Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Better or badder, it’s different inside the Beltway.

“The Intellectual Activist’s” conservative Robert Tracinski is bothered by life in our nation’s capital:
Washington has sucked an extra trillion dollars out of the economy and sent it through the conduits of the federal bureaucracy, employing tens of thousands of college-educated, middle-class functionaries to process all of the stimulus checks and write all of the new regulations. . . [The] New York Times [reports] "the District of Columbia's [has] received more stimulus dollars per capita than any state."
Tracinski quotes New York’s liberal writer Jonathan Chait on how life really is in D.C.:
I live in a Washington neighborhood almost entirely filled with college-educated professionals, and it occurred to me not long ago that, when my children grow up, they'll have no personal memory of having lived through the greatest economic crisis in eighty years. It is more akin to a famine in Africa. For millions and millions of Americans, the economic crisis is the worst event of their lives. They have lost jobs, homes, health insurance, opportunities for their children, seen their skills deteriorate, and lost their sense of self-worth. But from the perspective of those in a position to alleviate their suffering, the crisis is merely a sad and distant tragedy.
But Tracinski faults Chait for not adding that big government has
become its own entrenched interest, responding to the special pleading of its lobbyists and hangers-on, without being able or willing to respond to . . . the millions . . . outside the capital.
Tracinski feels Washington’s elite possesses “an unchallenged belief in the morality of welfare-state altruism,” that within this context, supporting oneself and one’s own needs has no moral significance, but providing for the needs of others makes you virtuous. It’s the best position of all. As the middleman distributing handouts from the haves to the have-nots, you don’t sacrifice your own prosperity, but you gain the moral high ground that comes with playing Robin Hood. Government ends up the answer to every problem because it supports the little guy.

Tracinski believes Chait and his Washington elite encourage people to outsource responsibility for their own lives, and to depend instead on distant bureaucrats who 1) are not necessarily benevolent, 2) are living off of an unlimited stream of free money-tax money, and 3) prosper regardless of whether their work actually helps anyone.

Tracinski advocates “a totally different moral and economic model” summed up by Adam Smith’s "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

The businessman or investor may, like Chait's neighbors, live in a comfortable suburb among upper-middle-class professionals, and may not know or care what happens outside. But here’s the difference: he doesn't have to care. All he has to do is follow his own interests. If he hires you, it is because he thinks he can profit by expanding his business. If he reduces the price of your goods, or if he creates some valuable new product or service, it’s a manifestation of his self-interest. He merely offers value for value.

Do you truly prefer Chait’s way: sitting around waiting for comfortable upper-middle-class types to feel sorry for you and enact a government program that has a strong chance of failure? Or would you rather take destiny into your own hands?

Washington or Main Street. 

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