Of liberty, libertarians, and charity 0

A nice column by John Stossel at Townhall explains what a libertarian is/believes.

We think it likely that most of our regular readers are, like ourselves, libertarians, and need no such explanation.

Still, the column is a good read. Here’s a taste of it:

Libertarians want government to leave people alone — in both the economic and personal spheres. Leave us free to pursue our hopes and dreams, as long as we don’t hurt anybody else.

Ironically, that used to be called “liberal,” which has the same root as “liberty.” Several hundred years ago, liberalism was a reaction against the stifling rules imposed by aristocracy and established religion.

I wish I could call myself “liberal” now. But the word has been turned on its head. It now means health police, high taxes, speech codes and so forth. …

When I first explained libertarianism to my wife, she said: “That’s cruel! What about the poor and the weak? Let them starve?”

For my FBN [Fox Business Network] show tomorrow, I ask some prominent libertarians that question, including Jeffrey Miron, who teaches economics at Harvard.

“It might in some cases be a little cruel,” Miron said. “But it means you’re not taking from people who’ve worked hard to earn their income (in order) to give it to people who have not worked hard.”

But isn’t it wrong for people to suffer in a rich country?

“The number of people who will suffer is likely to be very small. Private charity … will provide support for the vast majority who would be poor in the absence of some kind of support. When government does it, it creates an air of entitlement that leads to more demand for redistribution, till everyone becomes a ward of the state.” …

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, took the discussion to a deeper level.

“Instead of asking, ‘What should we do about people who are poor in a rich country?’ The first question is, ‘Why is this a rich country?’ …

“Five hundred years ago, there weren’t rich countries in the world. There are rich countries now because part of the world is following basically libertarian rules: private property, free markets, individualism.” …

Before the New Deal, people of modest means banded together to help themselves. These organizations were crowded out when government co-opted their insurance functions, which included inexpensive medical care.

Boaz indicts the welfare state for the untold harm it’s done in the name of the poor.

“What we find is a system that traps people into dependency. … You should be asking advocates of that system, ‘Why don’t you care about the poor?'”

I agree. It appears that when government sets out to solve a problem, not only does it violate our freedom, it also accomplishes the opposite of what it set out to do.

It should be taken as a general rule that everything government does it does badly. Even the one thing it alone can and must do – protect the nation and the individual – it messes up. The less we allow government to do, the better for all of us.

As for helping the helpless (other than privately), here’s an idea. Why not shift all responsibility for welfare on to the churches? After all, Christians claim that their earthly mission is indiscriminate loving, giving, caring. The churches will need much more money than their congregations willingly give, but they can easily raise it from liberals, from innumerable Bill Clinton types who say they feel the pain of others, from all who sigh for the poor because it makes them feel they’re good persons –  a numerous crowd in every Western nation. Let the churches have the honor of being the soul distributors of such prospectively vast funds to those condemned to be, through no fault of their own, at the receiving end of charity; and also – because they’ll not be able to avoid it – to those who’ll demand a share whether they need it or not.

Crime pays 1

Would you like to have free health care and a pension? Here’s a way to get them simply by sitting for three years in a secure environment. Oh – and by hurting some Norwegians.

They’ll pay you to do it.

That’s right. Go to Norway and commit a serious crime. The rest is gravy.

The story by Rita Karlsen comes from FrontPageMag:

Criminal foreigners who serve more than a year in jail will henceforth automatically qualify for welfare. After three years in prison, they will have a right to a government pension and to health coverage. This will be the case even if they have come to Norway illegally. In other words, it pays for foreigners to come to Norway and commit serious crimes – and the more serious the crime, the greater the reward.

The word ”shocking” is hardly sufficient. Indeed, some news is so shocking that one hardly believes what one is hearing. This new development falls under the category of things that you just can’t imagine a country’s leaders ever coming up with. But I am not making this up. You can read all about it on the website of the newspaper Aftenposten: in order to qualify for welfare, foreign criminals will have to commit crimes that are serious enough to put them behind bars for a year or more. But if they are found guilty of even more serious offenses, so that they are sentenced to at least three years, they will also have the right to a basic government pension starting at age 67.

