American Elephants


Is The Only Way to Really Help People to Grow the Welfare State? by The Elephant's Child

The liberal response to the question of paying for the welfare state has been a protracted exercise in intellectual dishonesty, borne of a conviction that the question doesn’t need to be answered if it can be made to go away. Liberals have generally been happy to tell people what they want to hear. It’s possible to have a big welfare state without worrying all that much about the costs. The programs will pay for themselves. Or an affluent society can pay for them out of the petty cash drawer. Or, the taxes required for a much bigger welfare state are ones that will be borne largely by the very rich and big corporations. None of these propositions can withstand even gentle interrogation, however, making it difficult to know whether the liberals who put them forward are remarkably cynical or remarkably feckless. In either case, whatever political advantages are secured by telling people what they want to hear about paying for the welfare state, the already murky argument for the welfare state becomes even more incoherent.

From Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State by William Voegeli
I loved this book.



The Liberal Project Is a Shipwreck as Well! by The Elephant's Child

The bunch of lawyers at Powerline were exceptionally interesting today. John Hinderaker writes on “What the Obamacare Shipwreck Tells Us About Liberalism: Part One” as a first contribution in a continuing story:

Obamacare is a vast Rube Goldberg machine that, it turns out, doesn’t work at all–an airplane that has crashed on takeoff. And the fiasco that we have seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg. The thing will unravel further and cause even more damage and disruption if a stake isn’t driven through its heart soon. What does this episode reveal about the nature of liberalism?

One obvious lesson is that liberalism fails to appreciate the complexity of the world. The hubris required by the Democrats’ attempt to reorder not just a large sector of the economy, but an important part of the lives of millions of strangers, is breathtaking. Recognizing, at least dimly, the difficulty of the task, the Democrats responded by trying to draft a law whose complexity would match that of the reality that it tried to control. That made the situation worse, not better: the more convoluted the statute became, the more unworkable it was. Friedrich Hayek, call your office!

Do read the whole thing.  The nature of the ongoing debate about the fiasco goes right to the heart of the Liberal project. We have generations of proof that it simply does not work, yet we have apparently explained it in terms that are not understood by those to whom Liberals have promised improbable gifts that will somehow make all the bad things that crop up in real life vanish. But life remains real, and it is up to us to cope as best we can. They always forget to mention that in order to get the ‘gifts’ we have to give them our freedom in exchange.



Charles Kesler on the Grand Liberal Project by The Elephant's Child

In a sweeping review of American political history, Kesler outlines the grand liberal project begun a century ago. It is a project, he asserts, that has expressed itself in three distinct waves: political liberalism, economic liberalism, and cultural liberalism. Kesler further maintains that Barack Obama seeks nothing less than to complete and perfect this project. Finally, he confronts the issues of how conservatism lost its way in the face of the liberal project and how it might regain its imitative.




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