November 18, 2006

You go to war (against the welfare state) with the President you have...

AJ Strata has an interesting piece on "Bush Conservatives." I don't agree with every point, but he's really on my wavelength...

....Bush Conservatives not only believe in Reagan’s 11th commandment to not speak ill of fellow conservatives - we live it. From the Gang of 14, to Harriet Miers, to Dubai Ports World and to the immigration issue - there has been a brand of Republican which eschewed the 11th commandment. So let the Republicans be defined by that group - Bush Conservatives will be defined by their antithesis. Bush conservatives are not afraid of the word ‘compromise’. They despise the word ‘failure’. If there is a good idea, we do not care what party gets credit - we care that the good ideas get enacted. It is not Party uber America anymore.

Bush Conservatives, like Bush himself, are for lower taxes and focused government (someplace between liberals and libertarians is the proper role of government). They are not for destroying the public education system, they are for making it work. And they understand private school access is one option. They understand that a prescription drug benefit for Medicare/Medicaid will reduce overall costs and provide a respectable end of life for our seniors who came before us. Yes, it costs a lot to care for our elderly. But it doesn’t represent big government. It represents a big heart. I am not for throwing money away. The prescription drug benefit was a nice optimizing solution to a broken system. It was consumer driven (which is why the liberals should not be allowed to go in and insert bureacratic price controls) and it will save money that was being wasted in emergency room treatments for normal problems....(Thanks to The Anchoress.)

Look, I think big government is one of the worst things that can happen to a country. It inevitably tries to become bigger yet, to eat everything, and it inevitably tries to make smaller the only obstacle to it's cancer-like expansion—individuals and groups who would rather take care of themselves. The welfare state is not moral, it is profoundly immoral. And its end result is the destruction of human society, of human souls, which is just what we are seeing in Europe today.

BUT, we aren't going to get rid of it. To put it bluntly, giving women the vote meant that government was going to get into the business of making people secure. (And probably the same thing would have happened with only men voting, just a little bit more slowly.) There is no way that shrink-big-government politics is going to shrink big government. The votes just aren't there, and never will be. Our canoe is heading for the falls, the current moves faster and faster, and there is probably no escape possible.

The one conceivable escape from this trap is what President Bush called "The Ownership Society." That is, giving to individuals control of, and responsibility for, their portion of the government security blanket. The classic example would be putting people's Social Security tax into private accounts. This has the potential to transform the humblest burger-flipper or sales clerk into an investor, a person with assets. To, in fact, transform their picture of themselves, from hapless client to person in control of his or her destiny.

This is the reason I look at things differently than the sort of guys who write for NRO. They survey the scene and say, "Nothing's happening, except government is growing." I look and see that President Bush has swapped Federal dollars for a law that can provide accountability in public schools, and give parents the possibility of demanding transfers to different schools...I don't call that "nothing." I'd like more, that's for damn sure. But I don't see Republican failure at all.

And yes, I wish Bush would promote these ideas more eloquently and forcefully. But, well, that's dubya. You go to war (against the welfare state) with the President you have... (A few more of my posts on the Ownership Society here)

Posted by John Weidner at November 18, 2006 1:36 PM
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