Saturday, March 27, 2010

"The Enervating Comforts of the Welfare State"

The emphasis should be on the adjective: enervating. For the comforts will be short lived and mostly imagined, and they will be accompanied by a sudden, precipitous drop in international security as the world is overtaken by widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons with no institution willing or able to do anything to prevent it.

Rich Lowry of the National Review:
It’s appropriate that Netanyahu came to Washington for his ritual humiliation — don’t let the side door of the White House hit you on the way out — simultaneous with the passage of health-care reform. The Europeanization of American domestic policy will proceed in tandem with — and eventually compel — the Europeanization of American foreign policy.

Like the Europeans, Obama is adopting the Arab narrative of the Middle East, wherein Israeli perfidy is responsible for all that ails the region. . . .

The Europeans congratulate themselves on the realism of their “evenhandedness.” But it is the realpolitik of weakness. It heaps scorn on an embattled outpost of the West while appeasing the terror states and tin-pot dictators that assail it.
Of this sort of "evenhandedness" it could be said what has been aptly said of the Nietzschean idea of outgrowing the tedious, bourgeois distinction between good and evil. Namely: that all experiments in living beyond good and evil end up in evil.

Lowry concludes:
Our global influence will recede as we — like the Europeans — sink into the enervating comforts of the welfare state.
Welcome to the kind of hope and change that those even glancingly familiar Barack Obama's ideological history could have predicted in 2008, but from which the pom-pom media and most of the electorate decided to aver its eyes.

The European-styled socialism with which the health care campaigners seemed so enamored was possible because the U.S. provided and paid for the international security apparatus that allowed Europeans to divert defense spending to expensive entitlement programs. (Programs which had precisely the enervating effect on their recipients that Lowry mentions.)

But when we become Europeans there will be no one keeping the thugs from running amok, thereby allowing us to enjoy our enervating comforts. The inevitable result will be a world -- much like a drug-infested neighborhood the police lack the manpower to patrol -- in which the enemies of freedom and civilization, awash in Middle Eastern oil and besotted with rage, will begin to operate with impunity. 

Perhaps we voters should have taken a closer look last November.  To add that this administration has done everything in its power to expand abortion-on-demand might seem an afterthought, but, in fact, it is just another feature of the ideology that is being force-fed to the American people.

I take no satisfaction whatsoever in posting blog entries like this, as was true in the fall of 2008, when I made as strong a case as I could for the obvious fact that -- his occasional dissimulation notwithstanding -- Mr. Obama was a pro-abortion ideologue. Then as now, I feel that it would be irresponsible not to do what little one can to warn others that if we do not change course we will surely end up where we're headed. In that case, our children and their children will pay a very, very high price for the short-lived and largely imaginary "enervating comforts" by which we were seduced.


Mark Gordon said...

Gil, please. Far from representing "European-styled socialism," the healthcare bill Lowry decries was, if anything, a gigantic giveaway to private healthcare insurance corporations, whose stocks have been booming on the NYSE.

- The bill mandates the expansion of the private healthcare insurance market by 32 million customers without prescribing specific cost controls or offering a government-run alternative in the form of a public option. It also mandates a profit margin that exceeds what many of those corporations currently realize!

- Not one physician or nurse will be added to the public payroll.

- Rather than expanding government, the bill will over ten years reduce the deficit by $138 billion over what we would have otherwise spent if the bill hadn't passed. In the second ten years that deficit reduction will be over $1 trillion.

- The Catholic bishops, while opposing the bill for its abortion provisions, also criticized it for not being socialist - that is government-orientated - enough!

- What the bill does - and this is what truly galls the Objectivists at National Review - what the bill does is provide the prospect of relief for the uninsured, those with pre-existing conditions, and those who face rescission of their insurance due to arbitrary caps or procedures. In other words, it helps people, and that is too much for the defenders of torture and pre-emptive war to abide.