According to Aftenposten, a person who has spent three years in the can will receive a so-called 3/40 basic pension, which amounts to 455 kroner ($80) a month. I assume this means that somebody who has served seven years will get a 7/40 basic pension, and so forth. It is impossible to imagine a policy that would more clearly reward people for breaking the law. And unfortunately, this isn’t all. Because if the same criminal foreigners are citizens of countries belonging to the EU or the European Economic Area, such as Lithuania, Poland, or Bulgaria, they will also have a right to Norwegian pensions even if they have moved out of Norway. We can thus expect that in the years to come, the Norwegian welfare system will find itself paying out considerable amounts in health and pension benefits to felons living abroad.

We can also expect that the Norwegian “goodness industry,” as I like to call it, will soon be telling us that this new policy is discriminatory: why shouldn’t criminals from countries outside the EU or EEA have the same rights as criminals from Europe? For under Norwegian law, citizenship is not predicated on one’s land of birth: if a man is a Norwegian citizen, all of his children have the right to Norwegian citizenship as well, regardless of whether they are born in Norway, Lithuania, Pakistan, or Somalia, and regardless of whether their mother is wife #1 or wife #33. As Human Rights Service has noted repeatedly, if this is called equality under the law, there is something wrong with the law.

There is also something wrong with a law that encourages people to pursue lives of crime, and that in fact amounts to a gilt-edged invitation to come to Norway to commit serious crime. …  As of January 2010, 1,001 foreign citizens are in Norwegian prisons….

Don’t be surprised, Norway, if before long there are millions. Better start building more prisons. You may soon be recognized as the most attractive little country in the world. And the least safe. And one of the poorest.

We do so enjoy the idiocy of the left. Can’t help laughing as we cry.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, Europe, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Friday, January 8, 2010

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Hope to reverse the change 0

Because who comes to power in the US and with what policies inevitably affects the rest of the world, we’re posting this article on the Republican Party – whose prospects at present look good for the 2010 elections – without apology to our much valued readers in other countries.

Some ruminations in the dark of the year.

The Democrats are doing badly. It must be good for the GOP. What should the GOP do to take maximum advantage of Obama’s steep fall in popularity and public revulsion against the (misnamed) stimulus and the deplorable health-care legislation?

One opinion is that Republicans will rise without having to do anything: ‘They have Obama’, as Charles Krauthammer said on Bret Baier’s ‘Special Report’ on Fox News, disagreeing with Mort Kondracke’s view that they need to offer positive ideas.

Newt Gingrich opined to Sean Hannity that the GOP needs to be ‘the alternative party, not the opposition party’, and announced that he’ll soon present another ‘contract with America’, the first one having worked well for him and the Party.

So who’s right? Just let the Democrats fail and the GOP will have an easy ride back into power? Or make promises, set out a program, announce policies?

Some say a change of leadership is needed; that Michael Steele is lackluster and bereft of ideas.

That may be the case, but ideas are not what Republicans need. They’ve always had the right ideas and only lack the resolution to stand by them and implement them. A reminder of what they are: small government, individual freedom, strong defense, a free market economy, low taxation, strict constitutionalism, rule of law.

Perhaps the less innovative and exciting the Republican Party looks and sounds, the better.

Am I murmuring into the ear of the GOP, ‘Be passive, be negative’? Yes, I am.

Conservatism is, at its best, the politics of inertia. Change is not good, rarely a necessity. Stability is liberating. People should not have to think much or often about the res publica, but be enabled by the state to go about their business freely, without fear of having to adjust to new circumstances; confident that they, their families and possessions are protected by laws reliably enforced, and distant inconspicuous military might. Conservative rule should ensure such ease for them, keeping itself unobtrusive, so the citizens may expect peace-and-order to be as natural a condition of their lives as the air they breathe.

The only active step that the GOP should energetically take as soon as it’s back in power is to undo the wrong that the Democratic regime has done. Shrink government. Repeal socialist legislation, such as the health-care act if it is passed.

It’s a very hard task. Once an entitlement has been granted it’s almost impossible to take away. Governments of West European welfare states have known for at least three decades that maintaining state pensions is actuarially impossible now that people live longer and have fewer children, but what are they doing about it? Nothing. Helplessly they go on borrowing or printing money, and getting poorer.

It’s too late for Europe to save itself. But here in America, imagine if brilliant new leaders were to arise who had the nerve to say to the people: ‘Stand on your own two feet. Don’t look to government to provide you with anything, not health care, not food stamps, not “affordable housing”, not even education.’ We’d be on the road back to full employment and prosperity. But – nah! These are just figments of fireside dreams.

