Monday, July 8, 2013

How's That Fundamental Transformation Doing?

Now that President Obama is into his second term, let's take a look at that "fundamental transformation" he was talking about right after the election in 2008.

"Fundamental transformation" is the basic conceit at the heart of progressivism.  It imagines that by changing the configuration of free stuff it can end centuries of oppression and inequality.  Here is young Ezra Klein imagining, in the aftermath of the Obamacare employer mandate delay, that we are just a course change away from Obamacare success and health care as free stuff.
Congress should use the next year to improve the employer mandate. There are plenty of better ideas out there: The Senate Health Committee’s bill used a mandate with a smaller penalty, but one that accrued to both full-time and part-time workers. The House bill tied its penalty to the percentage of payroll an employer spent on health care. We can do better, and we should.

And then, in a couple of years, when the exchanges are up and running and expensive employer-based plans are getting hit by the “Cadillac Tax”, perhaps employers will be open to rethinking whether they should be in the health-insurance business at all. If and when that happens, Congress should happily help them ease out of it.
Notice how Klein does not really think of health care as something where the American people are involved in the decision making.  "We" will decide, and in a couple of years employers will be ready for single-payer.

The ruling class is the ruling class, and that means that the default option is that it has the power to nudge the nation towards its vision of society.  The current ruling class believes in a society where the big shots get called by the educated elite on the key questions of pensions, health care, education, relief of the poor and sexual relations, and the economy and the environment.  Indeed, pretty well everything.

In between calling the big shots, the ruling class gets to administer the whole thing.

The best way for the ruling class to get where they want is to jog along, adding a new program here, adjusting an old program there.  But ruling classes not not really like such a low-energy governance.  They want to sit on Olympus and make the heavens echo with the thunderbolts of their power and glory.  That is what "fundamental transformation" is for.

But the risk is that fundamental transformation will wake the sleeping multitude.  It will make them realize that they don't want fundamental transformation at all, but just a little bit of free stuff here and there before they go back to sleep.

When this happens it is called "biting off more than you can chew."  The Obama administration has been in such a hurry to fundamentally transform everything that it might teach the American people that really they would rather just be left alone.

That gives conservatives a chance for political power and the opportunity to dial back on the fundamental transformation.

Although, of course, the truth is that conservatives have no intention of leaving the American people alone either.  We want to blow up the welfare state and all its anti-social free stuff and create a beautiful vision of a truly civil society of neighbors and associations.

If we conservatives ever got to do that, the American people would probably be as mad as hell and run us out of power for a generation.

1 comment:

  1. It would seem possible to me that we could sell a majority of the people over time on key aspects of the conservative program, one step at a time. Not to throw thunderbolts at them, but rather to give them small doses of right reason and right steps, and eventually a larger view of the overall plan. (softly, softly, catchee monkey!)

    This ties in to the idea I wrote to you about a month or so ago, to create a 10 chart sales pitch tuned to the average guy for the conservative program, to provide the reference basis for touting one or two of the main steps at a time per speech to help acquire the political majority in the House, Senate, and the presidency. Every tenet stated would be backed up with white papers setting down the facts in detail.

    The plan, then, ties it all together so that the voter sees clearly and in detail what he is buying, and why it is the right practical approach.