Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Liberals Jump the Shark

In the end, I had to check Wikipedia about the meaning of "jumping the shark" and I learned that it referred to an episode of the TV sitcom Happy Days where a water-skiing Fonzi jumps over a confined shark.

Usually, this sort of thing occurs in a sitcom in terminal decline, when "a particular production effort has surpassed its relevance and reached a point of decline in quality that it is incapable of recovering from."

Hello liberal teachers in Wisconsin!

And now we read that President Obama and the Democratic National Committee are backing away from support of the demonstrating government workers in Wisconsin. Throwing 'em under the bus, eh, Mr. President?

I suppose that all political movements reach this point, where people demonstrate in the street, all riled up with indignation, utterly innocent of the fact that the once noble movement has become a tired, corrupt political conspiracy, a routine operation designed to fleece the taxpapers and line the pockets of the powerful.

Politics is peculiarly subject to this kind of thing, and I think it is because politics lives uneasily between the mailed fist of force and the velvet glove of inspiration. A political movement begins as a moral movement of renewal; it is full of its moral mission. And when political activists are out of power they only have the power of persuasion--assuming that they stop short of armed struggle. But the problem with government is that government is force. A political movement, once it gains political power, is tempted every day to use the arts of war instead of the arts of peace. It is tempted to roll over its opponents using its sovereign power instead of persuading them with arguments.

Conservatives have an answer to this problem. It is called limited government. There are many injustices and hardships in the world. But how many of them can really be solved with force? That is the question that conservatives ask. We don't ask ourselves that out of great moral insight, but out of practical concern.

Do we really want to get political power and government force into, e.g., the education of children? When we ask that question we are saying nothing against the importance of education. We are saying nothing against the idea of helping the poor to afford education. We are just asking, from a practical standpoint: do we want to do this by force. Because if government is involved then we are going to be educating children by force.

Well, our liberal friends crossed the Rubicon on that one decades ago. They are committed to force in just about every societal issue you could imagine. And now the whole edifice is wobbling.

Yes, but where shall we go, what shall we do? Andrew Biggs in NRO advises liberals to start reforming entitlements now, because it will only get worse.

And over the long term — well, if we don’t get on top of these issues soon, there won’t be a long term: All the entitlements will effectively fix themselves by going broke.

Like I keep saying, we conservatives don't have a dog in this race. It is the faithful Democratic voters that have organized their lives around government benefits that are going to be devastated by the default option, that of waiting until the entitlements go broke.

We care. We care that the Wisconsin demonstrators are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Those government employees need, nay deserve, to have a soft landing from the impossible promises made to them by the politicians and the union bosses. That is what Gov. Scott Walker, (R) is offering them. It's a shame that they don't understand how generous and accommodating his plan is.

But if they don't appreciate now how generous the proposed soft landing is, then they will learn later.

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