Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey continues committing political heresy: telling the voters the plain unvarnished truth. Government since the New Deal in this country has run on the premise of convincing a majority of voters that they can get something for nothing. Those days are coming crashing to an end against a wall of debt. Few things are more powerful in politics than a man or woman who understands that a page has turned and that new times are upon us. Governor Christie understands this and is acting upon it.
One of the few good things about hard economic times is that it affords us an excellent opportunity to regret the money that was wasted in good economic times (That timeshare in Honolulu sounded so good!) and also requires us, through bleak necessity, to amend our spending in the future. Mark Steyn has a brilliant column on the likely impact of being broke on government spending.
How did the Western world reach this point? Well, as my correspondent put it, we assumed that we were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid. In any advanced society, there will be a certain number of dysfunctional citizens either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to support themselves and their dependents. What to do about such people? Ignore the problem? Attempt to fix it? The former nags at the liberal guilt complex, while the latter is way too much like hard work: the modern progressive has no urge to emulate those Victorian social reformers who tramped the streets of English provincial cities looking for fallen women to rescue. All he wants to do is ensure that the fallen women don’t fall anywhere near him.
So the easiest “solution” to the problem is to throw public money at it. You know how it is when you’re at the mall and someone rattles a collection box under your nose and you’re not sure where it’s going but it’s probably for Darfur or Rwanda or Hoogivsastan. Whatever. You’re dropping a buck or two in the tin for the privilege of not having to think about it. For the more ideologically committed, there’s always the awareness-raising rock concert: it’s something to do with Bono and debt forgiveness, whatever that means, but let’s face it, going to the park for eight hours of celebrity caterwauling beats having to wrap your head around Afro-Marxist economics. The modern welfare state operates on the same principle: since the Second World War, the hard-working middle classes have transferred historically unprecedented amounts of money to the unproductive sector in order not to have to think about it. But so what? We were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid. Read the rest of this entry »