Friday, October 30, 2009

Minnesota Democrats Explained

The spending behavior of Minnesota politicians such as Al Franken and Betty McCollum have been discussed here in the past. Things such as tens of millions of dollars for libraries in Africa and hundreds of millions of dollars to hire scores of new vocational guidance counselors forthe public schools in the US. All this while the economy is in steep decline and in the face of multiple trillions in budget deficits already incurred for existing spending programs.

When proposing these schemes, no mention is made of our ability to pay, other than comments such as:

There are people who say that the richest most powerful country on Earth cannot afford to provide health care for all of its citizens.

and ...

So what are we - the richest nation and other donor nations - doing to significantly reducing child and maternal mortality while investing in building sustainable health systems? Unfortunately, not enough in my opinion.

In short, they believe they can save the world and that the well of US tax dollars available to pay for their plans is inexhaustible. A toxic combination.

Depressingly, this belief system turns out to be all too common among our public servants. In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan addresses this phenomenon and speculates on its source:

When I see those in government, both locally and in Washington, spend and tax and come up each day with new ways to spend and tax -- health care, cap and trade, etc. -- think: Why aren't they worried about the impact of what they're doing? Why do they think America is so strong it can take endless abuse?

I think I know part of the answer. It is that they've never seen things go dark. They came of age during the great abundance, circa 1980-2008 (or 1950-2008, take your pick), and they don't have the habit of worry. They talk about their "concerns" -- they're big on that word. But they're not really concerned. They think America is the goose that lays the golden egg. Why not? She laid it in their laps. She laid it in grandpa's lap.

They don't feel anxious, because they never had anything to be anxious about. They grew up in an America surrounded by phrases --"strongest nation in the world," "indispensable nation," "unipolar power," "highest standard of living" -- and are not bright enough, or serious enough, to imagine that they can damage that, hurt it, even fatally.

We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they're not optimists -- they're unimaginative. They don't have faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don't mind it when people become disheartened. They don't even notice.

Peggy probably should avoid the implication that this generation of politicos has never faced economic adversity. You can't win the victimology arms race with liberals. And just about every American can point to examples of hard times, at least in their extended families. (Except, of course, for people like Mark Dayton, Jay Rockefeller, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, etc.). For example, multi-millionaire, pampered, private school educated Al Franken has made a political career out of his wife's upbringing and reliance on government subsidies, or what New York Magazine called her "Dickensian childhood." For other, slightly less hyperbolic, mentions of her situation by the candidate while using it as a reason for people to vote for him, check here, here, here, here, or here.

But, Noonan's overall theory of entitled, arrogant, economically illiterate dimwits running wild with the checkbook seems about right. And even among those who have a connection to economic hardship, the only lesson learned appears to be that there is plenty of money available to spend on whatever you want, as long as you can find a way to take it from others.

So they continue to merrily spend trillions of dollars beyond the trillions they already take in from your taxes every year. Or, in Noonan's words, they believe America is so strong, it can take endless abuse. That explains why this generation of politicians does what it does. Still unclear to me is why we continue let them.

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