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What Did Senator-elect Jim Webb Mean? God Rest Ye Merry Bureaucrats

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A March Through the Mind of America

by Christopher Chantrill
December 11, 2006 at 11:33 am

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THE FAILURE of the Republican Congress to reform education and Social Security shows that you cannot enact reform just because you have a majority in Congress. The voters saw that and properly decided that a can’t-do Congress needed to be retired.

We should learn from our current political elite, the progressive liberals. Their battle to secure decency and justice for working people and former slaves was not just a matter of winning elections and majorities in Congress. Their power issued from the moral case that they made to the great American middle class, a decent people with compassion for the less fortunate and the oppressed.

Today, we live in a new age of injustice. Yet today’s average liberal seems unconcerned about a government school system that delivers a mere 15 percent of adults as “proficient” in literacy and numeracy and utterly fails to educate the children of poor people. The average liberal seems unconcerned that the welfare state has wrecked the authentic culture of the working class and the African-American family. The average liberal seems unconcerned that Social Security and Medicare will impose swingeing taxes on the next generation of working people.

These injustices may be obvious to conservatives. But they are not yet the common currency circulating among the American people. That is why Republicans failed to reform education with the No Child Left Behind Act and Social Security with the president’s individual account plan.

Face it: Our modern liberals have compassion only for liberals and liberal political dependents. They lack the common decency of the great American middle class, so open to moral persuasion.

This means that the challenges facing our conservative insurgency will be greater than those facing the progressive insurgency of a century ago. Conservatives must not just make the moral case to win the hearts and minds of the American people; they must fight the liberal princes of privilege.

Ultimately, conservatives have to convince the American people that, far from being the beneficiaries of compassionate liberals who gave them worker rights, Social Security, civil rights, women’s rights, and so on, they are in fact the dupes of the liberal princes of privilege, taught to be grateful for scraps left over from the table of unjust and unaccountable liberal power.

The time to make a start is now, and Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity is doing just that. Why would the White House sign on for a rumored Social Security compromise with Democrats that increases taxes and cuts benefits on the wealthy, he argues, if it doesn’t include a provision for individual accounts? Such measures, he writes,

are entirely about what’s best for government: They are about finding a way to make the books balance on paper so that the feds can keep spending our Social Security dollars on unrelated, wasteful programs.

Then he gets down to the basic injustice of the Social Security program.

Because I’m young, single, and male, Social Security promises me a 1.5 percent real rate of return. And that’s what it promises. What it can afford to pay is more like half a percent, which is more like passbook interest than an investment return.

Think about it. The US government diverts the retirement savings of American working people into vote buying programs and pays back the principal almost without interest. But it fully repays principal and market rates of interest to the foreign governments that invest in its notes and bonds. How do you spell INJUSTICE?

Who would have thought that the Democratic Party, the party of the little people, would one day be perfectly at ease with a government pension plan that stiffed ordinary working people in favor of rich foreign governments? But that is what power does to politicians and political movements. They end up more concerned about balancing the budget of a bloated government than in balancing the budgets of the American people.

We will not reform Social Security until it becomes shameful for a politician to defend the current unjust system. We will know when we get there. TV news anchors will unconsciously refer to “controversial Democratic opposition to the president’s plan to give every American an individual Social Security account” instead of “the president’s controversial plan to privatize Social Security.” They will frown at the “threat of a filibuster to the president’s pro-choice plan that puts teeth into every parent’s right to send their child to the school of their choice” instead of worrying about “the president’s plan to direct federal funds away from the public school system to private and sectarian religious schools.”

It will take an ideological insurgency to change the hearts and minds of the American people and, finally, the stony hearts of the mainstream media.

With Republicans just turned out of power, there will never be a better time to start constructing a new conservative narrative that will liberate the nation from liberal oppression. But it is not going to be easy. It is not going to be quick.

It will not be like the liberal “march through the institutions” of the last generation. It will have to be more than that. What is needed is a “march through the mind of America.”

The time to start is now.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they 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


Mutual Aid

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


Education

“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


Living Under Law

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


German Philosophy

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 inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

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


Chappies

“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.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

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


Action

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


Churches

[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


Conversion

“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


Living Law

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


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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