George Savage explains the “heads, we win; tails, you lose” character of liberal statism.
Nowadays in America, statists win even when they lose. More specifically, under our dominant cultural assumptions the failure of any left-liberal policy leads, inexorably, to its entrenchment and expansion.
For the Left, this is a feature not a bug.
The most striking example is public education, where a nationwide left-liberal apparatus directs a producer-centric system that delivers an objectively awful product at absurd cost. Our exquisite political sensitivities limit the mainstream debate to the input function: more resources, smaller class sizes, additional teachers’ aides. When education funding is increased, dues skimmed from union paychecks entrench leftist politicians responsible for the failing status quo. Win win.
As they say on late night television, “But wait, there’s more.” Sustaining an incompetent educational system yields a multiplier effect: the formation of poorly educated citizens ill-equipped to challenge misinformation and outright lies from their rulers. This is how, only thirty years after the Reagan Renaissance, Barack Obama could claim financial crisis and recession resulted from laissez faire government circa 2007. He was confident that a majority of voters would be ignorant of the facts. And he was correct.
He mentions Obamacare, but neglects to note that health care reform was advanced to solve the problem of out-of-control health services costs, and those extraordinary costs really came about as the result of cost transfer billing in response to Medicare price controls. Government intervention creates the problem, so you get an even greater government intervention in response to “the free market’s failure.”
Former Yale English professor William Deresiewicz, in the American Scholar, gives a travel anecdotal spin to the usual liberal statist claptrap.
We were living in a middle-class suburb of a small city: lots of single-family houses with neat gardens, all of them surrounded by walls. Here are some of the things you would see on the other side, the public side: overflowing dumpsters; unpaved streets lined with garbage; smoldering trash fires; little rows of shanties tucked into corners of the neighborhood for the local servant class, the kind of miserable hovels that stretch for miles in places like Mumbai; and a small, polluted lake that no one in their right mind would have swum in. We never drank from the tap, of course; even certain kinds of produce were said to be unsafe. The phone was temperamental, too, and so was the television cable. One thing we were thankful for, however: we could breathe without feeling like we were damaging our health, something that could not be said in any of the larger cities we visited and the reason we were living where we were.
Being rich in a poor country, I discovered that year, is like being rich and poor at the same time. We could eat in any restaurant we cared to, could have had a fleet of servants at our disposal had we so chosen, but we couldn’t buy our own electric grid, or water system, or air.
I’ve thought of all this during the debate we’ve been having this election season about the extent to which business owners are responsible for their success. On the one hand, Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama, trying to remind entrepreneurs that they didn’t build the highway system themselves, or put their employees through school. On the other, people who continue to insist that they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. Well, let them go to India and see what it’s like to live in a place where you can’t take public services for granted. We’ll see how far their bootstraps get them there.
Too many Americans, goes the common complaint, want other people to pay for them. Yet the same is true in generational terms. We have been able to live well, and do well, because we inherited a rich, well-functioning country, but for a long time now—I’m thinking of the tax revolt that began in 1978—we have refused to do our share to keep it going. Essentially, the bootstrap crowd is living off the civic-minded willingness to sacrifice of those who came before.
Left-wingers like Deresiewicz look at the world through pink, political lenses, seeing everything around them as the creation of the coercive administrative state. They also consistently award the State credit for the achievements of Society, Culture, and the Individual.
It has somehow escaped Mr. Deresiewicz’s attention that both America and India only have electricity in the first place because Thomas Edison lived in an economically free country where he could profit from invention.
America doesn’t have more reliable electric service than India because of Government. Our power grid works more reliably than India’s because we possess cultural traditions promoting individual responsibility and India is only slowly overcoming very different cultural traditions of dependence, exploitation, collectivism, and corruption. Our power system is the creation of private companies operating in a competitive market system governed by the rule of law.
