Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, May 24, 2010

False Issue of the Randslide

Today's to-do over government recalls what a book publisher observed half a century ago, when exposes like "The Hidden Persuaders" and "The Organization Man" were topping best-seller lists, "Americans are always astonished and upset to discover that society is organized."

Back then, amid post-World War II prosperity, the "upset" over threats to individual freedom was mild and came from the Left. Now it has migrated Rightward and escalated into rage, resulting in a crushing victory by the "uncompromising avatar" of Tea Party disaffection, who questions government's role in everything from racial discrimination to the oil spill.

The Rand Paul issue is framed as "a new culture war" by the President of the American Enterprise Institute, who sees it as a contest between "two competing visions of the country's future.

"In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise--limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose."

The falseness of that "choice" stares us in the face daily from TV screens in the impotence of government bureaucracies to control the disastrous results of free enterprise in the Gulf of Mexico even as Paul finds the President's criticism of BP "un-American."

It can be seen as well in pending legislation to control "market forces" that almost took the American economy over a cliff, only to be saved by an unavoidable taxpayer bailout nobody wanted. In no-good-deed-goes-unpunished mode, Wall Street's Masters of the Universe have gone instantly from Obama "enchantment to enmity" as formerly endangered Corporate America pours most of its money not into the party in power but into a GOP that resisted all bailouts and economic stimulus on its behalf.

The saddest part of all this is the shift into a government-vs-no government argument from a debate over how to make organized society work better, balancing the desire for individual freedom against the need for controls over rapacity and rampant greed.

At this moment, "paleoconservatives" have captured the media's and excitable voters' attention, but all Americans may have to pay a steep price for what comes afterward.

1 comment:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Well, there is no "government vs. no-government" "debate." No one wants NO government (well, I suppose some anarchists are still shambling around the country). This is something that will ensure that there is never civil and open dialogue between the left and the right. Deliberate obtuseness and false "choices": total overhaul of health care OR the status quo, no drilling at all or the status quo, government or no government . . . this is all fantastical nonsense that the left uses to belittle conservative thought. Is that really useful? Or do you honestly believe that conservatives want the status quo or no government at all? I can't believe you honestly believe that, so why the false representation of conservative thought? Do you know how silly liberals sound when they say stupid things like "oooh, you are against socialism but you love social security"? That's like saying, you liberals are for nanny state behemoth government but you still want to choose your own career path or where you want to live.

BTW, Rand is a loon and not at all representative of conservatives--he's a libertarian, conservative, yes, but further right than most conservatives who, believe it or not, are actually close to center. It just seems that we're far right because the left has lunged so very far left.