Thursday, November 15, 2012

We'll See...

I'm reading a lot of commentary these days about how "conservatives" need to wake up, to abandon their "radical", "rancid", "divisive"—and a host of other adjectives—agenda. The people have spoken!

Well, what if "the people"—that 51% of Americans who voted for big government—got it wrong? I mean do you suppose the progressive columnist would admonish those who oppose Venezuela's Hugo Chavez to wake up and abandon their cause since he just retained office at the behest of 55% of Venezuelans? I think even the likes of Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne, Jr., and NY Times' Paul Krugman just might confess that the Venezuelans got it wrong (although you never know with Krugman).

Of course we're a long way from Venezuela (but a little closer to Europe), and, honestly, I'm not at all torn up over the Democrats' victory. In fact, if entitlement reform is imperative (which it absolutely is), a rational, forward-thinking liberal would face substantially less resistance (think Clinton and welfare reform back in the '90s) than a hard-nosed conservative. But I'm not seeing that classic (and so necessary) second-term move to the center from President Obama—not in the least!

But hey, it's still very early, and the President, like virtually every other politician (on both sides of the aisle) I can think of, has a history of threatening one thing (no closed-door meetings, kicking out the lobbyists, etc, etc, etc, etc.), and delivering another (breaching the Constitution and bankruptcy laws to—after many closed-door meetings—screw creditors and hand GM over to the UAW, all the exemptions from the ACA (aka Obamacare), inviting in a record number of lobbyists, etc, etc, etc, etc.). I'm hoping that what we've witnessed the past couple of weeks is simply the President offering a big thank you to his many supporters, and that by next Monday he'll wake up and realize that if he's to leave any semblance of a respectable legacy, the next four years will have play out markedly different than the last (we'll just have to wait and see). Which means he'll be disappointing the sadly confused constituent Frederic Bastiat had in mind (in 1848) when he wrote:

"The oppressor no longer acts directly and with his own powers upon his victim. No, our conscience has become too sensitive for that. The tyrant and his victim are still present, but there is an intermediate person between them, which is the Government - that is, the Law itself. What can be better calculated to silence our scruples, and, which is perhaps better appreciated, to overcome all resistance? We all therefore, put in our claim, under some pretext or other, and apply to Government. We say to it, " I am dissatisfied at the proportion between my labor and my enjoyments. I should like, for the sake of restoring the desired equilibrium, to take a part of the possessions of others. But this would be dangerous. Could not you facilitate the thing for me? Could you not find me a good place? or check the industry of my competitors? or, perhaps, lend me gratuitously some capital which, you may take from its possessor? Could you not bring up my children at the public expense? or grant me some prizes? or secure me a competence when I have attained my fiftieth year? By this mean I shall gain my end with an easy conscience, for the law will have acted for me, and I shall have all the advantages of plunder, without its risk or its disgrace!"

As it is certain, on the one hand, that we are all making some similar request to the Government; and as, on the other, it is proved that Government cannot satisfy one party without adding to the labor of the others, until I can obtain another definition of the word Government I feel authorized to give it my own. Who knows but it may obtain the prize? Here it is:

"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.""


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