I have been an advocate of compromise between the conservatives and the liberals. In trying to figure out when and where to compromise, I was struck by the thought that no one has yet given a satisfactory argument for why economic compromise is necessary, or even beneficial. It is simply a given. Those who stick by their fiscal principles are labeled whack jobs (that’s the technical term).
Ayn Rand, the libertarian, is labeled an extremist, whose views are completely outside the bounds of human discourse. Why is that? Why is it anathema that pure capitalism exist in any society, anywhere in the world? Why is it accepted that the United States must go the way of Europe and parts of Asia? Why can there not be one place on this planet where people are expected to live up to high standards of conduct?
Socialism, communism, these concepts are often embraced these days as the inevitable outgrowth of right-thinking, even if they are not called by those names. Note to President Obama: Having rich people’s “fair share” of taxes be larger than other people’s simply because the rich are better able to afford it, and taking rich people’s money and giving it to other people because those with less deserve a fair shake, is the same idea as:
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.*
I don’t care if you do call it fighting for the middle class, or progressivism, the idea that people will only behave themselves when the government gets involved is the essence of redistribution of wealth.
Taking the fruits of one person’s labors to give to another is not only encouraged these days, but expected, and enforced by imprisonment. This method of running society is praised as it spreads all over the world, with no country left untouched, even though wherever it is tried, it does not succeed for very long. Why can’t there be one country where people are free to bargain with each other, free to live or die based on their own efforts, free to associate with whomever they want?
You know, like the Wild West, before it was incorporated into America. I guess Ayn Rand’s metaphor wasn’t so far off, after all. One reason for the polarity in this country is that the people who settled the West had personalities suited to individual achievement and individual responsibility. That does not mean that they were unsociable—quite the contrary. They knew that their very survival depended on them treating their fellow settlers with the utmost respect and consideration, returning favor for favor, and having each other’s backs.
When conservatives talk about taking the country back, it is to that mindset and those values that they refer, regardless of how liberals paint it. Liberals snicker at the “Wild West mentality”, as though it is some form of mental illness to rise by your own hard work, to help out your neighbor knowing that he would do the same for you, and to put something aside, just in case.
So, there were those individualists, living out their lives pretty much well unmolested, growing their own food, taking care of their own wants, raising their own children. As cities rose up around them, their rights began to be infringed upon by those who believed in collective action. So long as there were plenty of individualists around who could be roused enough to take public action, they managed to deal with the inroads, pacified with the knowledge that they were helping out their fellow man, no matter how imperfectly.
But each year, the government grew and grew, and the conservatives became more uncomfortable. They were none too happy that President Bush’s fiscal policies began to more closely mirror the liberals’ values than their own. That the solution to every ill seemed to be, “Throw more money at it,” rather than scaling back any programs or subsidies. That, no matter how much revenue the government collected, it was not enough. And there was apparently never enough regulation—every day, it seemed that there were 100 more rules to comply with.
Then along came President Obama. He started out with “Hope and Change.” It turned out that the change he wanted was an increased pace of redistribution. He blamed President Bush for the state of the economy, but doubled down on President Bush’s remedy for the problem: More money to more people. If you don’t have enough, print some.
Now that President Obama has doubled the deficit and make the debt skyrocket, he comes to Congress, saying that he is willing to work with them, to compromise. But there is no need for him to compromise, except on raising the debt ceiling. He needs that lifted, so that he can have more money for his ever-expanding government. However, so does Congress.
As for the sequestration, President Obama is in a win-win situation. If taxes go up on everybody, he can claim (and has already) that that was Congress’ idea, and renew his promise to “fight for the middle class.” He ends up a white knight. And he doesn’t have a problem lopping a fair bit off the Republican sacrament of defense.
So long as Congress is too horrified to shut down the federal government, they have no bargaining power. Things will progress much as they have, with the debt ceiling being lifted every so often, no budget being passed, and the Republicans being blamed for stonewalling. Unless and until the Republicans stand firm on the debt ceiling, there will be no hope for rolling back any of the government.
President Obama’s stated plan for rollback is to reduce spending by $2.50 for every $1 in extra revenue that Congress will allow. If he’s so interested in lowering spending, why doesn’t he just reduce it by $1.50, and cut out all the middlemen? I’ll tell you why. It’s so that he has some wiggle room. When Congress doesn’t agree to the revenue hikes, he can blame everything on them: the failure to raise revenue, the failure to lower spending, the whole kit and caboodle.
Why not compromise? Because I can’t see anywhere that the Republicans can compromise. They done give away the whole shooting match, already. The rugged individualist has no more place on this planet, at least in this lifetime.
*Karl Marx, the father of fighting for the middle class
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