Category Archive 'Statism'
13 Nov 2017

Taxes vs. Manliness

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Severian argues that a high tax regime isn’t just about the money.

Taxes have an effect, and it isn’t an accidental side-effect, it’s an ulterior but central purpose: To weaken and distort the messages that bind civilization together, that keep it functioning.

Civilization is made up of very few of these messages: “It is wrong to kill or hurt other people”; “If someone has something you want, you need to acquire consent from them before you take it and that usually means paying for it”; “If you help me get things done I want to get done, I will give you this money.” Liberals and democrats want taxes higher, higher, higher, all the time and they don’t have a set amount in mind, nor do they want to pay for “police, fire departments and park benches”; they just want the taxes to be high, so they can attack that 3rd message that keeps civilization working and functional. Ideally, for them, the tax rate would be 100% and we’d all be fed & sheltered by living on the dole. Then, dependency on the state would also be 100%. Then they’d reach the “fun part” — they tell the rest of us what to do, and we go do it. …

Yes, taxes are required to keep civilization working.

Higher taxes bring civilization to a stop. They’re supposed to do this. They remove the ability, as well as the incentive, for children to grow into strong, complete, capable adults. They’re supposed to do that, too. Minimal taxes are a lubricant. Higher taxes are a solvent.

Remember this next time you hear someone monologue away about the evils of a tax cut.

RTWT

23 May 2017

Statism

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“The State is the coldest of all cold monsters- and this lie creeps from its mouth: “I, the state, am the people”.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche‏

15 May 2017

“Trump is an Embarrassment to Statism”

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Jeffrey A. Tucker explains exactly why Donald Trump is driving liberals batty.

This frenzy even has a name: Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is an identifying state of mind. It has particular symptoms.

To be sure, I read these pieces and don’t entirely disagree with the particulars of the analysis. In none of our lifetimes have we seen anything like this. The stodgy, serious, protocol-driven attempt to bring high dignity to this office has been a main concern of government. When it came out that Bill Clinton was using his power and office for private pleasures, it rattled the establishment, not because of his sins but because his behavior elicited ridicule from the public. …

But there is something off about this center-left tendency. These commentators are driven to wild apoplexy by Trump, but not for the reasons I would normally cite. I don’t like his trade theories, his views on immigration, his shabby understanding of the problem with American health insurance, his ramping up of the police state, or his foreign policy. I was calling him out on all of this as early as July 2015.

Their complaints are contradictory. They, on the other hand, seem to object to the very existence of Trump, his every utterance, his actions no matter what they are, and everything related to this new administration.

Their complaints are contradictory. He is terrible because he is doing terrible things! He is terrible because he is not really doing anything! This presidency is destroying the world! This presidency is all sound and fury and nothing else!

It finally struck me why. For this crowd, all their hopes and dreams are bound up with particular political processes, outcomes, and institutions. The state is their favorite tool for all the good they aspire to do in this world. It must be protected, guarded, defended, celebrated. The illusion that the government is not a taker but a giver and the source of all good things must be maintained. The gloss of the democratic process must be constantly refurbished so that the essential sanctity of the public sector can be constantly cited as the highest calling.

The center-left has at least one hundred years of work and resources invested in the state’s health, well being, reputation, and exalted moral status. Nothing must be allowed to threaten it or take it down a peg or two. Any failures must be deemed as temporary setbacks. The slightest sign of some success must be trumpeted constantly. The population must be subjected to unrelenting homilies on the essential holiness of the public sector.

Their education told them this. Their degrees and ruling-class pedigree were hard earned. This is what has inspired them. They believe so strongly that they can make the world a better place through the managerial state that it has become their religion. It’s their very core!

Above all else, the president is supposed to represent. His duty is to reflect and broadcast this sensibility.