The reliability of our power system is assured by self interest and the profit motive. In India, the delivery of power is a consequence of political decree as is any economic return to its providers. In America, if you fail to deliver services, even in a natural monopoly context, competitors are available to step in, you are replaced and go out of business. In India, politicians simply decide which satrapy will exploit what and whom. Performance, like profit, is secondary and beside the point.
People like Mr. Deresiewicz are, in reality, agitating for us to become more like India rather than vice versa. Their goal is to take decision-making power out of the hands of consumers generally, and give it instead to politicians. Instead of the free enterprise feedback system of profit and loss based on performance and competition, they want a system in which politicians, as in India, are simply allowed to select winners and losers.
If William Deresiewicz had his way, we would very shortly become a lot more like India.
Wesley J. Smith identifies the liberal dream: Utopia achieved by the power of the administrative state wielded by scientific experts.
Liberals, what do they really want? Not the communism or socialism of the right’s fever dreams. They know that didn’t work. Today’s liberal agenda is more akin to the corporatist vision of the 1920s and ’30s—an economy in which the state directs the activities of the private sector to achieve ideologically desired ends. But even that description doesn’t quite get to the nub of it. Liberals today seek to create a stable, and what they perceive to be a socially just, society via rule by experts—in which most of the activities of society are micromanaged by technocrats for the economic and social benefit of the whole. In other words, social democracy without the messiness of democracy, like the European Union’s rule-by-bureaucrats-in-Brussels. This is the “fundamental transformation” that President Obama seeks to implement in this country.
When you come right down to it, all this is so early last century. The liberal is the intellectual who learned essentially nothing from the last century. Barack Obama might just as well be William Jennings Bryan in blackface.
The democrats came up with an unfortunately memorable line in this video from last night’s convention.
Referring to “belonging to” the Government provokes in libertarians like myself a kneejerk reaction of antipathy to being classified as a serf. Of course, our democrat friends did not really mean to imply that we belong to the Government, in the sense that the Government owns us and we are its slaves.
No, they meant to describe us as belonging to the Government in the way one belongs to a club or to one’s parish church, as a nice, positive communitarian sort of thing.
The problem is that clubs and even churches are voluntary associations. If I get fed up with the BPOE, if I decided that I’m not getting enough of a benefit from my annual dues to the Shenandoah Fish & Game Club or the Yale Club of New York City, I can resign. I can quit attending St. George’s Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church any time I feel like, and join the Primitive Baptists or simply stay home and sleep in on Sunday as I please.
Belonging to the Government obviously does not work that way. Back in 1969, when I received a letter headed with Greetings, and signed by Richard Nixon, I did not really have the option to leave the club. If I didn’t show up for the meeting being held at 5:30 AM at the Draft Induction Center in Mahanoy City, they would have come looking for me. It’s the same way with club dues. Americans are not able to send the IRS a letter on April 15th informing them that we’ve decided to resign our membership this year and won’t be paying any dues.
Democrats seem to differ fundamentally from the rest of us in how they look at things. Myself, I find it impossible to feel very positively about any club that conscripts me into membership whether I like it or not, and which collects its dues at bayonet point. One might paraphrase the late Groucho Marx, and say: “I don’t particularly want to be a member of any club which forces me to join and which will not allow me to skip meetings or resign.”
Mitt Romney responded:
Barack Obama, in a statement to an audience in Roanoke, Virginia, gave one of the all-time classic statements of collectivist denial of individual achievement. He said: “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
How long has it been since you heard somebody politely ask permission to do something (like light a cigarette) and heard the reply: “It’s a free country.” In my own experience, it’s been a long time.
Jerry has an excellent essay, reflecting on how far things have come, and just where America’s wound up.
This is not a nation where people are left alone anymore. This is a nation where they are hounded from the moment they are born until the moment they die by the arms of a regulatory state run by men and women weaned on Cleaver, Alinsky, Fourier, Marx, Wells and countless others. This is a nation where, accordingly, being left alone is the greatest of luxuries. ...
