We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, November 29. 2007
The government as Santa the Thief (who and what is "Santa the Thief"? We will tell you later.)
The Trouble with Limited Government, by Voegli at Claremont. One quote:
Read the whole thing. Readers know my view: the only vision which can compete with the vision of childlike dependency on an omnipotent State is the old Yankee vision of the individual freedom and dignity of sturdy, honest, self-reliant family people who proudly forge their way through life, take their lumps, ask for nothin' from nobody, and want a government which only protects freedom and which "governs least." That noble vision was an easy sell in 1789, but not so easy today. From the board-room to agri-business to greedy geezers, everybody now seems to want a government Santa, and to feed at the trough of the income tax and the federal debt - and even invents ways to morally justify it. Heck, if I live to Medicare, I will probably take it too - but I will hate myself for doing so.
There is a soul-degrading vicious cycle at work: the more you tax people, the less money they have to take care of their families - so the more they will want, or even need, "freebies."
Am I old-fashioned to distrust and fear government power and control? Are we really just government-intoxicated decadent Europeans, on a different continent with different accents or a different language, instead of the stalwart, rugged, independent Americans of history? Was it just a dream?
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Well that's just depressing.
Because it's all too true. I'm afraid that I am all too pessimistic about our ability to stop the welfare state train rumbling down the tracks at greater and greater speed.
Forget Reagan. Forget conservatism. Embrace the Road to Serfdom unless you are willing to take up arms and fight our way back to the principles outlined in the Constitution and we know that's probably not going to happen.
It's one thing to defend the Constitutional principles, I wish someone would , but that's not happening. It hasn't since FDR. Republicans don't know how to govern, only bitch, and the Democrats can recite the Prince, The Communist Manifesto, and Das Capital by heart.
The paradigm we are heavily involved in is BIG BIG GOVERNMENT taking care of us. Most seem to like it and are totally reflexive to it's siren call when things go bad. Yeah a few hearty souls are "self sufficient" but it's window dressing, kind like going to the Smithsonian and seeing a diorama that says "Americans, circa 1945-1955" .
We have a nation of what the greeks termed metics. In ancient Greece, the term metic meant resident alien, a person who did not have citizen rights in their Greek city-state (polis) of residence, except we've extended the concept to give rights to anyone within our borders, even if they're here to kill us.
We are screwed up in so many ways it takes a tome to even limn the situation. To many FDR is a saint because he "saved" the country when in fact he set us on the Road to Serfdom and no one, neither Republican nor Democrat has had the political will, and the political muscle to take away the pacifier from the people, for the people vote for more,more,more, without the vaguest understanding of what they are doing.
Happy Trails but I do not see enough of the kinds of citizens necessary to fight our way back to the constitution.**
**Phrase brazenly stolen from Buddy, thanks dude.
'Yeah a few hearty souls are "self sufficient" but it's window dressing, kind like going to the Smithsonian and seeing a diorama that says "Americans, circa 1945-1955" . '.
habu,i coincidently had a similar group of thoughts last night
while watching scraps of "Alone in the Wilderness"
(being sold on CDs for $120.- as part of a PBS fund drive).
the original author/filmaker/subject
built his own log cabin in Alaska,with hand tools,
and hunted food with his rifle and a fishing rod and canoe,
with very occasional outside supplies arriving by light plane.
in the current "humans off earth now"
media environment,it struck me as weirdly
nostalgic and anachronistic...including the reverence with which PBS was shilling the work.
Re: Am I old-fashioned to distrust and fear government power and control? Are we really just government-intoxicated Europeans, on a different continent with different accents or a different language, instead of the stalwart Americans of history
Not old fashioned as much as unrealistic. Government is a fact of everybodys life. Was so even for stalwart Americans of history. In some ways we are caught in the tradewinds of our own time. And in some ways we are masters and commanders of own lives. Might not always be just one or the other either.
Some of big government social changes enacted in America like child labor laws and 40 hour work week, Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, became law very near or even before the Europeans enacted them. Child labor law may have been a NY idea.
The reach of the central regulatory and administraive state is unprecedented. It's simply untrue that government can be said to have been a 'fact of everyday life' throughout our history. If it's unrealistic to expect government to play the role it was designed to play then the founding ideas of federalism are unrealistic and the reforms of the progressive era and the New Dealers are inherently wiser and more practical than those founding thinkers and actors. Experience proves, through the various failures, swept out of the historical memory, of the progressive era, the new deal and the great society, that the founding ideas are correct and the reformers were and are mistaken.
Just as you say, "It's simply untrue that government can be said to have been a 'fact of everyday life' throughout our history. I couldn't agree more with the caveat that since the advent of the city state some form of government has guided public life.
I fully support your next point that the sweeping away of federalism for the promise of "progressivism" was, and remains, horribly misguided and inimical to society as a whole.
Gone are the state "laboratories" design to create new ways of solving problems and doing so for the benefit of the citizen in that state or region, with the best ideas rising to the federal level. Now we have it exactly turned on it's head. The unfunded mandates , edicts, and unbureaucratic laws all come from a one size fits all central government. What's good for Florida must certainly be good for Alaska. In this manner, the odious and illegal judicial review of the Supreme Court can guarantee "equal protection under the law" and if that is not the standard their are factions that will force it to be, and the Floridians and Alaskans lose, not gain, freedom.
I have no expectation that the course we are on will change.