Writing in 1944, Ludwig von Mises wrote that the debate over the future of freedom is not only about beating back socialism, communism, fascism, interventionism, and so on. There is broader discussion to be had. The core problem is the ideology of statism, a word he took from the French term etatism. It identified a view that the state should always and in everything be the central power, organizing principle, and spiritual core of any society. It must be the final judge, the final arbiter, the center of our loyalties, the one indispensable institution because it alone is deserving of our highest devotion and ideal. It must be forever built, larger and larger, taking on ever more responsibility and taking ever more money and power from the rest of us.

The president is supposed to at least pretend to be the high priest of the statist religion. That’s his job, according to this outlook.

Everything seemed to being going so well under the Obama administration, which was so earnest, so decorous, so civil. He was funny, smart, respectful of process, and sincere in his pronouncements. He ran on hope and change but governed as the person who kept hope for a new freedom and any radical change at bay.

Trump has profoundly disturbed the balance. He overthrew the respective establishments of two parties, tore right into the legitimacy of the national press, humiliated every expert who predicted his demise, and is now stumbling around Washington like a bum in a jewelry store. He is not actually cutting back on the size of the state; he is doing something even more terrifying from the center-left point of view: he is ruining the mystery of the state, and thereby discrediting their holy institutions.

After the election, I wrote that this might be our 1989. What I meant is that major aspects of what we always thought would be true were suddenly not true any more. New possibilities have opened up. An older establishment has been discredited if not overthrown. What comes next is another matter.

Trump is not a liberator in any sense. His temperament suggests the opposite. It was he who famously said in the campaign: “The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.” Moreover, and in many ways, the deep state has regrouped and bitten back to avoid losing power and influence in Washington.

Even so, he is everything that the center-left fears most, a person who works, despite himself, to discredit the thing they love the most. He has demoralized them beyond consoling. Now we are seeing talk of impeachment. This seems to be some people’s last hope for saving the old faith.

18 Mar 2017

How the Medical Profession Was Hijacked By Leftism

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Sir Samuel Luke Fildes KCVO RA, The Doctor, 1891, Tate Gallery.
In 1949, Fildes’ painting “The Doctor” (1891) was used by the American Medical Association in a campaign against a proposal for nationalized medical care put forth by President Harry S. Truman. The image was used in posters and brochures along with the slogan, “Keep Politics Out of this Picture.” 65,000 posters of The Doctor were distributed, which helped to raise public skepticism of the nationalized health care campaign. In 2008, the AMA was no longer defending the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and the independence of the Medical Profession, but was instead supporting Obamacare and the nationalization of health care.

Dr. Publius, at Ricochet, explains how all this happened.

For the medical profession, there is one ethical obligation that surpasses all others. It is the very obligation that defines a classic profession, and once it is abandoned, members of that so-called profession no longer have any claim whatsoever to any of the special regard, respect, perquisites, or considerations that commonly accrue to true professionals in our society.

Physicians have referred to this obligation as the doctor-patient relationship. Like the lawyer-client relationship and the clergy-parishioner relationship, the doctor-patient relationship is supposed to be a sacred, protected, fiduciary one, in which the patient can feel safe in disclosing private information they may not even willingly tell their spouses, and in return the doctor agrees not only to keep that information private, but also to act on that information in such a way that furthers and optimizes the individual patient’s own best medical interests, without regard to which actions or recommendations might be to the doctor’s interests — or to society’s.

The abandonment of this sacred, fiduciary obligation (honored by physicians for over 2000 years) cannot be blamed on Obamacare. It was formally abandoned years before most of us had ever heard of Mr. Obama. The doctor-patient relationship, never as pure in practice as it was in concept, began to significantly erode in the 1990s. This, of course, was the heyday of for-profit HMOs, when the insurers used extreme coercion to make certain that doctors learned who their real customers were. Doctors who did not place the payers first had their reimbursements slashed, and often found themselves excluded from panels, and therefore from access to patients. In a surprisingly short time doctors by the thousands were signing “gag clauses,” in which they agreed to withhold from patients certain information that might be adverse to the interests of the HMOs.

