Thursday, March 30, 2017

The False Compassion Of Liberalism


Last week on CNN I debated a liberal commentator who complained that the problem with President Donald Trump's budget blueprint is that it lacks "compassion" for the poor, for children and for the disabled.

This woman went on to ask me how I could defend a budget that would cut Meals on Wheels, after-school programs and special-education funding, because without the federal dollars, these vital services would go away.

This ideology — that government action is a sign of compassion — is upside-down and contrary to the Christian notion of charity.

We all, as individuals, can and should act compassionately and charitably. We can volunteer our time, energy and dollars to help the underprivileged. We can feed the hungry, house the homeless. Most of us feel a moral and ethical responsibility to do so — to "do unto others."

And we do fulfill that obligation more than the citizens of almost any other nation. International statistics show that Americans are the most charitable people in the world and the most likely to engage in volunteerism.

Whenever there is an international crisis — an earthquake, a flood, a war — Americans provide more assistance than the people of any other nation.

But government, by its nature, is not compassionate. It can't be. It is nothing other than a force. Government can only spend a dollar to help someone when it forcibly takes a dollar from someone else.

At its core, government welfare is predicated on a false compassion. This isn't to say that government should never take collective action to help people. But these actions are based on compulsion, not compassion.

If every so-called "patriotic millionaire" would simply donate half of their wealth to serving others we could solve so many of the social problems in this country without a penny of new debt or taxes.

My friend Arthur Brooks, the president of American Enterprise Institute, has noted in his fabulous book "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism" that conservatives donate more than the self-proclaimed compassionate liberals.

The liberal creed seems to be: "We care so much about poor people, climate change, income inequality and protecting the environment (or whatever the cause of the day) that there is no limit to how much money should be taken out of other people's wallets to solve these problems."

Let's take Meals on Wheels. Is this a valuable program to get a nutritious lunch or dinner to infirmed senior citizens? Of course, yes.

Do we need the government to fund it? Of course not. I have participated in Meals on Wheels and other such programs, making sandwiches or delivering hot lunches. And many tens of thousands of others donate their time and money every day for this worthy cause.

Why is there any need for government here? The program works fine on its own. Turning this sort of charitable task over to government only makes people act less charitably on their own. It leads to an "I gave at the office" mentality, which leads to less generosity.

It also subjects these programs to federal rules and regulations that could cripple them. Why must the federal government be funding after-school programs, or any school programs, for that matter?

One of my favorite stories of American history dates back to the 19th century when Col. Davy Crockett, who fought at the Alamo, served in Congress. In a famous incident, Congress wanted to appropriate $100,000 to the widow of a distinguished naval officer.

Crockett took to the House floor and delivered his famous speech, relevant as ever: "We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to so appropriate a dollar of the public money. ... I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."

Crockett was the only member of Congress who donated personally to the widow, while the members of Congress who pretended to be so caring and compassionate closed their wallets.

It all goes to show that liberal do-gooders were as hypocritical then as they are today.



Understanding Vladimir Vladimirovich

Putin did not come out of nowhere. Russian people not only tolerate him, they revere him. You can get a better idea of why he has ruled for 17 years if you remember that, within a few years of Communism’s fall, average life expectancy in Russia had fallen below that of Bangladesh. That is an ignominy that falls on Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin’s reckless opportunism made him an indispensable foe of Communism in the late 1980s. But it made him an inadequate founding father for a modern state. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose writings about Communism give him some claim to be considered the greatest man of the twentieth century, believed the post-Communist leaders had made the country even worse. In the year 2000 Solzhenitsyn wrote: “As a result of the Yeltsin era, all the fundamental sectors of our political, economic, cultural, and moral life have been destroyed or looted. Will we continue looting and destroying Russia until nothing is left?” That was the year Putin came to power. He was the answer to Solzhenitsyn’s question.

There are two things Putin did that cemented the loyalty of Solzhenitsyn and other Russians—he restrained the billionaires who were looting the country, and he restored Russia’s standing abroad. Let us take them in turn.

Russia retains elements of a kleptocracy based on oligarchic control of natural resources. But we must remember that Putin inherited that kleptocracy. He did not found it. The transfer of Russia’s natural resources into the hands of KGB-connected Communists, who called themselves businessmen, was a tragic moment for Russia. It was also a shameful one for the West. Western political scientists provided the theft with ideological cover, presenting it as a “transition to capitalism.” Western corporations, including banks, provided the financing.

