Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Red Statism

Without actually deserting liberalism, I'm finding more and more to like about libertarianism. This article from the Mises Institute Monthly, Red Statism, nicely sums up what's NOT to like about the Bush administration - especially if you're a fiscal conservative.

Some choice morsels below.
In four years, George W. Bush has nationalized airport security, created the largest bureaucracy in history in the form of Homeland Security, tossed our constitutional protections we used to take for granted, enacted the largest expansion of welfare in three generations with the prescription drug benefit, intruded into local schools as never before with No Child Left Behind, brought many industries under protectionist regulation, hammered corporate upstarts with antitrust law, and undertaken two major wars that have cost hundreds of billions and left only destruction and chaos in their wake. Clinton increased spending 13.4 percent in his first term and 16 percent in his second, but Bush’s first-term spending soared +29.
While I'm also finding less to like about Clinton (he still has far to fall before passing Bush on the scale), this betrayal of the conservative ideal makes it even more bewildering to me that conservatives can support him. Oh, wait - increasingly, they don't. Apparently support for his mindless foreign policy now defines the G.O.P.

This is especially sad because it means the Democrats won't have to do much to win - and like the G.O.P., they need serious reform.

Back to beating the Bush:
The "leave us alone" coalition of the 1990s had been gradually transformed into an anti-Clinton movement by the end of the decade. The right in this country began to define itself not as pro-freedom, as it had in 1994 but simply as anti-leftist, as it does today.

The very people who once proclaimed hatred of government now advocate its use against dissidents of all sorts, especially against those who would dare call for curbs in the totalitarian bureaucracy of the military or suggest that Bush is something less than infallible in his foreign-policy decisions.

The lesson here is that it is always a mistake to advocate government action, for there is no way you can fully anticipate how government will be used. Nor can you ever count on a slice of the population to be moral in its advocacy of the uses of the police power.
I put that last paragraph in to complete their thought; I don't quite agree with it. In any event, Republicans currently seem very comfortable with the notion of Big Government Action, with regard to your freedoms if not your neighborhood capitalists' wallets.

I far prefer someone picking my pocket to locking me up without charges or evidence; one of those is clearly more fundamental to liberty.
If only our Dear Leader didn't have a direct line to the Almighty, he might perhaps be tempted to pick up a book (something he's proud of rarely doing).
There is a clear and present danger to freedom that comes from the right side of the ideological spectrum, those people who are pleased to preserve most of free enterprise but favor top-down management of society, culture, family, and school, and seek to use belligerent nationalism to impose their vision of politics on the world.

And now from The Problem Of Fascism:
It is as important for libertarians to be antisocialist as it is for them to be antifascist. But first we need to recognize that fascism is a reality, not just a smear term. We see it in the economic and political program of the current administration, which seems to be advancing a distinctly right-wing style of central planning: planning in the name of family, faith, and freedom (as versus the left-wing style of planning in the name of equality, liberty, and fraternity).

I don’t think the US has ever had a left-wing president as convinced as the present administration of the ability of government to work miracles.
Perhaps the direct line to god has a 1-800-MIR-ACLE call center?
How did conservative intellectuals and activists go from hating big government in the 1990s to loving it and celebrating it today? There is a bad seed in the ideology of American conservatism that spawns power worship.

Power-worship isn't isolated to Republicans by any means, but the current administration seems intent on projecting that power in all directions, not just in domestic economics.