Tuesday, January 27, 2009

But they claim that capitalism has failed

Mona Charon has a great column today making the point that President Obama never had to learn the lessons so many liberals of the Great Society learned - that government programs often have worse unintended consequences than the benefits they are designed to bring.

And she also makes the best point I read all day:

"President Bush, along with a sloppy and incontinent Republican majority in Congress, managed the feat of discrediting free-market economics without ever practicing it."

I've heard so much lately that conservatism has failed. But Bush was never really a conservative. At least he was never a limited government conservative. 

I've grown very uncomfortable with the label "conservative" anyway, because it doesn't properly describe my own ideology, which I believe is very close to that of our founding fathers: Classical Liberalism.  This was the basis for our constitution. Government limited to protecting people from each other, and from enemies foreign. A guarantor of rights - not the 20th century notion of rights, but the proper definition  - a right is something that government cannot take from you, not something the government must do for  you.

President George Bush was not a classical liberal. And he has given the left the claim that free markets have failed. 


David Appell said...

I wonder what government program Mona Charon has ever been on.

She doesn't say.

I wonder when Mona Charon has ever wondered where her next meal would come from, when, if ever, she sat in her apartment afraid to turn the heat up because she couldn't afford it.

Please, let us know.

The fact is, 50% of the people in this country are of below average intelligence. They are unable to navigate and manipulate the system to the same degree as are higher educated people.

It is not at all clear to me that government programs have "worse consequences" than do not subscribing to these programs. There is a great need for these programs. Maybe not for Rob Kremer, who seems to to a highly educated person of means who can navigate the system. He doesn't seem to care at all about those less fortunate than he who *cannot* navigate the system.

Rob, where is you concern?

Rob Kremer said...

Here is the irony: capitalism has created the very best living conditions for the most people compared to any other political/economic system ever devised. It has brought more people out of poverty than any other system. It has raised the standard of living such that the poor in the US (no matter their intelligence) live vastly better than their equivalent in other countries.

My concern? My concern is that well meaning lurches to socialism like we have seen under Bush and now accelerated under Obama will kill this golden goose.

Anonymous said...

The percentage of people in poverty in this country is exactly the same as it was when the Great Society was put into place (and it is well below 50 percent). It's hard to see who has benefited other than 10s of thousands of government employees hired to transfer money from productive Americans and give it to unproductive Americans.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying I could be as smart as Dave if I knew how to "navigate the system"?
I probably sound racist, but these are just facts:
I've watched my dad work hard twelve hour days for years. We were above the poverty line most years. He lost his dream job because of a government program which gave his job to an African American. (Yes, they took his job away and called it 'civil rights.') I felt guilty about telling my mom I had a tooth ache. It bothered me to see my parents get handed the dental bill while a countless number of Hispanics came in and out of the dental office and had their teeth cleaned at my dad's expense.
Government programs cater to selective groups and it is always at the expense of productive people like my dad. Pedro in his Honda Civic, gold chains and Tommy Hilfiger clothes gets free medical treatment for his illegitimate children while my dad in his second hand jacket, 84 chevy and wedding band foot the bills.
Pedro's kids will qualify for all kinds of special education funding while my siblings and I have to use our heads and our personal ability (goodness forbid!) to get educated.
"Navigate the system" must mean dye my hair black, steal someone's identity and get reborn as "Maria Martinez"

Huck said...

Wow, anon, I am sorry for the hard deal your family was dealt, but as Rob said, America's poor citizens are better off than most people on this planet. I don't see many people on the dole that I'd want to trade places with. Every US citizen is born with a leg up on the world.

Part of our success was luck, coming indisputably from inhabiting a land that had not been exploited and heavily populated like Asia and Europe. But the other part of our success comes from our choice of capitalism, which flourished when combined with the abundance of resources and the industrial revolution.

I think entitlement programs have gone overboard, and are unsustainable as designed, but I also won't blame the people who tried it. I'd rather be wrong trying than not. Economics is a young science and many decisions are made with imperfect theories. We've learned alot from the mistakes along the way. The same with affirmative action - it probably has run its course, and should fade away now. But I won't deny that it probably helped speed up the integration of our society, which helps alleviate many ills. And before you attack me, my Dad lost out on a job as an EMT because of affirmative action even though he ran the physical test, with the flu, at the top of the applicant pool, and had a ton of experience. My Dad never held any hostility against minorities, even though he felt it was unfair.

As our population-to-resources ratio grows less favorable, it is going to be much, much, much more difficult to earn a living with just hard work, as the value of human labor goes down the more of us there are. It is this ratio that increases inequality and drives our "lurches to socialism" and it is unlikely to halt. I only wish we could see the Federal government hand over much of their role back to the states. If we're going to have socialism, I'd like to at the very least see the states compete in the marketplace of ideas. There is no question that there is too much government right now. Too inefficient.

I would like to see some balance - lets increase benefits (health care, retirement savings) IN EXCHANGE for reuctions in the minimum wage. More jobs, less people needing subsidized health care, and forced savings instead of inefficient consumption. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

No doubt David would like some government "navigation" assistance for himself.

Judging by his lost and delirious adherence to global warming he's navigation deficient.

Could be a new entitlement minority he is championing.

Here's navigational assistance David.

Washington DC, Jan 27th 2009: NASA warming scientist James Hansen, one of former Vice-President Al Gore’s closest allies in the promotion of man-made global warming fears, is being publicly rebuked by his former supervisor at NASA.

Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen, NASA’s vocal man-made global warming fear soothsayer, has now publicly declared himself a skeptic and declared that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarming climate claims and said Hansen was “was never muzzled.” Theon joins the rapidly growing ranks of international scientists abandoning the promotion of man-made global warming fears.


OregonGuy said...

More irony.

Mr. Afpel's grammar is atrocious.

But, probably, above the fifty percent line.

Ain't government education great?

Anonymous said...

OregonGuy, your grammar ain't much better: "But, probably, above the fifty percent line." It's not a complete sentence.