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8/28 vs. 10/2: Dueling Faith Traditions Why We Fight

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Paychecks vs. Food Stamps

by Christopher Chantrill
October 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm

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THE MARK of a good politician is an instinct for the dividing line. We are talking about the line drawn in the sand that gets you to 51 percent of the vote and leaves your opponent with the rest.

Say what you like about Newt Gingrich, but his new dividing line over paychecks vs. food stamps sounds like a winner. After all, who can prefer food stamps to pay checks? Apparently Nancy Pelosi can. She bit hard on Newt’s dangling fish lure:

"It is the biggest bang for the buck when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance — the biggest bang for the buck," she added.

Now who’s the Stupid Party?

It’s not just Newt. Conservative politicians all over the world are showing signs of brain activity. There’s the conservative tax-cuttin’ Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt . He had the nerve to tell Swedes that his party was on the side of the average working stiff. According to Fraser Nelson:

When elected four years ago, leading a four-party coalition, Reinfeldt had a striking slogan. ’We are the new workers’ party,’ he said, meaning he would cut taxes for those in employment, but not for those on benefits.

Right now, Sweden just happens to have the strongest GDP growth in Europe. Could that be because Reihardt’s party pushes paychecks over welfare benefits?

Long before Bill Clinton ran on “It’s the economy, stupid,” your average elected politician ran on “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” Even Slow Joe Biden gets that, although he gets confused about the spelling. But President Obama spent the summer boasting at fundraisers about the “most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.” Progressive legislation is a liberal euphemism for welfare.

The American people right now are interested in jobs, jobs, jobs, not welfare, so Newt Gingrich has grabbed the opportunity to set up a dividing line between jobs and welfare, painting a picture in bold colors to contrast the Republican Jobs Party with the Democratic Welfare Party. Let’s help Newt with a few bold brush strokes on welfare.

Let’s hear first from Lloyd Marcus on why he’s a black Tea Party patriot:

A urine smell permeated the stairwell. In the darkness due to smashed light bulbs, the sound of broken wine bottles underfoot echoed off the concrete walls. I was nine years old. With the elevators out of service half the time due to vandalism, I was forced many times to take the scary trek into the shadow of death up the stairwell to our sixth-floor apartment in the projects of east Baltimore.

Fortunately Lloyd’s dad got a fire-department job and moved his family out to the black suburbs. Today Lloyd Marcus is a Tea Partier, unlike his cousins left behind in the projects.

Here’s more, from a report in the British Spectator on Britain’s worst welfare ghetto. It’s a neighborhood in Rochdale in the north of England where 84 percent of the people are on benefits. The Spectator’s reporter talked to the local bailiff (i.e., repo man) at a local “estate” or public housing project.

Most residents do not leave. According to the bailiff, they have instead developed their own parallel economy. “The ambition is there but it’s not to get a job or move out, it’s to get benefits. And there is a definite career path. You or I would aim to get a better job. They aim to get a better benefit.”

The most desirable benefit is “incapacity benefit” or disability pension. Once you get it, you get it for keeps.

Another good place to go for stories about welfare in Britain is “Inspector Gadget’s” Police Inspector blog. Here he is talking about his home town, “a concrete wasteland too terrible to describe.”

The urban decay, the rot, the complete absence of any hope at all, really set in when the railway freight business deserted the town 50 years ago. I once saw a bloke in custody, who was in my year at Ruraltown Comp [high school]. The Sergeant asked him if he could read and write before offering him the custody record to sign. He said he couldn’t. I interjected. ‘I was at school with you buddy, you can read and write for God’s sake’ he said ‘I used to be able to but I forgot how’. He hadn’t had to read or write anything for 20 years, so he simply forgot how.

There’s a piece this week by James DeLong in The American speculating what comes next after 70 years of the liberal “Special Interest State.” Here’s my prediction. We will see a movement of moral revulsion against the cruel, corrupt, and unjust world of liberal welfare programs.

It’s a question of paychecks or food stamps. Which do you think gives America “the biggest bang for the buck?”

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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