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Who Is The Smartest of Them All? Take Me To Your Leader

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Obama and the Liberal Freeloader Culture

by Christopher Chantrill
March 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm

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MANY CONSERVATIVES experience President Obama’s budget as a radical lurch to the left. Obviously, they conclude, President Obama is a radical lefty.

Unfortunately it’s worse than that. President Obama is not leading from the left of his party. He is leading from the center.

Scratch a liberal and you will find someone who believes in universal health care run by the government. But President Obama’s budget doesn’t do that, not yet. It just sets a clear course towards that long-term liberal goal.

Scratch a liberal and you will find someone who believes in universal education from “early-childhood education” to graduate school. She will nod approvingly when her European guest relates how she got a government stipend while doing post-doc work at a university in the United States. President Obama’s budget doesn’t do all that. Not yet.

And we all know that liberals are getting ready to believe that global-warming skeptics are ethically close to being Holocaust deniers.

If you are a moderate—and that usually means you are not that engaged in politics—why would you argue with a president who wants to improve access to health care, expand educational opportunities, and do something about climate change? Don’t we all want health care, education, and a habitable planet?

Of course we do. But isn’t there a better way than turning the United States into a nation of freeloaders ever searching for a “free” government program to meet its needs?

Liberals have made freeloading into a way of life—even for the well to do. There’s the well-to-do woman who cadges free meds from a physician relative. There’s the well-to-do woman who’s signed up for her state’s basic health plan. There’s 2007’s S-CHIP poster child whose parents can afford late-model cars and private school tuition but not health insurance.

The great problem of human society is the problem of the freeloader. How do you get people to pull their weight instead of take advantage? Religion, it turns out, is mankind’s best answer to the problem. If you don’t have religion then you have to pursue freeloaders with force, as the liberal welfare state is finding out.

You can see the conservative problem in this battle of ideas. Conservatives say that people should pay for their own health care; that’s the only way to get costs down. It’s the only way to find out what people really value when it comes to protecting their health. But liberals say that health care is a right. Conservatives approve of parents that remove their children from the public schools to teach them at home; they think that’s the difference between a 13 year-old philosopher like Jonathan Krohn and a whiny adolescent in thrall to his whiny adolescent peers. Liberals say that homeschooled children aren’t properly socialized.

Moderates go along to get along. Why should they push against the stream? It’s just too hard.

“There never was an age of conformity quite like this one,” wrote William F. Buckley, Jr., half a century ago, and sometimes it seems like conservatives are the only ones around that won’t conform to the liberal line. Conservatives advance the idea that there ought to be a wall of separation between government and society. They talk about “little platoons” and empowering people in voluntary mediating institutions between government and the individual. They talk about the movement “from status to contract.”

Back in the nineteenth century this was all new and unprecedented. But it got such a head of steam that liberals took fright and spent the next century putting the lid back on. Health care shouldn’t be arranged in friendly societies and mutual-aid associations, they said; much better let liberals run it from the government. Education shouldn’t be done by amateurs; much better let liberals run it from the government. And they’ve never liked Americans driving around using energy without permission.

Our liberal friends tell the world that conservatism is a reactionary movement. It is not. It is a movement of gentle reform that is trying create a new world of ordered freedom that escapes from the rigid status society once run by a warrior aristocracy and and now dominated by a liberal oligarchy.

Today the liberal oligarchy is in the ascendant. Perhaps it will succeed in ratcheting up the level of compulsion in health care and in education.

But let us hope for better things. Let us hope that the American people will revolt against the further expansion of the liberal freeloader culture.

But our fellow Americans won’t have a chance without a broad conservative movement willing to risk life, fortune, and sacred honor in the cause to persuade them with the truth.

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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