The View From 1776

Socialistic Paralysis

Far from solving economic and social problems, liberal-socialism makes realistic adjustments impossible.

New York Times columnist David Brooks took a hard look at the implications of the European Union constitution, both for Europe and for us.

He begins:

“Forgive me for making a blunt and obvious point, but events in Western Europe are slowly discrediting large swaths of American liberalism.

Most of the policy ideas advocated by American liberals have already been enacted in Europe: generous welfare measures, ample labor protections, highly progressive tax rates, single-payer health care systems, zoning restrictions to limit big retailers, and cradle-to-grave middle-class subsidies supporting everything from child care to pension security. And yet far from thriving, continental Europe has endured a lost decade of relative decline.”

And ends:

“Over the last few decades, American liberals have lauded the German model or the Swedish model or the European model. But these models are not flexible enough for the modern world. They encourage people to cling fiercely to entitlements their nation cannot afford. And far from breeding a confident, progressive outlook, they breed a reactionary fear of the future that comes in left- and right-wing varieties - a defensiveness, a tendency to lash out ferociously at anybody who proposes fundamental reform or at any group, like immigrants, that alters the fabric of life.

This is the chief problem with the welfare state, which has nothing to do with the success or efficiency of any individual program. The liberal project of the postwar era has bred a stultifying conservatism, a fear of dynamic flexibility, a greater concern for guarding what exists than for creating what doesn’t.”

Brooks’s concluding point ? that people oppose change under socialism? ? is one that I have made often.? Once a handout has been enshrined upon the altar of liberalism, adjusting it to reality is regarded as sacrilege.? In the United States, a typical “stultifying conservatism, a fear of dynamic flexibility, a greater concern for guarding what exists than for creating what doesn’t” is the Democrats’ “over our dead bodies” hysterical objections to personal savings accounts under Social Security.?

Alexis deTocqueville, author of the celebrated “Democracy in America,”  observed in his writings between 1833 and 1859 that socialism had reduced the French to a dull and self-centered people who cared nothing for their neighbors or for the nation as a whole.? They were concerned only with getting their welfare-state handouts and were prepared to tolerate any degree of political tyranny, so long as the benefits flowed and the ruler gave lip service to liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

For socialists, life and the economy are, in effect, programmable scenarios in a video game.? This attitude flows downward from the elite army of Hautes ?coles graduates who run the bureaucracy.? For them, the economy is a static phenomenon whose pieces they can move around to achieve so-called rationalization and harmonization.? For the intellectuals, competition in the free-market economy is barbarism, because it involves unpredictable volatility.

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