ObamaCare is one of the final declarations that there is no opting out. Even if you don’t drive, own a home, own a business, own a dog, or do one of the infinite things that bring you into mandatory contact with the apparatus of your local, semi-local, trans-local, national or global government, you are committed to a task from maturity to death. Your mission is to obtain health insurance, and, in a system in which you become the ward of the government as soon as you taste air, it is the price that you pay for being alive.
In a free country, you are not obligated to do things simply for the privilege of breathing oxygen north of the Rio Grande and south of Niagara Falls. But this isn’t a free country anymore; this is a country in which you get things for free. And there is a big difference between those two things.
We are a nation in which everyone is entitled to everything, except the right to opt out of all the entitlements and the cost of paying for them. We may not have the Bill of Rights anymore, but we have a hell of a bill to settle and, every year, the deficits keep making it bigger and bigger. Our forefathers passed on to us a Bill of Rights, and we shall pass on to our descendants a Bill. A tremendous Bill which can be unrolled from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam… and all the way across the ocean to China.
Michael Pacher, Der Heilige Wolfgang und der Teufel [St. Wolfgang and the Devil], c. 1473, Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Paul Rahe explains that the American Roman Catholic hierarchy ought not to be surprised to find Barack Obama’s Leviathan state now demanding the surrender of the church’s conscience and soul. They made a deal with Statist Socialism decades ago and ultimately in these kinds of deals payment does come due.
The principle articulated in canon law —the only law common to all of Western Europe… was lifted from the Roman law dealing with the governance of waterways: “Quod omnes tangit,” it read, “ab omnibus tractari debeat: That which touches all should be dealt with by all.” In pagan antiquity, this meant that those upstream could not take all of the water and that those downstream had a say in its allocation. It was this principle that the clergymen who served as royal admnistrators insinuated into the laws of the kingdoms and petty republics of Europe. It was used to justify communal self-government. It was used to justify the calling of parliaments. And it was used to justify the provisions for self-governance contained within the corporate charters issued to cities, boroughs, and, in time, colonies. ...
The quod omnes tangit principle was not the foundation of modern liberty, but it was its antecedent. And had there been no such antecedent, had kings not been hemmed in by the Church and its allies in this fashion, I very much doubt that there ever would have been a regime of limited government. In fact, had there not been a distinction both in theory and in fact between the secular and the spiritual authority, limited government would have been inconceivable.
The Reformation weakened the Church. In Protestant lands, it tended to strengthen the secular power and to promote a monarchical absolutism unknown to the Middle Ages. Lutheranism and Anglicanism were, in effect, Caesaro-Papist. In Catholic lands, it caused the spiritual power to shelter itself behind the secular power and become, in many cases, an appendage of that power. But the Reformation and the religious strife to which it gave rise also posed to the secular power an almost insuperable problem – how to secure peace and domestic tranquility in a world marked by sectarian competition. Limited government – i. e., a government limited in its scope – was the solution ultimately found, and John Locke was its proponent.
In the nascent American republic, this principle was codified in its purest form in the First Amendment to the Constitution. But it had additional ramifications as well – for the government’s scope was limited also in other ways. There were other amendments that made up what we now call the Bill of Rights, and many of the states prefaced their constitutions with bills of rights or added them as appendices. These were all intended to limit the scope of the government. They were all designed to protect the right of individuals to life, liberty, the acquisition and possession of property, and the pursuit of happiness as these individuals understood happiness. Put simply, liberty of conscience was part of a larger package.
This is what the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church forgot. In the 1930s, the majority of the bishops, priests, and nuns sold their souls to the devil, and they did so with the best of intentions. In their concern for the suffering of those out of work and destitute, they wholeheartedly embraced the New Deal. They gloried in the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt made Frances Perkins – a devout Anglo-Catholic laywoman who belonged to the Episcopalian Church but retreated on occasion to a Catholic convent – Secretary of Labor and the first member of her sex to be awarded a cabinet post. And they welcomed Social Security – which was her handiwork. They did not stop to ponder whether public provision in this regard would subvert the moral principle that children are responsible for the well-being of their parents. They did not stop to consider whether this measure would reduce the incentives for procreation and nourish the temptation to think of sexual intercourse as an indoor sport. They did not stop to think.
