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Debate: Should Conservatives Oppose a Welfare State?

Why Charles Krauthammer is correct and Andy McCarthy is wrong.

by
Ron Radosh

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October 28, 2013 - 2:30 pm
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Editor’s Note: PJ Lifestyle seeks to promote dialogue and debate across ideologies, cultures, and religions. This debate in particular — within the conservative movement regarding goals and tactics — is vital. Both Ron Radosh and Andrew C. McCarthy are exemplary exponents of their positions. I would like to encourage more debate and discussion on this subject, inviting others to respond to Krauthammer’s Daily Show appearance, McCarthy’s NRO article, and Ron’s PJM article cross-posted from his blog. I will attempt to weigh in soon. – DMS

***** 

If you want to know how to have a serious and respectful discussion with liberals, look no further than Charles Krauthammer’s lengthy discussion with Jon Stewart that took place last week on The Daily Show. Dr. Krauthammer is, as I am certain all PJM readers know, America’s most well-known and highly regarded spokesman for conservatism. In this three-part extended discussion, he manages to point to the serious flaws in the Obama plan for a federal takeover of the health care system, highlight why it is doomed to fail, and challenge all the liberal shibboleths that Stewart cogently asserts. There is no animosity between the discussants—only serious, well thought-out exchanges of opinion.

It is clear to anyone who watches the exchange that Krauthammer makes the case for a conservative critique of Obamacare, about which, he says in part three of the discussion with Stewart, all conservatives share a consensus. So it is unsettling to say the least to find PJMedia’s Andy McCarthy write on NRO that, like the Republican establishment, Krauthammer “is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.”

McCarthy chastises Krauthammer for going on Stewart’s program, arguing that he and other Republicans “say what they think” so that they might win over a “receptive” liberal audience; hence they endorse a “mature progressivism” that they say is what “conservatives really think.”

Anyone watching Charles Krauthammer’s entire interview will immediately learn that he does not say what he thinks Stewart wants to hear; indeed, he argues strongly against Stewart’s liberal ideological preconceptions, and shows him, and hence his audience, the total folly of a government health program based on taking over one-sixth of the economy.

McCarthy takes particular umbrage to the following passage from the interview, in which Charles Krauthammer says that conservatives today accept,

the great achievements of liberalism — the achievements of the New Deal, of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare. The idea that you rescue the elderly and don’t allow the elderly to enter into destitution is a consensual idea [accepted by] conservatives, at least the mainstream of conservatives.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Snobbery and strawmen are Radosh's modus operandi. He's pretty much a two trick pony.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, Mr. Radosh, I have to agree with Mr. McCarthy. Nowhere does the Constitution allow the government to do what the New Deal did. Read Section 8 of Article I and tell me how any of the New Deal fits into Section 8? The Federal government was supposed to be a limited government that took care of external threats, otherwise it was all up to the states. One only has to look at the Leviathan that the Federal government has become to realize the desire to have some welfare is metastizing into an all encompassing Orwellian state. I fear that our Republic will become the Roman Republic, a republic in name only that is otherwise a fascist state.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's nothing I enjoy more than a Progressive (Ron Radosh) explaining to me in painful detail a perspective I already deeply understand and reject.

Why is it that Progressive statists cannot understand that "I understand you perfectly, I simply disagree with your conclusions." Can they just not understand they can be wrong? Or is it more important that I understand what they "intended", as if their intent mitigates the bad results of their policies? I guess I'll never understand, because when I ask the questions, they just start to re-explain their failed positions to me.

Ron, you behave as if we don't already know these things. I've heard FDR make the BS claim that Socialist Security was never "intended to be a welfare program". Sure it wasn't, buddy. And Obamacare was never "intended" to be a nationalization of the healthcare industry, right?

I guess because you say something, you assume I'll believe it's true. Or, more likely, you actually believe the utopian BS from these guys, whereas people like me can see the naturally occurring consequences from a mile away.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (169)
All Comments   (169)
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"Welfare recipients now outnumber individuals actively working and 49% of American households now get a regular government check of some kind."

How is that a bad thing? Isn't that the plan? The Progress, of the Human Race, over the need to work? Everyone living as an elite, the slavery of labor done away with? Isn't that the freedom, that you want for your children? Don't you all want that? What kind of father, would not want that, for his children?

How do you suppose we get there, someone just waves a magic wand?

Or, does it happen in steps, bit by bit. Like, maybe by more people receiving government checks?