Let me stress the point. The oligarchs who turned Russia into an armed plutocracy within half a decade of the downfall in 1991 of Communism called themselves capitalists. But they were mostly men who had been groomed as the next generation of Communist nomenklatura­—people like Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky. They were the people who understood the scope and nature of state assets, and they controlled the privatization programs. They had access to Western financing and they were willing to use violence and intimidation. So they took power just as they had planned to back when they were in Communist cadre school—but now as owners, not as bureaucrats. Since the state had owned everything under Communism, this was quite a payout. Yeltsin’s reign was built on these billionaires’ fortunes, and vice-versa.

Khodorkovsky has recently become a symbol of Putin’s misrule, because Putin jailed him for ten years. Khodorkovsky’s trial certainly didn’t meet Western standards. But Khodorkovsky’s was among the most obscene privatizations of all. In his recent biography of Putin, Steven Lee Myers, the former Moscow correspondent for the New York Times, calculates that Khodorkovsky and fellow investors paid $150 million in the 1990s for the main production unit of the oil company Yukos, which came to be valued at about $20 billion by 2004. In other words, they acquired a share of the essential commodity of Russia—its oil—for less than one percent of its value. Putin came to call these people “state-appointed billionaires.” He saw them as a conduit for looting Russia, and sought to restore to the country what had been stolen from it. He also saw that Russia needed to reclaim control of its vast reserves of oil and gas, on which much of Europe depended, because that was the only geopolitical lever it had left.

The other thing Putin did was restore the country’s position abroad. He arrived in power a decade after his country had suffered a Vietnam-like defeat in Afghanistan. Following that defeat, it had failed to halt a bloody Islamist uprising in Chechnya. And worst of all, it had been humiliated by the United States and NATO in the Serbian war of 1999, when the Clinton administration backed a nationalist and Islamist independence movement in Kosovo. This was the last war in which the United States would fight on the same side as Osama Bin Laden, and the U.S. used the opportunity to show Russia its lowly place in the international order, treating it as a nuisance and an afterthought. Putin became president a half a year after Yeltsin was maneuvered into allowing the dismemberment of Russia’s ally, Serbia, and as he entered office Putin said: “We will not tolerate any humiliation to the national pride of Russians, or any threat to the integrity of the country.”

The degradation of Russia’s position represented by the Serbian War is what Putin was alluding to when he famously described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” This statement is often misunderstood or mischaracterized: he did not mean by it any desire to return to Communism. But when Putin said he’d restore Russia’s strength, he meant it. He beat back the military advance of Islamist armies in Chechnya and Dagestan, and he took a hard line on terrorism—including a decision not to negotiate with hostage-takers, even in secret.

Much more HERE


Sanctuary City Crackdown Begins

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Department of Justice would begin fighting against lawless “sanctuary cities” — jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law. Sessions called “sanctuary” policies “dangerous” and promised the DOJ would act against offending local governments by both withholding upwards of $4.1 billion in grants as well as “claw back” federal funds. Sessions warned, “The Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for DOJ grants to certify compliance with [U.S. Code 1373] as a condition of receiving those awards.”

Sessions highlighted the glaring contradiction espoused by those who, under the guise of protecting immigrants, support these lawless sanctuary policies: “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.” While all Americans suffer from the effects of unchecked illegal immigration, those communities most vulnerable to criminal aliens are legal immigrants. Sessions surmised that “countless Americans would be alive today … and countless loved ones would not be grieving today … if these polices of sanctuary cities were ended.”

Another important point Sessions made was the fact that his order is based upon the policies put in place by the Obama administration last year — policies it subsequently failed to follow through on. Sessions is simply doing his job as attorney general in applying the Rule of Law.

Predictably, leftist leaders from these sanctuary cities and immigrant groups voiced their consternation and intent to rebel. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “We won’t back down from protecting New Yorkers from terror … or from an overzealous administration fixated on xenophobia and needless division.”

Irrespective of the deluded sentiments expressed by these leftist leaders, the reality is that sanctuary cities provide no sanctuary from crime. Among numerous examples, the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle by a five-time deported criminal alien in San Francisco and the recent rape of a 14-year-old high schooler by illegal aliens in Maryland attest to that. Thankfully, for legal immigrants as well as native-born citizens, America now has an attorney general who believes in the Rule of Law and intends to apply it.



The religion of peace


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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