Monday, June 30, 2014

What Went Wrong: Getting to a Solution

For those of us that believe in individual responsibility and the free collective mind, we've got to get out of the freeloader culture and its collective mindlessness.  That's what we argued in the previous part of this series. (Beginning of series here.)

It is the great question that confronts our society in the second decade of the 21st century.  Shall we go further and further on the current path towards a society of complete administrative supervision, what I call collective mindlessness?  Or shall we change course and reduce the weight of government and reanimate our collective mind.

You've got to accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. And latch on to the affirmative. Don't mess with Mister In-Between. Rare words, brave world!  But what do we actually do?  The answer is obvious: we eliminate the negative boat anchor of politically mandated freeloading and its collective mindlessness.  We accentuate the positive flourishing of the collective mind.

But how?  How can we deal with the vice that has utterly metastasized itself throughout modern politics, the cancer of votes for free stuff?

In a recent piece for The American James V. DeLong confirms this analysis by describing the current political regime in the United States.  Each party must appeal to the “values and concerns” or “V&C” of a broad swath of voters but must also get money and influence from elites and special interests.
The system gives a big edge to the Democrats, who have no particular principles except for more government and more money to deserving groups. These principles are congruent with the interests of the dependent classes, the bureaucracies that serve them, the public and private elites who operate the system, an academia dependent on federal money, and many corporate looters.
DeLong goes on the show the problem that Republicans and conservatives have dealing with this system.
The Republicans have a harder time with the imperative to appeal to both the broad base of V&C voters and special interests. On taxes, the Republicans have made the link between benefits for targeted groups and pro bono publico, arguing that reductions for the rich and upper middle class prove the party’s dedication to the interests of working people, and it is not surprising that tax-cut rhetoric has a long chapter in the Republican catechism.

For conservatives, the definition of V&C has evolved. Rather than the usual jobs, education, and so on, their V&C concerns go deeper and now include dedication to free markets, light regulation, individual autonomy, respect for conscience, refusal to privilege victimhood, and the rule of law. These do not translate well into visible benefits for individuals, firms, or industries, and thus do not keep the vital dollars flowing into the coffers of the party, the independent groups, and the K Street lobbying firms where old donkeys and elephants go to get rich.
In other words, the Democratic voters and interests are united in getting (voters) and furnishing (interests) more stuff for “deserving groups.”  Republican voters are merely interested in values and concerns around the question of individual responsibility and rights and therefore aren't offering “more stuff” for anyone, not for voters, not for special interests.  Obviously the Republican voters can't get what they want unless their values and concerns become more universal, or unless the administrative state fails to deliver on its free stuff for the dependent classes and the middle-man elites.

You can see what is going on here.  Right now, in the United States divided about 50-50 between the two parties, we have a stalemate between the two parties.  The Democratic voter V&C plus the bureaucracy-elite-academia-crony looters are about equal to a Republican voter V&C that's warring with its own RINO elite.

The solution is obvious.  Republicans and conservatives must reduce the legitimacy of the free-stuff-for-victims V&C and the hall pass that the  bureaucracy-elite-academia-crony looters get from supporting the agenda of free stuff for victims.  Short term, Republicans can win by picking up some independent voters that are just annoyed by the failures of the Democratic ruling class and think it is Time for a Change.  But long term we are talking about religion and faith.  We must reduce the faith that people have in the ruling elite, and the tribal instinct that the village big man, aka the ruling class, can deliver the free stuff people have come to expect not just as a mess of pottage but as a birthright.

Short term, we can bid for the independents; long-term, we must change the culture from freeloading to responsibility.  But what about the medium term? What can we do to limit the damage from the springtime for freeloaders that has resulted from the politics of the authoritarian welfare state?

That's what we'll look at in the next installment of this series.

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