Do not worry about this or that numerical metric. Raise your heads above the crowd, see the Hand of God!
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Americans want a communist ideology but not too much of one. People will never be able to achieve the perfect government welfare programme any more than they're achieving the perfect communist country. Either you grasp it or you don't. And if you're liberal, progressive or whatever; you don't get it. The really scary thing is that people like Radosh don't get it and they believe there will be enough conservatives to keep a balance on government spending. Where are all these people opposing government spending when self proclaimed 'conservatives' don't even understand conservatism? The Radoshes' have no political influence. They are people that achieve their status by keeping people calm. If you're gullible enouh to believe it, he's a very dynamic person that you want in your team because he wants you to believe he's able to see both sides of the story ;)
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I will add one final observation about the Krauthammer-Stewart exchange, not much commented on here but important. Then I will be done.

One of the impressive things about the interchange was the ability of this crusty, old-fashioned conservative guy to go into the very heart of pop cultural, youth-oriented America and shine. He was not defensive. He was not humorless (as almost everyone of the ranters here is totally). He was comfortable with Stewart's style and matched him at it magnificently. Why? Because he does not hate American culture and its people as, very sadly, all too many on the right now do. Unless the right learns to adapt to that culture and adapt that culture to its ideas, it is doomed utterly. Rather than ranting and raving about the evils of liberal bias in media and pop culture outlets generally, this old fuddy-duddy took it on and, for a brief moment, made it his media and his culture. God how I wish we had a few more like him doing that.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
While I like what you say here in general, if a 50% illegitimacy rate is "American culture", then American is doomed. American culture is NOT hollywood, which slanders America to the rest of the world.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
What Ron Radosh fails to mention is the ever growing national debt of $17 trillion. It will be close to $20 trillion when Obama leaves office.

Buckley's recommendation of prudent accommodation didn't include nationalizing 20% or $2 trillion of our GDP via ObamaCare. For the live of me, I cannot believe we're even having this conversation.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, one small reason for having this converstation might be that you are wrong to call Obamacare the "nationalizing" of the health care industry. It may be Obama would like that. However, that is not what Congress did. It is true the government has taken a huge step toward control over the health care industry, and I believe that it will not work out well. However, it is NOT nationalization, nor is it likely to lead to nationalization. Michelle McCardle has done good work explaining that - but of course only by ignoring your "I can't believe we're even having this conversation." So it's not nationalization. Just as Obama is not a Communist. Just as Ron Radosh is not a fascist or a RINO or a Communist, etc. Words matter. Concepts are important. The triumph of sound-bite glibness, so appealing to so many here, is not yet complete. Hooray for Krauthammer, Radosh, and all the others who still can believe we are even having this conversation.

By the way, Ghost of Coolidge, I hope you are not as down in the dumps as that monicker and your photo suggests. Buck up. Yes, Silent Cal is silent and will not be coming back. But life does go on, you know.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Things aren't true because you say they are. I tend to agree with you about Radosh - I am sick of calling everyone names - but the government just (a while back, actually) nationalized student loans.

If you want to say this is not nationalization, you may explain your reasons. That we are not down that road - I am quite dubious.

I think Obama may be a Communist in his private beliefs, and is certainly a socialist. There certainly is a socialist stream in left-wing politics today, even if they deny it. (I live in a country where they don't.)

So if you want to have a conversation, please have one. State your arguments.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, it's not nationalization. It's just another battle in the road towards nationalization.

As for Obama not being a communist... If you want to quibble about whether he's a Marxist or a communist, go ahead and have that argument with yourself.

Sensible people have better things to do with their time.

If you want to deny that he's either, you are dismissed.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
This comment is not worthy of a response, except for the amusing and transparent projection it demonstrates. Mark v, it is not I who is having a quibble about Obama being communist or Marxist, it is you. "Sensible people" may have better things to do with their time, but not you.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ron The welfare state will inevitably go broke (as its founders well knew) precisely because it IS wrong, morally, economically and constitutionally, and so are you. It is one thing to argue that it is tactically difficult to remove the cancers of welfare from our country but to argue that they should not be removed is simply wrong.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The welfare state will inevitably go broke (as its founders well knew)

Not only knew, but intended.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Should Conservatives Oppose a Welfare State?" Probably
"Should Conservatives Oppose THE Welfare State?" Yes
"Should Conservatives Oppose Welfare?" No
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
2 out of 3 isn't bad, I guess.

Unless liberty is at stake, which it is.

Yes.
Yes.
Yes.


Welfare and liberty cannot long coexist.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Radosh gives an argument that Conservatives should accept - albeit with some changes in scope - the New Deal accomplishments. He does not agree with American anti-Communists that the Left is the enemy of America.

His arguments about the accepting New Deal accomplishments might carry more weight if otherwise there were somethings about the New Deal he didn't like.

Leftists are seldom anti-Leftist even if they toy with some anti-Leftist findings.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
If one's enemy is the Left, then it is not Social Security that one is opposed to, its their Social Security one is opposed to, one is opposed to the Left's control, configuration and management of what ought to be, if it to be anything, an individual investment plan aimed at retirement.

