|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.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society
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
Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since
1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and
philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West
Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its
characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then,
once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities
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
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
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
[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
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
The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital