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Liberals Forced to Bare Their Teeth Culture Wars: Conservative Freedom vs. Liberal Liberation

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A Budget Rear-view Mirror

by Christopher Chantrill
February 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm


OW THAT OBAMA’S last budget--we hope--is out, a mere week after the statutory deadline, the nation’s budget experts are out in judgment. But few of them look in the rear-view mirror. How did the federal government’s budget estimates compare with actual outcomes?

Here in southern India the usgovernmentspending.com team is resting at an eco-resort high up in the Western Ghats after the hectic process of updating the site in the lobby of an eco-hotel in Pondicherry with data from the new federal budget. It’s one the the miracles of the Internet that you can get budget data from gpoaccess.gov moments after the official release, load and test it on a prototype site--complete with Apache, PHP, and MySql--on a little netbook half way across the world, and then upload the massaged data back across the globe onto the powerful usgovernmentspending.com servers humming away at an undisclosed location in the United States.

But our crack team still has time, in between visiting gigantic Shiva temples and spice plantations, to look in the rear-view mirror at FY11 federal spending. It’s one of the most closely guarded secrets in Washington that each budget contains the actual spending for the previous fiscal year. All the estimates and supplementals and smoke-and-mirrors end up in numbers for actual spending. If you are a liberal you can look at the actuals for Iraq War spending and rail about the ridiculous Bush budget estimates.

Here are the FY11 actual numbers from usgovernmentspending.com’s estimates vs. actual page. For FY11 spending, it shows estimates of FY11 spending from six budgets, between FY07 and FY12, and actual spending published in last week’s FY13 budget. Remember, all the numbers in the table except the blue ones are estimates for FY11 spending, the fiscal year that ended last September.

The rear-view mirror shows big-time increases in spending in Health Care, Education, Welfare, and Other Spending in the Great Recession. Let’s take a look. Remember that the numbers in the column under “FY 2010 Budget” were from Obama’s first budget published soon after his inauguration in 2009.

  • Federal Health Care expenditures show a $80 billion jump between the FY09 estimate and the FY10 estimate. That is mostly Medicaid increases.
  • Federal Education expenditures show a 50 percent jump between the Bush FY07 estimate and the FY10 estimate, from about $100 billion to $150 billion a year.
  • You can see the failure of the Keynesian stimulus in the Federal Welfare expenditures. The Obamis estimated a 40 percent jump in the FY10 budget from $301 billion to $417 billion for FY11 welfare. But by FY12, they were estimating $496 billion for FY11 welfare. Well, that is what you would expect from America’s food-stamp president.
  • Then there is the 100% increase in Other Spending in the FY10 budget. What in the world could that be? Green crony capitalism, or something more sinister?

But there is a silver lining to all this spending splurge. It’s the effect of the 2010 mid-terms. Let’s look at the difference between the FY12 estimate for FY11 spending and the FY11 actuals reported in the latest budget. Look at Health Care: down by $24 billion; Education: down by $16 billion; Welfare: down by $23 billion; Other Spending: down by $62 billion. Overall, FY11 spending ended up down from $3.8 trillion in the FY12 budget to $3.6 trillion. That ain’t bad when your side only has one House out of three. Who says that Republicans are total wimps? They are having an effect. Maybe that’s why the stock market is up and the outlook for the economy is improving.

Now let’s look at FY12 spending: The estimated spending is UP from $3.73 trillion in the FY12 budget to $3.80 trillion in last week’s budget including a $30 billion increase in Education for those teacher union members. FY13 estimated spending is UP from $3.77 trillion to $3.80 trillion. So much for serious budget cutting if President Obama stays in office.

Here is something to chew on. The visits to usgovernmentspending.com blipped upwards for a couple of days after the budget, but nothing like during the debt ceiling fight of July 2011. So what gives? Do the voters not care about deficits any more? Or do they have bigger fish to fry?

George Packer fulminates in The New Yorker about Charles Murray and Losing Ground. “Murray has a talent for raising important questions on the way to arriving at invidious answers.” My “New Conservative Dictionary” defines “invidious” as “Likely to arouse or incur resentment or anger in others liberals.” But what really tees Packer off is that the wrecked white working class, high on meth. and disability benefits, votes Republican anyway. Are Americans ignoring the budget because they already made their minds up about 2012?

Meanwhile, here in India, it’s on to Cochin on the Arabian Sea and then by train up to Ooty, the old colonial hill station.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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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.

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

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, 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

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

Liberal Coercion

[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

Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

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

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

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

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

Never Trust Experts

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”

Conservatism's Holy Grail

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

Class War

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Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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