This morning’s Wall Street Journal had an op ed piece (may be gated) by one Alan Colmes whose book “Thank the Liberals for Saving America” is just now coming out. It’s a paean to the “liberal” policies of Lyndon Johnson and his successors, featuring a big photo of LBJ and Lady Bird under a “great society” banner. I had to turn the page quickly as I was in the middle of breakfast, but have now reopened and read the whole thing. Since the chances of the Journal publishing a rebuttal from me are essentially nil, I decided to inflict my response on my readership. Both of you.
The piece brought back memories of the visceral disgust I used to feel at the sight of LBJ when he was in office even though I wasn’t much attuned to politics in those days. I would be hard pressed to say who’s worse, Obama or Johnson.
To begin with, Johnson was a blatant criminal. He and his wife got rich by manipulating radio and television licenses in Texas. He stole the primary election in 1948 which got him into the Senate. He may have been complicit in stealing Texas electoral votes in 1960.
But what of the article? Most of it is a recitation of the accomplishments of “liberal” programs including food stamps, health care, bailouts, marriage equality, and women’s rights. In essence, he tells us that the beneficiaries of “liberal” welfare programs benefited from them, and they’re not all lazy bums.
Well, duh. This is the sort of shallow thinking that characterizes “liberal” discourse. No recognition of short-term or long-term consequences. No acknowledgement of public-choice insights into the perverse incentives of welfare administrators whose primary motive is to retain and expand their empires.
An overlooked consequence: the erosion of incentives to take responsibility for one’s own life; instead these programs have instilled a world-owes-me-a-living attitude which by now spans multiple generations of welfare recipients.
An overlooked consequence: the massive buildup of debt.
An overlooked consequence: the loss of personal freedom that must follow the loss of economic freedom as Hayek so eloquently showed in “The Road to Serfdom.”
An overlooked consequence: the insight of Mises that interventions invariably lead to outcomes contrary to the intentions of the intervenors, who then call for yet more interventions. In our mixed economy, a blend of free markets and government force, markets take the blame for every problem. And so the market takes the blame for everything. As Jeff Hummel says, market failures are to be cured by more government; government failures are to be cured by more government.
Thanks to the “liberals” and the conservatives who have failed to mount a principled opposition in domestic affairs, and thanks to both parties who have launched disastrous foreign wars, we are hurtling toward an American brand of fascist dictatorship.
5 thoughts on “Breakfast Spoiled by “Liberal” Paean”
Ugh, Skelator on LBJ, it ought to be gated, that’s worse than violent pornography.
May I post a link to this blog entry on my blog? It relates to a piece I just wrote on food stamps, though your piece is a counter to the one I wrote. I’d like to link it just for a good counterargument. But only with permission. Thanks, DADJ
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