Over the years, conservatives have established some pretty settled science about why liberalism doesn’t work and now there’s a new hypothesis out there. How long will it be before it’s acknowledged by all the right people to be settled science too?
When Deamonte complained of a toothache in September 2006, his mother began calling around, seeking a dentist who would take a patient with Medicaid coverage.
When she finally found a dentist, he reported that "Deamonte had six abscessed teeth and required the services of an oral surgeon." But that took more delay, and Deamonte ended up in the emergency room. One of his abscesses had spread to the brain. Despite brain surgery, Deamonte died from this untreated dental problem.
Yeah, there is no question that Medicaid "failed" Deamonte. But there is something that worries me more.
Deamonte had six abscessed teeth. So did Deamonte's mother think that unless she got medical and dental for free she couldn't do anything about it? Did she have no husband with a job, no relatives that could kick in a couple hundred bucks? No savings? No church?
To me, the central problem with the liberal welfare state is the implied removal of responsibility. It's the government's job to educate my children, the government's job to give me health care, the government's job to rescue me from poverty -- and that releases me from responsibility.
Back when the National Health Service came in in Britain, people were ecstatic because now the worry was gone, the worry that, if someone in the family got sick, it could wipe you out. Now the government would take care of the worry.
But suppose the government doesn't do its job, as we are finally learning that it doesn't. In Britain we are finally learning that the care in NHS hospitals is appalling, and people are left to die without being properly fed and hydrated. Supposing Medicaid underpays doctors so that very few of them are willing to take Medicaid patients. Suppose Medicaid recipients have trained themselves not to spend money on health care and dentistry.
Why then, if little Johnny gets a toothache you don't get him to the dentist unless it's free. Because after all you are a single mother and you can't afford to pay for regular dental checkups. And if no dentists in your area take Medicaid, then it's not your fault.
No doubt. And it's not your fault that your kid dies because none of those greedy doctors would agree to treat your kid for free.
By the way, I know a doctor who does see Medicaid patients, despite the hassle and the low pay. He just does it because he's a mensch. And these folk come in with serious dental problems all the time.
But let's think about what we know. This kid died because his mom didn't get healthcare and because she lived her life on the assumption that if she couldn't get it for free then she couldn't get it. And it wasn't her fault.
There is another way of life, a way of life different from the neo-tribal way of the welfare state dependent. That way of life is the way of the People of the Responsible Self.
On the way of the People of the Responsible Self, "it's not my fault" isn't an option. You construct your life so that, if your kid gets sick, you can afford a doctor. And if you can't you just load up the credit cards. Because money is money, bankruptcy is bankruptcy, but your kid is your kid. With money you can lose it and get it back. With bankruptcy you can go through a few years of hardship but get through it. But when your kid is dead there is no getting him back. He's gone.
The mistake too many people make is to believe the politicians and think of government as a ministering angel. It isn't. Government is all about power; government is force, and politics is division. The only thing the politician is interested in is getting elected and reelected. He'll promise you things, and set up programs and all the rest. But if your kid needs medical treatment and you don't have the money then you are living on a hope and a prayer. Maybe government will come through; maybe it won't. Why would you put all your eggs in one basket and live your life on the assumption that government will live up to its promises?
The reason for humans being social animals is that it improves the chance of survival. If you have a two-parent family it improves the chances of survival. If you have a job, it improves the chances of survival. If you have brothers and sisters and cousins and uncles and aunts it improves the chances of survival. If you join a church or a fraternal association it improves the chances of survival.
The problem with the welfare state is that it seduces people into believing that they can neglect all the social connections as long as they have their government benefits. When things go wrong, they can always say "it's not my fault."
That is what they call famous last words. Because the government safety net is not really a safety net at all. It is just an illusion, a promise from a politician. A real safety net is a mighty multi-stranded web. It includes a spouse, a job, an extended family, emergency savings, friendships, relationships, memberships. The more you have, the stronger and the safer is your safety net. The less you have, the more you are at risk.
In the end, the excuses are just excuses. Because when your kid is dead, your kid is dead.
IN our age we are taught from our cradle to honor altruism and fear selfishness. Of course, we are social animals and we survive by sticking together and helping each other. And our mothers start working on us at an early age: "don't be selfish, share your toys."
On the other hand, our Marxist friends like to conjure up a collectivist golden age when everyone got along and people worked ...
EVEN as the mechanical vice of Obamacare slowly clamps itself on the American people, so that they are forced into a one-size-fits-all plan for healthcare, mandated by a committee of lifer bureaucrats at the IPAB, you still see stuff like this.
Lobel critiques the dog-in-the-manger attitude of big institutions.
She identifies a “control mentality” in many companies that locks up employees and stifles creativity through the aggressive use of noncompete contracts and copyrights on inventions. She thinks bosses are too worried about “brain drain” to recognize the opportunities for “brain gain.”
Today in my AT piece "The People of the Lie" I make a joke about the internal contradictions between the managerial liberalism of the Progressive Era and the community-organizer liberalism of today's "progressives."
But there's another contradiction in our ruling class that is just as glaring. It is the contrast between the natural culture of the top 20% that lives by creative work and the rest of America. Liberals (and conservatives) want to have exciting and creative careers and understand that excitement means risk. But then the same liberals turn around and built mind-numbing one-size-fits-all government programs for health care and education and welfare. They run around practicing a politics that demonizes corporate chieftains for not providing complete satisfaction and life-time tenure to their employees.
