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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Have a Heart, Give an Entitlement

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. Voltaire (1764)

There is a nursery rhyme that goes; there once was a lady who lived on a shoe, she had so many children she didn’t know what to do. Well last week there was a report out of Tampa, Florida of just such a lady.

Angel Adams a 37 year-old Tampa woman has 15 children and does know what to do. Unlike the lady who lived in the show Ms. Adams, an unmarried woman with 15 children from three different fathers, knows how to play a system that we have created to promote a sense of entitlement in this country. A woman with 15 kids (and no spouse) complains that people around aren’t doing enough to help her – even though her rent, food and furniture have all been covered by good Samaritans and the government. You have to hear it to believe it!

After watching this video I had a few questions for Ms. Adams. Lady, did you have your pants off maybe too many times in your life? Is that possible? Is it possible? What are you out doing? What are your children out doing? I’d like to know. How many of them are even mowing somebody’s lawn? How many of them are actually out trying to take any job, any job? Not a good job. Any job. What is it you have done? Have you thought about birth control? Here’s an idea. Have you thought about marrying a man? Have you thought about marrying a man or not having kids with a man who isn’t going to jail? Have you thought about, you know, maybe we should slow down on the sex thing? Accountable? I’m not accountable for your life. I am accountable for my life.

If, through my actions or the actions of my children, I break my neighbor’s window I am liable for its repair. In essence I am liable to my neighbor. If, on the other hand, someone else breaks his window I have no liability for it repair. I am not in his debt. If, however, I am a charitable person or have skills as a glazier I can choose to assist him in the repair of the window. That’s what good neighbors and charitable people do.

It quite another thing when government tells me I am responsible to repair is window. Government uses the coercion of its taxing power to force me to assist my neighbor.

Over the years people of charitable hearts and Christian values have elected and allowed politicians to use the coercion of government to help people they believe are in need, something that was once the province of churches and charitable institutions.

When churches and charitable organizations were looking after those members of their community in need there was direct accountability. But, as the politicians and government began to dole out the assistance things changed. Accountability waned and expectations waxed. People began to look to government for more and more entitlements. In a sense America was becoming a game show nation.

Democrats advocate Game Show Government. "Vote for us, and we'll give away cash and prizes. We'll send you a check!" On the other side, certain hardcore Republicans say, "Vote for us, and we'll cut your cash and prizes to the bone! No more checks for you!"

At the turn of the last century and even before, progressives saw children crawling through coal mines and working in factories, and women laboring a gazillion hours a day in sweatshops. And the progressives — both Republicans and Democrats — and the labor movement passed legislation to stop the abuse. Big government can bring about big change, says the standard storyline.

But the biggest game show came in the 1930s with the New Deal, surely named as a wink and a nod to Republican Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal. FDR (TR's fifth cousin) sent money, for example, into districts that traditionally did not vote Democrat, but they did after the money flowed their way. He set up Social Security, and people thought well of it, and still do. Never mind that Social Security regularly goes broke. And after several years of the Alphabet Soup, in 1938, according to the League of Nations, the U.S. unemployment rate was 19.8%. But at least FDR was doing something, say his devoted followers. "Vote for us; we'll send you a check!"

LBJ waged war on poverty under the aegis of the Great Society (Utopia, the Ultimate Game Show Government). He instituted Medicare and Medicaid. People felt good about themselves because they were helping the elderly and poor. Never mind that we still have the poor. Never mind that Medicare and Medicaid are broke. But the left will simply tweak and adjust the game show to eliminate poverty in our time. "We'll do it! Just wait and see! Vote for us; we'll send you a check!"

In 1970 Nixon started the EPA to wage war on pollution. In 1971 he imposed wage and price controls. Talk about government intervention, and from a Republican, no less! Never mind that the controls didn't work. Ford had to campaign on WIN: Whip Inflation Now! The EPA has now become oppressive by its overregulation. It now has a giant bureaucratic dictatorship drumming up regulations and enforcing something called “Environmental Justice.”

