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The Liberal Addiction to Bureaucracy The End of Medicare As We Know It

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Unaccountable America

by Christopher Chantrill
April 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm


I’M often shocked by the children of liberal acquaintances. One has has a daughter with depression. Another has an ADHD son. Yet another has a bipolar son. All in their twenties.

Of course this is the season of the man-child, as in Kay S. Hymowitz’s Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys. The Girl Project has raised up a generation of girls to be anything but wife and mother. But the Girl Project’s unintended consequence has been to raise up boys to be slackers: inattentive and angry. Now we talk about “preadulthood.” It’s the new extended transition between childhood and adulthood.

A century ago, experts discovered “adolescence.” that was the new transition period for teenagers. Used to be, in the 19th century, that kids went directly from school to work, childhood to adulthood, in their early teens. But with the invention of the high school, a lot of children hung around in school all day and became adolescents. The ones that got into trouble were called delinquents.

In reality, this is nothing new at all. Anyone that has cracked a 19th century novel knows that the rich kid characters displayed all the characteristics of adolescents and pre-adults. In those days they were considered to be merely the spoiled children of the idle rich.

You can see that, whatever the reality, the social science jargon is convenient for today’s idle rich, or rather, today’s affluent parents with troublesome children. When you medicalize your kid’s problem then it removes the worry and the stigma of disappointment and accountability. And for the kid in question, my friend Stephen reminds me, there is also a payoff, the excuse: I’m bipolar, so I’m not responsible.

Suppose all this is not the glorious achievement of an age of feminist and medical miracles, but the age-old result of the rich shirking their responsibilities and paying for nurses, servants, governesses, and teachers to raise their children?

The unaccountable culture extends beyond the family into government. A friend told me recently about a problem at her daughter’s high school. A young math teacher with a problem had approached her, as head of the PTA. Washington State now requires kids to pass Algebra for high school graduation but many kids can’t handle Algebra. Couldn’t she help push for pre-Algebra classes to help those kids? What’s the point, said the school principal. We tried that some years ago, but it didn’t work.

Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to let those kids fail. They probably never would have amounted to much, not without more funding.

It’s a good thing that nobody lets BP get away with talk like that. Imagine BP saying: I guess that people in the Gulf of Mexico will just have to deal with all that oil; It’s just not practical to make those well preventers 100 percent effective. They tried to fix them years ago, but it never worked out. Or Wal-Mart, defendant in a gender discrimination suit now up before the US Supreme Court. Gee, we’d like to promote all those women checkers. But what are you going to do when women keep taking off to have children.

We know there are Two Americas. The are the Makers and then there are the Takers as Peter Schweizer puts it in Makers and Takers: Why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less... and even hug their children more than liberals. But that is just at the individual level. So what if conservatives are happy and generous workers and liberals are whiners?

There is Accountable America and then there is Unaccountable America. In Accountable America liberal lawyers sue Wal-Mart for discrimination against women employees based upon statistical patterns of promotions. In Unaccountable America, 50 percent of college kids need remedial instruction while high school teachers demonstrate over their collective bargaining rights. In Accountable America President Obama tells BP to post $20 billion on account to pay for oil spill damage and BP says what’s the account number. In Unaccountable America Sen Chuck Schumer calls a spending cut of $0.06 trillion in a $3.8 trillion budget “extreme.”

Not everyone is going with the flow on this. Robert Epstein has written The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen. He has a simple idea. He say we should give young people adult authority as soon as they demonstrate readiness.

The German General von Seekt had a similar idea for the young soldiers in the German army. He wanted young soldiers that were “self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility.” It worked so well that now the US Army trains its soldiers the same way.

Obviously the dog-in-a-manger government workers and certified victims of Unaccountable America represent the opposite pole and they are welcome to it.

But what is it in the hearts of Unaccountable Americans that allows them to make so many excuses for themselves, and aim their sights so low?

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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