Last, since this crowd is so protective of Israel (a sentiment I share), let me note that the Jewish state was founded by socialists and continues to operate on the basis of socialism. It also has a universal, government-run healthcare system that produces one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

Funny that by Lowry's definition the Israelis don't seem to have been "ennervated" by socialism.

ignatius said...


A part of "European-styled socialism" is to make parts of the private sector dependent on government funding.

If private insurers are becoming richer from this program, it just proves one of the points of health care opponents: the huge waste which a big government program entails.

And of course working people will have to pay for the giveaways.

Gordon said...


Since when is a “giant giveaway to private healthcare insurance corporations” at odds with “European” or any other non-Marxist style of socialism? Big business and big government have always worked hand in glove when given the chance. It plays to the Fortune 100’s strengths (connections, cash) and weaknesses (less mobile and innovative than small nimble competitors. Cf. Fortune 500) to sacrifice profit margin in exchange for a non-competitive playing field. It gives them what Warren Buffett calls a “moat.” A moat with alligators in the case of Obamacare.

In fact, Obama promises that same protective “moat” to us all. Abortion protects sex from the burden of children. Obamacare protects us from worrying about the consequences of our lifestyles or careless spending. Appeasement protects us from the expensive conflict that protecting a just order might demand. Cap and Trade protects us from Climate (on which we’re encouraged to fix all our floating anxieties about war, crime, the possible consequences of our moral depravity, and the end of the world — just so the government can pay for all our sins with carbon credits).

“Objectivists…. defenders of torture and pre-emptive war….”

You forgot child-molesting and insurance fraud. That is what you mean by “this crowd?”

the other Gil said...

I tried to be hopeful when Obama was running for president. It is obvious that he was talking down to people like me, a person almost desperate for change. What impressed me the most was his promise of a transparency like we have never seen, which would have included, among other things, arranging an open, televised debate on the health care initiative. But instead he quickly revealed his low opinion and mistrust of the American people. I now see clearly that he looks out over the great majority of Americans and can see nothing but beer, guns, pick-up trucks and a religion that has lost its ability to inspire hope and change.

Mark Gordon said...

Two observations for the free market heroes posting in response to my comment. First, I presume you know that even without this bill, the government will be picking up the tab for half of all American healthcare spending in by 2012. That's because of Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and various subsidies for clinics, Indian health, etc. So, we already have a healthcare system that is deeply entangled with the government. I would like to hear your free market proposals for geetting government out of healthcare entirely.

A second but connected point is this: are any of you willing to renounce Medicare here and now? Medicare is not an insurance program. It is single-payer, socialized healthcare. Gil, you must be creeping up on 65. Are you willing to renounce Medicare so as not to become 'enervated' by contamination by socialism?

I thought not.

Mark Gordon said...

Gordon, please get Gil's excellent series on the modern myth and idolatry of the autonomous self.

Mark Gordon said...

The other Gil,

Anyone's generally low opinion of the American people is being reinforced daily by what is known as the Tea Party movement.

Gordon said...


You wrote to me: "... please get Gil's excellent series on the modern myth and idolatry of the autonomous self."

Gee, I read most of what I can get my hands on from Gil, but I simply have no idea how that's supposed be related to anything I said. Please enlighten me.

Gordon said...


As to your address to "free market heroes": Who said government should have no role in healthcare? Are you saying that the only alternative to complete government control is no participation at all? A bit Manichean, don’t you think?

Seems to me Medicare is exactly the sort of thing government should be doing, providing for those who, whether by accident or misfortune or disability, have lost the ability to purchase healthcare. But who has suggested otherwise?

Mark Gordon said...

Gordon, the healthcare insurance reform bill passed last week hardly qualifies as "complete government control" of healthcare. That is my point. You are the one engaged in hysterical Manichean language. Moats, indeed ...d

By the way, as one concerned about "moats," I'm sure you were disgusted when George W. Bush erected a moat around your personal security by engaging in pre-emptive war and torture, both intrinsic evils condemned by the Church.