A not so partisan Analysis
By Jay B Gaskill
Attorney at Law
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney privately spoke with a group of GOP donors in Florida recently and, mirabile dictu, the publication Mother Jones (roots in the 1960’s) breathlessly released a secretly recorded “damaging” passage.
There are several reasons to engage with the current election, among them this president’s de facto abandonment of Israel, the jihad against the West, anxiety about the social issues of the moment and, of course, the crappy economy. But one issue looms larger than the rest.
Mr. Obama has repeatedly reminded us that his agenda is nothing short of the fundamental transformation of the American political and economic order. I am persuaded that he was not kidding or exaggerating. He is advocating a truly staggering change in the American way of life. Recall that Mr. Obama has repeatedly reassured his progressive supporters that he believes in wealth redistribution, by which he means the differential taxation of higher incomes followed by the political distribution of the proceeds to others with lower incomes. For about three decades this game has been conducted mostly with borrowed money. Mr. Obama really does intend to stack the political deck in a way that will end any significant policy opposition for another generation or more. A built-in majority will be on the dole in the sense that they will be net beneficiaries of the political powers-that-be, receiving more from the government in benefits than they contribute in taxes. A paid-for voting block is the professional politician’s wet dream. The model was tried out in Chicago…and works.
There are more ancient examples. Serious students of the history of power and politics among us will recall what happened to the Roman Empire. When the ancient, quasi-democratic Roman Republic morphed into a series of Imperial dictatorships, history gave us a lesson that has mostly been ignored. The ancient historian, Tacitus, chronicled the decay from the law-governed Republic model into the man-governed Imperial dictatorship model typified by the repellant Nero. There was a distinct turning point when the Caesars used their power to buy the loyalty of mobs (think bread and circuses here) and of the privileged classes, simply by using wealth that had been seized from others as an instrument of control. This was an early instance of the Faustian bargain presented to all those subsequent leaders who have wielded the power of the state “Use your power to buy more power”. There is always the devil to pay. Rome’s path is alive and well in the 21st century. Think of Chavez and Venezuela.
Have you considered that the really productive men and women in any society (think Edison, Jobs and all the less famous examples) are always a minority? In any healthy social order, most of the single adults and family units are producing enough to support themselves, including their dependent family members and friends. At any given moment, most people in a healthy society are not dependent on government largesse. As a general rule, the productive among us voluntarily support the less productive. Charities and a manageably small government safety net fill in where families do not. At least that was our model.
But that does not adequately describe the American political system of 2012, and it is certainly not the radically different system that this president wishes to expand if he is awarded a second term. The safety net has become a gill net for the politically gullible.
We are facing a tipping point after which most benefits relied on by most people will be supplied by government institutions. When/if this happens, the political feedback system already in play will harden into the dependency state. We will then have been demoted from free agents to petitioners. Whether the issue of the moment in your life is health care or starting a business, the problems we would normally work creatively with others to solve will become petitions to authority. In this setting, the authority is the political class. When political favors and politically powerful interest groups begin dominate all our big decisions (and absent a change in direction, they will), we will have passed a huge tipping point.
All this is context for what Mr. Romney actually said, to wit:
“… there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That, that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48 - he starts off with a huge number. Thesse are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.”
Are you shocked by Romney’s political realism? I was not. We Americans like to talk about checks and balances. The last check and balance may well be the coming presidential election. Mitt Romney was simply being candid and realistic about the problems facing any less-than-perfectly-liberal political leader who is seeking the presidency. And I am simply being candid and realistic about the state of our union if he fails.