July 20, 2014


My Problem With People Who Agree With Me (PJ O'Rourke, 7/20/14, Daily Beast)

[T]herein lies my problem. Nobody really disagrees with us these days. Our own children, at their most rebellious age, believe in the first two things we toasted. (Although, until they acquire jobs and babies, they practice passive resistance to the third.)

At the core of libertarian belief is the free market. But now everybody believes in that too, including Communist dictators in China and the rajahs of India's corrupt bureaucracy. Even villainous crony capitalists who reign over much of the rest of the world (and aren't exactly absent in the U.S.A.) believe in the free market - if they can keep other people out of it.

The next day I was talking to the new president of a libertarian think tank. "Have you been to many of these conferences?" he asked. I hadn't. He said, "They bother me a little."

"Preaching to the converted?" I ventured.

To make a ridiculous comparison, it's as if the Twelve Apostles (minus Judas Iscariot -- played by Bill Maher) never left Jerusalem. They just hung around the Mount of Olives evangelizing themselves.

"No," said the think tank president, "it's not just to whom we preach but what we're preaching."

That is, people love to hear what libertarians have to say until those people go into the voting both. Then limitations on the size, power, and expense of government start to get personal.

According to the Census Bureau, 49 percent of Americans receive some kind of government benefits. And political scientists Suzanne Mettler and John Sides of The Century Foundation (which is liberal-centrist) say that if you throw in everything that can be construed as a government benefit, e.g. mortgage interest deductions, 96% of Americans are on the take.

The dichotomy is not a problem, but an opportunity.  Nearly 100% of us agree that capitalism renders the best economic results (First Way) and nearly 100% of us agree that the liberal democratic social contract includes a safety net (Second Way).  So make the welfare state capitalist--defined contribution instead of defined benefit (Third Way).  

Posted by at July 20, 2014 8:50 AM

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