Rat's Nest
Bloggage, rants, and occasional notes of despair

The Hokey-Pokey?

The Armed Liberal (yes, I know that some of my readers will find that to be an oxymoron) has a long (but not padded) post on a new liberalism.

It's interesting to think about.  He includes a few thoughts, though, that makes me think that his "new liberalism" is going to look quite a bit like the current conservatism mixed with some fin du siecle populism.

He finds the defining criterion calling for a new liberalism

But I think we can take as a given that the informal (i.e., non-governmental) structures have yielded much of their role to government.
I don't think that necessarily a good thing, but I take it as a fact.

I would say it is a natural consequence of the enlargement of entitlements.  If the government is going to take (by way of example) 10% of your income and give to the "poor" (disregarding for the moment whether they should or should not get it, in your opinion), why should you give an additional 10% of your income -- or your time -- to aiding them?

Armed (I don't have to call you Mr. Liberal, do I?) also says

It is my personal observation that people’s attitudes toward government are in part ideological, in part driven by bad experiences with ineffective or actively hostile agents of government, and in biggest part a simple sense of old-fashioned Yankee search for value for the buck.

The second probably leads to the first, and not merely in a purely reactive sense.  As a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, he may also be a liberal who's had to deal with the DMV (a libertarian is a liberal who believes that people hired by the DMV inevitably come to act like that).

The biggest consideration, I think, and one that Armed seems not consider at all, is the quality of the people served.  Libertarians often claim that the increasing alienation of people from politics, electoral and non-electoral, is an indication of their increasing libertarianism.  I think otherwise; I think that they're people who don't want to get off of the couch and miss an episode of Friends, and would rather have public affairs handled by a professional political class than do so (substitute the name of any field of endeavor who for wish for "political" to get a feel for the grand scheme of life).  This, I think, is in turn caused by the increasing centralization and (although I dislike the term, I don't have another one on tap) political correctness of government.  If the decision of who to give charity to is made in far-away Washington, if it is made solely on the basis of who doesn't have money, instead of why he doesn't have money, or whether she should have money, why bother going to the expense and difficulty of getting into the decision-making process at all?  Some gray, faceless bureaucrat can do that better than I -- he might even like doing so -- and I don't have to miss Friends (the bureaucrat, of course, doesn't watch Friends -- he watches The West Wing).

A distinction is made in physics between those processes which do not result in a net increase in entropy, and are therefore theoretically reversible -- a particle following a closed trajectory, say -- and those which increase entropy, and there are not reversible -- such as scrambling an egg.  I greatly fear that handing over tasks to the government is a process of the latter sort.

John "Akatsukami" Braue Tuesday, June 18, 2002