Progressives and liberals love William James’s idea of a “moral equivalent of war.” As Jonah Goldberg defines this concept, “The core idea, expressed in myriad different ways, is that normal democratic capitalism is insufficient. Society needs an
organizing principle that causes the citizenry to drop their individual pursuits, petty ambitions, and disorganized lifestyles and unite around common purposes. Naturally, the State must provide leadership and coordination in this effort, just as it does in a war.” The redefining of social problems as battles in a “war” also expands the regulatory and intrusive power of the federal government, and justifies its appropriation of wealth in order to finance the programs that are de facto redistributions of property. The fundamental purpose of the Constitution, limiting the government in order to allow problems to be solved at the closest possible level to the people, is gutted by a false analogy.
Up until Obamacare, no greater example of costly failure of this idea has been Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” a congeries of various federal programs legislated 50 years ago. Johnson’s grandiose utopian aim for his “unconditional war on poverty” was the “total victory of prosperity over poverty.” Recently the House Continue reading “Winners and Losers in the War on Poverty”→
The continuing attention devoted to the blunders, incompetence, and lies surrounding the Obamacare rollout is much deserved. But we shouldn’t forget that the President’s health-care monstrosity is merely the latest and biggest of scores of government entitlement programs suffering from the same flawed progressive assumption––that government “experts” armed with coercive power alone can solve problems better left to the states, civil society, and the free market. In reality, such programs relentlessly metastasize, increasing as well fraud, waste, abuse, and costs.
One such program is SNAP, the kinder and gentler name for what we used to call food stamps. Apparently the old coupons were too hurtful, so they have been replaced by the Electronic Benefits Transfer card that looks like a debit or credit card. Over the last decade, SNAP recipients have increased from 21 million to 47 million, 1 in 7 Americans. But benefits paid out have nearly quadrupled from $21 billion to $75 billion. Continue reading “Don’t Forget the Other Entitlement Monsters”→
The election postmortem has identified all manner of causes for the Republicans’ defeat, from the “woman problem” and the “Hispanic problem,” as Peggy Noonan put it, to Romney’s fatcat persona and his inept campaign. But there’s a simpler reason, one consistent with the critics of democracy starting in ancient Athens — Obama and the Democrats promised voters more free stuff. Continue reading “Explaining the Democrats’ Success”→
In hard times, as in war, questions arise that were once considered taboo. As we approach $15 trillion run up in aggregate national debt, and confront the reality of a welfare state that is predicated on flawed assumptions about everything from demography to human nature, a rendezvous with brutal reality is now upon us. Continue reading “The Tragic View Returns”→