It was always the Left that had a lock on envisioning a new world order, while the Right stood there, desperately trying to maintain the status quo. That, of course, is no longer the case. The Left is mired in the 1960s, and the Right is trying to rejigger the world, for better or for worse. Jonah Goldberg, in discussing this reality, brings to my attention a Charles Murray idea for doing away with the entire welfare state, freeing up lots of capital and, most importantly, getting the government out of the business of babying people. (And we know from Germany and France that, not only does government do a lousy job at babying people, it also destroys the people's collective backbone in the process.) Anyway, here's Goldberg:
So where are the real radicals today? Who are the folks who want to rethink the status quo and truly liberate the masses? Pretty much where they've always been: on the libertarian right. Witness Charles Murray's exciting new book, "In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State." It's an elegant little tract that makes a sustained, sober and fact-driven case for scrapping the whole calcified edifice of the welfare state.
Under Murray's plan, all transfer payments would vanish, from Social Security and Medicare to corporate welfare and agricultural subsidies. In exchange, every low-income American over the age of 21 and not in jail would get $10,000 a year from the government. And everybody else would still get at least $5,000 a year from Uncle Sam. The only hitch is that people would be required to take out a minimal health insurance policy, and the tax code would stop favoring companies that offer health insurance.
In a flash, the working poor would be richer. Work even for a half a year at minimum wage, and the extra $10k would put you above the poverty line. The whole bloated, nannying welfare state would be a memory. Market forces would finally be introduced to the health insurance industry, driving down the absurdly high price of healthcare. Women who choose not to work so they can raise their kids would get the full $10,000 no matter how much their husbands earned, supporting families more than the current system and with less paperwork. Charities and local communities would be revitalized, enjoying a flexibility denied to traditional bureaucrats. Those who wanted to walk on the wild side would get pocket change to do so but would have to live with the consequences. The old problem of subsidizing out-of-wedlock birth would become an anachronism.
Obviously, removing all government safeguards, particularly for the severely disabled, is hardly going to satisfy everyone. But at least Murray is thinking big, while liberals scoff at the idea that the welfare state isn't permanent. And that's the point. The liberal imagination is weighed down by the leaden status quo.
For all that they scoff at the rich and money generally, the Left's solution to every problem is to throw money at it. Bad schools? Throw money at them. Crumbling health care system? Throw money at it. Intractable homeless problems? Yup, more money. The collapse of black families? More welfare. And the Lefties are utterly undeterred by the fact that, after almost 40 years of this, with more and more money pumped into these systems, the systems are getting worse, not better. If the social welfare system were a house, it would be a tear-down.