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  Road to the Middle Class
Friday May 22, 2015 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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 BLOG:

By The People: Part I: Where We Stand

CHARLES Murray is the great political scientist of our generation. First he told us in Losing Ground that liberals knew by the early 1970s that the Great Society programs weren't working. But they kept them anyway. Then in The Bell Curve he told us that IQ is really important and it applies to race, and got his head handed to him. Most recently in Coming Apart he showed that the upper 20 percent in America was doing fine, but in the bottom 30 percent the women don't marry and the men don't work.

Now he's really mad, and in By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission he is calling for revolution. If you are with him, then you are not a libertarian or a conservative. He wants to call the supporters of a limited government: "Madisonians."

OK, he's not calling for blood in the streets, but he is proposing a cunning way to neuter the administrative state. But first, let's look at Part I of his book, where Murray analyzes the federal government and determines that it can't be reformed from within.

The problem is that the Constitution has been set aside and there's no way to get it back. Congress isn't going to do it, even with a Republican president, because the current system favors the status quo and the Supreme Court won't do it because, e.g., limiting the meaning of "general welfare" to its original meaning would cause chaos.

It's Hamilton vs. Madison, according to Murray. Hamilton and the Federalists favored a strong state and Madison and the Anti-federalists wanted a weak state. But back then nobody was thinking of anything like today's state. A strong state meant something like Hamilton's report of manufactures. A century later, under the influence of the Germans like Hegel and Nietzsche, the Progressives decided that the Constitution was outmoded.

To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong  unifying leader... They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.
This progressivism got implemented by the judicial system, and "ultimately transformed the nation." The progressives saw the old Constitution as Newtonian and mechanical, "with its three separate branches and checks and balances." They wanted something evolutionary and Darwinist. So the game was on to change the meaning of law.

It started with the erosion of the Contracts Clause in the Constitution, and continued with the validation of the Social Security Act (which really put the federal government into the general welfare business). Then there was the gutting of the Ninth Amendment and the extension of the Commerce Clause to let the federal government regulate whatever it wanted under the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes."

But we can't go back. If the Supreme Court invalidated current understanding of the "general welfare" it would mean the end of spending on "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, all welfare programs, all spending on K-12 education" and so on. The fact is that by 1942, "we stopped obliging the American government to control itself."

But that's not all. We now have "a lawless legal system." Why? Because legal process is so costly. Because the ancient concept of mens rea is gone. In the old days,
You not only had to do something wrong, you had to be aware that you were doing something wrong. But the law also held that ignorance is no defense.
How did that work? It worked because "there weren't many laws" and most of the laws covered things that were instinctively wrong, like "murder, rape, and theft." But now we have a huge body of law and "the government has chosen to convert mistakes, or sometimes simply choices with which the government disagrees, into crimes."

So we have laws that are arbitrary, complex, subjective, discretionary. That is lawless. But that is just the beginning.

It used to be that lawsuits were rare; but now changes in legal rules make lawyering very profitable. First there was the introduction of Strict Liability which lowered the bar for claiming damages. Then there was the broadening of discovery, where a plaintiff could now go on fishing expeditions into the records of the defendant. Used to be that you had to sue someone in the defendants court district; now you can forum shop. And now the ethical limitation on lawyers for "stirring up litigation" is gone. Then there is the "private enforcement regime" where Congress lets private parties sue against business or individuals in violation of a law.

OK, so it's too easy to sue. But that is just the beginning. Now there's the regulatory state.

Today Congress passes a general law and sets up an agency to come up with the details. Typically the targets of the regulation will have to deal with the bureaucracy and the administrative courts of the regulatory agency. And the Supreme Court through the "Chevron Deference" has held that the regulatory agency is almost always right. It goes back the the Progressive Era faith in government by disinterested experts. The problem is that if the regulators get their eye on you they can destroy you in the expense of the system before you ever get to a real court of law (as opposed to an administrative court that belongs to the regulator).

OK, so the regulators and the administrative judges are too powerful. But that is just the beginning. There is also the corrupted political system.

Murray is not saying that today's politicians "are more venal or dishonest than political of the past." It is just that that
todays' political process has produced politicians who, while keeping within the law, do things that are operationally indistinguishable from the way Third World kleptocrats operate.
Back in the old days, before the 1960s, the government didn't have that many favors to distribute, campaigns weren't that expensive, special interests didn't give much money, and only a few leading politicians got to write the laws.

But with the expansion of the regulatory state, particularly industry-wide regulation by EPA, OSHA, and EEOC, every corporation had to get into the game in Washington DC. Now it takes a ton of money to run for office, there are hordes of lobbyists, and the number of staffers is way up.

