Category Archive 'George Will'
20 Feb 2019
George Will marvels at the recent surge of popularity for the new angrier Socialism.
Two-thirds of the federal budget (and 14 percent of GDP) goes to transfer payments, mostly to the non-poor. The U.S. economyâ€™s health-care sector (about 18 percent of the economy) is larger than the economies of all but three nations, and is permeated by government money and mandates. Before the Affordable Care Act was enacted, 40 cents of every health-care dollar was governmentâ€™s 40 cents. The sturdy yeomanry who till Americaâ€™s soil? Last yearâ€™s 529-page Agriculture Improvement Act will be administered by the Agriculture Department, which has about one employee for every 20 American farms.
Socialists favor a steeply progressive income tax, as did those who created todayâ€™s: The top 1 percent pay 40 percent of taxes; the bottom 50 percent pay only 3 percent; 50 percent of households pay either no income tax or 10 percent or less of their income. Law professor Richard Epstein notes that in the last 35 years the fraction of total taxes paid by the lower 90 percent has shrunk from more than 50 percent to about 35 percent.
In his volume in the Oxford History of the United States (The Republic for Which It Stands) covering 1865â€“1896, Stanfordâ€™s Richard White says that John Bates Clark, the leading economist of that era, said â€œtrue socialismâ€ is â€œeconomic republicanism,â€ which meant more cooperation and less individualism. Others saw socialism as â€œa system of social ethics.â€ All was vagueness.
Todayâ€™s angrier socialists rail, with specificity and some justification, against todayâ€™s â€œriggedâ€ system of government in the service of the strong. But as the Hoover Institutionâ€™s John H. Cochrane (a.k.a. the Grumpy Economist) says, â€œIf the central problem is rent-seeking, abuse of the power of the state, to deliver economic goods to the wealthy and politically powerful, how in the world is more government the answer?â€
11 Jul 2018
George Will explains what Socialism in America would look like if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came into power.
[I]f America had a socialist government today, what would it be like?
Socialism favors the thorough permeation of economic life by “social” (aka political) considerations, so it embraces protectionism â€” government telling consumers what they can buy, in what quantities and at what prices. (A socialist American government might even set quotas and prices for foreign washing machines.)
Socialism favors maximizing government’s role supplementing, even largely supplanting, the market â€” voluntary private transactions â€” in the allocation of wealth by implementing redistributionist programs. (Today America’s sky is dark with dollars flying hither and yon at government’s direction: Transfer payments distribute 14% of GDP, two-thirds of the federal budget, up from a little more than one-quarter in 1960. In the half-century 1963-2013, transfer payments were the fastest-growing category of personal income. By 2010, American governments were transferring $2.2 trillion in government money, goods and services.)
Socialism favors vigorous government interventions in the allocation of capital, directing it to uses that far-sighted government knows, and the slow-witted market does not realize, constitute the wave of the future. So, an American socialist government might tell, say, Carrier Corp. and Harley-Davidson that the government knows better than they do where they should invest shareholders’ assets.
Socialism requires â€” actually, socialism is â€” industrial policy, whereby government picks winners and losers in conformity with the government’s vision of how the future ought to be rationally planned. What could go wrong? (Imagine, weirdly, a president practicing compassionate socialism by ordering his energy secretary to prop up yesterday’s coal industry against the market menace of fracking â€” cheap oil and natural gas.)
Socialism, which fancies itself applied social science, requires a bureaucracy of largely autonomous experts unconstrained by a marginalized â€” ideally, a paralyzed â€” Congress. So, an American socialist government would rule less by laws than by regulations written in administrative agencies staffed by experts insulated from meddling by elected legislators. (Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s office displays two piles of paper. One, a few inches high, contains the laws Congress passed in a recent year. The other, about 8 feet tall, contains regulations churned out that year by the administrative state’s agencies.)
Socialism favors vast scope for ad hoc executive actions unbound by constraining laws that stifle executive nimbleness and creativity. (Imagine an aggrieved president telling, say, Harley-Davidson: “I’ve” â€” first-person singular pronoun â€” “done so much for you.”)
Today’s American socialists say that our government has become the handmaiden of rapacious factions and entrenched elites, and that there should be much more government. They are half-right. To be fair, they also say that after America gets “on the right side of history” (an updated version of after “the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”), government will be truly disinterested, manipulated by no rent-seeking factions, serving only justice. That is, government will be altogether different than it is, or ever has been. Seriously.
