Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Politikids and their parents

Let me add this to the parade of pieces to which my fellow bloggers have linked, all at Culture11, NLT’s home away from home. Here are my concluding paragraphs:

In other words, what we’re facing now isn’t just an economic crisis; it may also become a crisis of the family, a crisis that could have significant political and moral consequences. I don’t have to explain what could happen to parental authority when parents can’t provide for their children. And I don’t think that it’s adequate to say, for example, that people who can’t keep their homes in the face of this downturn probably shouldn’t have been in them in the first place. It’s perhaps true enough: many of them were bad credit risks. But more than their credit score is now at stake. If Democrats ride to their rescue with a statist rescue package, they will have accomplished a morally and politically significant result. If they come to be seen as conservators of the family, it will be Republicans who will be writing books about what’s the matter with Kansas. And the Kansans, God bless ‘em, might be right to look to the Democrats to protect the family from the vagaries of an undisciplined and threatening marketplace.

So while I might take some comfort from the prospect that today’s Obamaniacal politikids might grow up to be Palindrones or Jindalists or to have a Huckabee in their bonnets, I’m also worried that our current credit crisis might recast the political scene altogether. Both parties have a large stake in addressing the current economic insecurity of our middle class and working class families. Republicans should remember that the market ought to be a servant of the family, rather than its master, and that the moral fabric of the republic depends upon its continuing integrity.

I also wrote another longish rumination on the election, which is set to appear in the forthcoming issue of
The City. (You can sign up for a free subscription on the page to which I’ve linked. There are plans to provide web access, but things haven’t yet proceeded to that point.)

Discussions - 8 Comments

What do you mean by: "Republicans should remember that the market ought to be a servant of the family, rather than its master, and that the moral fabric of the republic depends upon its continuing integrity."

Do you mean to move to the center in speech? Because certainly if you actually mean that you are paraphrasing what Obama has said in the Audacity of Hope. In fact that is the central element of Obama's purported socialism. Obama wants to control market forces to serve american famillies and shore up the middle class.

As far as I can tell the "conservative" economic view is much more Darwinian. The market is the master of all, and all attempts to bring stability and New Deal type safety nets to shore up famillies simply create moral hazards and more problems. Higher prices after a hurricane ensure that enterprising folks will supply goods to those affected. Federal Aid to New Orleans simply encourages people to live in Hurricane prone areas. I am not advocating on behalf of pure darwinian capitalism I am just saying I don't trust politics to deal with all the incentives required to really make the market serve the familly.

I mean I suppose we could eliminate the death tax for all couples who never get a divorce...we could give out larger tax cuts to folks with more children...I mean well we are already doing a lot of this stuff...

I mean look the middle class especially folks with famillies didn't pay much of anything under Bush and they will probably get a check in the mail from Obama.

It takes a crisis for Knippenburg to realize the capitalist markets are not pro-family. Wonder how long it will take him to realize he has more to fear from the corporate exec than the gay couple down the street.

Yeah . . . I'm not really sure what to make of this. The "statism" of the Democrats might actually protect families from the market in (dare I say it?) a western European sense - providing child care and paid leave in order to allow for the raising of one's children. I don't know how that could really be a bad thing and it's exactly the kind of "spreading of the wealth" Republicans preached against in this election.

I'm glad you're starting to change your tune on this issue . . . but it might be a bit late for your party.

Government power was responsible for the deaths of 262 million people in the 20th century. Corporate executives would have a long way to go to catch up to that figure.

I'm not going over to the other side.

It is "conservative" to regard the market as subordinate to "natural" human relationships, like the family or the household. (See Aristotle's Politics, Bk I.) It is also "conservative" to regard the government as a threat to the family when it takes over and otherwise dictates the way parents fulfill their responsibilities. So I'm not in favor of government child care.

I will also note that the "market" that threatens families and households is itself arguably the product of government meddling. Putting people who can't afford them into "affordable" houses takes a situation that kinda sorta works--a family renting a house or an apartment--and turns it into a potential disaster--a family thrown out of a house into which they sank all their savings and demoralized by the failure. I'm also not convinced that it's "pro-family" to provide these people "hope" financed by their grandchildren.

True conservatives (as opposed to libertarians) have always understood that the market must be harnessed by pro-social forces like religion, the family, and yes, even government at times. Conservatives believe in checks-and-balances because human beings are "crooked timber," and any institution left to its own inexorable logic will bring ruin on society (whether the state, the church, the market...even the family).

Unfortunately, such wisdom puts us at a distinct disadvantage. Our opponents (whether left or right) possess the zeal of faith in simple formulas (e.g., let the market fix this, or let government correct this). Those of us who are truly conservative know better, but knowing better seldom excites the masses.

About the corporate execs Dr. Moser, who bankrolled the revolutions and dictators? Germany was not rebuilt with hate and prejudice alone. Why did the term banana republic come into existence? I think governments more often than not act out the will of corporate types, considering that is where they get their money hence their power.

Corporate executives didn't bankroll Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot. True, many German businessmen gave money to Hitler, but only AFTER the Nazis became a powerful force in Germany. Theirs was a disastrous decision, but not an unsurprising one, given that candidates who look likely to win attract more money than those that seemed fated to lose. Given that in the early 1930s the most likely alternative to a Nazi government in Germany was a communist one, their reasoning was hardly irrational.

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