Quick Roundup 267

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Newt Gingrich Praises New Deal

Not that I care much for Ann "I ALWAYS agreed with Jerry Falwell" Coulter, but I do have to credit her with observing that when you hear a left-wing journalist gushing about a Republican politician, it is usually because said Republican has embraced socialism in some particularly ... useful ... way.

And so it is that we see this column at Slate opening with William Saletan all agog because Gingrich said, "In the Hegelian model, it's not enough to be the antithesis party." "How many other Washington big shots go around quoting Hegel?" he asks.

And yes, it is this bad. So bad, in fact, I found myself wishing that for once, a Republican would live up to the left-wing stereotype of ignorant rube. Sadly, this is precisely what Gingrich means:

Nor is [Gingrich] averse to government spending and intervention in markets. He just wants the spending and intervention to take the form of incentives. Instead of giving $1 billion to a federal agency to deal with a problem, he'd offer the money as a prize to the first company that solves it. As the conversation proceeds, Gingrich throws money at one challenge after another. Hydrogen fuel? Dangle a 10-figure prize. Nuclear waste? A 10 percent tax break to any state that accepts it. Endangered species? Annual bonuses to countries that keep them alive. Math and science education? Pay poor kids for taking the classes and earning a B average. Even FDR's colossal outlays fit Gingrich's philosophy. "The entire New Deal was based on incentives," he says. [bold added]
Yeah. Just like when a thug says, "Your money or your life," you have an "incentive" to hand over your wallet. The whole concept of incentives is out the window when the government comes into play because the government, by its nature, is packing heat. (Even the harmless-sounding prizes involve property theft, and afford the government the ability to tamper with those areas of research a free market would reward on its own anyway -- by diverting productive effort to areas that science and industry have not selected as worthwhile.)

As with Cal Thomas and the conservative movement in general, Gingrich has decided to fully embrace statism, but dishonestly pull the wool over the eyes of American voters by means of capitalist rhetoric. It is no more an "incentive" to pick less from someone's pockets (even if he is so foolish as to feel that it is) than it is "privatization" to move from a socialist model of running an industry to a fascist one. The fact remains that the government violates individual rights when it interferes with a free economy no matter by what degree or whether its citizens notice.

It will make you sick, but read the whole thing to see just how low Newt Gingrich has sunk.

Sowell on Political "Solutions"

Thomas Sowell writes a column that comments on what I think is a cultural phenomenon which is simply best seen in government. He starts off his column with the following: "It is remarkable how many political 'solutions' today are dealing with problems created by previous political 'solutions.'"

Indeed it is. But this vicious circle could easily be broken if voters would only start demanding that politicians stop meddling in their affairs. There are many things at work here. A few that immediately come to mind are: a desire to get something for nothing, a desire to have others do one's thinking for him, a poor understanding of individual rights and the proper purpose of government, and a failure to hold oneself or others accountable for their actions. These all have in common a widespread failure to apply reason to one's problems (and thus the self-confidence and the demand to be free to do so that naturally come with it).

I'm thinking out loud here, but I think the last item on the above (non-exhaustive) list is both a consequence of irrational ideas and a manifestation of some psychological consequences of irrationality, which is perhaps best seen in many "battered wives", who, while they may have legitimate reasons to fear for their safety while they attempt to leave abusive spouses, are also riddled with so much self-doubt that they have a hard time even attempting to seriously entertain doing so.

And thus we see yet another reason why a cultural revolution must precede a political one. Not only must people actually understand what capitalism is and why it is both moral and practical. People must also be strong enough psychologically not to see freedom as threatening or frightening in any way.

As it is now, were one to propose proper remedies to the crises Sowell discusses -- like adopting a gold standard and free banking, or removing all restrictions on land use, or allowing water prices to rise with demand -- one would not just meet philosophical opposition. One would also scare many of his listeners.

This Season's Colors -- for Men

Having more free time is the watchword for this fall's football season's fashions!

Lie perfectly still, soldier, until she calls off her search and rakes that lawn herself! (HT: my younger brother)

-- CAV


Gideon said...

Right on about Gingrich. Almost the only good economic thing about Republicans lately has been their support for tax cuts but as I pointed out recently, apparently they consider the primary use and benefit of such tax cuts to be an increase in the government revenues. Sadly, there seems to be no one interested in actually shrinking the size of government at all.

Gus Van Horn said...

Basically, since the Republicans generally do not espouse the principle that government exists to protect individual rights, anything they do right will, in the short term, be almost entirely by accident (and thus likely to be implemented inconsistently and temporarily).

johnnycwest said...

Regarding your comment on the Sowell article. I completely agree that voters could stop it, but not easily. We live in an echo chamber of collectivism and government intervention - it's everywhere. CNN reports daily on some government program or law or bureaucrat that wasn't doing enough to regulate some human activity. Another news item will trot out some poor situation that demands some government intervention and if a child is involved, how can we resist?

John Stossel, and of course a few columnists like Thomas Sowell, are the only exceptions who actually explore the effectiveness and logic of these government interventions. They will talk about the unintended consequences of laws and regulations when no others will. This may be a sign of the death of MSM, but these ideas are still too strong to defeat so far. I am an optimist, but its amazing how strong philosophical ideas are even in the face of amoral pragmatism. Ayn Rand was so right and I have to admit there was a time I was sympathetic to libertarianism - not any more. Politicians are all at the back of the parade and have been for decades.