It would be wrong to say that doctors did not mind these things. It troubled many of them deeply. Indeed, by the turn of the millennium many members of the profession were feeling, and occasionally publicly expressing, tremendous guilt for having had to abandon their chief ethical obligation to their patients, in order to continue practicing medicine.

Faced with an ethical dilemma which was increasingly difficult for them to tolerate, an outcry arose from within the medical profession demanding that their leadership take up the problem, and do something about it. Most doctors had in mind some sort of organized action by which the profession would attempt to reclaim its ethical grounding. And so, conferences were convened, debates (of a sort) engaged in, and at last, action taken.

What doctors in the trenches failed to realize was that the physicians who dedicate their careers to leading professional organizations are almost always Progressives, because this is what Progressives do. So the action that was finally taken was the official adoption of a new set of medical ethics, which was published in 2002: “Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter. “(Annals of Internal Medicine, February 5, 2002). This document described a new ethical precept which was to be formally adopted by the medical profession. That new precept was, of course, “Social Justice.” Under the precept of social justice, doctors, in making medical decisions at the bedside, suddenly became obligated to take the equitable distribution of healthcare resources into account. Covert rationing at the bedside at the behest of payers (who presumably knew more about equitable distribution of resources than individual physicians did), was not only acceptable, and not only a positive good, but an ethical requirement.

During the intervening years this new charter of medical ethics was indeed formally adopted by virtually every medical professional organization in the world.

Adding social justice to the ethical obligations of physicians or course did nothing to ease the discrepancy between the needs the patient and the needs of the payer. But its addition at least assuaged some of the guilt of some of the doctors who chose not to think too deeply about it.

This modernized, progressive version of medical ethics was not the result of Obamacare, but it has served Obamacare well. It was a matter of mere moments before doctors noticed that it would behoove them to shift their efforts from making the insurers happy to making the government happy.

Today, when a doctor makes a medical recommendation to a patient, that patient can no longer be confident that the recommendation is truly the one the doctor believes is best for him or her. For it may instead simply represent what the doctor has decided the patient deserves, given his/her needs in relation to the needs of all the other patients in the Accountable Care Organization, the state, the country, or the world.

31 Jan 2017

Left Melting Down

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03 Dec 2015

Daily News Calls Republicans Names, Insults Religion

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DailyNewsAssholery

Editorialist Rich Schapiro and the New York Daily News this morning are insulting religious faith and calling Republicans who spoke of praying for victims of the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, California “cowards.”

“God Isn’t Fixing This!” thunders the Daily News headline, obviously preferring to believe that the cult of the Leviathan state to which Mr. Schapiro bows down can do better via Gun Control. All we need to do is follow the example of democrats like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley and support Gun Control, sacrificing the Second Amendment and American’s individual rights on the altar of Statism and we will receive safety and security in return.

People like Rich Schapiro cling passionately to their own twisted version of religion in which the State and the Rule of Experts and the Calculative Power of Human Reason are deemed totally omnipotent and beneficent, somehow managing to overlook the record their philosophy compiled in the last century of transforming civilization and the state into an abattoir resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions, and also managing to overlook the fact that, only a few weeks ago, a much larger armed massacre took place in Paris, the capital of a country which has in place every element and detail of the gun control laws desired by the most hoplophobic of democrats. These kinds of people don’t even notice that the San Bernardino shootings occurred in California, one of the most gun-controlled states in the country.

There is more than a little irony in a bunch of metrosexual simps who disapprove of self-defense, who are afraid of the very sight of guns, who systematically delude themselves with fantasies of universal harmony and safety brought about by the unilateral disarmament of the peaceful and the law-abiding going around calling other people “cowards.”

Personally, if I had a laboratory need for a pure and authentic specimen of the coward, I feel certain that Rich Schapiro himself would function perfectly in the experiment.

