Everyone’s trying to influence the conclusion to the Great Government Debate of 2011. Republicans passed a balanced budget that carves out solutions to spending problems without cutting the basic functions of government. The Democrats have decided to go on a publicity tour starring Governor Marx Dayton as the Great Narrator, calling half the state’s citizens “extreme radicals.” WCCO reports him as saying:
“They’re encumbered by a more radical, extreme right wing caucus within their caucus on both the House and the Senate side,” said the DFL governor.” While both the StarTribune and The Pioneer Press try to whitewash Dayton’s remarks, WCCO goes on to say:
“But they are hardly fearsome freshmen intent on bringing down the government.
They are carpenters, real estate agents and a mother of a newborn baby girl. They also don’t appreciate the governor’s comments.
“The governor has attacked elected leaders and when he does that, he attacks all of us,” said Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo. “Because we are not different than anybody else. We’re average Minnesotans.”
Dayton has been extreme in his rhetoric ever since the end of the session. Time and again these are the words he is using against the Republican legislature in order to marginalize them and start the Democratic campaign against them next year. Almost none of this has to do with actual governing and is instead a façade for a protracted campaign against conservatives and reasonable Minnesotans. They are trying to paint us as wacky oddballs intent on destroying the government and making life hell for our fellow citizens. This kind of attack is common with today’s “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” Certainly, President Obama and his entourage have engaged in similar attacks nationwide.
However, there is a less obvious game being played as well. While Dayton slashes and burns and Obama attacks and ridicules, other actors play a game of chess against the citizens. It is supposed to be a subtle play that will change the terms of the debate and edge out our voices. We’ve heard these arguments before and identified them as suspect but the same old actors are pulling the same old tricks out of their threadbare top hats hoping to find a rabbit at last.
The Fabian Society of England was a group of socialists who believed you could slip governmental control over the economy and other people’s lives gradually and in a way they would never suspect. Slowly but surely the citizens of England would become more and more dependent on government. This would create a power structure that enabled the ‘smart’ people to more easily direct resources and goals. It would transfer power from individuals to the far superior government class and away from stupid, everyday English citizens.
The Fabian Society eventually collapsed for two reasons. First, they were subsumed by the Labor Party and second all their social experiments failed miserably. The economy, which all governments are dependent upon, ground to a sputtering halt. Government agencies were terrible at deciding what resources should be used where. They are too slow and they are hampered by being political not economic decision makers. Margaret Thatcher dispatched as much of the Fabian Society’s agenda as possible. But, their ideas didn’t disappear. They merely morphed into the idea of ‘progressivism.’
We have our own Fabian socialist in Tom Horner, RINO extraordinaire. He tried to co-opt progressive elements in both parties to be elected governor. He only succeeded in electing Marx Dayton to the detriment of the entire state.
But he’s got a plan. He wants to play the role of Fabian Socialist. He formulates three questions he suggests the citizens of Minnesota ask their elected officials. These aren’t real questions. They are rhetorical devices which suggest their own answers to problems. He hopes that by using this blunt instrument, he can push Minnesota back on the path to collectivist government and away from freedom and liberty, ideas that frighten progressives.
These are the three rhetorical devices he’s posed as questions.
1. Ask legislators and the governor how their proposed solutions for this year’s budget would affect the state’s future financial stability?
2. What are the outcomes you will use to measure the success or failure of your proposals?
3. Why will people want to live in the Minnesota you are creating?
We will briefly take each question in turn. But first, look at the premise inherent within each idea. With each idea we must presume that government is the be all and end all of our lives. Will the government have enough money, how will you figure out if your schemes are working, and government creates the world in which we live are all basic generalizations Horner uses to push his agenda. Conservatives believe the world is a large and great place and we as individuals have a role in creating our own lives. Progressives rely on the belief the world is a small manageable place that we must all cooperate to make comfortable. It’s a very basic but vital difference. Accepting Horner’s premise automatically presumes that government has a right and a duty to do whatever it must to make life better. It also suggests government, or at least a ‘smart group’ in government CAN make it better.
