|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.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[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 way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[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
[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
[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.
[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
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
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
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
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
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America