29 Oct 2015

Lippmann in 1937 on Progressivism

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progressiveswilldecide

Nick Short quotes Walter Lippmann (of all people) full-throatedly critiquing Progressivism’s enthusiasm for statist coercion.

In his book entitled “An Inquiry into the Principles of the Good Society“, the once avid progressive Walter Lippmann wrote, “Although the partisans who are now fighting for the mastery of the modern world wear shirts of different colors, their weapons are drawn from the same armory, their doctrines are variations of the same theme, and they go forth to battle singing the same tune with slightly different words. Their weapons are the coercive direction of the life and labor of mankind. Their doctrine is that disorder and misery can be overcome only by more and more compulsory organization. Their promise is that through the power of the state men can be made happy.”

Lippmann continued, “Throughout the world, in the name of progress, men who call themselves communists, socialists, fascists, nationalists, progressives, and even liberals, are unanimous in holding that government with its instruments of coercion must by commanding the people how they shall live, direct the course of civilization and fix the shape of things to come. …the mark of a progressive is that he relies at last upon the increased power of officials to improve the condition of men… the only instrument of progress in which they have faith is the coercive agency of government.”

Though this statement in itself is an extraordinary indictment on the direction in which liberalism would inevitably lead us, Lippmann’s next statement is what truly brings home the notion of what we today would consider the modern idea behind progressivism. Noting how progressives seem to imagine no alternative but to rely on the coercive agency of government, Lippmann writes that they can’t even “remember how much of what they cherish as progressive has come by emancipation from political dominion, by the limitation of power, by the release of personal energy from authority and collective coercion. For virtually all that now passes for progressivism in the United States calls for increasing ascendancy of the state: always the cry is for more officials with more power over more and more of the activities of men.”

I had not been aware of there ever having been a classically liberal Lippmann. When I was young, Lippmann was an aged whited speculchre reliably defending Big Government Progressivism (then called: Liberalism) de haut en bas.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

24 May 2015

Free Health Care

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FreeHealthCare

29 Mar 2015

How Many Statists?

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StatistsLightbulb

Hat tip to Jim Harberson.

23 Jan 2015

Archaeological Tyranny & Hype

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nebra_scheibe
Nebra sky disc

The National Post describes, with grossly naive exaggeration and the worst kind of statist prejudice, an interesting, rather pretty Bronze Age artifact with an outrageously offensive history.

The Nebra disc was found in 1999 along with two bronze swords, two hatchets, a chisel, and fragments of spiral bracelets, by Henry Westphal and Mario Renner using a metal detector.

The government of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt claims to own everything in the ground and, as knowledge of the find gradually became known to the public, confiscated all the artifacts found and charged the discoverers with “looting.” Westphal and Renner were convicted and sentenced to prison, as a reward for their discovery, for four months and ten months in 2003. When they appealed, the appeal court raised their sentences to six and twelve months.

Thus, as the National Post reports, the precious artifacts were “saved from the black market” and transferred to the custody of bureaucratic officialdom and the all-knowing administrative state.

The disc has been dated on the basis of the style of the bronze swords buried with it to the mid 2nd millennium BC. Radiocarbon dating of a bit of birchbark found on one of the swords was dated to between 1600 and 1560 BC confirming the former estimate.

The author of the article was scarcely able to breathe while describing the totally astonishing alleged scientific significance of the disc. Why, the Nebra disc represents the earliest human depiction of the cosmos!

Saxony-Anhalt’s house prehistorian & archaeologist Harald Meller (who personally confiscated the horde on behalf of the Leviathan state) has interpreted the disc as a tool used for determining when a thirteenth month – the so-called intercalary month – should be added to a lunar year to keep the lunar calendar in sync with the seasons. When certain prominent constellations, particularly the Pleiades, lined up with the sun and moon as displayed on the disc, every 2-3 years, it would be time to add an extra month in order to bring the lunar and solar calendars into agreement.