The idea that this misses the point, that inherently the New Deal Social Security law and system is a corruption of American Constitutional requirements and American spirit of individual freedom and liberty - including and above all economic liberty is true, and it behooves Conservatives like McCarthy to continue to understand and investigate that the whole New Deal was a capture of this country by the Left as assuredly domestically as it was in our foreign policy.

Let's look at education. We ought to be opposed to all public education in lower grades. Why all? Because the entire public education system was created to serve the intellectual input of Liberalism. This does not mean we are opposed to education.

With Social Security we are not opposed to retirement investment plans. And so we must change Social Security from its control from the Left and rescue the people on it by giving them a better choice - their own invested accounts that by any accounting would return double and more than current Social Security plans.

Conservatives should be arguing that Social Security is cheating people of their hard earned contributions - again my enemy if the Left and its control of Social Security - my enemy are not the people on it.



51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"the entire public education system was created to serve the intellectual input of Liberalism."

Is this supposed to be a serious remark? It boggles the mind to imagine how anyone could have come up with such an astounding notion. The public education system began with the Puritan school laws of the mid-1600s and was given its modern, fully publicly funded compulsory form in the mid-1800s by people like Horace Mann and other mainly Protestant, middle class Whigs, moralizers all, whose values today would be regarded as excessively socially conservative even by Rick Santorum's standards, and who were out-and-out celebrators of America and its capitalist entrepreneurial spirit. They may have been abolitionists or prison reformers or temperance advocates, at times, but not a one could possibly fit any current day definition of liberalism, certainly not in its New Deal form, for the simple fact that such liberalism did not even exist at that time.

Perhaps your thoughtless statement derives from the lunatic ravings of a Glen Beck, who knows nothing at all about either the history or current condition of American education, or maybe it comes from some other luminary of the talk radio right. If so, it is a testament to the dark ignorance into which a segment of the right today is content to wallow.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I will make one concession. The Left has seized and completely taken over most of our public school systems to advance the various requirements of the Liberal Ascendancy.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you go through school after school, curriculum after curriculum, if you then go through college after college, sociology book after sociology book, and the edifice of the social sciences and tell me that it is not in service of the Great Liberal Ascendancy then it is you who has blinded himself.

Now perhaps we need some perspective here. Obviously I am talking about our public schools. The amount of change that has gone under the bridge from the time of the Puritans who first came ashore and founded what was to be America, has been nothing else but a total replacement of their public schools with ours.

There is not one stick, one desk, one window, one curriculum, one text, one test or one teacher who is part of, derives from, or akin to our very very early Puritans.

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The Great Liberal Ascendancy." I like that. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss tale. Anyway, have YOU gone through curriculum after curriculum, I wonder. I've seen a few myself. Some of them are and some are not in service of the GLA. I would never deny that there is a liberal bias in much public education today, though it is a lot more complicated than that. One thing it is not is what you said it was in your first post. Not even close.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Um, the concept of "the march of the Left through the institutions" is not a creation of Talk Radio. And, by the way, back in the sixties my textbook had a section called "American Imperialism" - the actual title. And I was not in a left-wing school - the textbooks were given to us by New York State, I presume.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting, I think, that you addressed none of my comments, and added - again - an insulting reference - a Seuss thing - then conceded a Liberal bias.

As for have I gone through - indeed I have. I have talked with these people and have subjected their statements to the most normal standards and they are wanting - and they know it.

You might not believe that the social sciences are essentially a Liberal invention but bring me an example and I will show you.

Things being more complicated than that is irrelevant. In the first place, everything is complicated. Nothing about complicated that confirms liberal inquiry specially, nor does the fact that they are complicated validate them.

And of course the Liberal bias is to avoid complications. Like you do.

Do you really think a criticisms of liberal scholarship is a Doctor Seuss tale? Aren't Doctor Seuss tales about green eggs and ham?

Avoiding complications I assume? And tact as well.

You want to argue? Fine argue. But do so. If you want one from me to start with then say so. Do you want medicine, sociology, history, psychology, evolution, embryonic stem cells for research or therapies, the reasons given for obesity increases?, obesity and diabetes?, addiction as understood by Liberals, anything?.

Or instead of vague insults, start with one yourself. OK?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Guess you'll have to ask Ted Cruz about that. I think he's more of an expert than I am.

As to not addressing your concerns, I took issue with the one that annoyed me the most - up above, about the supposed origins of public education. I addressed it adequately. You have not really said anything about my specific points there, which are all at total variance with your sweeping statement about those origins. Yet you say I'm the one not addressing things?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think he's more of an expert than I am.