Jillian Becker   January 8, 2010

The greatest of lies about government 1

Vasko Kohimayer writes in Front Page Magazine (an article well worth reading in its entirety):

Having incurred more than $65 trillion in obligations of various kinds, the federal government finds itself in an insurmountable fiscal hole. To give a sense of size, this amount is more than the annual economic output of the whole world and four times America’s Gross Domestic Product. It would be impossible to manage this even if our leaders suddenly came to their senses and began to behave responsibly. There is little chance of that, however. The larger our debt, the more eager they are to spend more.

Despite our leaders’ efforts to conceal the level of indebtedness, its reality cannot be evaded. The steady weakening of the dollar is one evidence of that. In recent months financial experts have even been discussing the unthinkable: The possibility that the American government may default… The deficit will end up being close to $2 trillion at the end of this fiscal year… The markets are growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of the United States failing to meet its obligations.

The question is how did America get into this position. What brought this country – once a citadel of financial stability – to such dire straits? The answer will become apparent when we look at the composition of America’s debt burden.

The federal government’s obligations consist of two main components. The smaller of the two is the one that is reported on more often. It is referred to as “public debt,” or “national debt,” or “sovereign debt.” This is the debt that the government has incurred as a consequence of its budget deficits over the years. It currently stands at $11.6 trillion, which is about 85 percent of GDP.

The public debt, however, only represents a relatively small portion of the government’s total debt. The rest is primarily made up of obligation connected with three large entitlement programs – Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. It is estimated that together their combined claims amount to roughly $55 trillion more than what the government will collect in designated taxes. At this point Medicare and Social security do not yet represent a net budgetary expense, because revenues (FICA taxes) exceed what is paid being out in benefits. To put it differently, these programs are currently running surpluses; this situation, however, will not last indefinitely. The social security surplus will end around 2018. The negative gap will then widen rapidly with each successive year… The $55 trillion question is: How will the government raise the cash once the surpluses come to an end?

There are two ways in which this can be done: by raising taxes or by borrowing. Neither seems like a good option under the circumstances. Taxes are already perceived to be high; bringing them much higher would be politically unpopular if not impossible. Furthermore, raising taxes would hamper growth, which would in turn decrease the tax base and thus defeat the purpose of the increase in the first place. As far as borrowing is concerned, it is almost certain that investors would refuse to finance additional debt given their concerns about its present levels. With no place to go, it is likely the federal government will do what governments usually do when caught in this situation: it will “meet” its obligations by printing money.

This, of course, is an easy way out, but it debases the currency and produces inflation. And since America’s huge debt load is far beyond the government’s ability to pay off with honest money, the level of inflation is likely going to be very high. It would actually appear that the government has already embarked on this path. There are even those who fear that the United States may eventually experience hyperinflation… The soaring inflation that will follow will have a devastating effect on the already fragile financial system and will inevitably lead to economic breakdown. This will in turn set off centrifugal forces in a troubled and divided society.

America’s impending travails are thus ultimately tied to fiscal mismanagement, particularly in the area of entitlements. It is as ironic as it is instructive that entitlements seek to confer the kinds of benefits the Founding Fathers thought the federal government should have no business of pursing. It was with this in mind that they drafted a constitution that sought to prevent the federal government from getting involved in those areas. They made it very clear that federal functions were to be few and  limited, confined primarily to protecting the life, liberty and property of Americans.

Ensuring people’s well-being through the provision of retirement income, healthcare and other such goods was not to be the government’s job.

It is to our detriment that we have betrayed both our founding principles and the Constitution. We have done this because we have fallen for that greatest of lies, which is that government is capable of providing for citizens’ material and social needs

Brainwashed by years of public education, many believe that ensuring the population’s material welfare is precisely what good government is all about. But no government has ever been able to pull this off

Those naive enough to rely on the government’s “guarantee” of a “dignified” retirement are bound to be bitterly disappointed… But if the only thing the government did was to fail to deliver on its promises, the situation would not be so dire. Unfortunately, it also did something else in the process – it has bankrupted this nation by saddling it with debts and obligations we cannot fulfill. This outcome is unsurprising. The old maxim is as valid now as it has always been. Government does not solve problems; it only makes them worse. Given the ambitious scope of entitlements, it was only to be expected that federal involvement would eventually create difficulties on an insurmountable scale…

Posted under Commentary, Economics, government, Health, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, August 24, 2009

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USSA 0

 Phyllis Schlafly explains how the economic crisis has been used by the Democrats to advance their redistributionist agenda by means of the ‘Stimulus’ Act:

Here are some of the major "change" provisions of the 1,000-plus page act that all admit no member of Congress read before passage. This list doesn’t include any of the dozens of "porky" items that Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., boasts Americans don’t care about (and usually don’t know about).

