Searching for Core Beliefs

"By cutting out the middleman, we'll save American taxpayers $68 billion in the coming years," claimed Barack Obama as he touted the legislation that will change how student loans are issued. For those who have not heard, beginning July 1, student loans will no longer be administered by banks. Instead, they will be issued directly by the federal government via the U.S. Department of Education.

Tellingly, Obama used the same line of argument when pushing for health care reform. There, too, he argued that government takeover will save money.

Such assertions are obviously absurd. To see why, we need only to ask this question: When has any government-run program saved money? Not only do such programs never deliver the promised savings, but they invariably turn into boondoggles. And the more far-reaching the program, the bigger the  boondoggle. The costs, for example, of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are projected to skyrocket to such levels that each of them alone could eventually sink this country's budget. In any event, one thing is certain: If this triad of government programs are not reformed soon, this country will not financially survive them. It is, however, difficult to see how meaningful reform can ever be achieved, since entitlements are considered the third rail of American politics. Because of this, no self-interested politician will touch them with a ten-foot pole. To ensure that this country goes bankrupt even faster, Obama has now added health care and student loans to the government portfolio.

Many Americans are startled by these developments. What is happening now, however, is not all that surprising. After all, the ground had been prepared long before Obama took office. Even before his health care bill passed, areas of American medicine were partially socialized already. What Obama did was merely to take the whole thing one step farther. There is nothing to be shocked about here. Whether through Hillary or Obama or someone else, it eventually had to happen. As long as there is extensive government involvement in any sector, leftists will try for a takeover, and sooner or later, they will succeed. The only way to prevent this from happening is to keep the federal government out of those areas in which it is not authorized by the Constitution to operate. Health care is certainly one such area, and so are education, retirement, currency, and the economy.

Sad to say, there is no significant political force that would strive for this outcome. The hope that the Republican Party will seriously roll back government is surely a futile one. Despite their rhetoric, most Republican politicians are as invested in big government as their Democratic counterparts. We have seen the latest example of this with Scott Brown. Although portraying himself as a proponent of limited government, upon taking office, Brown promptly sided with Democrats to vote for a bill that would extend unemployment benefits.

But the problem goes beyond the Republicans in Washington. Take the case of Mitt Romney, who routinely calls himself a conservative and who is by many taken to be one. Last week, this "conservative" had to once again contend with the charge that Obama's health care plan is rather similar to the one Romney himself implemented when he was governor of Massachusetts. There are, of course, differences between the two programs, but they are very similar in their underlying philosophy. They both require, for example, that people purchase coverage while subsidies are offered to those who are unable to do so. In other words, both see government as the solution to the health care problem.

Mitt Romney is not a real conservative, some may say. It is, however, telling that he was among the more conservative in the last batch of Republican presidential contenders. He was certainly far more conservative than the eventual nominee John McCain, who claimed -- as did all the other candidates -- to be the true bearer of the conservative mantle. McCain's claim was a bad joke, but it is also an indication of the sorry state of American conservatism when a bunch of government types argue publicly and with impunity over which one is the real deal.

The sad fact is that there is currently no national political figure who is also a real constitutional conservative. Can you think of a single major politician who would advocate getting government out of health care? And yet this is the only position that a true constitutionalist can take. Not only is this the only constitutionally sound stance, but it is also the only workable one in the long run.

But health care is not the only area where we conservatives are deficient. What about the economy? The Founders were very explicit in their effort to limit governmental involvement.  This meant no direct taxation, no income-redistribution, no intrusive regulation. Most of us would consider this highly radical even though these are the very principles on which this country was founded. Or what about our currency? The notion that the federal government should not manage it would strike most conservatives as far-fetched, if not outright crazy. But this is how the country operated for a long time. Most people do not realize that the United States got its central bank only in 1913, which was an event that opened the way for currency-manipulation by the political class. What we got as a result are persistent deficits, loose credit, asset bubbles, and inflation. It is very revealing that since 1913, the dollar has lost over ninety percent of its value.

Sad to say, the majority of those who call themselves conservatives today would respond by saying that times have changed and more government involvement is required than was necessary at the time of the Founding Fathers. But this is surely not the case. Government intervention is almost never beneficial in the long run. Quite to the contrary, it almost always results in more bad than good. So why should we keep piling bad on bad by giving government ever more power and scope?

The destructive measures that are now being implemented by Barack Obama are a direct consequence of our abandonment of the original principles. Because we have been unfaithful to the writ and vision of the Founders, we now get socialized medicine, government control of the automobile industry, high taxes, unconscionable deficits, debased currency, and impending national bankruptcy. Looking at all this, we conservatives cry fault. But where were we when the ground was being laid long before Obama was sworn in? Why were we not more bothered by the prodigious growth of Leviathan? Is it because despite of what we like to think, we are not really constitutionalists at heart?

