Thursday, January 20, 2011

Too Big To Succeed

George Will's latest column reinforces a point made here many times:  The Left's Holy Grail of the omnicompetent state is not only foolish and dangerous, it's impossible.  The more the state tries to do, the more it does poorly, or not at all.

If insanity is, as they say, doing the same thing over and over again only expecting a different result, then on this issue at least, the American Left is a textbook case of insanity; they are never dissuaded by their failures.  Instead, for them, the incompetence of Big Government only reveals the need for even Bigger Government.

Alas, there was a time in America when it was not so.  Will:
James Q. Wilson, America's preeminent social scientist, has noted that until relatively recently, "politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything." Until the 1930s, or perhaps the 1960s, there was a "legitimacy barrier" to federal government activism: When new policies were proposed, the first debate was about whether the federal government could properly act at all on the subject. Today, there is no barrier to the promiscuous multiplication of programs, because no program is really new. Rather, it is an extension, modification or enlargement of something government is already doing.
Notice that Will doesn't separate the Left from the Right in his conclusion.  Sadly, the Left's insanity is so widespread that it has infected the Right as well, a fact that makes distinguishing a genuine conservative from a dilettante or poseur sometimes quite difficult.  But there is a test.

If you want to be sure, present a self-described conservative with a social problem of some sort.  If his reflex is immediately to search for the "conservative" government approach to "fixing" the problem, he's at best a half-breed and almost as much trouble as a genuine Lefty.

Anyway, our best hope is that the utter impossibility of the Left's grand ambition is increasingly apparent to everyone.  If so, perhaps we are on our way to becoming once again the country that asks first, "Yea, but is this any of the government's business?"

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