"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, April 24, 2006

Republicans Bad, Democrats Worse, Hope Meager

These are sad times for classical liberals. The Republicans are spending taxpayer money at a pace that has drunken sailors saying, "Whoa, hold on a minute there, Buddy!" With President Bush's enthusiastic encouragement, they created a new Medicare prescription drug plan and managed to keep a straight face while telling us it would actually save us money. Katrina gave them a great excuse to add tons of new spending without making corresponding cuts in non-emergency programs. The Republicans are flirting with allowing lawbreakers to benefit from their illegal actions in flouting our immigration laws, all for the benefit of rich people looking for cheap gardeners, nannies, fruit pickers, and warehouse workers. And so on.

It's repugnant, all right, and there would be something we could do about it if not for the fact that the Democrats are not only for all these these things, they support them more strongly, want more spending on these programs and more solicitiude toward the lawbreakers, would press forward more quickly toward the precipice of economic and social destruction, and advocate these absurd proposals with a level of moral smugness even Republicans have difficulty matching.

Mark Steyn describes it well in the current issue of National Review, excerpted on National Review Online:

I'm not predicting electoral disaster this November. It would be nice to think that the GOP might get to enjoy a Geena Davis-style "hiatus" while they "retune" their winning formula. But I doubt it will happen: Even losers need someone to lose to, and the Democrats have failed to fulfill even that minimal requirement for the last decade.

Christopher Hitchens said on the Hugh Hewitt show recently that he "dislikes" the Republican party but has "contempt" for the Democrats. I appreciate the distinction, though I'm not sure I could muster even that level of genial tolerance. The Democrats have been the most contemptible opportunists in the years since 9/11: If they've got nothing useful to contribute to the great challenge of the age they could at least have the decency not to waste our time waving around three-year-old Abu Ghraib pictures and chanting "exit strategy" every ten minutes.

Hitchens has it just right, I think.

Now in power, the Republicans are doing whatever they can to retain that power, which in the nation's capitol means buying votes with taxpayers' money. That's what political parties do, and as long as huge amounts of money and power are concentrated in Washington, D.C., that will be the way of things, with the taxpayers occasionally saying "enough!" and the party out of power deciding to take a chance on a small dose of economic liberalization and a slightly greater encouragement of rule of law.

Unfortunately, the Democrats are so strongly attached to their economic redistribution ideology that there is virtually no hope of them pursuing a course toward liberalization and rule of law. They seem likely only to fall further into their present radicalism.

One might hope that such a course would send them into final political oblivion and allow a more plausible political opposition to arise, but the Republicans' adoption of the Dems' principles has kept the latter party alive.

So a plausible alternative party is not going to arise under current conditions, and a classical liberal third party is an impossible dream.

Which leaves us with the Republicans. Will they see the foolishness of their choice to become the party of huge government as opposed to the Democrats' gigantic government?

Not any time soon.

6 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship."

---Alexander Fraser Tyler, The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic

I can't blame Bush for the prescription drug benefit. Gore was promising one, so Bush had to, too. Well, I suppose I can blame him for keeping a campaign promise. A dangerous precedent.

Ever hear this story about Congressman Davy Crockett, and his epiphany in 1830 that federal handouts, even for good causes, were against the constitution?

He lost the next election. And the one after that...

Tlaloc said...

"Unfortunately, the Democrats are so strongly attached to their economic redistribution ideology that there is virtually no hope of them pursuing a course toward liberalization and rule of law."

Uh redistribution of wealth is the essence of liberalism and is an integral part of the rule of law. No organized society has ever existed without some form of wealth distribution.

Even in the form of primitive potlatches where the wealthy put on extravagent feasts to feed the poor and thus spread their accumulated wealth through the tribe.

You might as well ask for an organized society without authority figures as ask for one in which money is not moved around.

The problems in america tend to revolve around not enough redistribution rather than too much. That is a problem the dems can be set upon.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Even in the form of primitive potlatches where the wealthy put on extravagent feasts to feed the poor and thus spread their accumulated wealth through the tribe.


Surely you can come with an example that supports your claim; this one does not.

The redistribution you are speaking of here is done without coersion.

Perhaps your definition of redistribution is a different one?

Tlaloc said...

"The redistribution you are speaking of here is done without coersion."

Not true, it was a social obligation. Failure to perform in such a manner could cause any manner of backlash. Granted tribal life doen't really allow for an IRS like organization.



"Perhaps your definition of redistribution is a different one?"

No I think our disconnect is with the word coercion.

Tom Van Dyke said...

The laugh is in that the two guiding principles of modern leftism, egalitarianism and redistribution of wealth, are fundamentally at odds with each other.

We could institute a 100% inheritance tax and that would do nothing about inequality. 80+% of American millionaires are first-generation, many without college degrees.

Effort and merit beat privilege every time, at least in the USA, except perhaps against scions of the Kennedy family, who are the antithesis of effort and merit.

Caught a naturalized American (nee French) on TV recently. He said of Europe: You've got all these grand ideas about politics and economics. They're not working. Here's a new idea: work!

Tlaloc said...

"The laugh is in that the two guiding principles of modern leftism, egalitarianism and redistribution of wealth, are fundamentally at odds with each other."

Uh no they aren't. Wealth has to be redistributed in order to be equal (i.e. egalitarian) because it is currently grotesquely concentrated in the hands of a few.

If the wealth were already equally distributed then yes furth redistribution would run counter to egalitarianism.



"We could institute a 100% inheritance tax and that would do nothing about inequality."

Well if we used the money to help those who aren't rich then yes it would do SOMETHIN about inequality. It wouldn't fix it by itself, no.



"80+% of American millionaires are first-generation, many without college degrees."

Neat. Lets tax them too.
Seriously though what the country needs is a maximum wage law rather than a minimum wage law. If we established a maximum compensation (including all perks, stock, etc.) of say $1 million a year there we'd save half a billion dollars per year on the top 500 CEOs alone.



"Effort and merit beat privilege every time"

Unfortunately those people who are obscenely wealthy tend to have neither effort nor merit. What they have is luck or institutional advantages. Look at the top ten wealthy americans. Four of them are Waltons who owe their fortune to merely being born into Sam Walton's family. Sam Walton meanwhile caused severe damage to this country through his rapacious greed. Also on the list is Gates who is a piss poor engineer but a first rate extortionist.

Really Tom, look at the facts rather than the horatio alger MYTH.