First, the stimulus bill repeals the essentials of welfare reform passed by the Republican Congress in 1996. It was reluctantly signed by President Bill Clinton after he realized the public was demanding reform, and after it proved popular, he tried to take credit for it.

LBJ’s Great Society welfare was probably the worst of all liberal policies because it was directly responsible for destroying marriage by subsidizing illegitimacy and divorce, thereby creating a matriarchy dependent on government handouts. It wasn’t poverty that destroyed marriage in the lower-income classes, it was the liberal policy of giving taxpayers’ money to women, thereby making the husband and father irrelevant and even an impediment to the flow of easy money.

By setting limits on government handouts, the 1996 welfare reform encouraged welfare recipients to get jobs or job training, to make themselves self-sufficient and to end their long-term dependency on government.

The Obama stimulus plan increases the taxpayers’ money that the federal government gives to the states for welfare, and reverses incentives by giving bonuses to states that put more people on welfare. The stimulus is even worse than the Great Society policies of the 1960s.

That is a good example of the Obama goal to spread the wealth around (regardless of the harm it does).

Second, the stimulus plan calls for nearly doubling federal spending on education, which means doubling federal control. This money gives Obama the opportunity to spread his friend William Ayers’ "social justice" teaching (i.e., that America is an oppressive and unjust society) throughout K-16 education. This goal will be facilitated by Obama’s appointment of Arne Duncan for secretary of education, who like Obama and Ayers, is an alumnus of the Chicago political machine…

Third, the stimulus plan calls for Obama "change" by giving government control over access to medical treatments plus surveillance over online medical records for every American. Giving bureaucrats the power to decide which procedures have "clinical effectiveness" and may be used means nationalizing the health care industry and rationing medical care.

Fourth, the stimulus bill greatly expands by about $23 billion nearly every element of the welfare state, including food stamps, Medicaid eligibility, the earned income tax credit, the Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and child-support enforcement for single moms. The governors have just awakened to the fact that the stimulus plan will require their states to raise business taxes if they accept this new free money.

Fifth, Obama’s claim that the stimulus plan cuts taxes is a fraud. A large percentage of the alleged tax "refunds" is just another handout because it will go to people who don’t owe any income taxes.

Sixth, the announced purpose of the stimulus is to create jobs, but Obama’s photo-op to illustrate this at Caterpillar Tractor in Peoria, Ill., turned into a political donnybrook. National television showed Obama speaking to some of the 20,000 whose jobs have been outsourced by Caterpillar and implied that the plan will enable them to be rehired. Minutes later, Obama was contradicted by Caterpillar’s CEO, who warned that, on the contrary, more layoffs are coming. It looks like the stimulus will create more government jobs plus an estimated 300,000 jobs for illegal aliens, but not much for anyone else.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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The evil effects of welfare 8

 As a Democratic administration and Congress threaten to turn America into a welfare state on the disastrous European model, this interview from Front Page Magazine is worth noting. 

Jamie Glazov interviews Martin Durkin.

Durkin: To most people, I imagine, welfare seems an obviously good thing. But in fact the corrosive and iniquitous side of welfare has been evident for many decades. It’s only now that people are poking their heads out of the trench and daring to say so. You can see the devastating effects of welfare in Britain, for example, in the exponential rise in single motherhood. The figures are astonishing. In the 1950s almost all children in Britain were brought up by their natural parents. Today, only around half the children in Britain are brought up by their natural parents. Half!

FP: Why has that happened? 

Durkin: To see why that happened, let me paint you a picture. In the 1950s, the typical working man and his wife In Britain lived in an income-tax free existence. They kept every penny they earned. For an unmarried teenager, there was no council flat (the ‘projects’ I think you call them), no rent rebate, no rate rebate, no housing benefit or anything else. The burden of looking after her and the child fell on her family, friends or charity. Parents who discovered their daughters were pregnant were understandably furious – because they had to pick up the tab. That’s why Dad stomped round to the family of the boy responsible, to call him to account. They boy’s family understood the full economic implications of making babies and came down on him like a ton of bricks. From the real economic relationships there arose a real moral code – the value and the cost of things were clear. The growth of welfare benefits has been huge since that time. And within that system a pregnant girl gets special treatment (top of the state housing list etc). The fear has gone. The old idea, “Don’t, for heaven’s sake, get pregnant. It would be a disaster” has gone. For many girls, getting pregnant is a ticket to get out of the parental home. This has been the subject of detailed studies. A ten percent increase in benefits, one of them finds, tends to increase the prevalence of single mothers by 17 percent.

