The Left’s Statist Impulse

by on November 18th, 2006

In a strategically astute editorial, E.J. Dionne uses a speech by Janet Yellen, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, to persuasively frame the economic challenges facing many Americans in what appears to be a high performing economy.

As Yellen said:

Globalization and skill-biased technological change may have been working in combination to particularly depress the wage gains of those in the middle of the U.S. wage distribution.

Dionne makes clear that for those in the lower economic quintiles, the left’s reflex is a “minimum wage hike, guaranteed health insurance, expanded wage subsidies through the Earned Income Tax Credit and unionization.”

The soundness of that argument will be less difficult to make in our current political climate where Republican invertebrates dominate, however he then moves to a far more robust argument for the middle class itself, which appears to be Yellen’s primary focus. The remedy for this “crisis” is not just the traditional liberal models of training and education, but rather “remodeling our social insurance systems to provide genuine economic security for all working Americans.”

Drawing from Jacob S. Hacker’s book, “The Great Risk Shift” that argues that “we are most capable of fully participating in our economy and for our society, most capable of taking risks and looking toward our future, when we have a basic foundation of financial security.” Dionne blithely agrees: “It’s common sense: Secure people are more likely to be risk-takers.”

That Democrats like Dionne have become far more advanced and tactically adroit in their policy recommendations is evidenced by the fact that they are at once intuitively plausible and don’t appear to contain the usual insistence upon programs whose primary feature is aggressive income redistribution. Don’t let that mislead you.

The hallmark legacy and prospective plan of the Democrats, their masquerading move toward the center notwithstanding, remains unchanged, and that is their sacred belief in the practice of economic intervention on behalf of a presumably struggling and helpless middle class.

The New Deal and Great Society are the Democrats’ tandem legacies that have created deep and immutable policy roots which define the very blueprint of their thinking. That policy prototype presupposes inherent flaws in our capitalist system which they emotively label unfair, an appellation which is the liberalism’s equivalent of the English longbow in such successful battles as that of Agincourt in 1415.

That sets the stage for the Democrats munificence–that is, with other’s capital–to provide a Statist-like economic security blanket for the otherwise ‘destitute’ middle class. That it may resonate with a broad swath of Americans is only the product of the masterful way in which our mainstream media, academic elite, and our marionette politicians have successfully mischaracterized the American dream.

The special lessons learned by individual effort, indeed, by failure and the frustration of apparently unsurmountable obstacles, have been reconstituted as an unacceptable affront, one that can be mitigated or eliminated only with the assistance of our Democratic benefactors.

It’s that sense of economic dependency that they cravenly and cynically engender that is both shameful and has the downstream effect civically pauperizing otherwise hard-working Americans.

The Republicans’ charge, which is far more challenging, is to make the case that the Democrats’ only interest is power retention and that their modus operandi, it’s stated intentions notwithstanding, blunts motivation and leaves our not inconsiderable internal resources effectively untapped.

That’s a policy formulation that provides rewards for phantom efforts while cynically denying our own God-given abilities to marshal resources equal to life’s challenges that we all must face.

Philip Mella