30 August 2010

At what expense?

Excellent Berkowitz article in the WSJ on the alleged death of political conservativism . . .

An excerpt:

It is always the task for conservatives to insist that money does not grow on trees, that government programs must be paid for, and that promising unaffordable benefits is reckless, unjust and a long-term threat to maintaining free institutions.

But conservatives also combat government expansion and centralization because it can undermine the virtues upon which a free society depends. Big government tends to crowd out self-government—producing sluggish, selfish and small-minded citizens, depriving individuals of opportunities to manage their private lives and discouraging them from cooperating with fellow citizens to govern their neighborhoods, towns, cities and states. [Think here of the Catholic social justice notion of subsidiarity]

And lest we think that Berkowitz is simply being partisan, he concludes:

The Gingrich revolution fizzled, in part because congressional Republicans mistook a popular mandate for moderation as a license to undertake radical change, and in part because they grew complacent and corrupt in the corridors of power.

Perhaps this time will be different. Our holiday from history is over. The country faces threats—crippling government expansion at home and transnational Islamic extremism—that arouse conservative instincts and concentrate the conservative mind.
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  1. That sounds good, as far as it goes, but I don't think it'll go very far as long as even the conservatives think our worst problems are "crippling government expansion at home and transnational Islamic extremism". It's God we need; we're an extremely immoral nation, and that cripples us more than anything.

  2. Rachel, I agree, of course...however, in this particular historical moment it is the political conservative who is most likely to leave us alone to get on with preaching the very message you are talking about.