Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reflections on the right

The beast, she wakes. I suppose a libertarian should support anyone who opposes a growth in government, but it's hard to root for the right because it is so impossible to take them seriously. During the Bush years, the deficit was allowed to balloon without the slightest peep of protest from the ostensible champions of limited government. After all, Bush was one of them. He had cut taxes, the surefire panacea for all that ails the right, and an especially useful mechanism if one wishes to war with everyone with the help of the country's credit card.

That bills must eventually be paid apparently escapes the right, for whom monetary policy is a matter of absolutely no interest. Blame is placed on those who raise taxes in an attempt to close our ever-growing budget deficit. It should instead be placed on those who ran up such egregious deficits in the first place.

But the Left, it will be said, spends even more than the Right. Lamentably, it is true. Less than a year into the his presidency, as Pat Buchanan avers, "Obama is making that Great Society Republican president [Bush II] look like Ron Paul." But, as I evidently never tire of saying, that the Left is wrong does not make their opponents correct. It is preposterous to insist that John McCain, who stopped his campaign to bailout the banks, or George W. Bush, who oversaw a larger increase in non-defense discretionary spending than did Clinton, or any other Republican for that matter, would somehow govern in a fiscally responsible manner. There is simply no evidence that any GOP leader since Coolidge is capable of reducing government spending.

On the other hand, the Republicans do present, if not an actual obstacle, at least a cacophony of loudmouths, to the ever-growing leviathan. But this, more than anything, demonstrates the absurdity of the modern conservative movement. The only thing they are even reasonably effective at doing is slowing down the rate at which the Democrats expand State control. This is a good thing, but it cannot be the only thing. Once a program has been put in place, the Republicans do not even try to end it. They seldom even talk about it. Often, they expand it.

Just once, I would like to see a mainstream Republican--Ron Paul does not count, alas--or a conservative commentator advocate the complete dissolution of a Federal Department. I'm not in the least particular as to which one goes: Education, Labor, Energy, Homeland Security, Agriculture--few, if any, have merit. For goodness sake, look at this list of agencies. I cannot fathom how it can be so difficult to insist that a few overpaid bureaucrats get real jobs. On the other hand, being bureaucrats, they may not have any actual skills, so we may need to train them.

Obama has been an unmitigated disaster. It's not even one year in, and he's already run up the largest deficit in history. In his defense, he has two losing wars which are eating up a large portion of the budget, but which he cannot end, for reasons of cowardice. This is not to say that I envy the man his position, or fail to appreciate the difficulty of the decision. On the other hand, it's hard to empathize with someone who refuses to end a war, so costly in blood and treasure, because it would be politically inexpedient to do so.

The vicissitudes of politics being what they are, the Republicans may be poised to regain power at some later date. This, assuming they can refrain from shooting themselves in the foot, as is their wont. But I see absolutely no hope that the GOP will represent a return to fiscal sanity. Cutting government programs is even less practicable than ending wars. As John Derbyshire is to argue in his soon to be released book: We Are Doomed.

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