11 Dec 2012
George Will, on ABC News recently, did everything but sing Hallelujah to the river gods as civilization appeared ready to slide another long mile downstream, with the Supreme Court announcing its intention to intervene in the culture wars conflict over Same Sex Marriage in the grim immediate aftermath of the 2012 election.
While Supreme Court watchers ponder how justices will come down in the debate over gay marriage, ABCâ€™s George Will said Sunday on ABC News â€œThis Weekâ€ itâ€™s clear where public opinion is headed.
â€œThere is something like an emerging consensus,â€ Will said, noting voters in three states recently endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives. [emphasis added] â€œQuite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. Itâ€™s old people.â€
Why, I wonder, is George Will apparently surprised that young people are so commonly successfully-brainwashed subscribers to establishment community of fashion articles of faith, like the principle that no mere theory should ever be allowed to stand in the way of immediate individual personal gratification, or the even more important principle that Equality is the utmost supreme value transcending all other values?
It always looks exactly this way in every culture wars battle. Young people care nothing for theories and tradition and everything for fashionable opinion and being nice.
But Mr. Will overlooks a couple of important considerations.
Young people inevitably grow older and gain experience and most of them recover from the illusions with which they were indoctrinated during their school years. Time is not really on the side of the progressive left. Conservatives and sane rational people do not just grow old, die off, and become extinct, leaving behind a Saturnalia of progressive fantasy. What really happens is that each generation of dummer jungen gradually matures, turning from radicals and fashionistas into sober and responsible burgesses, tax payers, and adults. The gleeful supporters of free love and transgressive sex turn into censorious grey-haired married couples with children of their own.
In the end, you simply wind up with the repetition of the comedy of a society always divided nearly evenly between the party of the young, the radical, and the stupid and the party of the adults.
We have a serious problem in America in having allowed too many important institutions to fall into the hands of an unworthy and only-superficially-intelligent intelligentsia. But we do not need to despair.
George Will obviously spends too much of his time in the fantasy cocoon of media culture. He has succumbed to believing in the left’s narrative of the grand march of Progress, of the inevitable and irreversible movement of society in the direction of coercive egalitarianism, materialism, and statism.
George Will has forgotten the first thing any conservative ought to remember. Magna est veritas et prÃ¦valebit. (“The truth is mighty and it shall prevail.” The Revolutionary Convention may renumber the calendar and change the name of the months to “the windy one” and “the rainy one,” an infatuated majority of supreme court justices may decide that the intention of the framers guarantees the sacramental equality of sexual perversion, but History will go on, and absurdities, grotesqueries, and the wild excesses of human folly and obsession over time typically fall of their own weight. Later generations laugh at the Victorian sexual pudeur that once installed skirts on piano legs, and succeeding generations will similarly marvel at the extravagantly bizarre positions so many in our own era were driven to by the current dementia founded upon egalitarianism.
There has never, in the entire history of the human race, been any society or culture that regarded homosexual attraction as a basis for lifelong monogamous relations or which looked upon the sterile couplings of members of the same sex as worthy of the dignity of recognition as equivalent to normal marriage.
Today’s moral breakdown and intellectual disorder may possibly lead to the official proclamation of such absolute nonsense as the new law of the land, but the left’s fools and demoniacs can never possibly in the long run succeed in establishing permanently so preposterously-based an institution as Same Sex Marriage.
08 Oct 2011
George Will explains that Elizabeth Warren’s version of social contract theory really constitutes the elite’s attempt to substitute a forged IOU entitling them to rule.
Warrenâ€™s statement is a footnote to modern liberalismâ€™s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government â€” of the ability to govern oneâ€™s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds. …
Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose â€œfalse consciousnessâ€ is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders. This means subordination of the bovine many to a regulatory government staffed by people drawn from the clever minority not manipulated into false consciousness.
Because such tutelary government must presume the publicâ€™s incompetence, it owes minimal deference to peopleâ€™s preferences. These preferences are not really â€œtheirs,â€ because the preferences derive from false, meaning imposed, consciousness. This convenient theory licenses the enlightened vanguard, the political class, to exercise maximum discretion in wielding the powers of the regulatory state.
Warrenâ€™s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable â€” that the individual depends on cooperative behaviors by others â€” misses this point: It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of societyâ€™s creative complexity.
Society â€” hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily â€” is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation. Government facilitates this cooperation with roads, schools, police, etc. â€” and by getting out of its way. This is a sensible, dynamic, prosperous societyâ€™s â€œunderlying social contract.â€
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