Liberals and social reformers and big-government believers of both parties capitalize on the game show, selectively recounting the mixed results. They proclaim, government can bring about positive change. We have child labor laws. Eight-hour workdays. The poor and elderly have government health insurance. The environment is cleaner now than before 1970. So, the private sector needs to work together with big government, and big government needs to work together with big business and big labor. Unify! Work together!"

The left cleverly markets its tactics to implement its long-term goals in today's political climate. "The rich must pay their fair share. It's economic justice. Conservatives will take away police officers! More rapes and murders will ensue! They're for unclean water and dirty air."

Thus, progressives and reformers have worked their magic in society for many decades, such that if a politician sounds anti-government, he (or she) can never win a national election. Which programs would hyper-conservatives eliminate or cut to the bone? Be specific. State-run programs like insane asylums or hospitals or FEMA? Small family clinics for the poor? A safety net for the genuinely needy? State universities and community colleges? Medicare and Medicaid? Would they send illegals back to Mexico, in armored buses?

The examples could go on, but the trend is clear. Never underestimate" the seductive power of Game Show Government, all in the name of social, economic, and environmental justice. It boils down to "Vote for us; we'll send you a check!" Now our checks are no good because our account is overdrawn.

In a poll released Nov. 7, 2011, Gallup reports that 42% of Americans call themselves conservative, while 21% say they're liberal. What about the rest? 37% identify themselves as moderates.

Who are the 37%? Hint: they don't belong to the Tea Party. They're not in the Occupy Wall Street movement. But they are the most powerful constituency in America. They decide elections. Conservatives overlook or scare them, to their own electoral peril.

Nonetheless, too many people still believe in the game show. The 21% do. Maybe a large number of the 37% does, too. Hyper-conservatives scare them. They could never defeat the billion-dollar, sold-out executive producer of the game show: Obama. This is a big reason why libertarians, who are just one class of hyper-conservatives, never come close to winning anything substantive.

Conservatives need strategies that factor in the long monotonous drumbeat of Game Show Government. We must unwind the magic spell over the long haul. We must articulate and sell a vision. Game Show Government is seductive because it offers cash and prizes. It may be here for good, but maybe it can be reduced.

Conservatives must explain why and how government and the private sector can still work together. Conservatives get confused about the differences between libertarianism and conservatism. You're a Republican and not a libertarian because, yes, you believe government has a role to play, and maybe a strong role to boot, but exactly how big or small is open to debate.

Then why do so many conservatives keep coming across as ruthlessly antigovernment? Why don't they articulate a vision for how limited (not emaciated) government has a role to play? Republicans need to advocate a government somewhere between a morbidly obese Uncle Sam and a figure who looks like he just got out of the Andersonville prison camp.

Where would conservatives draw the line on government cuts? What do they offer as an alternative to the game show? An attempted right-wing coup that frightens away the 37% after a hundred years of the game show? Austere self-denial? A mean old white guy who says, "Don't go for the cash and prizes!"? And it's not enough to say, "The Founders said so!" Or "We're broke!" Or "Big government is a tyranny!" However, those three points should be included in the message. Just look at Greece today.

The message needs to be presented — marketed — in a modern way that factors in the game show. Americans are comfortable, and comfortable people don't like sudden electoral changes. Even "centrist" Obama figured that out in Campaign '08. Change is done incrementally — but intelligently, deliberately, strategically, and methodically — in the American Republic in 2011. That's the reality today. Whoever wins the Republican primaries in 2012, conservatives must never underestimate" the magical power of Game Show Government, or they will face electoral defeat in November.

It will take decades to undo the spell, if it can be done. Move slowly, but surely.

1 comment:

  1. How many of them are even mowing somebody’s lawn? How many of them are actually out trying to take any job, any job? Not a good job.
    Thanks for post...

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