Monday, March 22, 2010
The Capitol phone lines were jammed by angry constituents calling to oppose the most unpopular government power grab in years. The unpopular president was just as determined to force the unConstitutional legislation on the non-consenting governed. He tried to increase popular buy-in to his scheme by painting doom-and-gloom scenarios about financial ruin if people the did not submit to the coddling control of the federal government. The people stood firm, and made clear that they resented and rejected such arrogant paternalism. But our wanna-be overlord, and his Mrs.-Danvers minions, twisted enough arms in Congress to push the legislation through.
It was September-October 2008 when Republican President George Bush XLIII and Congress forced the unpopular bank bail-out on the American people. A month later, the Democrats won sweeping victories in the White House and Congress.
This morning, now that the Democrats have made a similar mistake, the Republican hands that were wringing themselves raw a year and one-half ago are now rubbing themselves in gleeful hope for a similar sweep by their side in November. But anyone who's paid attention to Republican governance over the past two decades should realize that Republican electoral victory is no way to loosen the grasping grip of government.
That's because, like their Democratic colleagues, too many Republicans have, wittingly or unwittingly, adopted the assumption of the zeitgeist that government is the solution to our problems.
As I explained in Slaying Leviathan:
The modern philosophy of government was born during the Progressive era. This philosophy emphasizes a powerful central government that intentionally redistributes wealth. It has largely replaced America's founding philosophy, which emphasized limited government protecting individual rights.
If we want to set America back on the path to freedom and prosperity, swinging the pendulum back and forth between two parties that have both substantially bought into the Progressive vision of big government isn't going to work.
What we need to do is to revive the Founders' vision of a Constitutional republic that protects the individual rights of people who exercise individual responsibility. It means educating ourselves in the history and philosophy of republican government, the history and philosophy of progressive government, and the principles of economic freedom that the former respects and the latter disregards. It means making certain that those who would presume to govern us are educated in these things too. It means restoring a culture of freedom and responsibility, where paternalistic power grabs like bank bail-outs and health-insurance take-overs are quickly dismissed as the offensive absurdities that they are.
Can we do this by November? Of course not. And the pressures simply to work hard to replace Democratic bums with Republican bums and hope for the best are all around. But recent history shows that such hope will be very much misplaced. What I'm proposing is much more challenging and much more complicated, and it will take much more time. But it will also be much more effective and much more lasting.
Benjamin Franklin famously said that our Founders had given us "a republic, if you can keep it". We're losing it. But we can still take it back.
Posted by Leslie Carbone at 7:40 AM
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
"I like every American I'm speaking with we're ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out but ultimately what the bail-out does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy um helping the oh it's gotta be all about job creation too shoring up our economy and and putting it back on the right track so health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans and trade we have we've got to see trade as opportunity not as a a competitive um scary thing but one in five jobs being created uh in the trade sector today we we we've got to look at that as more opportunity all those things under the umbrella of job creation this bail-out is a part of that."
Posted by Leslie Carbone at 3:34 PM
Monday, February 08, 2010
"How's that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for ya?" asked former Governor Sarah Palin at the so-called Tea Party Convention this weekend in Nashville, where the popular populist spoke for $100,000.
The advocates of fiscal responsibility gathered at the $549/ticket event cheered the McCain stumper and bail-out supporter with all the gusto that the "Values Voters" showered upon the topless model and sex-tape star who "think[s] it's great that in America we can choose between 'same-sex marriage' and 'opposite marriage'."
With the popular outrage sparked by the Bush bail-outs, I've become more hopeful about the future of economic freedom than I'd been in 20 years. And the tea parties and town-hall protests just buttressed my optimism.
I'm still optimistic, but the reflexive, relativistic, populism-as-the-new-elitism near-worship showered upon Gov. Palin by supposed conservatives and libertarians-- people who profess to believe in economic freedom--tempers my optimism.
The problem isn't simply that the rambling rogue was wrong about the bank bail-out, and it goes beyond her sometimes appearing flaky and non-conversant regarding matters of national policy; it's that she displays no deep, nuanced, informed, well-considered political philosophy.
Conservatism, particularly its free-market vein, has a strong intellectual heritage. It's that principled pedigree that provides a foundation for the arguments that can fend off demagogues' efforts to rob Peter to pay Paul, that illuminate why it's not good for everybody when you spread the wealth around. Unfortunately, national-level Republicans since Ronald Reagan appear to be largely ignorant of this heritage and have been clearly unable to articulate its principles. America has paid a dear price for such failures. And conservative gushing over Gov. Palin suggests that we're likely to keep paying it.
In the Fall of 2008, as he was touting his disastrous bank bail-out, former President George Bush XLIII, apparently oblivious to the irony, described himself as "a market-oriented guy". Nearly a year after leaving office, he said that the bail-out went against his "free-market instincts", in a speech that made clear that he hasn't achieved any greater philosophical depth since leaving the White House than he exhibited while he was living there.
A robust, realistic, principled political philosophy can provide guidance in the midst of crisis. The problem with Bush was that he had never developed such a principled philosophy. It is also the problem with Palin.
Posted by Leslie Carbone at 7:02 PM