In the process, the leaders of the American Catholic Church fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor. In its place, they helped establish the Machiavellian principle that underpins modern liberalism – the notion that it is our Christian duty to confiscate other people’s money and redistribute it.
At every turn in American politics since that time, you will find the hierarchy assisting the Democratic Party and promoting the growth of the administrative entitlements state. At no point have its members evidenced any concern for sustaining limited government and protecting the rights of individuals. It did not cross the minds of these prelates that the liberty of conscience which they had grown to cherish is part of a larger package – that the paternalistic state, which recognizes no legitimate limits on its power and scope, that they had embraced would someday turn on the Church and seek to dictate whom it chose to teach its doctrines and how, more generally, it would conduct its affairs.
I would submit that the bishops, nuns, and priests now screaming bloody murder have gotten what they asked for. The weapon that Barack Obama has directed at the Church was fashioned to a considerable degree by Catholic churchmen. They welcomed Obamacare. They encouraged Senators and Congressmen who professed to be Catholics to vote for it.
After all, whoever heard of religious freedom surviving under Socialism?
Dan Greenfield unloads on the very same people with this superb essay:
The American liberal is not a populist, he is still a New England preacher, but without a religion to preach. He has a great faith in the virtues of an ordered moral society, even if that ordered moral society would have been completely incomprehensible and unacceptable to his forebears. It is a society based on the virtues of tolerance and the rule of the enlightened.
The inflow of the European left has brought in a strain of power to the people populism, but that has not made the American liberal take seriously the notion that the people whose rights he defends are his intellectual or social equals, no more than the 19th century New York Republicans patting African-Americans on the head while stomping on the Irish viewed either group as equals.
American liberalism has traveled a slightly altered road to get to the same place. But its place is still at the top and everyone else’s place is still at the bottom. Its persistent denial of this basic truth leads to the perennial absurdity of millionaires like Elizabeth Warren playing class warrior when the only class they represent is the class of people who work for the government.
The oligarchy which is busy bleeding the country dry does not represent any group of working people anywhere in the country. Not Protestant or Catholic, black or white, or of any other creed or identity. Like every ideology incarnated in a system, it represents its own interests. The Democratic Party is the government party. It exists to create jobs in government, to dispense government subsidies and to expand the power and scope of its organization. It is not fundamentally any different than Putin’s United Russia or Israel’s Kadima or similar political creatures around the world.
The strange intermarriage of New England moralists, New York merchants and European radicals eventually led to a system of pushing immigrants into government service, mandating tolerance and running every aspect of human life through Washington D.C. It took a while to get there, but the system is a decade or two away from being complete. When it is complete then all our lives will be run in every possible way by the Elizabeth Warrens who will smile condescendingly at us, nudge us in the direction we are supposed to go, and when we don’t go there, then the fines and the tasers come out.
No matter how far back you go, the roots of American liberalism lie in a fear of the people, a distrust of the great unwashed. American liberals have championed voting rights, so long as they were confident that those voting were their inferiors and could be herded into voting the right way. They have always distrusted the instincts of the public, no matter how much pious ink they spilled fighting on their behalf.
That view of man’s sinful nature still informs their deepest thinkers, and the sins are still the same, the failure of fellowship, the refusal to consider the welfare of others and march in lockstep to create that ideal society. The New Jerusalem of universal brotherhood. Those ideas have been dressed up in modern clothing, transmitted as denunciations of racism and bigotry, immigration advocacy and hate crime laws, but underneath is the same notion that a society of good will to all can be forced through rigorous regimentation by the truly enlightened.
