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Feed the Face, Then Talk to Me About Freedom

Forget Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman — the time has come for Brechtian economics.

by
Benjamin Kerstein

Bio

November 10, 2012 - 11:46 pm
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There is nothing at all immoral about asserting that those who have made enormous and—in my view—unreasonable fortunes off of these industries owe a debt to the public. To a great extent, they are as parasitic a class as any legion of welfare dependants. Barack Obama was wrong to say “you didn’t build that,” but many have built their fortunes on a foundation they themselves did not construct, and it is immoral for them not to provide recompense for it, in the same way that it is immoral to deny them recompense for their efforts in building on that foundation.

At the same time, the conservative movement still has a great deal to offer on the issue of economics: The welfare state, improperly employed does indeed stifle growth and create dependency; a bloated public sector is a burden on the economy; and fiscal prudence is an indispensable factor in any prosperous society.

The American Right, however, is unready or unwilling at the moment to countenance anything like this. In conservative circles, even to imply that the welfare state is not entirely an unholy evil is as verboten as any heresy in history; and this does not bode well for its future. Conservatives in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom have made peace with the welfare state, while containing those aspects of it that are harmful to both the private and public sector. If American conservatives cannot do the same, I fear they are doomed to a long sojourn in the political wilderness.

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Benjamin Kerstein is a writer and editor who lives in Tel Aviv.
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