FP: How has the Left played a role in this development?

Durkin: This whole trend in social policy was fuelled by the anti-family views of the left. The family was bourgeois. Divorce was even celebrated (at least among the serious Left and among tougher feminists). I suppose they thought they were doing young girls a favor. If they did, they were fatted-headed idiots. The effect is disastrous for all those involved. The levels of depression, violence and criminality among lone parents (and their wayward children and transient partners) is heartbreaking. As one commentator puts it, “The evidence that lone parents – and indeed those who cohabit – are very more likely to be victims of violence is worldwide, consistent and overwhelming.” In Britain single parents are about 20 times more likely to suffer domestic violence. A child of a single parent is 15 times more likely to be abused than a child brought up by two natural parents. A child brought up by their natural mother and a cohabite (non natural father) is at even greater risk – 19 times more likely to suffer violence and 74 times more likely to be killed. It’s awful. To catalogue in detail the full devastating effects of welfare – also for example the crippling effects on men who are out of work – would take ages.

 FP: Ok, but tell us some more negative effects.

 Durkin: Overall, I think in general the bigger evil effects of welfare have been enormously underestimated, even by commentators who regard themselves as more pro-capitalist in their sympathies. Welfare is the basic cause of the deleterious cultural changes we have witnessed in the West over the past 60 years. The Welfare State, pioneered in Britain of course, has corrupted this country to its core. It has transformed the country caricatured by Noel Coward and others – essentially pretty decent, self-reliant, and plucky – into a country which is thuggish, selfish, mindless, dispirited and lost. Gone is the British stiff upper lip. Modern Britons are moaning, self-pitying inadequates. The welfare state has bred a generation of obnoxious, drug-addled criminals and ne’er-do-wells. It has also, incidentally, burdened what was once the world’s biggest, most dynamic economy with the dead weight of an obstructive and vastly expensive state machine. I’m sorry to sound cross about this, but I don’t think people fully realise what’s happened. Britain has, I think, the highest crime rate of any industrialised country in the world. It is twice as high as the US. The violent crime rate is higher in London than New York. Britain has the highest rate of drug abuse, the highest teenage pregnancy rate and the highest rate of sexually transmitted disease in the modern industrial world. What the hell happened?

FP: So what the hell happened? 

Durkin: The logic is inescapable. Each slice of do-gooder social policy has had its own tragic, unintended effects. The weight and quality of evidence leaves no room for doubt. The Welfare State has been an unremitting disaster, beyond any hope of reform. It is not that the welfare state isn’t functioning properly, it is that the welfare state is in essence degrading. In the US, I think much the same can be said of the effects of welfare on the black community. How did we get from the nobility of Martin Luther King, to the sordid, gun-toting, rantings of the gangster rappers? Does the Left imagine that this represents liberation? Larry Elder and others have no doubt what’s to blame. The story goes back to Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, which had people going door to door, encouraging people to get on welfare. Now, I understand, nearly 70 percent of today’s black children are born out of wedlock. It can be demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that the modern ‘cultural trends’ which we lament have an economic cause, and are a direct result of state intervention. The Left do not see economic necessity as a proper reflection of actual human relationships, but some capitalist carbuncle. It’s clear now that in removing economic necessity from people’s lives (which is what welfare does), we risk sinking into barbarism.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 24, 2008

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What price freedom? 0

 Mona Charen writes:

If Barack Obama is elected president and Democrats control large majorities in the House and Senate, the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate will move the country decisively in the direction of dying Europe – low productivity, high joblessness, low birth rates, high taxes, and limp foreign policies. The triumvirate will do this at a time when a vibrant America is more necessary than ever – with Iran seeking nuclear weapons, Pakistan teetering, al-Qaida regrouping, China and Russia telegraphing hostility, and Iraq just barely emerging into the sunshine. This election has become about far more than John McCain versus Barack Obama; it has become about whether the United States will remain the champion of freedom – economic and political – or whether we will join the queue of formerly great nations now struggling to pay for all the social welfare "benefits" their aging and lazy populations demand.

We concur.

IS AMERICA ABOUT TO SELL ITS BIRTHRIGHT – FREEDOM – FOR A POTTED MESSAGE – ‘Hope & Change’?

