peacenik Liberals Make War on Business?

Opeds


 RMC CHAPTER-A-DAY


RMC Contents
Chapter 1: After the Welfare State
Chapter 2: Down in South Carolina and Out in Brooklyn
Chapter 3: Awakenings of Monotheism
Chapter 4: The Nineteenth Century From the Top Down
Chapter 5: The Nineteenth Century From the Bottom Up

TO THE UPPER CRUST, the nineteenth century was a never-ending worry.  The old order was coming to an end, the cyclical world of agriculture and its wealth in land.... more


Chapter 6: Popular Religion in the Nineteenth Century

 RMC BOOKS


RMC Book of the Day

Loevinger, Jane, Ego Development


RMC Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in


RMC Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present


RMC Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland


RMC Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


 READINGS:

Occupy the syllabus
special snowflakes don't want to study Hegel and Marx and Foucault in a course on classical social theory 'cos they are white males.

A misleading chart on welfare spending
plus an OK one that shows that welfare recipients face a 50% marginal tax rate.

Harvey Mansfield on the Democrats
what are the limits to progress and equality?

How Obama lost the middle class
But the writer, Rick Newman, really doesn't get it.

Would You Punch the Security Code?
to let the terrorists in? Our liberals already did, writes Richard Fernandez.

> archive

 CCWUD PROJECT

cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded


 


Take the Test!

 THE PROJECT

Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Here’s how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>

 THE ARGUMENT

The Road to the Middle Class is a journey from a world of power to a world of trust and love. In religion, it is a journey from power gods that respond to sacrifice and augury to the God who makes a covenant with mankind. In education, it is a journey from the world of the spoken word to the world of the written word. In community, it is the journey from dependence on blood kin and upon clientage under a great lord to the mutual aid and the rules of the self-governing fraternal association. In law it is the journey from the violence of force and feud to the kingŽs peace, the law of contract, and private property.


 TAGS


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


 

©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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