Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"The Country We Once Knew"

If last week's budget deal, coupled with last fall's ballot victories has you enthused about ascendant conservatism, check out NRO's Rich Lowry for a sobering piece about the current and future state of the nation.  He presents the latest from the American Enterprise Institute's Charles Murray, "The State of White America", and it's not a pretty picture about the growing class divide in America and what it portends.

A couple of thoughts:

First, the two "classes" that Murray compares are the upper-middle and the working and while material well-being is how he differentiates them, it is not how he distinguishes them.  Rather, he distinguishes them by comparing them in three categories: marriage, industriousness, and religiosity. 

This is significant because while it is usually the Left that frets about the growing class divide in America, they both define it, and seek to remedy it, as an almost entirely material problem.  That is, they imagine that if the material distance between the upper-middle and the working classes can be reduced, then all will be well, or at least better.  This is far too simplistic, serving chiefly only to justify an expanded and expanding welfare state.

Second, and related, Lowry ends the piece with this sentence: "When it comes to saving the American way, balancing the budget is the easy part."

While I think he's right about that, I think it important to point out as well that to distinguish too easily between our budgetary problems and our general moral decline is to fall victim to the same simplistic thinking that characterizes that coming from the Left.  As Mark Steyn likes to say, if Bill Gates were to write a check tomorrow covering all of the stimulus package and Obamacare, and let me add national debt as well, it would still be wrong to pursue these policies.  They are not wrong simply because we can't afford them.  They're wrong because they are un-American, unconstitutional, unethical, and ineffective.

Our budgetary woes are fundamentally a moral problem. 

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