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by Christopher Chantrill
December 04, 2012 at 12:00 am
CONSERVATIVES seem to be non-plussed about President Obama sending Treasury Secretary Geithner to Capitol Hill without a proposal for a grand bargain on entitlements. But why? Worrying about debt and default and entitlements is for the responsible people. Responsibility is for the people that believe the “responsible self,” the notion developed a couple of millennia during the Axial Age. Responsibility is for the bourgeoisie.
President Obama is above all that. Liberal politics in general is above all that. Their politics is about war, not about nice comfortable entitlements. President Obama’s War? He’s fighting a war on “inequality.” Even the Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb is willing to admit to that.
As Obama did in legislative fights during his first term, he also will be striving to reduce a three-decades-long wave of rising income inequality that has meant that fewer Americans have prospered while more struggle to get by.
There’s a certain magnificent elegance to the president’s war on inequality. It licenses him and his administration to do anything. More spending on the traditionally marginalized? Whatever it takes. Get the rich to pay a little more? It goes without saying.
In waging this war on inequality it makes no sense to do a grand bargain on entitlements. What would that solve? It would freeze the status quo in place. But the war on inequality can never rest, can never end. A century from now, liberal scholars will be mining the national income data to find another “wave of rising income inequality” while “more struggle to get by.”
How can the president rest in his life-long struggle, his great quest for the Great White Whale of equality while the tide of inequality continues to rise?
So it makes complete sense that President Obama and his Treasury Secretary Geithner have not proposed a “grand bargain” on entitlements. The president is not interested in doing a deal on entitlements. He just wants more money in taxes to spend on his war on inequality.
Now conservatives like to point out that the president’s policy will lead to debt and default, and that the little people will suffer most when that happens. Too bad: that’s what happens in war. Did FDR call off World War II because he didn’t want our boys to get killed? Did Ronald Reagan call off the Cold War? Did President Johnson call off the War on Poverty when it turned out that poverty won?
At least Obama is frank about his war on inequality. Previous Democratic presidents have had the modesty to hide their egalitarian lust behind a decent drapery of moderation.
But who knows? Maybe the liberals are right. Maybe the market economy run by the bourgeoisie, the package that has taken the human race from $3 per day to $120 per day in two centuries, really does produce intolerable inequality that can only be corrected with an authoritarian welfare state.
But here’s what really sticks in my craw. President Obama is a guy that runs around the world offering resets and flexibility to the Putins, understanding to the Muslim Brotherhoods, and embraces to the Chavezes. But when it comes to Republicans, who are his fellow citizens, it’s no-holds-barred bare-knuckle politics: you bring a knife to the fight and the president brings a gun. When it comes to authoritarian foreign leaders, the president leads with an olive branch. But when it comes to the loyal opposition, the president leads with his fist.
OK, Mr. President. So be it; that’s your game. But we Republicans, we typical Americans, are playing a different game. It is called Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and for that noble purpose and that purpose only will we sacrifice our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
You see, Mr. President, we typical Americans believe that the American idea of limited government is a good one, the best yet. We believe that the notion of fighting “inequality” is nothing more than a ruling-class conceit, a thinly-veiled apology for ruling-class tyranny.
The only reason we conservatives are interested in a grand bargain on entitlements is out of the goodness of our hearts. Our naked self-interest would be to crash the entitlements, and the sooner the better, because we reckon that we, members of the responsible-self cult, will be able to rescue something for ourselves from the crash. After all, we are the makers; the 47 percent are the takers.
But we know that the 47 percent, the folks who depend on the government for their very existence, are the ones going to get hammered when the money runs out. And we feel compassion for them. So we propose to “do something” about it.
But there is a price for that compassion. It is that Democrats take responsibility for their little people, the women and minorities that will be hardest hit when the welfare state goes Greek. It’s only fair.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
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.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
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
Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up
rather than learns... Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois
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
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey 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
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
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
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
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
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