|Responsible Self||The Liberal Bubble of Self-Deceit|
by Christopher Chantrill
February 05, 2013 at 6:48 pm
LAST WEEK JONAH Goldberg wondered why Republicans are doing so well at the local and state level, but striking out at the federal level of politics. His answer to the question is simple: state and local government is about nuts and bolts; the federal government is all about religion.
Our presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, talk about their “visions ” for America, as if being a president requires you to impose some quasi-religious vision on the country.
But the Democrats are simply better at talking about government in spiritual terms. Indeed, such testifying is Obama’s one indisputable gift. They talk about the federal government doing things we’d want God to do if God dabbled in public policy.
Here is reason good enough for what President Jefferson called for a “wall of separation” between church and state, to keep the vision thing a safe distance away from government and its enforcement officers. Because, as I like to say, government is force, and it is always a good idea to keep that in mind as soon as someone starts talking about “the children” or “inequality.”
Yes, inequality: that’s how liberals are justifying their expansion of government these days. That’s what President Obama was talking about in his Osawatomie speech in December 2011, and that’s what Alan Krueger, CEA chairman, was talking about a month later in his “Great Gatsby Curve” speech on inequality.
We’ve all heard plenty from our liberal friends on the subject of inequality, so we know that the New York Times and NPR must devote a lot of bandwidth to the subject. What exactly does Krueger, academic, labor economist, and Obama administration deep thinker, think is the problem? Here is how he presented the inequality problem in his speech.
Here is Krueger’s judgment on the cause of this increase in inequality, based on his own poll of economists, in declining order of importance.
So the obvious thing to do is implement Obamacare, keep the economic recovery going, curb “excessive risk-taking” in the financial sector, and pass the Buffet Rule.
Do you see what is missing in all this? It is so obvious that it is comical. Krueger and his polled economists say absolutely nothing about the possible effects of the administrative welfare state on inequality. Ya think?
When blogging about this last week I rolled off the following possible causes of recent inequality without even thinking: Government entitlements. The collapse of the lower-income family. The retreat of lower-income men from work and marriage. The penal marginal tax rates on the working poor as they increase work effort. The credentialization of the workplace. The meddling of government in the credit system. Immigration. “Off the books” work. How come Krueger and his tame economists didn’t mention any of that?
I think their mistake indicates a blind spot for our educated ruling class. People like Alan Krueger and the nation’s economists are modern Puritans. They think that everyone is like them and regards work, or rather career, as a “calling.” We modern Puritans have even persuaded high-class women to abandon their pre-modern roles as lovers and carers and drudges to become corporate career girls breaking through glass ceilings.
But could it be that a significant minority of Americans, perhaps the bottom 47 percent, aren’t really into the neo-Puritan thing? Perhaps they would rather enjoy the free stuff rather than increase their work effort.
Over at usgovernmentspending.com we have a page on entitlement spending. Did you know that entitlement spending doubled from 5 percent of GDP to 10 percent of GDP in the decade 1965 to 1975 just before inequality went all wrong?
But all of this is beside the point. Reality doesn’t matter. What matters is finding a justification for more government force.
Right now, the liberals are all agreed that “inequality” requires more government. In ten years, they will come up with something else.
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
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
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State