dCan Conservatives Show That We Care - Road to the Middle Class - by Christopher Chantrill
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Not With My Kid You Don't The End of Socialized Medicine?

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Can Conservatives Show That "We Care?"

by Christopher Chantrill
October 24, 2007 at 4:06 pm

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LAST WEEK President Bush successfully stopped the expansion of S-CHIP into the liberal slacker classes.

After last week the creative children of well-to-do parents who would rather buy fancy cars than pay for health insurance will have to pause for a moment.

For this important ethical and moral victory the president should be celebrated forever as one of our greatest presidents.

Meanwhile the Democrats showed once again that they “cared about the children.”

Never mind that it’s all just a huge bluff.

Government is there to protect us from enemies foreign and domestic. It doesn’t do that job very well, but it’s better than the alternative.

Everything else is fluff., and very expensive fluff at that. The newly legislated fluff always looks wonderful. But after a while it always turns into rotting bureaucratic sludge.

Fluff? Health care and education are fluff? Let’s take a look at the great heads of government spending for FY 2008 on usgovernmentspending.com. The numbers are all budgeted and estimated.

United States Federal, State, and Local Government Spending
Fiscal Year 2008
Amounts in billions of dollars
Pensions: $910.0
Health Care: $916.5
Education: $836.7
Defense: $692.0
Welfare: $436.4

We are talking about all levels of government, of course.

Here’s the dirty little secret that explains why it’s mostly fluff. All that money we spend on health care and education—we don’t know if it is doing any good.

You start to get the picture from Rising Life Expectancy by James C. Riley. There are six areas for reducing mortality: “public health, medicine, wealth and income, nutrition, behavior, and education,” he writes. But researchers find it very difficult to separate out the significance of each area. One thing is certain; the importance of medicine has been greatly over-hyped. Needless to say, more research is needed.

Robin Hanson of CATO confirms Riley’s finding. He writes that we don’t have a clue about the effectiveness of health care. Although health experts know this they are nervous about telling us. Anyway we just don’t believe them.

Non-health-policy experts are probably shocked to hear my claims. Most students in my eight years of teaching health economics have simply not believed me, even after a semester of reviewing the evidence.

Here’s an example of what Hanson is talking about. RAND health insurance study in 1978-82 assigned two thousand families to various health insurance plans from free to full price. The result was inconclusive; the health of some poor families even got worse after they got free health insurance.

What is going on?

The key to understanding “health-care,” Hanson suggests, comes after the hyphen. It is all about care, not health.

[H]umans long ago evolved a tendency to use medicine to ‘show that we care,’ rather than just to get healthy.

That was the point that the Democrats were trying to make over the S-CHIP expansion. It wasn’t the money. They just wanted to show that they cared.

This is the brilliant idea that supports the welfare state. The welfare state doesn’t actually do anything; it just shows that we care.

Look at the top three heads of government spending above. If the government didn’t have its pension programs then people would just knuckle down and save some more. Families that couldn’t save enough would coalesce into multigenerational compounds.

If the government didn’t have its health programs then people would be a lot more careful about their health and their medical spending, and the overall life-expectancy in the United States probably wouldn’t change.

If the government didn’t have its education programs then people would spend their own money on education. Most parents can probably afford the three-to-four years of the schooling it takes to achieve basic literacy and numeracy. They would quickly that most children shouldn’t go to high school. Instead they should get jobs!

But how would we show that “we care?”

Arthur Brooks has shown in Who Really Cares that government charity approximately displaces private charity one-for-one. It costs more, of course, because with government charity you have to pay for all the bureaucracy and the inefficiency, not to mention the gigantic information technology systems to keep track of all those health-and-welfare programs.

Here’s an idea for young up-and-coming conservative thinkers. The current welfare state is unjust to women. It crowds out and marginalizes their natural charitable instincts and prevents them from being all they can be and demonstrating that “we care.”

In the welfare state only politicians and activists get to show that they care.

Think about it. The glorious feminist revolution has pitched women out of their local face-to-face neighborhood communities. It has converted them from caring friends and neighbors into “helping professionals.” In the old days they used to converse and network to help each other and show that they cared. Now they are stuck in gigantic social-service bureaucracies where their natural caring instincts and emotions are rigidly controlled by a huge rule-book.

How can anyone endure for a moment longer this monstrously unjust and unnatural system?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

[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.


Taking Responsibility

[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 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


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[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


Liberal Coercion

[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


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

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


US Life in 1842

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


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


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”


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