Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Barley-Bean Or-----

A recent tome about the viability of the conservative movement has caused a new trope to emerge to the delight of the progressive chattering classes. Supposedly the conservative movement has a dearth of "new ideas" to address the multitudinous problems faced by the country. As I scribble, George Will is being mushily interrogated by Charlie Rose who is attempting to force GW into cognizance of this "fact". George dodges and counter-punches effectively but to predictably little effect on the Rosemiester.

The most common pungent riposte to this trope is that liberals have ideas while conservatives have principles. This is a calumny. Liberals/progressives do have principles or rather a principle. It is that there is no perceived ill or alleged lack in the human condition or the "environment" that is not amenable to governmental amelioration--period. All else flows from this. Since the ills of the human condition and the environment can essentially be considered as infinite then a concommitant infinity of government "assistance" is desirable. Since this requires an infinity of resources and an economy is not infinite then resources must perforce be channeled away from non-governmental economic activity to the utter maximum extent possible. If this requires the private sector economy to shrink then so be it. Europe is currently exploring these limits and it ain't pretty but I digress.

The maximum extent possible means that "everyone should pay their fair share". Anyone sharper than, as Foghorn Leghorn put it, "a bag of wet mice", knows that "everyone" really means "rich people" or that slightly more neutral word, the "wealthy". Who are the wealthy? The progressive line maintains that anyone making over a couple hundred K per year is wealthy. Pretty much anything beyond that is "undeserved" wealth and so any "excess" is fair game. The wealthy are also seen as inherently less principled than the poor. They thoughtlessly spend their ill-gotten gains on socially irresponsible and venal fripperies such as large houses and expensive automobiles. To a progressive every "excess" dollar a wealthy person controls becomes a dollar denied the poor and needy. That all this "excess" wealth might be an important part of an economy's macroeconomic engine is discounted entirely. And it is not merely discounted--progressives actively and loudly sneer at the very concept.

Persons of a cranky persuasion used to say there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans. However true that may have been of the actual political parties how that dime is now viewed by philosophical progressives and conservatives could not be any more starkly different. The progressive governmental mindset magnanimously forbears to let you keep some percentage of an earned dime while the conservative mindset laments whatever portion you are forced upon pain of punishment to surrender to the government. Philosophical divides do not get any deeper than that.

Conservatives don't need "new" ideas to replace old principles. The old principles are just as operationally responsive and flexible as they used to be which is to say not very and thank heaven for it. The old principles encourage much reflection and consideration before haring off in new untried directions. This reflection is absolutely critical in an age where all current and proposed governmental activity carries an inescapable and crushing load of unintended consequences.

Progressives clamor after "new ideas" because both the body politic and "the planet" are in continual and unrelenting "crisis" so new ideas, things, strategies, and approaches must be tried NOW to avoid onrushing cultural and environmental Armageddon. And if this or that ill-conceived approach is a miserable counterproductive failure then let us not reflect and consider but rather let us seize upon the next proposed panacea. Above all let's do something, anything, and do it now!

The Divide is abundantly represented signifcantly by the choices in this year's election--rather more so than in the recent past--if not especially savory in either case. Our choice in November now appears to be between the Obamessiah and The Old Guy--between a RINO and a young feller that makes George McGovern look like a Neocon--between Nurse Ratchet and the asylum inmates. An old Monty Python restaurant sketch gave a diner the choice between "barley-bean or turd soup". The diner's response was "Remarkably easy choice." I care little for McCain's barley-bean soup but even so it's a remarkably easy choice.

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