This may be a good time to ask these questions and -- in the immortal words of Bill Clinton -- search for our core beliefs.
"By cutting out the middleman, we'll save American taxpayers $68 billion in the coming years," claimed Barack Obama as he touted the legislation that will change how student loans are issued. For those who have not heard, beginning July 1, student loans will no longer be administered by banks. Instead, they will be issued directly by the federal government via the U.S. Department of Education.

Tellingly, Obama used the same line of argument when pushing for health care reform. There, too, he argued that government takeover will save money.

Such assertions are obviously absurd. To see why, we need only to ask this question: When has any government-run program saved money? Not only do such programs never deliver the promised savings, but they invariably turn into boondoggles. And the more far-reaching the program, the bigger the  boondoggle. The costs, for example, of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are projected to skyrocket to such levels that each of them alone could eventually sink this country's budget. In any event, one thing is certain: If this triad of government programs are not reformed soon, this country will not financially survive them. It is, however, difficult to see how meaningful reform can ever be achieved, since entitlements are considered the third rail of American politics. Because of this, no self-interested politician will touch them with a ten-foot pole. To ensure that this country goes bankrupt even faster, Obama has now added health care and student loans to the government portfolio.

Many Americans are startled by these developments. What is happening now, however, is not all that surprising. After all, the ground had been prepared long before Obama took office. Even before his health care bill passed, areas of American medicine were partially socialized already. What Obama did was merely to take the whole thing one step farther. There is nothing to be shocked about here. Whether through Hillary or Obama or someone else, it eventually had to happen. As long as there is extensive government involvement in any sector, leftists will try for a takeover, and sooner or later, they will succeed. The only way to prevent this from happening is to keep the federal government out of those areas in which it is not authorized by the Constitution to operate. Health care is certainly one such area, and so are education, retirement, currency, and the economy.

Sad to say, there is no significant political force that would strive for this outcome. The hope that the Republican Party will seriously roll back government is surely a futile one. Despite their rhetoric, most Republican politicians are as invested in big government as their Democratic counterparts. We have seen the latest example of this with Scott Brown. Although portraying himself as a proponent of limited government, upon taking office, Brown promptly sided with Democrats to vote for a bill that would extend unemployment benefits.

But the problem goes beyond the Republicans in Washington. Take the case of Mitt Romney, who routinely calls himself a conservative and who is by many taken to be one. Last week, this "conservative" had to once again contend with the charge that Obama's health care plan is rather similar to the one Romney himself implemented when he was governor of Massachusetts. There are, of course, differences between the two programs, but they are very similar in their underlying philosophy. They both require, for example, that people purchase coverage while subsidies are offered to those who are unable to do so. In other words, both see government as the solution to the health care problem.

Mitt Romney is not a real conservative, some may say. It is, however, telling that he was among the more conservative in the last batch of Republican presidential contenders. He was certainly far more conservative than the eventual nominee John McCain, who claimed -- as did all the other candidates -- to be the true bearer of the conservative mantle. McCain's claim was a bad joke, but it is also an indication of the sorry state of American conservatism when a bunch of government types argue publicly and with impunity over which one is the real deal.

The sad fact is that there is currently no national political figure who is also a real constitutional conservative. Can you think of a single major politician who would advocate getting government out of health care? And yet this is the only position that a true constitutionalist can take. Not only is this the only constitutionally sound stance, but it is also the only workable one in the long run.

But health care is not the only area where we conservatives are deficient. What about the economy? The Founders were very explicit in their effort to limit governmental involvement.  This meant no direct taxation, no income-redistribution, no intrusive regulation. Most of us would consider this highly radical even though these are the very principles on which this country was founded. Or what about our currency? The notion that the federal government should not manage it would strike most conservatives as far-fetched, if not outright crazy. But this is how the country operated for a long time. Most people do not realize that the United States got its central bank only in 1913, which was an event that opened the way for currency-manipulation by the political class. What we got as a result are persistent deficits, loose credit, asset bubbles, and inflation. It is very revealing that since 1913, the dollar has lost over ninety percent of its value.

Sad to say, the majority of those who call themselves conservatives today would respond by saying that times have changed and more government involvement is required than was necessary at the time of the Founding Fathers. But this is surely not the case. Government intervention is almost never beneficial in the long run. Quite to the contrary, it almost always results in more bad than good. So why should we keep piling bad on bad by giving government ever more power and scope?

The destructive measures that are now being implemented by Barack Obama are a direct consequence of our abandonment of the original principles. Because we have been unfaithful to the writ and vision of the Founders, we now get socialized medicine, government control of the automobile industry, high taxes, unconscionable deficits, debased currency, and impending national bankruptcy. Looking at all this, we conservatives cry fault. But where were we when the ground was being laid long before Obama was sworn in? Why were we not more bothered by the prodigious growth of Leviathan? Is it because despite of what we like to think, we are not really constitutionalists at heart?

This may be a good time to ask these questions and -- in the immortal words of Bill Clinton -- search for our core beliefs.

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