Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Politics and Religion in Washington

Pundit and former political staffer Rich Galen wants to "take religion out of economics."  The parties don't just disagree any more, he worries.
The two parties no longer consider each other to be political opponents -- each aiming for the same goal but choosing differing paths to get there.

Each of the two parties now considers the other to be not just a political enemy, but an enemy of everything the other believes in.
One can argue, of course, about who is "to blame" for this.  My idea is that the current pre-revolutionary situation arose in the 1980s when all of a sudden liberals realized that they weren't going to win in a walkover.  There were actually people in the US that wanted America to go in a different direction and were prepared to do something about it.  Then the Republicans took over the House for the first time in 40 years.  Then George W. Bush won in a squeaker.  Well, liberals decided that it was time for No More Mr. Nice Guy.  Not that they'd ever been nice to conservatives and Republicans.  Here's a look back at liberals targeting conservatives in the New Deal era from David Beito.

But Rich Galen proposes a "why can't we get along" politics to do stuff we can agree on.  On climate, he suggests: "Is it better to put more garbage into the atmosphere or less garbage into the atmosphere?"

Good point, Rich.  But the question is over carbon dioxide.  Is it a pollutant or not?  The question is: Do windmills and solar farms make a blind bit of difference?  The question is: is climate science any good or an enterprise totally corrupted by politics?

On the economy and government spending, Rich wants to spend more productively and to "raise the largest possible number of Americans who are at or below the poverty line into the middle class".  But austerity won't work, we writes. It "hasn't worked in Greece or Spain and it won't work here."

But austerity is exactly the problem.  Once you hand out free stuff -- also called government spending on entitlements -- people decide that their own personal free stuff is an eternal sacred right, and they will fight to the death to keep their monthly check coming.  So-called "austerity" is government dipping a tiny toe into reducing those government entitlements, those eternal sacred rights.

The trouble is that in the end, government runs out of free stuff to hand out.  That is the problem in Greece, in Spain, and most directly Egypt.  In Egypt, a huge proportion of the population relies on subsidized food handouts: Egypt, that used to be the breadbasket of the Roman Empire.  But now Egypt needs about $20 billion a year to keep the food coming.  $20 billion it doesn't have.

All these entitlements start out the same way: a wonderful program to help the poor.  Except that free education today most notably fails the poor in the inner cities.  And Medicaid's free health care for the poor apparently doesn't have any better outcome than no health insurance.  And decades of welfare doesn't seem to be raising people out of poverty and into the middle class.

The reason we conservatives are mad as hell is that we look at the political agenda and the political action in the liberal ruling class and we don't see any effort to solve problems.  We see a ruling class that is purely focused upon dividing the nation in a way that will win the next election.

For example, we have a president who ran against venture capitalist Mitt Romney as a monster killing the wives of laid-off steelworkers.  This summer he is going to rent the Martha's Vineyard home of Chicago venture capitalist David Schulte.  Isn't that special?

So yes.  There really is a religious difference between conservatives and liberals on the economy.  We conservatives believe that the way to wive and thrive is to get yourself some skills and then offer them to the marketplace, and accept what the marketplace renders back.  Liberals believe that you have to force the marketplace to cough up a just return, because of exploitation and inequality.

We conservatives are willing to stipulate the exploitation and inequality in the world.  We just don't think that government force actually solves it.  In fact, we argue that the whole earth economic and political experiment conducted in the 20th century, at the cost of probably 100 million human lives, proves it.  Moreover, we argue that the kind of regimes that feature government force big-time are just the ones that multiply exploitation, inequality, and human misery, as in Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, and the Castro brothers' Cuba.

So that's why "let's all just get along" doesn't quite do it for conservatives.  We think there is a fundamental clash coming about America's goals and we say Bring It On.

Because the longer we wait to solve the problem, the worse it will be for the little people.

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