In 2012 the Democrats set up a "Model Daily Schedule" for members when in DC. It tells members how to allocate their time.
It includes four hours [per day] of "call time" -- the term for phoning contributors -- and one hour of "strategic outreach" which includes such things as breakfasts and meet-and-greets with supporters.
On top of that, the parties regularly hold fundraising dinners. They go to lobbyists and tell each of them to cough up a million bucks. Because only "friendly" interests get friendly results from office holders.

A kleptocracy? Well, politicians usually seem to manage to get rich in government service. And you have to pay for access to the authorities. And when a congressman calls for a contribution you cough up. And officeholders reward their friends. And "bribes produce results independently of political principle."

Can it be reformed? After George W. Bush pushed through the budget-busting Medicare drug plan, don't expect much reform from Republicans. And Murray goes to Mancur Olson and The Logic of Collective Action for the explanation.
First, advanced democracies inherently permit small interest groups to obtain government benefits for themselves that are extremely difficult for the rest of the polity to get rid of. Second, these successful special interests inevitably pile up over the years until the political system becomes rigid and unresponsive, unable to adapt[.]
In other words,
People who receive government benefits tend to vote for people who support those benefits.
We may call for reform as much as we like, but the fact of all of today's programs and benefits "will push the Republican Party to the center in all presidential elections."  We are not going to get truly "Madisonian majorities in both houses and a Madisonian president."

Something else will have to give. But that's the topic for Part II: Opening a New Front.


perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/22/15 11:28 am ET


President Obama's Racist Legacy

I was to the University of Washington's Meany Center for the Performing Arts last night to hear Rhiannon Giddens. Giddens is a 2000 graduate of Oberlin and she's parlayed her opera degree into a nice little gig doing bluegrass. What with the opera training, Giddens has a fine singing voice, and she also plays violin and banjo. Did you know that the banjo was invented by African Americans? But...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/21/15 7:02 am ET


Liberal Intolerance Will End Up Hammering Liberals

A couple days ago an 80-year-old Duke professor got in trouble for racism. He made a four-paragraph comment in The New York Times about the Baltimore riots. Hey, he said, back in 1965 racial discrimination wasn't just against blacks; it hit Asians too. The racism against what even Eleanor Roosevelt called the yellow races was at least as bad. So where are the editorials that say racism ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/20/15 12:42 pm ET


Embarrassing Clinton Revelations: Is It Something in the Water?

EVER since the Clinton era, say about the time that Bill Clinton was running around during the mild 1990-91 recession talking about "the worst economy in the last 50 years" there has seemed to be a jinx on reality. Whatever mind-numbing fantasy the liberals came up with would get accepted as reality. And good conservative common-sense got anathematized as racism, sexism or homophobia. Or "on ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 05/19/15 10:05 am ET


|  May blogs  |  April blogs  |

 FEATURED:

“I Want a President”

Georg Simmel’s Sociology

Thomas Piketty’s Capital

The Spirit Level

McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”

 DOWNLOAD

Download latest e-book draft here.

 MANIFESTO

A New Manifesto
A spectre is haunting the liberal elite—the spectre of conservatism.

 DRAFT CHAPTERS

The Crisis of the Administrative State
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Government and the Technology of Power
If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.

Business, Slavery, and Trust
Business is all about trust and relationship.

Humanity's Big Problem: Freebooters and Freeloaders
The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.

The Bonds of Faith
No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.

A Critique of Social Mechanics
The problem with human society reduced to system.

The Paradox of Individualism
Is individualism the gospel of selfishness or something else?

From Multitude to Civil Society
The larger the government, the smaller the society.

The Answer is Civil Society
In between the separated powers.

The Greater Separation of Powers
If you want to limit power then you must limit power.

Conservatism Three by Three
Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.

The Culture of Involvement
Imagining lives without the welfare state

The Poor Without the Welfare State
Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?

The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?

Liberals and the Welfare State
Liberals, the ruling class of the administrative welfare state.

From Freeloaders to Free Givers
The path to the future lies through moral movements.

The Real Meaning of Society
Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the “last best hope of man on earth.”

conservative manifesto

Opeds


 AAM BOOKS


AAM Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in


AAM Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present


AAM Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland


AAM Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


 READINGS

Charles Murray's By the People an Anti-Democratic Manifesto
New Republic doesn't like Murray's new book proposing non-violent resistance to big government.

The GOP Is the Strongest It's Been in Decades
Sean Trende shows GOP strongest in decades.

Don’t Be So Sure the Economy Will Return to Normal
Tyler Cowen warns the NYT set that things may be worse than we think.

Mother’s Day a perfect time to rethink our social construct of motherhood
quality child care does not disrupt the mother-child bond. Because science.

The Progressive Agenda
the progressive "contract with America'

> archive

 CCWUD PROJECT

cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded


 


 THE BOOK

After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.

But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?

With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.

In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.

Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.

 THE BLOG

I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.

Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.

 TAGS


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


 

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