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Disdain for Palin Jobs and Revolution

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"The Backs of our Mosts Vulnerable Citizens"

by Christopher Chantrill
February 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm


WHAT DO you reply when your liberal friend says: “No one should have to go without health care!” My reply, the other day, was the standard conservative line that “nobody in the US goes without health care.” Afterwards, I realized how unsatisfactory that reply is; it has the flavor of meanness, and we don’t want that. After all, conservatives are more generous than liberals; we give to the vulnerable rather than make money or get power off them.

The assumption lurking behind slogans like “No one should have to go without health care” is the same as President Obama’s SOTU warning: “let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens" and President Bush’s No Child Left Behind. It is the idea that taxes and government spending are the highest and best answer to all social problems.

Let us be clear what “they” are saying when they insist that “we” should fight hunger or house the homeless. They are saying that only force will solve the problem. Government is force; politics is power. Taxes are force; spending is force. There’s no mystery about this. Modern electoral politicians elevate the use of political force the way that the landed aristocrats worshiped the warrior virtues. Their trade is war: civil war, class war, national war. That is why politics is drenched in military metaphor and what we delicately call “eliminationist rhetoric.”

But conservatives believe in freedom and in peaceful cooperation. We believe, with Berger and Neuhaus, in the “mediating structures:” families, churches, unions, and associations as the web of civilization between individual and government. We believe, with Michael Novak, in a threefold understanding of society: a political sector, the realm of force; the economic sector, the realm of work; and the moral/cultural sector, the realm of meaning. We believe, with British Prime Minister David Cameron that “there is such a thing as society; it’s just not the same thing as the state.” We believe in limited government, a separation between economy and state to match the separation of church and state.

No one should have to go without health care!” Good point. How do you propose to achieve that? Taxes? A government program? You mean, like the brilliantly successful Medicaid program? Or the Medicare program that is going to break the bank of the United States? You think that the only way we can help the poor get health care is by force?

Conservatives have a better idea. We think that force is a regrettable necessity when it comes to dealing with Commies, terrorists, and psycho killers. When it comes to ordinary hard-working Americans—even hugely successful Americans that have made insane amounts of money through innovative businesses—we think that force is not so good. In fact, we think that the record of force is pretty lousy.

Today in America, we have about a trillion dollars worth of force a year associated with government pensions. Usgovernmentspending.com has the breakdown. Yet Social Security is broke and so are many government employee retirement systems. Force doesn’t seem to work so good when it comes to pensions. Today in America we have about a trillion dollars of force a year associated with government health care. Yet Medicare is $30 trillion in the hole and Medicaid is a disgrace. Force doesn’t seem to work so good when it comes to health care. Today in America we spend about $0.9 trillion a year on government education, yet children are being left behind all over, most particularly in the inner cities where the schools are an expensive disgrace. Force doesn’t seem to work so good when it comes to education.

Like President Clinton before him, President Obama is now standing like Horatio at the bridge daring Republicans to reduce the amount of force in society. That’s what “the backs of our most vulnerable citizens” was all about. Other Democrats will be less polite. They will rail about Republicans balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. They are telling us that they aren’t ready yet to give up on their program of force.

The day will come, probably around the time the government has sunk to the state of a Greece or a Spain, when a liberal on MSNBC will demand to know from conservatives what they would do. By then, of course, it will be a bit late for the backs of the vulnerable citizens, not to mention government bondholders and crony capitalists.

Conservatives believe in an America that is cooperative, peaceful, and egalitarian, just like Howard Zinn. But we think it can be done without all the liberal bullying. In other words, without the force.

The sooner we start, the less the poor will suffer.

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


“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


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


“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


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


[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


“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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