Meanwhile, as Charles Murray has shown in "Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010," the top 20% is doing fine, with good marriages, satisfying careers and incomes and wealth, while the bottom 30% is getting absolutely hammered, with the women opting out of marriage and the men opting out of work.
And in case you didn't know, the children of single women with live-in boyfriend are anything from six times to thirty times more likely to suffer child abuse than the children of married biological parents living together.
In the middle, ordinary Americans just want to keep a decent job, hope to buy a home one day, pay their bills, and get through this Obama economy.
One of my favorite websites is Penelope Trunk. She combines career coaching with homeschooling and has just launched a company, Quistic, that provides online career coaching courses.
Absolutely fabulous, and no doubt a marker for where the world of the educated American is going. No limits, no borders, no guard rails. Just push out there for a creative, adventurous life.
Meanwhile ordinary people are getting hammered by the economy, by the lousy schools, by their health care premiums going into the stratosphere.
And young people! Why the twentysomethings aren't in the streets yet is a mystery to me. They have lousy schools, lousy job prospects, and they have been saddled with enormous student debt that operates like a permanent income tax on their income for the next 20 years.
Really, you expect this. The ruling class takes care of its own. If you are an educated person in America things are pretty good, and this is the era of the educated class.
But everyone else is just furniture to the educated class. They are bitter clingers to sneer at, or they are traditionally marginalized to rile up with identity politics. They are children to shuffle from school to school; they are welfare clients to shuffle from program to program.
That's why you get revolution. The ruling class warbles on its way, as unconcerned as a seagull, congratulating itself on the wonders it performs for the lower orders. And, like the landed magnates of old, it will tell you that its own local peasants are as happy as clams.
It's nothing but blue skies until all of a sudden a cloud forms on the horizon no bigger than a man's hand, and then pretty soon the whole nation is consumed in a perfect storm.
Because the peasants weren't happy; they just knew enough to keep their mouths shut. The lower orders aren't grateful for the wonders performed. All government is force, and force leads directly to injustice.
There's a piece in The New Republic by liberal guardian Franklin Foer. He's worrying, as many liberals are worrying, that government is losing its reputation for competence.
But really, all talk of government competence is myth-making. In reality, government screws everything up, because almost every government action amounts to an attempt to block and harass the normal operation of peaceful cooperation.
Sean Trende makes this point indirectly when he warns that Obamacare won't be the end of liberalism. It will just end the current Obama era with the Democrats dominant. Whenever a party has been counted out, it has always roared right back on the back on the current ruling party's staggering blunders.
That's the point. Government, all government, is nothing but a parade of blunders, and the stupidity of supposedly intelligent elites is a constant in history.
Liberals have had a good run for about a century since folks like President Wilson started boosting the notion of competent, rational government, and Franklin Foer is right to worry.
Conservatives, of course, have developed a comprehensive critique of competent government stretching over the last century. It's telling that in his article, Foer doesn't mention it: not a word, not a name, not a single idea.
First rule of war, Mr. Foer. Always know what your opponent is thinking.
Meanwhile, it's time for thoughtful people to think about how we can help the ordinary people suffering under the injustice of the authoritarian welfare state instead of just thinking about our own needs for talent to be free.
FIFTY years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald, an avowed Marxist who had traveled to the Soviet Union and had a curious relationship with the Castro regime in Cuba.
So it makes complete sense that for fifty years liberals have been blaming the assassination on right-wing hate in Dallas.
For seventy years, since the end of World War II, ...
ON the O'Reilly Factor, Dr. Charles Krauthammer tried to pour oil on the troubled waters of the Republican divide. All this is just a question of tactics, he said.
But conservative firebrand Jeffrey Lord begs to differ. Republican moderates, he argues, are willing to accede to the leftwards ratchet. Republican conservatives want to ratchet the government to the right. Moderate George W. ...
THE NFL "toughening up" scandal involving offensive lineman Richie Incognito and rookie Jonathan Maartin raises an interesting question.
What about toughening up? What about hazing? Is it a bad thing or a good thing?
After all, all military training involves some kind of "boot camp" in which recruits are deliberately given a "hard time". For what exactly? Is it to make recruits into ...
MUCH of the time it seems to conservatives that liberals and Democrats have everything figured out. They know how to rile up the base; they know how to frighten women with their "war on women" tactic. They all seem to get the same talking points and stick to them.
But then some liberal academic writes an article for CNN that demonstrates their utter cluelessness.
Take Prof. Julian Zelizer. ...
THE last century has seen a great ideological war about the foundation of the good society, and that war has really been about capitalism. Is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
In about the middle of the 19th century, capitalism became, for a growing sector of western society, a scandal, and that sector is identified with the name of Karl Marx.
It seemed to young Germans like Marx, in the decade...
OBVIOUSLY, with the rollout of Obamacare, liberals are in a tight spot. And we know why. It goes back to Hillarycare and the "Harry and Louise" TV commercials run by the insurance industry.
Harry and Louise liked their health insurance and they didn't think that a plan devised by a Hillarycare bureaucrat would be good for them.
That's why President Obama had to lie, again and again, and say ...
THE TROUBLES of Obamacare serves all those liberals right. But you can still feel for CNN’s kid now in medical school that voted with enthusiasm for Obama and now wonders what went wrong.
But if the kid still thinks that the Affordable Care Act is a “great... accomplishment” and that “partisan obstructionism has upended too many efforts to push our nation forward” then it is clear that his education has done nothing ...
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.
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 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
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.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
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
[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 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
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 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