Or maybe it was simply made as a piece of decorative art, depicting the most prominent constellations in the night sky.

There is, of course, no real reason, beyond arrogance and brute force, why any state should be entitled to lay claim to ownership of all undiscovered archaeological finds, and there is also no particular reason to believe that immediate state ownership is essential to their preservation. Art objects have been collected and preserved historically most commonly privately since Antiquity. In the modern world, art objects privately owned have a strong tendency to make their way via philanthropy into institutional collections.

These days, we read frequently of absolutely fascinating finds made by hobbyist metal collectors in Britain. In Saxony-Anhalt, I expect we will be reading about fewer of those, since the reward for discovery there is imprisonment for looting.

Wikipedia article

Meller’s theory explained

21 Oct 2014

Keep the Planets Collectivist!

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little-green-men-2
Lockean Individualist enterprise might again threaten aboriginal rights and cultures.

Saskia Vermeylen, a Senior Lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, shudders at the thought that there might possibly one day be private property and private enterprise in Outer Space. No, no, no, Space must be reserved only for collectivist statist administration.

Perceiving outer space as a commons was also another way of preventing national sovereignty in space. But neither the USSR nor the US was keen to fight out the Cold War on yet another front. Geopolitics dictated the decision to treat outer space as being non-appropriable.

This principle can be found back in Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty which clearly forbids “national appropriation by claims of sovereignty, means of use or occupation by any other means”. It has been widely accepted: no one complains the various moon landings or satellites in space have infringed their sovereignty.

However, legal commentators disagree over whether this prohibition is also valid for private appropriation. …

[W]hile the idea of buying some lunar real estate might be fun, in order for these plots to be recognised as property there needs to be legal recognition by a superior authority such as a nation state. As states are not allowed to claim sovereign rights in outer space, landed property on the moon and planets will in all likelihood be outlawed.

Legal commentators are hopeful that states will remain loyal to the treaty and refrain from recognising or endorsing a private property claim. …

But all of these arguments are rather theoretical. If you just simply occupy a place and no one else can access or use it, aren’t you the de facto owner? Lawyers call this corporate possession (corpus possidendi) and it represents another reason why title deeds cannot be a legal proof of lunar ownership – no one is physically there. In order to possess something, both mind and body need to be involved. Intention alone is not sufficient; possession also requires a physical act.

The difficulty of physically establishing an act of possession on the moon should protect it from private development, but it seems technology is once again outsmarting the law. Back in the late 1990s commercial firm SpaceDev intended to land robotic prospectors on an asteroid to conduct experiments and claim it as private property. he project eventually ran out of funds and was shelved, but advocates of such “telepossession” point to cases of salvage companies claiming undersea wrecks as property after exploring them with robots. After all, if an undersea probe with a TV camera was all that was required to take possession of a (previously owned, earthly) shipwreck, why shouldn’t a space probe be enough to take possession of an unowned and unclaimed patch of celestial real estate? …

I get the uncomfortable feeling of a déjà vu. Was it not Locke’s property theory that justified possession over nature and vacant land and eventually led to the colonisation of the Americas?

And we all know how that worked out!

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It is never easy to bring oneself to respond in seriousness to editorials so simultaneously fashionable and conventional in their perspectives, yet built upon such completely astounding and preposterous assumptions.

Saskia Vermeylen is a professional scholar specializing (with the support of Western society and the British state) in property theory, from “a critical socio-legal and philosophical perspective,” meaning that she is a Marxist communist and a committed adversary of the civilization, culture, state, and society in which she was born and educated, and which is currently supporting her professional career.

