The befuddling cluelessness of the liberal media
The liberal media thinks they have the definitive Mitt Romney gotcha, the fact that Romney has recognized—and said with his out loud voice—that government has become the tool (not de jour, but des décennies) for forced redistribution.
Or to paraphrase a long dead (and still disreputable) white male, from each according to their ability to pay, to each according to the government standard.
The liberal media thinks the observation might be both a profound destructor of Romney’s presidential campaign and a useful point of departure to highlight the greatness of government. From the paragon of Learjet liberalism, The New Republic and author Jonathan Cohn:
…the fact that the entitlement state has grown shouldn’t, by itself, alarm us. It’s actually a sign of progress, because it’s a reminder that the government has stepped in to do what the market would not.
Liberals fail to ignore that things happen in a market for a reason. Why does manufacturing move offshore? Cheaper labor. Why do families not take care of their own? Because the state does it. Why are food stamp numbers soaring? The government condones and encourages such behavior. Why don’t children have fathers in their lives? Because mother government will provide.
With any luck, Romney’s controversial comments will get people to think about these contradictions [regarding the elderly, health care for the poor, and Social Security]—and to realize that they like government a lot more than they seem to realize.
While most people are willing to accept a large and continuing gift of cash or services, especially when it didn’t cost the recipient, the disconnect that liberals fail to see is that these programs are unsustainable. I’d like to only be billed $10 to have my car repaired, to fill my gas tank, or for a shopping cart full of groceries, but I know any business offering such deals would soon be out of business no matter how much I like these prices. Such examples are not market failures but failures to understand basic economic principles.
We generally prefer steak to hamburger, Cadillacs to Chevys, and high-speed internet over dial-up and perhaps a lot more than we seem to realize. However, just because this is true doesn’t mean the nation can afford the more expensive options no matter how much we like them or for that matter, how much the above programs—and thousands of other redistribution programs—clear the liberal conscience. What matters to the nation is if they are affordable. Many costly programs are affordable if for a short period of time. But we’re not talking about short periods of time.
Is it wrong in the liberal mind when the government makes promises it knows can’t be kept or when it transfers today’s debt to future generations? To paraphrase Cohn, it’s probably actually a sign of progress that we’ve learned we must defer to the wisdom and power of the state. (Of course, the state is made up of highly flawed human beings like you and me.)
And the reality is we’re in the mess we’re in because we’ve over-deferred to the state.