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Power or Principle? 8/28 vs. 10/2: Dueling Faith Traditions

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About That River in Egypt

by Christopher Chantrill
October 03, 2010 at 9:54 pm


OUR LIBERAL friends are wondering where it all went wrong. Their generals, the elected politicians, are all running for election either by ignoring ObamaCare or by running against it. But the word hasn’t gotten down to the mustachioed, well, bearded officers in the Liberal Hussars. They are still haranguing the troopers with “Time to Sound the Progressive Trumpet” or “Liberals Must Go To War for Health Law.” Well, the cavalry never was known for its intellectual horsepower.

But some liberals are prepared to nibble at the reason for the debacle. Take Josh Green of The Atlantic. He notes that in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, recruited a bunch of candidates that grew the Democrats from 44 to 60 in the Senate. As Green reports:

He attributes his success to an insight about the nature of the American middle class — namely, that it is wealthier, and wants different things from government than most of his colleagues realized...

Schumer believed that the true middle class comprises people in the prime working years of 25 to 60, whose median household income is around $68,000. He urged his candidates to tout aspirational policies that would appeal to them.

Then in came President Obama and his Chicago crew. They have passed stimulus, health care and financial reform, but the middle class thinks that the beneficiaries of these policies “have been the very same institutions that caused the crisis.” Green is not prepared to come out and admit that Obama utterly betrayed the aspirational voters that created their legislating majority. The White House, he writes, thinks its policies will all work out, long term.

But the real frustration for the White House is that each of these policies does benefit the middle class, but the benefits tend to take the form of increased security or cost savings difficult for most people to quantify. Over time, health insurance will be more comprehensive, secure, and affordable; Wall Street meltdowns won’t occur as often, and when they do occur they’ll cost taxpayers less.

It’s hard for conservatives to credit this, but these chaps must actually believe that their big government plans will work, despite their record of failure. ObamaCare is going to lower health care costs? Do Democrats really believe their own propaganda? Yes, they do.

Of course, we conservatives have an advantage in the “reality-based community” stakes. We just believe that modern economics tells it like it is. In a world of scarce resources, nothing is free. You can pay for them with prices, or you can pay for them with government force, colorfully known in health care as “death panels.” When you tax something, we believe, you get less of it. When you subsidize something, you get more of it. And no 2,000 page bill full of administrative panels and regulating authorities can change that.

We think that the way to keep aspirational voters is to present them with a government program that will reward aspirational people, people like them that want to work and feel the pride that comes with providing for their families through honest toil. We just don’t believe that ObamaCare, which will crush Americans into a 100 percent government-administered health care system, will ever appeal to aspirational voters.

It’s a curious coincidence that the banks of that well-known river in Egypt are teeming with pyramids, temples, and mortuaries. When you think about it, these ruins are nothing more than the detritus from two thousand years of stimulus projects. It’s not known how Egyptians reacted to the economic privations or government defaults followed the construction of these job-saving and job-creating wonders.

But we know the economic impact of another temple complex. It’s a big one in Asia. It is said that the economy in China suffered a serious reverse after the huge temple complex near Xi’an was completed for the founder of the Qin dynasty, Qin Shi Huangdi. This complex came complete with pyramid and a virtual city and is almost unexcavated apart from its celebrated parade of terra-cotta soldiers. It’s likely that the fall of the Qin dynasty was helped along by economic troubles arising out of the Qin temple stimulus program.

For those of you wondering about the economic troubles of the current liberal dynasty, this might help. Arnuad Mares writes that government default doesn’t mean actual repudiation of government debt or hyperinflation. It just means that government will break its promises.

In other words, some or all of its stakeholders must suffer a loss; either taxpayers (through a higher tax burden), or beneficiaries of public services (through lower public expenditure), or bond holders (through some sort of default).

Whatever they tell aspirational voters, liberals ultimately believe in big government, and big government leads to government default.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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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

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

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

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

Socialism equals Animism

Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values

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.

Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit

Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


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

Physics, Religion, and Psychology

Paul Dirac: “When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion. However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.”
John Farrell, “The Creation Myth”


Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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