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Liberals: Learning Nothing and Forgetting Nothing

by Christopher Chantrill
July 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm


A LIBERAL acquaintance couldn’t understand why conservatives are impatient with Obama. Didn’t conservatives get enough of a chance with 30 years of Reagan and Bush, he asked?

OK, it’s true that conservatives did get some tax-rate cuts. And we did win the cold war. And we did roll back one social program, welfare, a little, for a while.

But conservatives look on the Obama administration so far and say: Liberals are like the French Bourbons—the royal house of France, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, deposed in the French Revolution.

After the defeat of Napoleon the Bourbon kings were restored in 1814. Talleyrand was disappointed. They have learned nothing, and they have forgotten nothing, he said.

The whole point of the Reagan era was to demonstrate that government should keep its cotton-picking hands off the economy. Governments and their mega-projects, their subsidies, “backing winners,” “investments,” always end in tears, just like they did in the stagflation of the late 1970s.

But it’s pretty obvious that our Democratic friends have learned nothing from the lessons of the Reagan era, and have forgotten none of their old liberal delusions.

First we got a trillion dollar special-interest giveaway that was called a stimulus package. But unemployment keeps going up, now to 9.5 percent. Then the House of Representatives has passed a cap-and-trade energy bill that’s another special-interest giveaway. Next up is a trillion dollar health reform bill that proposes to lower costs while increasing the number of people covered.

Yet Democrats are honest enough to be ashamed of what they are doing. Why else would they pass their trillion dollar stimulus bill without serious hearings or even a copy of the bill available to read. The same is clearly true of the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House of Representatives, sight unseen, on June 26. As Stephen Spruiell & Kevin Williamson show on NRO Online, the Waxman-Markey bill is nothing more than subsidies, payoffs, corporate welfare and goodies for liberal activists. No wonder it had to be rushed through in the dead of night. It couldn’t stand the light of day.

In the Waxman-Markey bill the grand principle of limiting carbon emissions through auctioned and marketable emission permits gets thrown under the bus in a crude special-interest feeding frenzy. What happened to saving the planet?

And buried in the bill are economic howlers that will freeze up the economy in the years ahead, write Spruill and Williamson:

Naturally, Big Labor gets its piece of the pie, too. Projects receiving grants and financing under Waxman-Markey provisions will be required to implement Davis-Bacon union-wage rules, making it hard for non-union firms to compete — and... Waxman-Markey forces union-wage rules all the way down to the plumbing-repair and light-bulb-changing level.

That will really help to revive the economy.

But President Obama’s budget director had the best argument against the bill, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial:

In March, White House budget director Peter Orszag told Congress that "If you didn’t auction the permit, it would represent the largest corporate welfare program that has ever been enacted in the history of the United States."

The reason that the Democrats threw their grand cap-and-trade principle under the bus is that they didn’t dare try an honest campaign to persuade the American people to back their Big Idea, that we should pay more for energy to prevent global warming.

When President Bush wanted to reform Social Security in 2005 he took his case to the American people. He failed to persuade them, and so he didn’t get his reform. Democrats and President Obama don’t have the guts for that sort of thing.

If only the Democrats were as queasy about the gigantic deficits they are forecasting. If only they were nervous about the rigidities they are introducing into the economy with their plans for forced-march government health care and green-energy subsidies.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the combination of wasteful special-interest spending in the stimulus package, wasteful special-interest spending in the Waxman-Markey bill place a severe cost upon the US economy. Then there is the black hole of possibilities in any government takeover of the health care industry.

In Britain, a month ago, a Conservative Party spokesman admitted that public spending cuts would be needed. Prime Minister Brown thought that allowed him to make political points, one more time, on Labour “investment” versus Tory “cuts.” But then came the news that senior civil servants were drawing up contingency plans for 20 percent cuts in spending, starting after the election next year, in case the Chinese balk at buying British government bonds.

So far, the Obamanites have not realized that there might be a limit to borrowing, spending and subsidy.

That’s because they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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“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

Civil Society

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Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


“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

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


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James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy

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

China and Christianity

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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

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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