On just about any subject that matters, I'm sure.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
It should be obvious to anyone- except perhaps for a thoughtless lunatic who mistakenly thinks very, very highly of his own, apparently easily boggled, intellect- that IHW's remark regarding opposition to public education was not for the reason that at the moment of its conception in the 1600s it was a liberal creation. To make that charge is silly, immature and a transparent excuse to go off on a self-indulging name-dropping rant.
I give you an F, Einstein.
Have a nice day.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anonymous264E. Unlike you, I take people seriously enough to think they mean what they say. He said the "public education system WAS CREATED to serve the intellectual input of Liberalism." I responded to that, silly and immature though it was of me. As to my intellect, I only think very, very highly of it in relation to what I see here - which is not much of a standard to measure against, I admit.

In any case, you might want to attend to poor Issrdgrrl, just next down the line here. She does not go all the way back to the 1600s, it is true. But apparently she does go back to Horace Mann, and she thinks Otto von Bismark was to blame. Does that make her a thoughtless lunatic like me?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, I like the thoughtfulness and calm of the posters here compared to what I see at other sites. It's one of the things I like about PJMedia.

I think we need more open-mindedness and thoughtful discussion. By pretending to do so, when you actually act like a troll, you serve the opposite cause.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Does that make her a thoughtless lunatic like me?"

No, not at all, what lzzrdgrrl says is literally true, but you choose to discount it, because it doesn't fit your theory. I suspect you aren't a lunatic, just another clueless academic who doesn't know any better.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
A clueless academic! I wish.

As for Izzrdgrrl, if you scroll down you will see we worked it out fine. You are a bit behind the times.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, what he does 'know' is that publik education was hot-stamped in Prussia by der Otto von Bismarck for turning G_d's children into goot little soldiers and tools of the state. Jawhol.....;>>....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZp7eVJNJuw
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks. Now I realize the truly nutty, paranoid and utterly wrong source of this nonsense of both yours and "I Hate Windows" in the remark I reacted to here.

First, "Issrdgrrl," you should know that Otto von Bismark united Germany long AFTER Horace Mann had died and passed to his reward. If he was right, that reward came from a non-denominational Protestant God, because that lukewarm pablum Christianity, NOT Prussian militarism, was what most yanked Horace Mann's chain and formed the ideology he wanted his schools to spread - to the chagrin of both secular liberals and sectarian religious folks, who have both in their various ways had the best of Old Horace for the most part ever since.

If you think all that ominous music in that idiotic Youtube every time the word "Prussian" comes up indicates anything at all, you are a prime victim of documentary deceptions of laughable proportions. Just because all those kids had their hands up like the crowds in Nazi Germany does not mean much. You know, you might recall the kids do that when they know what 2 plus 2 equals. Sadly, many on the talk radio right do not.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
YEs, I know all that...... I meant that comment, erm..... sarcastically....;P.......
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, irony is not the specialty around here, sadly. We could use more. If I misunderstood you, I apologize. I hope I did misunderstand you.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
No problem, no worries. My soul is not that fragile and you are a good man. Let's carry on the good fight and I'll try better to make my intent understood.....;).......
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I oppose the concept of charity by the national government. If individual States want to do so, that is their business, as would be the delivery and extent of such support.

That said, we must recognize the reality of existing programs. They will not be eliminated, nor easily reformed, without a thorough and honest societal discussion involving cost/benefit analyses. Obamacare is the latest of these type programs, and must be repealed if at all possible. But to accomplish that we must win elections, and install principled conservatives.

And there's the trick. A Texas liberal is a Massachusetts conservative, so what do you do? First, start local. City Council, School Board, County Commissioner, State representatives, etc., and move up the chain. Elect the most conservative politician possible at every level, and require that they stand true to their principles.

I greatly admire Cruz for having done precisely what he said he would do when he ran. Were his tactics the best? Perhaps not, as the final outcome remains to be seen.

What IS obvious is that the "go along to get along" deal making involving continual concessions to the Left was, and is, a dismal failure. Halting that continual drift is the first step, then you begin reversing it. And, yes, that CAN be done by one half of the Congress.

But is must be done in a way that is explainable, and the erstwhile conservative factions must stand united. The Establishment GOP back-stabbed the conservatives standing on principle this time. Who knows what would have happened had they stood with them? No one does! But a united front would most likely have gained concessions FROM the Left. But by telegraphing their intended betrayal from Day One, the Establishment cemented the Obamaites refusal to bargain.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
--So, by implication, if one accepts McCarthy’s argument, conservatives should not only be arguing against Obamacare and against new entitlements, but to repeal the New Deal-era laws as well. --

The idea should be to reform New Deal laws -- which btw Krauthammer seems to be advocating -- which would include explaining how the are often counter-productive to the goals they claim to be pursing.

Social Security is really a pretty bad retirement plan. OTOH, it is a peach keen idea for getting more money for the government to spend.

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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