A civil war will change it at the same price the last one cost us, local,state, and federal taxes not withstanding. But in my view, which I know to be a minority one, I would not support a citizenry that did not support itself. Call it social Darwinism if you prefer but I would as soon allow those societal leeches to die in the gutter that to reign compassion on them at the price of an entire nations freedom through the confiscation of the working citizens property via taxation, or now with Kelo simply for greater revenue using eminent domain. Mankind may have been metaphysically created equal but it is not the function of the government to dictate equal outcomes.
All well and good, now who can pull Joe Sixpack away from his TV long enough to explain it and would he understand ... no, not in a million years. We've dumbed down to third world standards.
The easiest thing would be to just roll over and embrace Marxism.
Then with any luck at all we who gravitate toward such forums as this one, could parlay our enjoyment of communication into nice department directorships where we could live the life of riley while sending everyone we dislike off to the glue factory.
It is for a fact heartening that year in and year out the federal take hovers around the same 20%.
There's a certain national comity on the face of that, in that the prodigious efforts by left and right to collapse the enemy rampart is always for the prize of a point or two of GDP.
OTOH, the range of 18+ through 23+ %/GDP amounts to a pretty significant prize.
OTOH.2, the $ is only a part of the general governing atmosphere and as habu is gonna say if i don't, "man does not live by bread alone".
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. Winston Churchill 1941
Grant: thank you for the Churchill quote--it has sustained me in many events!
We have had two events with regard to oil/fuel, and I tried to post the url but was not able to. So please go to:
DurangoHerald.com and look at the explosion story. Then go to Vancouver Sun (look it up on Google) they have a story about the oil pipelines that caught on fire at about the same time as those in the preceeding story.
Question: do these two events look connected to you?
habu- The difference between the local and state relationship with the citizen versus the bureaucratic regulatory and administrative state structure with it's top/down tendency to control most aspects of day to day existence through the direct tax on 'income' and the grand social experiment of redistribution in the name of abstrct equality is my focus. Such a role for the central state is unprecedented, at least in this country, as is each accretion of new authority. The very idea that any limits were once in place is almost quaint.
''The very idea that any limits were once in place is almost quaint''
...that's certainly what Earl Warren thought, apparently.
Of course, that is what he tought, as did Wilson, FDR and Johnson. Pure hubris.
One problem with small government conservatism is that when you squeeze power from government it’ll just squirt over into something else.
Maybe one solution is to get everybody to demand results from anybody in power the way we do with football coaches and opera singers.
CC- The thing you fail to realize is that the government is not like anything else. In civilized societies, coercion is the state's alone, for good reason. Wherever the 'power squirts', as you put it, differs from the power of the state. Once with the state it rarely leaves voluntarily. Market forces do not apply to state power.
Barring genetic engineering, you will always megalomaniacal and predatory types out there who will be expert at working WHATEVER system is available and advantageous to them (it’s only the dumb ones who wind up in prison, maimed or dead). These people naturally gravitate toward wherever the checks and balances against them will be weakest.
In the middle east, you’ve seen this in Hamas, Arafat, Iranian mullahs, al queda and all their spinoffs – where the ruling and other elite must humor these unusual power centers.
In America you’ve seen this in monopolies and trusts, self-serving multimillionaire preachers, corporate sponsored porous borders, engineered financial panics – where the ruling and other elite must humor these unusual power centers.
FYI, I’m for smart efficient government, which in a more perfect world would be very small indeed. But we don’t live in that world, do we? Market forces can only operate perfectly in perfect worlds, one without any megalomaniacal and predatory behaviors present.
And isn’t this what all the philosophical questing for the best possible government has always been all about anyways (at least for regular guys):
managing the assholes?
that's the Willie Sutton Theory of Political Economics, i believe--
I’d never be so cynical as the ponerology conspiracy theorists, though in some cases they’re probably correct. There have always been competent players who enhance “market forces” - successful geeks like Edison and Wozniak prove this all the time. But as a general rule, the less democracy is involved in “the game”, the more the antisocial power player will succeed and muck things up for everyone else.
I'll take your predatory individual who compete in the marketplace over any self serving politico who produces nothing.
The amount of unrestricted power they wield is certainly a concern.
Ok. So here we are. Its that time in life when we should kind of slow down to half pace. Can't manage it though if we consider another 20 years of living. We did put away-but inflation has outpaced us. We have worked very hard 14/6 most of 30 years. We even have some kind of retirement. HOWEVER, and this is the part that we need to consider: medical--just plain medical for both of us (no health issues to date) will cost us $1100/month. That means we need to have $13,200 to put aside every year in case we get sick. On top of that we will need long term care, and something for dental, optical, and most importantly pharmaceuticals. I would guess that within two years we will be paying $20,000/year for medical. And that dear folks is about half of what the average payroll is in some parts of this country. How did we get here?
I forogt to say that the reason I mention this here is that our retirement investments have not/will not keep pace with the raging increases in medical. So, perhaps there should be a staggered payment plan for medical--more when you are younger,and less when you are on a fixed income retirement. Clearly, the free market vacuum does not work in some areas of human effort--public transportation, food production, and medical services to name those that I believe to be primary.
AP, i don't want to wax politcal, but, a quick search of administration health care proposals--specifically the HSAs & associated tax incentives--shows a cynic such as yours truly that the Dems prefer the issue over any solution that doesn't emerge from crisis.
Yes, I know that to be correct. Most particularly they profit from the process of sustaining the crisis through a one sided debate.