|What Would Sherman Say?||Unaccountable America|
by Christopher Chantrill
April 02, 2011 at 6:59 pm
THESE DAYS we do not judge people on the basis of good and evil. Instead of saying that something is evil, we say it is unhealthy. If someone is a drunk, we say he has an alcohol addiction. In the old days you purged the evil in your heart with confession and repentance. Modern addiction you treat with drugs and experts.
Take Elizabeth Warren and the remarkable new federal bureaucracy, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of which she is the head.
In this brand new agency we can see a great national problem that everyone ignores, pretending it isnt there.
It is the liberal addiction to bureaucracy.
Why do liberals think that, after the failure of all their government programs in dysfunctional bureaucracy, this time is different? Perhaps it is time for them to break through their denial with a visit to the Addiction-Recovery section at their local independent bookstore.
Ms. Warrens Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, is a curious animal. It is not part of a regular executive department, but part of the Federal Reserve System. It is funded not from normal appropriations, but from the Feds profits. But it is not accountable to the Fed. It is accountable instead to the Financial Stability Council, which can overrule the bureaus rules only with a two-thirds supermajority vote. Right now according to the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Warren and her bureau are working on a bureaucratic plan to punish banks and reward voters with mortgage principal writedowns, as if that will help turn around the continuing housing meltdown. As conservatives know, but liberals are reluctant to admit, the meltdown was caused at least in part by the bureaucratic Community Reinvestment Act and the bureaucratic holdover from the Great Depression once called FNMA, and now Fannie and Freddie.
Did I mention that Elizabeth Warren hasnt been confirmed by the Senate and that the whole Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was her idea conjured up from a law-review article written back in 2003, The Growing Threat to Middle Class Families.
So that makes Ms. Warren similar to Samantha Power, the architect of the Libyan humanitarian intervention. Power published in 2003 a book on genocide, A Problem from Hell, caught the attention of Barack Obama, and now gets to use the entire United States military as her experimental laboratory.
Some people are discouraged by the way that bureaucracy is going rogue in the Obama administration, with unaccountable czars operating out of the White House protected from Congressional oversight, and the Warrens and Powers with their roving commissions to dodge around the defense in depth of the constitutions separation of powers
But I think these clumsy attempts to hide their stash of bureaucratic booze indicate that we are approaching the crisis of liberal bureaucratic government.
Back in the good old days, liberals were proud of professional administration by experts. They boldly erected mainline cabinet departments to administer their comprehensive and mandatory reforms, and the names of their programs were on every tongue. But now, reduced to cunning and subterfuge by their failures, they stoop to bending the rules and gaming the system. Thats why they gamed ObamaCare to pretend it would save money and that people could keep their current health insurance. Thats why they have to hide Elizabeth Warrens brainwave away in the Federal Reserve System, and Obamas war on Libya is a humanitarian intervention.
The joke is that the liberals that erect these rigid, inflexible government programs are the same liberals that insist that the universe runs on evolution and adaptation, and that the planet is a fragile thing that should be protected from ruthless corporate exploitation by man and machine. The most exquisite analysis should be done before setting down a clunking great electrical transmission line for fear that it might damage the habitat of some minor rodent.
But when it comes to turning the financial system or the health care system upside down with untried ideas from some academic crank and profoundly affecting the lives of millions of people, its pedal to the metal and damn the consequences. Lets pass the bill so we can see what is in it.
All in all, the liberal dynasty has had a good run, as political dynasties go. It set up its power base in the Progressive Era with its civil service reforms, its Federal Reserve Act, its income tax, and its popularly elected US Senate. Its had a century of power in which it has taken government spending from seven percent of GDP to the present 40 percent.
The pity of it is that political dynasties never go quietly. Before they leave, they usually trash the place, and cause great suffering among ordinary people. Because people that seek political power dont care about people, whatever they say. They care about power. They are addicted to it.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[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.
[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
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[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
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
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
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
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
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel