Judging by the response to Elizabeth Warren's riff about the wonders of government, it is clear that she represents an equivalent hot button for conservatives.
It is exactly the patronizing professorial attitude so common in liberals like Dr. Warren that drives conservatives to donate thousands of dollars to their favorite conservative candidates.
In fact you could say that both President Obama and Dr. Warren are poster boys for a particular type of liberal, the Pauline Kael type that couldn't understand why Nixon won the 1972 election, because she didn't know anyone who voted for him. They live so completely in a liberal enclave that they never articulate in their speech the least notion that anyone thinks differently or needs persuading to the glory of liberal thought.
The beauty of Warren's comment that "nobody in this country that gets rich on his own" is its gloriously reactionary atavism. She makes the common liberal mistake of conflating society and government. To get rich, she patronizingly says, requires roads, educated workers, police, fire, and the armed forces. No kidding!
Then the pull quote:
But part of the underlying social contract is that you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid that comes along.Quite right. As the Dalai Lama puts it, we need karuna, a directed altruism of action, issuing from a personal commitment to compassionate action. Obviously that issues from a personal commitment in the individual.
The mistake liberals make that they assume that their compassion, directed into government programs, is the same thing, or the closest thing to real, personal compassion.
But we conservatives know that the liberal notion of government compassion is an atavistic holdover from the old days when society and government were not yet differentiated. In the ancestral village, government is not yet a bureaucracy. Government is the gathering of the elders, carrying the opinion of the whole community. When the community does something it is truly "we."
But in the modern era we have differentiated the spheres of human socialization. We have government as the department of force. It says you must. We have the market economy as the department of stuff. It says we could. We have various religions, secular and transcendent, in the department of meaning. It says we should. We have decided that we need a separation of powers in society to avoid dangerous concentrations of power.
This is not hard. In the modern era when you combine the economy and government you get crony capitalism, as in crony Solyndra, crony LightSquared, and crony Goldman Sachs. When you combine religion and government you get totalitarianism, as in Hitler, Mao, Castro. When you combine religion and capitalism you get liberals bossing business around.
The great problem of the current age is that liberals refuse to understand that their model of expert-led bureaucracy is flushing society down the toilet. Modern society is much bigger than that; there just aren't enough experts to supervise, and there is no way they could know enough to supervise. Modern society is a dense network of social cooperation in which millions of individuals contribute their knowledge and their skills to the whole.
For conservatives, we must resist the temptation to put businessmen on a pedestal. For liberals, they must resist the temptation to put government on a pedestal.
The whole point of modern society is that it is not one big thing that makes it go. It is everything working in concert that makes it go. And until our liberal friends accept that, this country is in for a long nightmare of failure and conflict.