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, October 31, 2008

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This election could change everything for the worse 0

As a refugee from socialist Europe seeking asylum in up-until-now free America, I find the prospect of America transforming itself into a European-like welfare state – which is what will happen if Obama is elected – dreadful to contemplate.  

The choice in this election is stark;  the stakes could not be higher. It’s a choice between freedom, prosperity, continued greatness OR slow decline into a European-type second-rate power. 

Daniel Henninger confirms what I fear, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

 The real "change" being put to a vote for the American people in 2008 is not simply a break from the economic policies of "the past eight years" but with the American economic philosophy of the past 200 years. This election is about a long-term change in America’s idea of itself.

I don’t agree with the argument that an Obama-Pelosi-Reid government is a one-off, that good old nonideological American pragmatism will temper their ambitions. Not true. With this election, the U.S. is at a philosophical tipping point.

The goal of Sen. Obama and the modern, "progressive" Democratic Party is to move the U.S. in the direction of Western Europe, the so-called German model and its "social market economy." Under this notion, business is highly regulated, as it would be in the next Congress under Democratic House committee chairmen Markey, Frank and Waxman. Business is allowed to create "wealth" so long as its utility is not primarily to create new jobs or economic growth but to support a deep welfare system.

 

The political planets are aligned to make this achievable. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, prominent Democrats, European leaders in France and Germany and more U.S. newspaper articles than one can count have said that the crisis proves the need to permanently tame the American "free-market" model. P.O.W. Alan Greenspan is broadcasting confessions. The question is: Are the American people of a mind to throw in the towel on the system that got them here?

This would be a historic shift, one post-Vietnam Democrats have been trying to achieve since their failed fight with Ronald Reagan’s "Cowboy Capitalism."

Of course Cowboy Capitalism built the country. More than any previous nation in history, the United States made its way forward on a 200-year wave of upwardly mobile, profit-seeking merchants, tradesmen, craftsmen and workers. They blew out of New England and New York, rolled across the wildernesses of the Central States, pushed across a tough Western frontier and banged into San Francisco and Los Angeles, leaving in their path city after city of vast wealth.

The U.S. emerged a superpower, and the tool of that ascent was simple – the pursuit of economic growth. Now China, India and Brazil, embracing high-growth Cowboy Capitalism, are doing what we did, only their cities are bigger.

Now comes Barack Obama, standing at the head of a progressive Democratic Party, his right hand rising to say, "Mothers, don’t let your babies grow up to be for-profit cowboys. It’s time to spread the wealth around."

What this implies, undeniably, is that the United States would move away from running with the high GDP, high-growth nations rising today as economic and political powers and move over to retire with the low-growth economies we displaced – old Europe.

As noted in a 2006 World Bank report, spending in Europe on social-protection programs averages 19% of GDP (85% of it on social insurance programs), compared to 9% of GDP in the U.S. The Obama proposals send the U.S. inexorably and permanently toward European levels of social protection. This isn’t an "agenda." It’s a final temptation.

In partial detail:

Obama’s federalized medical insurance system starts the transition away from private medical care and toward Obama’s endlessly promised "universal health care." This has always been the sine qua non of planting a true, managed-market economy in the U.S.

Obama’s refundable tax credits are direct cash transfers from the federal government. This would place some 48% of Americans, nearly half, out of the income tax system. More than a tax proposal, this is a deep philosophical shift, an American version of being "on the dole."

His stated intent to renegotiate free-trade agreements such as Nafta is a philosophical shift. It abandons the tradition of a hyper-competitive America dating back to the Industrial Revolution, toward a protected, domestic workforce, as in Western Europe. The Democratic proposal to eliminate private union votes – "card check" – ensures the spread of a static, Euro-style workforce.

Eliminating the ceiling on payroll taxes changes Social Security from an insurance to a welfare program. Obama’s tax credits requires performing government-identified activities, the essence of a "directed economy."

All this would transform the animating American idea – away from creation and toward protection.

Many voters – progressive Democrats, the asset-safe rich, academics and college students – regard this as where America should go. They explicitly want America’s great natural energies transferred away from unwieldy economic competition and toward social construction. They want the U.S. to reduce its "footprint" in the world. Monies saved by stepping down from superpower status can be reprogrammed into "investments" (a favorite Obama word) in a vast Euro-style hammock of social protection programs.

One wishes John McCain had been better able to make clear what the truly "historic" meaning of Tuesday’s vote is. Once it’s done, it’s done

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, October 30, 2008

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