IN the era when progressive minds were concerned about the power of the absolute monarchs the word on the street was "limited government." Progressive minds realized that the absolute monarchs, like the feudal monarchs before them, maintained themselves in power by distributing favors to their supporters. That was insupportable, according to reason and natural law.
That lasted for about 100 years, from 1750 to 1850.
But once the absolute monarchs had been dispatched to the dustbin of history progressive minds forgot all about limited government. Now they saw themselves as the rising ruling class and developed a politics where they would replace the monarch and win political power for themselves by offering favors to their supporters. So much was obvious to the best minds. And it was all discernible from the march of history and from social justice.
Of course, the truth is that politics has always been about loot and plunder. It was about loot and plunder when the hunter gatherers conducted their dawn raids on the neighboring tribe, killing the men and taking the women into slavery. It was about loot and plunder when Agamemnon and his pals including Odysseus, sacker of cities, besieged and sacked the city of Troy. It was about loot and plunder when the Roman legions ranged through Europe and the Middle East. It was about loot and plunder when Europeans discovered America and took the silver from Bolivia and the land from the North American Indians.
The formula is simple. A would-be political leader -- we might call him a freebooter or a buccaneer -- recruits an army with the promise of loot and plunder. We might call these followers freeloaders. If successful, this leader takes political power over some territory and taxes and regulates the people therein to benefit his supporters.
For that brief century from 1750 to 1850 the idea got about that maybe the loot and plunder idea was not such a good plan for government. Because, after all, loot and plunder are destructive. They sweep away productive economic relations and strip people of their wealth. And give it to people whose only talent is military or political soldiering. So the idea got about that government, the agency of looting and pillaging, ought to be limited, so that wealth could increase and benefit everyone.
But in the middle of the 19th century, as we have seen, a new idea got about. The educated sons of the bourgeoisie, shocked by the squalor of the industrial slums, intuited a new society in which all the squalor would be gone and society would become truly social and cooperative, rather than hierarchical and exploitative.
But there was one little problem with their ideas. How would we get from here to there? The answer was as old as the hills. We would get there by recruiting a political army with promises of loot and plunder: bigger wages, less working hours, free education, old-age pensions, health care.
It did not seem to occur to these people -- it still does not occur to their political descendants -- that a political movement based on loot and plunder will end up 100 years later as government based on loot and plunder. And what does loot and plunder do? It strips the land and the people of their wealth and their livelihood.
The trouble with socialism, according to Margaret Thatcher, is that in the end you run out of other peoples' money. It's easy to see why. The nature of the political game is that you must come to each election with a new promise of loot. That is what you have taught your supporters down the decades and that is what they demand. That was why President Obama had to lie about Obamacare and pretend it would lower health insurance premiums, and why Hillary Clinton has to conjure up brain-dead ideas to complicate the capital gains tax to make it look as though she is shaking new money out of the trees that can be spent on her supporters.
In the end the politicians over-promise on the loot. In the end you run out of other peoples' money. In the end you get Greece or Argentina.
So the solution is pretty obvious. You replace the current system with a system of limited government, where the politicians do not rally support by offering free stuff.
After all, any sensible voter should be able to see that in the end the government runs out of money to pay its pensions, so the practical thing to do is to make sure that your life is not dependent upon the continued payment of a government pension. On that view the idea of paying payroll taxes for 40 years on the faith that the government will pay the pensions it promised seems close to certifiable delusion.
But that is the system we live under. Until we don't.
I get it. Conservative leadership, from Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate and John Boehner (R-OH) in the House to the mainstream conservative media is disappointingly wimpy. You might even say that they had been cuckolded by the shameless hussies in LiberalLand who have been cheating on them for decades. Thus #cuckservatives. When are they going to do something about it? And act like real ...
I'M going to be lunching with my liberal women friends in the next week or so. We are talking about the kind of woman that will be on board for the idea that it's time for America's First Woman President. Here I am, aching with sorrow about the way that America's government has failed its people, because of the faith of its ruling class in its top-down paternalism, and your average educated ...
I just had an epiphany on the Blame the Bankers meme that every Democrat and every liberal instinctively believes as the cause of the Crash of 2008. I'd always assumed that it was pure cynical political blame-shifting, the natural instinct of the ruling class to find a scapegoat to take the blame for its feckless and foolishness. Of course, that's what it was, mostly. You can't run a country ...
WHEN CHIEF Justice Roberts voted in Obamacare in 2012 I wrote that:
[T]he only way to make liberals accept a repeal of ObamaCare is by the brute force of political power, the mandate of the voters expressed at the ballot box.
Now Roberts has pushed aside the little matter of the Obamis’ deliberate attempt to intimidate states into building their own health care exchanges in King v. Burwell. Justice Kennedy has rubber-stamped gay marriage, and hey, what’s the matter with a little disparate ...
For years I've been marveling at the extraordinary discipline of the Democratic Party. ...
THE SUPRISE OF REDNECKS debouching from the Appalachians into the Atlantic plain and the explosion of Pentecostalism in the inner cities has unnerved those who had convinced themselves that religion was a thing of the past, now that God was dead.... more
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, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls
James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor
E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in
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
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
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
Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Heres how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>
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.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, 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
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
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