Saskia Vermeylen was educated (at Surry and at Lancaster, but she could just as well have acquired the same perspective at Oxford or Cambridge or Yale or Harvard) to believe that the European settlement of the New World and the development of the United States of America was overall a Bad Thing, and that it is somehow reasonable to imagine Columbus turning around and going home, and the European states of France and Spain and England, the Netherlands, and Sweden all declining, on moral grounds, to settle and develop unoccupied, newly discovered territories for fear of coming into conflict with the interests of Stone-Age barbarians residing nearby.

If Ms. Vermeylen is correct in her beliefs, it would somehow, mysteriously, be possible for the Iroquois to make war and compete for control of territory with the Hurons, the Susquehannoks, the Eries, and whomsoever; but not for Englishmen and European Civilization to compete with the Iroquois. If Ms. Vermeylen were remotely rational, it would be necessary for it to be possible to argue plausibly that, had Europeans never crossed the Atlantic, after four centuries, the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas would themselves have constructed a state, society, and civilization worthy of comparison in artistic, scientific, philosophical, technological, and political achievement to the United States (and Mexico and Canada), equal or superior in the development of human potential and the promotion of human happiness.

It should be needless to note that imagining any such successful comparisons would be absurd. Consequently, there is no legitimate possible justification for Ms. Vermeylen’s treasonous and nonsensical perspective and no explanation for its etiology other than ignorant conformity to a certain kind of pathological local intellectual fashion.

03 Jan 2014

Decadence and Statism

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Eric Fischl, The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man’s Dog, 1982. –Our time’s version of The Raft of the Medusa.

Charles Hill identifies our time, the age of Decadence, as the period of time lying between the decline and the fall of a great civilization.

Toynbee [predicted] that the creative minority behind great civilizations will, as the civilization begins to decline, transform itself into a dominant minority that takes on the vulgar and promiscuous behaviors of society’s low-life. So in the post-Cold War period America’s “cultural elite”… adopted distinctly coarse attitudes and practices. A Vice Presidential case in point: When the wife of Senator and later Vice President Gore attacked the violence and misogyny of some rock and most rap lyrics, she was scolded by most of her social and political peers. Why were four-letter words, formerly seen by the upper-middle class as déclassé, now appearing in glossy upscale magazines? How had “the hooker look” become a fashion trend among nice girls from the American suburbs? How had multiple body piercings and tattoos, which a few decades ago marked only sailors and motorcycle gang thugs, become trendy?

Toynbee would have shrugged and said simply that we are witnessing the self-proletarianization of the American dominant minority. Happens all the time. Yet there is reason to suspect that the primary cause of this vulgarization may rather be the adoption of a broad cultural style that enhances the elite’s power. In a polity that has been shedding its Founding Fathers-designed barriers against Athenian-style direct democracy, the power elite ever more requires the protective camouflage of proletarian class superiority. Flaunting coarse conduct and a combat boots dress code adds heft to the elite’s domination. So in place of the classically tripartite elements of the soul—reason, desire and spirit, according to the parable of Leontias in Plato’s Republic, or in earlier America, self-reliance, Christian-Roman virtues and patriotism—a new triad emerges: claims on government, vulgar behavior and a yearning for relief from world leadership.

This vast societal transformation might be called “The Great Virtue Shift.” Almost every act regarded in the mid-20th century as a vice was, by the opening of the 21st century, considered a virtue.Almost every act regarded in the mid-20th century as a vice was, by the opening of the 21st century, considered a virtue. As gambling, obscenity, pornography, drugs, divorce, homosexuality, abortion and sneering disaffection became The New Virtue, government at all levels began to move in on the action, starting with casinos and currently involving, in several states and the District of Columbia, an officially approved and bureaucratically managed narcotics trade.

The Great Virtue Shift has produced among its practitioners the appearance of profound moral concern, caring and legislated activism on behalf of the neediest cases and most immiserated populations at home and around the world. To this may be added the panoply of social agenda issues designed to ignite resentment and righteous indignation among the new “proletarian” elite. All this works to satisfy the cultural elite’s desire to feel morally superior about itself regarding collective moral issues of large magnitude even as they, as individuals, engage in outsized self-indulgent personal behavior. This is Reinhold Niebuhr’s “moral man and immoral society” turned on its head, where hedonism takes cover beneath a superficial global moralism.