The populism of the American liberal is a cynical dumbshow where representatives of the oppressed gather in conclaves to demand more oppression by their liberal oppressors. This spectacle is at the heart of a political oligarchy, which like every oligarchy is built on government subsidies and special access to power for the privileged. And like all oligarchies it must disguise its nature by playing the protector of the people. Unlike them it must also disguise its true nature from itself.
The convergence of the ideal society and the government society was inevitable from the start. It took a while to overcome the technological and cultural barriers to running an entire country from a central point. Those barriers have never been truly overcome, but the technocratic mirage makes it seem as if they have been. And the ongoing faith in a perfectible society run by the saints makes it seem as if it must be.
The American liberal would still like to play at being humble, a 99 percenter fighting against the chimera of a 1 percent oligarchy. But the entire 99 percent theme is that the 1 percent isn’t paying enough taxes. And whom do those taxes go to but to the administration and employment of the professional class warrior millionaires.
It is the very Everest of hypocrisy for the members of the oligarchy to be bemoaning all the extra tax money that could be used to pay their six figure salaries, while passing off their naked greed as a crusade on behalf of the oppressed.
Libertarian (sounds like the modern California version to me) Jason Brennan is in a position make his liberals allies uncomfortable, when he connects the dots between liberal statist policy prescriptions and the kind of crony capitalism in which fat cat banks and corporations get to use the state as their servant and ally to build deeper regulatory moats and higher walls against competitors.
Dear members of the moderate left,
America is suffering from rampant, run-away corporatism and crony capitalism. We are increasingly a plutocracy in which government serves the interests of elite financiers and CEOs at the expense of everyone else.
You know this and you complain loudly about it. But the problem is your fault. You caused this state of affairs. Stop it.
Unlike we libertarianish people, you people actually hold and have been holding significant political power in the US over the past 50 years. What have you done with this power? You’ve greased the corporatist machine every chance you’ve gotten. You’ve made things worse, not better. Our current problems are your fault. You need to stop.
We told you this would happen, but you wouldn’t listen. You complain, rightly, that regulatory agencies are controlled by the very corporations they are supposed to constrain. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create power—and you people love to create power—the unscrupulous seek to capture that power for their personal benefit. Time and time again, they succeed. We told you that would happen, and we gave you an accurate account of how it would happen.
You complain, perhaps rightly, that corporations are just too big. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create complicated tax codes, complicated regulatory regimes, and complicated licensing rules, these regulations naturally select for larger and larger corporations. We told you that would happen. Of course, these increasingly large corporations then capture these rules, codes, and regulations to disadvantage their competitors and exploit the rest of us. We told you that would happen.
It’s not rocket science. It’s public choice economics. You recognized, rightly, that public choice economics was a threat to your ideology. So, you didn’t listen, because you didn’t want to be wrong. Public choice predicted that the government programs you created with the goal of fixing problems would often instead exacerbate those problems. Well, the evidence is in. You were wrong and public choice theory was right. If you have any decency, it is time to admit you were wrong and change. Stop making things worse.
You spent the past fifty years empowering corporations and the most unscrupulous of the rich. You created rampant moral hazard in the financial sector. You created the system that socializes risks but privatizes profit. You created the system that creates a revolving door between Obama’s staff and Goldman Sachs. There’s a reason why Wall Street throws money at Obama. It’s because you, the moderate left, are Wall Street’s biggest supporters. Oh, I know you complain about Wall Street. But your actions speak louder than your words.
Dan Greenfield replies decisively to Elizabeth Warren’s “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.” argument.
“You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did,” Warren says.
This is the stationary bandit theory of government. The problem with it is that it really means you’re paying for government marauding bands who can come and seize everything in your factory. As the CEO of Gibson Guitars found out. ...
Warren’s argument is that no one got rich on their own. True. By her definition, also no one makes breakfast on their own. Or does anything at all. No one writes on their own either, someone had to make the pencil or the typewriter or the computer. Why shouldn’t that collective “we” then have a say in what you write?
Here the sleight of hand assumes that the greater society is equivalent to the state, and that any activity makes the individual obligated to pay back the collective whole somehow embodied by the state.
