None so blind as those who will not see

Even though Bush has, at every turn, exhibited socialist tendencies and proudly boasted of his statism, there are still people who believe the libertarianish words that come out of his mouth. Specifically, Gregory Scoblete, who writes in TCS about Dubya's supposed committment to a "market state"[1]:

Bush embraced this transition to the Market State. In his domestic proposals, Bush explicitly acknowledged that the Nation State welfare-model needed to give ground:

The times in which we work and live are changing dramatically. The workers of our parents' generation typically had one job, one skill, one career, often with one company that provided health care and a pension. And most of those workers were men.

Today, workers change jobs, even careers, many times during their lives, and, in one of the most dramatic shifts our society has seen, two-thirds of all moms also work outside the home.

This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans to earn a better living, support your family and have a rewarding career.

Bush's domestic agenda, allowing younger workers to direct the investment (of their own money) in Social Security, of portable pensions to follow a mobile work force, and reforming a cumbersome tax code, is specifically aimed at devolving responsibility for individual welfare from the State to the individual.

And if you believe that, you'll believe anything. Exactly how many bills has Bush had introduced to Congress that have addressed any of these things? All the talk and rhetoric from the Bush White House about free trade, free markets, and individual liberty has generated only heat, no light. For not one bill or resolution has seen the light of day that has addressed any of these things, but in the meantime Bush has increased government spending by 27%, vetoed no bills, massively increased federal liabilities with Medicare, and refers to the US people as 10 year olds for whom he feels paternal responsibility.

Bush doesn't give three whits about individual responsibility or an "ownership society". He wants a society that votes for him and his party and keeps his friends in power, and his domestic agenda reflects that.

It gets worse, however:

Even the President's proposed spending initiatives -- increased money to education, to child heath care, and to junior colleges - had one consistent, Market State theme: the State is responsible for laying the foundation for your well-being but ultimate success is up to you.

Excuse me? The state is what? Setting aside the obvious question of how 'well-being' would be defined in a legislative and regulatory sense, or how to constrain such a definition in the future from growing to encompass anything and everything, it simply happens to be 100% incorrect. The state is simply not responsible for laying the foundation for your well-being, and it won't be, no matter what the enablers intend, because of a combination of bad incentives and the ultimate problem of knowledge.

Ultimately, anyone's foundation for well-being is laid by their family, or whatever social unit takes charge of raising that individual. History suggests that it is highly unlikely that any attempts to use state power to "equalize or normalize" foundational circumstances will not have serious negative consequences for individuals trying to better themselves once they are adults. That is, the burden the state will lay on productive adults (workers, managers, owners all) to pay for all of this foundational support will likely reduce or severely curtail economic opportunity later in life- so much so that in many cases the net benefit for a given individual will be negative[2].

Kerry is a pompous jackass. I have and will continue to mock and deride him until such time as he leaves the presidential stage. But let no one doubt that I believe George W. Bush is an equally odious President/candidate who, worse than Kerry, talks the libertarian talk but walks the red line with a goose step.

Whoever wins, we lose.


fn1. What kind of bastardized neologism is that? A market state? Isn't that akin to fascism, where there is a pretense of the forms of a market but the basic workings of which are determined by state direction?

fn2. Assuming, arguendo, that such a benefit could be calculated.

Share this

Good News Bad News Reason

Good News Bad News
Reason does not always get it right but the October cover is right. Nick Gillespie has a sales pitch for the magazine here. Update: Brian Doss seems to agree with the above cover statement....

I loved Bush's "ownership

I loved Bush's "ownership society." It's not enough that the government and politicians "let" us have our liberties, now they're going to plan them out for us... er, who actually buys this stuff? Here is a plausible explanation for why leftists confuse mercantilism and the corporate state with free-market capitalism.