Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman has a new column in which he lays out a defense of European social democracy. His central piont appears to be this: the empirical macroeconomic data do not support the contention that social democratic policies – the modern welfare state, essentially, with its punitive tax rates and generous (with others’ money, we must add) so-called “safety net,” or hammock – significantly impair economic growth and national prosperity. He says Europe’s not doing too badly despite the sizes of governments relative to the corresponding GDPs. Ergo, he says, conservatives shouldn’t be wringing our hands about Obamanomics and the socialization – nationalization – of the U. S. health care system. After all, Krugman writes, all the long-time democracies have national health care, and they’re doing just fine, thank you.
Let’s concede Krugman’s empirical piont for the sake of argument. qb doesn’t buy it, but qb’s not an economist.
But Krugman’s argument is only marginally relevant, if at all.
The American experiment was never principally about prosperity, anyway. The Founders, and the Pilgrims before them, viewed liberty not merely as a means to a more important end, such as prosperity, but as a worthy end in its own right. It was the royal oppression, not primarily the economic results, that gave rise to the insurrection against King George and his tax policies. It was the right of religious conscience – liberty of thought and association – that animated the colonists. “…Yearning to breathe free” was the piont, not achieving some arbitrary threshold of wealth.
Of course, though he hides behind the skirt of “not statistically different,” Krugman’s own performance data for the U. S. consistently exceed those of European nations in strictly numerical terms. Those differences might in fact be real; he just can’t prove it (or so he would have us believe). Very well; scientific method, and all that. But it wasn’t scientific method that filled the Mayflower. It was the clear air of political self-determination. Krugman doesn’t get it.
Krugman is, in his heart, a technocrat. He would have us believe that we ought to leave governance to the scientific cognoscenti, the technical elite, who alone can tell us what is good for us, what “works.” We ought to trust them. Like Krugman, Obama thinks of the Constitution as an impediment to progress, which they define in redistributionist terms.
But history tells us that when government is given an inch, it takes a mile. Our founding documents are the product of genius precisely in that they focus squarely on what government must NOT do…for the sake, and even with the consent, of the governed.
On this, George Will emphatically agrees.
Look, qb’s been to Europe. I love the food, the wine, the history, the languages, the art, the sophistication. But I wouldn’t want to live there, not for a minute. I love liberty too much. And I want my country back.
We cannot rely on the Supreme Court to vitiate this expansive claim on individual liberty; kill the health-insurance bill, and start over. With Madisonian principles, and Ockham’s razor, superintending.