There are two holes in this. It assumes that the individual is somehow getting a free ride at the expense of the other people in the equation. That whatever benefit they receive from participating in the arrangement is insufficient and exploitative. There’s an obvious whiff of Marx to this, but not much common sense.
And the final hole is that the state stands in place of the society, that it is the legal recipient of the net benefits due to society and can claim them. That when you’re expected to pay it forward to the next kid, that doesn’t mean hiring a kid and giving him a leg up, it means paying higher taxes.
This proposition is at the heart of the broken case against private property. If there is indeed a greater claim on private property by the society, why is an oligarchy of Harvard lawyers and government appointees the one to lay claim to it?
This precise form of argument is made by my liberal classmates all the time: “You received Shakespeare, modern medicine, and all sorts of other social benefits, so you owe the government whatever amount of taxes the left might care to demand.”
Greenfield identifies precisely the false logic. The federal government did not create human culture and society, write Shakespeare’s plays, or develop modern medicine. The state-worshipping left’s continual attempt to place government in the position of claiming ownership of human culture and every form of social interaction and cooperation is a grand-scale form of fraud.
George Weigel explains that there is nothing libertarian about a state modifying the definition of marriage.
That what the New York state legislature approved has to be described, not as marriage, but as “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage” is itself a verbal indicator that what is being done here is counterintuitive. We all know, or thought we knew, what marriage is, and to add the qualifier “gay” or “same-sex” is a tacit admission by the proponents of the practice that it requires an appeal to authority to enforce what seems strange, odd, not right. The verbal tic of “gay marriage” or “same-sex” marriage is thus itself a rhetorical warning sign that what was done in Albany was an exercise in raw state power, the state’s asserting that it can do X simply because it claims that it has the power to do so.
And that is an exercise of power that libertarians ought, in theory, to resist, not support.
New York State notwithstanding, the argument over marriage will and must continue, because it touches first principles of democratic governance — and because resistance to the agenda of the gay-marriage lobby is a necessary act of resistance against the dictatorship of relativism, in which coercive state power is used to impose on all of society a relativistic ethic of personal willfulness. In conducting that argument in the months and years ahead, it would be helpful if the proponents of marriage rightly understood would challenge the usurpation by the proponents of gay marriage of the civil-rights trump card.
That usurpation is at the heart of the gay lobby’s emotional, cultural, and political success — the moral mantle of those Freedom Riders whose golden anniversary we mark this year has, so to speak, been successfully claimed by the Stonewall Democratic Club and its epigones. And because the classic civil-rights movement and its righteous demand for equality before the law remains one of the few agreed-upon moral touchstones in 21st-century American culture (another being the Holocaust as an icon of evil), to seize that mantle and wear it is to have won a large part of the battle — as one sees when trying to discuss these questions with otherwise sensible young people.
But the analogy simply doesn’t work. Legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause.
The action of the New York legislature is as revolutionary a gesture as the alteration of the calendar and the names of the months by the French Convention. What distinguishes this example of revolutionary action from those of the past, however, is the fact that the Revolution is being conducted by the ruling class against the people.
The establishment of Gay Marriage is another of a series of symbolic aggressions and assaults by the privileged, well-educated, and influential against the culture, values, and beliefs of ordinary Americans. The American elite has simply chosen to exercise the contemporary equivalent of le droit du seigneur with the sacrament of marriage as its victim. Our rulers are once again demonstrating in the most dramatic possible manner the power of the establishment community of fashion to violate the most cherished cultural institutions and traditions of the plebians at will.
Victor David Hanson explains that liberal social benevolence is a very old game which has led to ruin for many states before ours.
[S]tatism is not a desired outcome, but rather more a strategy for obtaining power or winning acclaim as one of the caring, by offering the narcotic of promising millions something free at the expense of others who must be seen as culpable and obligated to fund it — entitlements fueled by someone else’s money that enfeebled the state, but in the process extended power, influence, and money to a technocratic class of overseers who are exempt from the very system that they have advocated.
