Friday, January 16, 2009

Are we at a "Tipping Point" for Democratic Capitalism?

I encourage you to read this article in the Wall Street Journal
I can't do it justice. Check some of the Key quotes below. The point that resonates with me is how "fear" allows government to intrude and exert control. Pause and reflect on fear and how it has driven the government to over reach: 911, gas prices, poverty, environment, financial stability, and health care. In each of these areas the government takes advantage of our fears and does what it does best... enacts laws, establishes regulatory agencies, hires armies of bureaucrats and spends money (lots of money - light years beyond what they take from us, borrow from China and raid from our children's legacy). Every year they re affirm their commitment to fighting our fears by "increasing" the budget because that is how we measure commitment. However motivated, self or selfless, once government is entrenched it is very difficult to extract. Remember, these people think of us in aggregate, not as individuals. In their heart of hearts there is smug sense that they know better and it is best (again in the aggregate) that they steer the ship and we fall in line.

Is this right? Can we do better?

Key Quotes from linked article:

For most of our nation's history, our approach to economics has favored enterprise, self-reliance and the free market. While the American economy has never been entirely laissez-faire, we have historically cared more about equality of opportunity than equality of results. And while Americans have embraced elements of the New Deal, the Great Society and progressive taxation, we have traditionally viewed welfare as a way to help those in dire need, not as a way of life for the middle class. We have grasped, perhaps more than any other nation, that there is a long-run cost to dependency on the state, including an aversion to risk that eventually enervates the entrepreneurial spirit necessary for innovation and prosperity.

They recognize a sea change coming ...

The last several months are a foreshadowing of a new era of government activism, rather than an unfortunate but necessary (and anomalous) emergency action. We will soon shift from a market-based economy to a political one in which the government picks winners and losers and extends its reach and power in unprecedented ways.

maybe the public is distracted and can't see it coming ...

Our sense is that at the moment, the public is not thinking in terms of "big government" or "small government." Instead, Americans want efficient government -- one that is modern, responsive and adaptive. People want government to act as a fair referee, providing guardrails that allow individuals to rise without intrusively dictating individual decisions.

it is not impossible to reverss this sea change but it will not be easy ...

This is quite a tall order. But if we do not succeed in resisting greater state involvement in the economy -- and health care is meant to be the beachhead of this effort -- we will move from a limited welfare state into a full-blown one. This will reshape, in deep and enduring ways, our nation's historic sensibilities. It will lead here, as it has elsewhere, to passivity and dependence on the state. Such habits, once acquired, are hard to shake.
Between now and the end of this decade may be one of those rare moments in which among other things will turn decisively one way or the other. The stakes could hardly be higher for our way of life.

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