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  An American Manifesto
Wednesday November 26, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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Responsible Self The Liberal Bubble of Self-Deceit

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Why Liberals Hate Inequality

by Christopher Chantrill
February 05, 2013 at 11:48 am

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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.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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 TAGS


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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©2012 Christopher Chantrill