Once you knock down his initial premise, the rest of his devices look incredibly clumsy and awkward.
The Magic 8-Ball of Funding
Governments are wholly dependent upon the economy to survive. Governments only take from the productive sector. The more they take the less the productive sector has to use to grow and prosper. This means control as well as money. The more regulation that is enacted; the more control government has over the productive sector and the less freedom they have to problem solve. There is no magic formula, in spite of those promulgated by the left, which will give government a stable source of revenue independent of the state of the economy. If we allow Obamanomics to prevail, it will stifle economic growth and therefore sources of government revenue. Horner’s Magic 8-ball theory of governmental revenue sources is nonsense. If our economy is allowed to prosper, there will be more money for government. If we strangle new businesses in the cradle with regulations, there will be no ‘steady’ sources.
The Normative Tape Measure
Horner argues for criteria that measure success or failure. He presupposes that such metrics can be easily created. However, the criteria are never actually used in governmental programs. The progressive answer for everything is to increase funding. It is them assumed that this money leads to success, even when it doesn’t. Education is the greatest example. They want more money, more power, more control but ever less accountability. This comes from the nature of public programs.
Governmental schemes are necessarily political. Therefore, all governmental programs are social experiments and not economic experiments. Public education is a scheme that hopes to give citizens skills to use their brains, have a base of knowledge, and know how to communicate ideas to other people. It is a social experiment that is funded by public revenues in order to make it ‘equal’ to all people. Progressives like Horner like to pretend it’s an economic scheme. Funding education will lead to more economic growth and economic stability. This is nonsense squared.
Education is a means to developing people’s potential. Funding it publicly is a social experiment. There is no nexus to paying more public monies for education and economic development. There is a nexus between education and economic growth but the public sector is one of the least efficient ways to do so. I know this infuriates the left, but it’s true. If we truly want to measure success, we must do so by comparing what works with what isn’t. Then, we will find our public expenditures have been sorely mismanaged and that publicly funded education should be ripped from its present paradigm and completely redone.
Finally, Horner again stumbles over his own premise in asking what kind of state we hope to create. The state isn’t ‘formed’ by its government, unless we allow that boondoggle to happen. A state is much, much more than what its government imagines. We are a society with many institutions that we voluntarily join. Horner believes the character of our state is derived from the governmental social experiments it engages in. However, most of these are misplaced, inefficient, ineffective and stifling tools that merely warp our society. Governmental schemes to stamp out poverty have only succeeded in creating dependent classes of people. We are stymied by governmental regulations that try to squeeze personal priorities into governmental pigeonholes.
Let’s take governmentally funded health care for example. Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans decide to work less, and therefore produce less, based on staying within an arbitrary and artificial formula to keep ‘benefits.’ They don’t use their full potential in order to live. They are trapped in a ‘smart’ progressive formula of restricting their own income to qualify for governmental subsidized health care. Progressive schemes to ‘help’ these people have stunted their potential through ‘compassion’ and made them less independent and free. In fact, most progressive social schemes are wrought with the kind of engineering that spoils life and enslaves those ‘benefiting.’
Horner truly believes his little rhetorical devices are ways to leverage the rest of us to his medieval thinking. He probably honestly believes that the feudal philosophy of the modern day progressives is the way of the future. No doubt other progressives applaud his ideas of having a government class direct the lives of the productive class. We live in America. In America, the great experiment was to take the humble and lowly and give them a chance to succeed. It was predicated on the notion that free citizens could make more of themselves through their own experiments and life experiences. Horner and his Fabian comrades don’t like that idea. They view the public as stupid sheep which must be led. What their ideas actually lead to is suppression of the human mind and human spirit.
Horner’s ideas are exactly what is wrong with this country and ignore all that is right.
Crossposted at Looktruenorth.com