Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Won't Tell The People?

Professor Bainbridge takes to task a certain stripe of conservative - Bruce Bartlett is the most prominent, but there are others - who believe that America's entitlement state is such that higher taxes are not just inevitable, but also welcome. Hey, we've spent the money, so we've got to pay it back, right? Bartlett et al. express sanguinity for the prospect of an overweening redistributive state because the American economy is so wealthy that we will still live comfortably even as the productive class loses more and more of its capital to the government. The Professor says, ""Swapping Their Birthright Of Freedom For An ipad
William F Buckley famously proclaimed that is the function of a conservative to stand "athwart history, yelling Stop." We do so because we believe that:
  • It is the job of centralized government (in peacetime) to protect its citizens' lives, liberty and property. All other activities of government tend to diminish freedom and hamper progress. The growth of government (the dominant social feature of this century) must be fought relentlessly. In this great social conflict of the era, we are, without reservations, on the libertarian side.
  • The profound crisis of our era is, in essence, the conflict between the Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias, and the disciples of Truth, who defend the organic moral order. We believe that truth is neither arrived at nor illuminated by monitoring election results, binding though these are for other purposes, but by other means, including a study of human experience. On this point we are, without reservations, on the conservative side.
The American welfare state has been able to grow to its present size because the market side of the economy has (mostly) been able to pace and surpass the entitlement side. That's really what Obama and friends are counting on: an economic recovery that will empty the ranks of disgruntled Tea Partiers as they head back to work and to the mall. In fact, we've been through this before. Pre-Reagan, the GOP had plenty of moderates who were willing to be part of the permanent Washington Establishment so long as they didn't upset the New Deal/Great Society. They were rightly derided as the tax collectors for the welfare state and certainly represent the path of least resistance, if you're more interested in power rather than freedom.

The real problem with the Bartlett approach isn't just the economic damage that surrender would cause, but also the political damage. Without an active conservative movement, government naturally grows ever larger and more centralized until elections are effectively neutered, as is the case in England: Don't Let The Voters Know We Face Bankruptcy

Vast tranches of policy-making which used to be the stuff of debate have simply passed into a limbo, where they are no longer properly discussed or even explained. Farming and the countryside, the fate of our fishing industry, our immigration rules, our laws on employment and how businesses are run, on the environment, on food safety, the regulating of our financial services, including the operations of the City of London – the key decisions in all these areas, and many more, have been handed over to a form of government which is unconcerned with our national interests and almost wholly unaccountable, with consequences which in almost every case have proved disastrous for Britain.


Yet on all these hugely important issues our political class remains virtually silent, because it no longer has any power to decide what happens. All our political nonentities are left to bicker over at election time is that ever shrinking area of policy-making still under our national control: schools and hospitals, crime… that's about it.The real tragedy of what has happened to Britain in the past 20 years is that we no longer have an opposition worthy of the name. It is almost impossible to measure the damage done by 13 years of rule by Blair and Brown. They have left the country effectively bankrupt, its manufacturing industry halved, the City tottering and under threat. They have allowed the United Kingdom to splinter, debauched the House of Lords and brought politics into contempt. They have done irreparable damage to our Armed Forces (not least through the humilating fiasco which led to our being thrown out of Iraq). Our country's standing on the world stage has never been lower.

Yet, as the worst Government in our history has presided over this catastrophe, we have had an Opposition so hypnotised by the devilry of the "Blair revolution" that in fundamental respects it has scarcely been an opposition at all. Having had the stuffing knocked out of it by the way it got rid of Mrs Thatcher, the Tory party has never really recovered its identity, leaving millions of voters in effect disfranchised. Three virtually indistinguishable parties squabble over trivia, leaving the electorate without any clear alternative – so that on May 6 almost half the voters may well stay apathetically or sullenly at home.

Simply "giving in" to the march of progress would mean abandoning the millions of people who would just as soon not surrender their economic freedom for the sake of "social justice," plus consumer goods. The American
Left is more silly than sinister, but its policies are destructive nonetheless. Why any conservative would want to give up the fight is beyond me.

No comments:

Post a Comment