I sigh whenever I read about the Pork Busters campaign championed by Glenn Reynolds and others. "How quaint" I think, "and how hopeless". I wish I could say I could not be more cynical about politicians and politics, but I am afraid it will get worse before it gets better.

The article is good, however, and I think it is essential that information and analysis such as this gets out there. People have to be told and reminded that the status quo is not working and the solution can only be found in bold new thinking.

Galileo Blogs said...

Gingrich's incentives idea isn't the first time I've heard it. New York City's Mayor Bloomberg has started a program to pay poor people for sending their kids to dentists, getting semi-decent grades, etc.

I wonder if some think tank has just cooked up this idea and now politicians of various stripes are beginning to sign on to it.

For the record, Bloomberg's idea at least has the virtue, for now, that it is funded solely (I believe) by private contributions. I am sure that will change fast once it has been allegedly "proven" that it works.


The way Gingrich says the New Deal was just an "incentives" program is really creepy. Since the Republicans are completely incapable of defending or even properly identifying a government based on individual rights, they think that by calling forms of statism freedom will actually make it so.

Thus, we get the "market-based" program to "trade" pollution credits, "incentives" paid out from stolen tax money, and subsidies to ethanol and wind energy producers that are couched in terms of national defense.

When I hear this kind of language, I yearn for a traditional left-winger to assume the political reins. At least the leftist (more or less) properly identifies what he stands for. When he says he wants to soak the rich to give money to the poor, his words are consistent with his actions. When those policies fail, those ideas are discredited.

In contrast, people still perceive Gingrich, et al., as somehow advocates for a free market. So when their thoroughly statist policies fail, as they must, capitalism gets blamed once again.

Are people beginning to see through this Republican charade just a little bit now? Does that, in part, explain the recent rise of the Democrats and disarray of the Republicans?

Gus Van Horn said...


"I sigh whenever I read about the Pork Busters campaign championed by Glenn Reynolds and others. 'How quaint' I think, 'and how hopeless'. I wish I could say I could not be more cynical about politicians and politics, but I am afraid it will get worse before it gets better."

It will, and it will require at least a decent number of intellectuals in Glenn Reynolds' position to notice that trimming away small attempts at vote-buying like Pork Busters will fail so long as the state can attempt electoral grand larceny trough Social Security, etc.


I think the reurgence of the Democrats is the direct result of the convergence between the two parties while the republicans were in power, yet ineffective (and pretending they were capitalists). I think that perhaps some people are already saying that "capitalism" (and "war") have failed and see the Democrats as an alternative to failure.

You may well get your wish come next November. If so, those of us who know that capitalism and self-defense were never actually tried must redouble our efforts to get the word out about the REAL alternative.


Joseph Kellard said...

I remember back when Gingrich and his Contract With America Republicans were at the center of Washington, after Hillary Care was successfully under attack during the mid-1990s. I recall that Leonard Peikoff noted on his radio show then that Gingrich said he admired FDR’s politics, or listed him as a favorite president—something along those lines. So Gingrich’s championing of the New Deal is no surprise to me. I’ve grown to completely distrust the man, as he comes off as a pure opportunist on a par with the Clintons—and he’s not even running for a political office.

My distrust was only deepened when I learned that Gingrich now has a new book out, called, I believe, Contract With The Earth. I saw him talk briefly about it on Fox News, or some such cable news channel, the other night, but I was half-asleep and don’t remember much—other than it sounded like he was conceding environmentalist BS but that he had “free market” solutions for our “problems,” such as “climate change.” I came across the book at a Barnes & Noble a day or two later, but didn’t bother to pick it up. Maybe now I’ll do so, just to see to what extent he’s spreading his opportunism.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: also saw Gingrich on Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Combs a couple of weeks ago. Again, I caught him briefly debating with the leftist Combs about the separation of church and state, and, typical conservative that he is, Gingrich felt that all he needed to do was point out that the Declaration of Independence mentions “A Creator”—and thus our Founding Fathers were raving Christians who wanted church to mix with government. End of debate. Well, it was for me; I changed channels.

Gus Van Horn said...

Indeed, although I did not emphasize it much because it was really a non-essential detail, the Gingrich story was titled "An Inconvenient Newt" and mentioned the book you bring up.

AND Gingrich uses the term "stewardship" -- the Biblical idea that man owns nothing on earth, but is only a caretaker -- to describe his justification for adopting the latest color in socialism.

Joseph Kellard said...

“AND Gingrich uses the term "stewardship" -- the Biblical idea that man owns nothing on earth, but is only a caretaker -- to describe his justification for adopting the latest color in socialism.”

Doesn’t the bible also say something about man having dominion over the earth and all things on it? Here, here! Who said the Bible is all fiction?

Gus Van Horn said...

I thought that was a loud "Thump!" I heard a while ago coming from a general northeasterly direction!

Clay said...

Thanks for the info on Gingrich.. I think much less of him for having read this.