So what is socialism? It is a sort of modern version of Louis XV’s “Après moi, le déluge” – an unsustainable Ponzi scheme in which elite overseers, for the duration of their own lives, enjoy power, influence, and gratuities by implementing a system that destroys the sort of wealth for others that they depend upon for themselves. ...
Who are socialists?
There are none. Only technocratic overseers who wish to give someone else’s money to others as a means of winning capitalist-style lifestyles and power for themselves — in a penultimate cycle of unsustainable spending. When this latest attempt at statism is over, Barack Obama will enjoy a sort of Clintonism, a globe-trotting post officium lifestyle of multimillion dollar honoraria to fund a lifestyle analogous to “two Americas” John Edwards, “earth in the balance” Al Gore, a tax-exempt yachting John Kerry, a revolving-door Citibank grandee like Peter Orszag, or a socialist Strauss-Kahn in $20,000 suits doling out billions to the “poor.”
That is just the way it has been and will always be.
In these difficult economic times. a Congressional Research Service survey finds that at least one economic group is doing well: federal employees. More than 77,000 federal government employees throughout the country — including computer operators, more than 5,000 air traffic controllers, 22 librarians and one interior designer — receive larger salaries than the governors of the states in which they work.
Gubernatorial salaries do vary. California’s governor (naturally) gets the largest salary of any state governor, $212,179, and quaint, old-fashioned Maine pays its governor a token emolument of $70,000. Oddly enough, Colorado had the largest number, 10,875, of federal employees pulling down bigger bucks than the $90,000 received by that state’s chief executive, Bill Ritter.
703 federal workers in California earned more than [the state governor] , and all but 34 of them were in medicine.
Maine’s governor, by contrast, made the lowest salary at $70,000. CRS said 3,423 federal employees in the state made more than that, including seven pipe fitters, and three people engaged in plastic fabrication work.
For individual occupations, the CRS report did not break down the states where they worked, so it was impossible to determine where the one interior designer who made more than the governor was employed.
CRS said nationwide there were 122 park rangers, 271 environmental protection specialists, 14 chaplains and one prison guard who earned more than their governors. There were also 21 archaeologists, three sociologists, 48 social workers, four food service workers and five civil rights analysts who made more than their governors.
Online reviews are currently scarce, but Anthony Baird did a decent job on Amazon.
Kenneth Minogue has brilliantly deconstructed the way that modern democracies have assumed for themselves the moral judgements that individuals once decided for themselves. Take obesity. Getting fat is surely one of the ultimate personal decisions, but no, it is apparently a `health’ issue now, and is properly the concern of the whole of society. This is because the populace has surrendered to the State the obligation to take care of the nation’s health, and since obesity is a major factor in the expense that the health provider must pay, the state now requires us all to be slim. Successfully elected politicians praise the electorate for their good sense in electing them to office, and then privately despair at the non “politically correct” views held by those same voters on the matters of multiculturalism, capital punishment or sex.
With the State taking over more and more of the obligations that private citizens used to consider were their own concern, (and levying high rates of tax to fund them), then this leaves those same citizens free to spend the rest of their incomes on personal pleasures, secure in the knowledge that their education, health and pensions are taken care of. While all this sounds like some Utopia, it is actually more of a “Brave New World”.
The folks at Maggie Farm and I tend very frequently to think alike. I was amused to find the New Junkie had slightly preceded me today in noticing the same book.
That great mind Joe Biden, in the course of addressing a $1000-a-plate democrat fundraiser in New York today, predicted that their party would win next Tuesday and retain control of both the House and the Senate.
Biden also defended the liberal cult of statism, asserting:
“Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive,” he said. “In the middle of the Civil War you had a guy named Lincoln paying people $16,000 for every 40 miles of track they laid across the continental United States. … No private enterprise would have done that for another 35 years.”