The virtue shift has been paralleled by a governmental shift. As gifted politicians have sensed the changing psychology and national character of the country, they have learned to constantly scan the political horizon to identify each special interest group, make the necessary promises and then move to satisfy each group’s claim on government largesse, or its demand for deeper government intervention to enforce adherence to each group’s behavioral choices. Throughout most of American history people were preoccupied with how to prevent government from becoming corrupt. In our time, governments have discovered how to corrupt the people. It then follows that the more corrupted the people become, the more numerous the laws must be, thus further aggrandizing government’s indispensability.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

17 Dec 2013

“He Covets. That is his Nature.”

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Robert Reich
Kevin D. Williamson responds devastatingly to a recent editorial by Professor Robert Reich advocating increased limits on tax deductibility for private philanthropy.

Prayerful people bargaining with God over lottery numbers no doubt imagine that they would do some worthy things with that money, on top of buying a Ferrari. Progressives imagine all the wonderful things they could do with other people’s money, and no doubt some of them are well-intentioned. But envy poisons whatever good intentions they have, which is how men such as Professor Reich come to write resentful indictments of people who are, remember, giving away billions of dollars of their own money. He’d prefer their money be given away by him, or by bureaucracies under the tutelage of men such as himself. As the moral philosopher Hannibal Lecter put it: “He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet? Do we seek out things to covet? No. We begin by coveting what we see every day.”

Megan McArdle once observed that in our public discourse, “very rich” is defined as “just above the level a top-notch journalist in a two-earner couple could be expected to pull down.” There is no envy like the envy of a $250,000 man in a world of $250 million men, as Robert Duvall’s crusty newspaper editor explains to a financially frustrated employee in The Paper: “The people we cover — we move in their world, but it is their world. We don’t get the money — never have, never will.” But being in that world, they learn to covet, which helps explain why Professor Reich’s old boss, Bill Clinton, ended up with $50-odd million in the bank after a lifetime of public service.

Americans gave away $316 billion in 2012, and will give away as much or more this year, and Professor Reich composed 731 words to explain the problems related to that. He should have composed two words, especially relevant to this season:

“Thank you.”

11 Nov 2013

Government Knows Best

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Jonah Goldberg discusses how the base philosophy of American government has changed. We are now ruled by people, like Barack Obama, who believe that they know better than we do ourselves what’s good for us.

Several times now, the president has endeavored to explain that it’s not that big a deal millions of Americans are losing their health-insurance plans against their will. The people who had plans they liked didn’t understand that the plans they liked were no good — they were the actuarial equivalent of trans fats, don’t you know? The fact that the people who held them liked them, thought they were good, and wanted to keep them doesn’t count for much, because the government knows best.

The president can’t say it as plainly as he would like, because to do so would be to admit not only that he lied to the American people, but that he thinks the complainers are ignorant about their own needs and interests.

The president’s more intellectually honest defenders have said exactly that. “Vast swathes of policy are based on the correct presumption that people don’t know what’s best for them. Nothing new,” tweeted Josh Barro, politics editor for Business Insider.

Barro’s fairly liberal, but I’d be dishonest if I said that he was wrong from a conservative perspective. The difference, however, is that conservatives tend to see government as a necessary evil, and therefore see policymaking with some humility. Liberals tend to see government as a necessary good, and see ordering people to do things “for their own good” as a source of pride, even hubris.

From a conservative perspective, telling people how to run their lives when not absolutely necessary is an abuse of power. For liberals, telling people how to run their lives is one of the really fun perks of working for the government.

You can see the frustration on the president’s face. It’s almost like the ingrates who refuse to understand that his were necessary lies for their own good are spoiling all his fun.

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