The Left Versus Reality

mad money

I decided to stay remain in my hotel room and dine on food bought from the local supermarket, washed down with copious quantities of vin rouge. For one evening, I couldn’t face people not understanding my Aussie/English–accented, ‘slightly’ mangled, French. I’d had enough of them looking quizzical, relaying what I’d said back to me in English and then replying in English. I have a different take on Quentin Crisp’s sneaking suspicion that ‘they’ speak English behind our backs, which is that ‘they’ conspire to feign incomprehension at our attempts at French. I could possibly be wrong.

Anyway, a positive from my self-imposed isolation was that I caught a Bill Whittle video on PJ Media. “The Hammer of Reality” was about the impending disaster that is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States. The administration apparently no longer likes the appellation Obamacare; it makes it harder to shift the blame.

Whittle argues that where conservatives have singularly failed, reality will undo the ACA. The question I would like to pose is a general one. Can we rely upon reality, in the end result, to expose and undo madcap left-wing schemes? The word ‘madcap’ by the way is superfluous and tautological in context, if you get my meaning.

Certainly, reality undid the Eastern European communist experiment in spectacular fashion. That is powerful evidence in favour of Whittle’s argument. But is it conclusive? And, separately, how much damage must occur before reality bites?

It took more than four decades of miserable economic performances and insufferable conditions before the Wall came down; and then would it have come down when it did without Reagan and, even more critically, without there being a glowingly better model in the West for those in Eastern Europe to see and aspire to emulate?

Supposing a madcap scheme, like replacing cheap and efficient fossil fuel energy with costly and inefficient green energy, has no opposing powerful champion and sweeps the whole world leaving no better model standing? What then? Fifteen years of no global warming (GW) has simply led to more exaggerated claims of catastrophe. How much reality will it take?

There is no way of knowing. However, there is a risk that the damage might become so drawn out and huge that it will take over reality. Green energy might become the new reality. There might be no going back because there will be nothing to go back to. We will all become like chimps in the zoo with no conception or memory of the jungle.

Effectively, that is where we are with the welfare state. The welfare state has been a disaster. It robs countless millions of personal fulfilment and self reliance; it creates a debilitating sense of victimhood and entitlement; it promotes fatherless families and feckless fathers; it results in millions of abortions; and it leaves us, as societies, considerably less prosperous than we need be. Maybe there are one or two attempts here and there to trim the welfare state around the edges; but it has, undoubtedly, become the new reality; there is none other.

What does Whittle think? Does he think that the Democrats are ever going to admit that they got it fundamentally wrong? Does he think that the 70% of US voters who pay negligible or zero federal income taxes are not going to be persuadable that the scheme only needs tweaking? My view (and I believe it to be the realistic one) is that universal health insurance will become the new reality in the United States, however much damage the current scheme causes. When it comes to entitlements the left might lose a few skirmishes but no wars.

The tussle between conservatives and the left has been fought on two broad fronts. On one, the production front, conservatives have clearly won more than they have lost. Nationalisation has given way to privatisation and protection to globalisation. On the distribution front (or more aptly the redistribution front), the left has won conclusively and is winning still. It is hard to find an example of any entitlement program, once introduced, being abandoned in the West. Reagan and Thatcher may have partially stemmed the tide but that is all they managed to do for all of their admirable intentions and rhetoric.

Reality has proved to be powerless in undoing any entitlement program. There is no basis for believing that anything will change. Conservatives have to continue to try to hold ground and push back, but their efforts have to be largely focussed on the production side — ensuring capitalism has maximum scope to flourish — so that it can all be afforded. That, of course, is where the green-driven, economist-assisted, idiocy of tackling global warming by way of vastly increasing energy costs is a problem. And that remains the case even if anthropogenic global warming is real and serious.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics. He is currently in Europe, which he reached via freighter

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