Friday, September 7, 2012

The Speech at the End of the Liberal Universe

One of the reasons that I created usgovernmentspending.com back in 2007 was that I was getting fed up with the way that Democrats always acted, year in and year out, as if we were doing nothing for children, for seniors, and leaving the poor to starve.

Please.  This year, according to usgovernmentspending.com, we are spending $1 trillion on government pensions, $1.1 trillion on government health care, $0.9 trillion on government education, and $0.7 trillion on government welfare (above and beyond Medicaid).

So the president in his soaring acceptance speech talks about doubling down on education:
I promise you – we can out-educate and out-compete any country on Earth. Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next ten years, and improve early childhood education. Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years.
Just a minute, Mr. President.  We are already spending $941 billion a year on education.  What on earth are you proposing here?  What about all the money we are already spending on government education?  Because, given the dismal results that government education has turned in, I have another idea.  It is this.
Why in the world would we put politicians in charge of education?
I mean it, Mr. President.  Politicians are the residual legatees of the hunter-gatherer war-party.  The idea is to attack the neighboring tribe in a dawn raid, kill the men and take the women, and take over their territory.  Loot, plunder, and rapine: that's what politics has always been about.

But in the last two centuries, as the ruling class stopped believing in God, politicians have stepped into the empty place left by the death of God.  They have started preaching gospels of hope like revivalist preachers.  Not hope in the life hereafter, but hope in the here and now.  That's what the welfare state is all about: loot.  That's what taxing the rich is all about: plunder.  But now the secular agenda of fighting for loot and plunder is joined to the transcendental moral agenda of fighting for good against evil.  It is good to force others to pay for your loot, and it is evil for the rich to keep their ill-gotten gains.

In the last century, the game has changed again, as women have got the vote.  Now politicians don't just talk about loot and plunder, but of the leader's love for his wife, the leader's devotion to the education of children, the leader's determination to care for the sick.  Those chaps know what they are doing.

But the problem is that the politicians keep talking as though we weren't already spending $941 billion a year on education, $679 billion a year on welfare.  They say: We've got to make education the best in the world!  We've got to help the folks down on their luck!  As if we are not already spending obscene amounts already.

The real agenda at the end of the liberal universe is how the heck do we get out of this mess?  How do we take all these profoundly social tasks away from the residual legatees of the tribal fighters and the warrior lords of the land?  How do we return social assistance and mutual aid to the carers and the helpers and away from the fighters and the dividers?  Imagine what we could do with the $4 trillion a year that gets sucked up into the welfare state and then spread out to the supporters of the politicians, less a finder's fee to the political class.

The answer to the question is, of course, in the person and the life of Mitt Romney.  We must accept that capitalism is "creative destruction" just as Joseph Schumpeter told us.  It is a cold and heartless system, but it delivers prosperity like you wouldn't believe. Whatever we may dream of, capitalism is the only thing that works on the economic front, and Mitt Romney has practiced capitalism full throttle. Mitt Romney knows capitalism.

So much for the system side of life.  But then there is the human side of life, the "lifeworld," the world of humans as social animals.  You could do a lot worse that the Mormons, with their "fairly strict" moral world, where everyone has to contribute time and money to social purposes, and young men have to go on an adventure of service before they can get their sacred underwear.  And then they have to go through the chairs and serve as bishop of their ward and president of their stake when the call comes.  Mitt Romney's life is a witness to the Mormon approach to realizing people's social nature as social animals.  Mitt Romney knows the social life of caring and sharing.

What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?  Who knows?  But at least we know one thing.  We know what it isn't.  We know that it isn't Barack Obama's world of of politics as secular religion.

1 comment:

  1. Perplexed in SeattleSeptember 19, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    The Mormon Church requires a strict tithe of at least 10 percent from its members.

    In return its members have access to a social safety net of sorts when times are tight. I assume this is managed centrally by the Church and locally through the Bishops. We saw this redistribution system on Brian Williams' Rock Center show. Food production facilities and warehousing..

    This is different from the welfare state how?

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