|Obama and the Liberal Conceits||The Age of the Welfare State Smashup|
by Christopher Chantrill
November 06, 2012 at 12:00 am
WE ALL REMEMBER the last time that liberals were telling us that stagnation was the new normal. It was back in 1980, the year that Ronald Reagan stepped up and taught a generation of liberals what to do with their pessimism and their declinism.
Now we have a new pharaoh, one that knew not Carter, and he and his courtiers look out uncomprehendingly at their half-built stimulus pyramids and wonder why the American people just cant seem to get the job done.
We have a choice, between the bitter-ender statist philosophy of entitlements today, entitlements tomorrow, entitlements forever, and the Romney alternative, which is to reform entitlements someday, for the next generation. That is a polite way of saying that Americas seniors like me will only vote for a politician that promises to force our children to pay for our Medicare in full. As for the Medicare for our children, well all be dead.
Why in the world would our children agree to a deal like that? And why in the world are their children sitting around still transfixed by the modern King Canute.
Imagine President Obama arguing that, why, if the seniors only paid a little more for their Medicare the middle-aged could have the jobs, and the young could have the education and the vital services they all need.
Ive been reading about how this works in the long run from David Hackett Fischer and The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythms of History. Fischer is a fool, the kind of knee-jerk liberal academic that sent his students out into Manhattan in the 1980s to check on the homeless. But he presents interesting data on the four great inflationary waves of the last millennium. In the 18th century the rising prices came from governments going deeper and deeper into debt and inflation to finance their wars. It all ended in hyperinflation and bloody revolution and world war.
Two hundred years later we have governments going deeper and deeper into debt and and inflation to finance middle-class entitlements. We have the supporters of the regime unwilling to give up a dime of their entitlements, from Medicare to professorial tenure. Just like the aristocrats of France.
Do you remember the climactic meeting of the National Medicare Association when their president Charlene Heston theatrically flourished her Medicare card and declared that they could take it out of her cold dead hand? Me neither. But The Wall Street Journal found some seniors down in Florida that sound like they were there.
Heres a retiree in South Florida. He doesnt like the idea that todays Medicare wont be available to his descendants.
"Ive got four children and 12 grandchildren," said Mr. Yordon, who planned to vote for Mr. Obama. "I cant believe the one item of most consequence to me would become a voucher" for them.
Dealing with private insurance companies for cars and homes, he said, was tough enough. Navigating the private health-insurance market at his age would be impossible, he said: "I just cant believe that that would work."
Er, Mr. Yordon, heres an idea. Why not get your kids to help you navigate the insurance market as you get older? Thats what the Jewish bubbie next door does.
What about this 91-year-old senior?
"I would like them to leave Medicare alone," she said. She has been in the hospital four times in the past five years, twice for surgeries to remove cholesterol from arteries in her legs. "I was very satisfied" with Medicare, she said.
You had better not mess with the Medicare Amendment Conservatives, the folks that defend that well-known constitutional amendment that reads that “Congress shall make no law reducing the benefits of existing retirees.”
But let us step back a moment. What would it take to persuade seniors that we ought to get by with less on the Medicare front? My guess is that you cant, just like you cant get people to get in supplies of bottled water before the hurricane hits. We will reform the entitlements on the day when the government cant borrow any more money and cant print any more money.
Dont get me wrong. Im all for Mitt Romney, the turnaround artist, and all for Paul Ryan and his Ryan Plan to voucherize Medicare. Maybe the two of them can chip away at the edges of the welfare state citadel and teach chaps like Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer a lesson. But it is utter folly to imagine that anyone can turn around a Great Wave on a dime.
Well know when we have truly turned the corner and decided to reform the welfare state. We will hear people on the street yelling: Dont gimme that “free stuff!” Give me freedom!
What a choice that would be.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[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 way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300â€“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
[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
[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
[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.
[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
[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
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
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
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
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America