Tuesday, February 9 , 2016, 12:18 am | Fair 54º

Randy Alcorn: Ideologically Intoxicated Republicans Fail to Find Balance

By Randy Alcorn, Noozhawk Columnist |

The great lamentation from the political right following its jaw-dropping shock at the re-election of President Barack Obama has included despairing predictions of America’s imminent demise. With all the unfounded certainty of true believers the right warns that America’s constitutional freedoms and its free-market economy will soon be suffocated under the heavy blanket of federally imposed socialism being pulled over the nation by Obama, supported by a growing rabble of entitlement free-loaders.

“Just you wait,” say frustrated conservatives. But, before they liquidate their portfolios to gold, stock up on ammo and head off to Galt’s Gulch, they might consider the counsel of one Bugs Bunny, “unlax Doc.”

Yes, calm down. Let the intoxicant of ideology that obstructs objectivity drain from your mind, and then survey the situation while sober.

Define socialism. Is it the public school system? Is it our communities’ libraries, police and fire departments? Is it taxpayer-funded highways, bridges and tunnels? Is it national parks? Is it Social Security and Medicare? Both of which, by the way, uber free-marketeer and outspoken anti-collectivist Ayn Rand availed herself of. Atlas must have shrugged his left shoulder.

Define free-market capitalism. Is it the right to engage in economic activity without constraint of government interference? Is it the virtually unregulated free-market chronicled by Charles Dickens and Upton Sinclair in which industrialists could pollute the common environment at will and harshly exploit workers with gruelingly long work days, unhealthy and dangerous working conditions, and near slave wages? Was this ethical because in a free-market workers always have the choice to refuse any job?

Socialism is not inherently, absolutely evil any more than free-market capitalism is inherently, absolutely good. Either can become excessive and jeopardize the common welfare.

So, when did America become excessively socialist? Was it public education? Was it Social Security? Or was it Obamacare? Is national health care where the scale dips too far left?

And, concerning constitutional freedoms, they have been eroded by liberals and conservatives alike. Where were the Constitution-loving patriots who rail against Obamacare as an assault on personal freedom when the federal government rescinded freedom of choice in drug use, travel and privacy? If these patriots get rid of government interference in health care, will they also get rid of all government interference in our private lives?

Just as labor laws and environmental laws protect the nation from the excesses of capitalism, national health care is arguably a prudent program that protects the nation from the very real and lethal shortcomings of for-profit health care.

The Cassandras on the political right like to point to the failing socialist models in Greece and Spain while ignoring the very successful socialist models in Germany, Scandinavia and Australia.

Somewhere between free-market capitalism and socialism there is something that works best for the common welfare. Finding that place requires objective thinking unimpaired by rigid ideology. Keeping that place is a constant steering process requiring unobstructed vision and appropriate, reasonable reactions to changing conditions.

Sweden, Great Britain, Germany and New Zealand judiciously adjusted their extensive social welfare systems when those began to become counter productive and threatened national economic health. Politically, steering the ship of state is a constant balancing act among competing demands and ideas. Drifting too far to the left or to the right risks running the ship onto the rocks.

People who think ideologically rather than logically not only cannot find that balance, they are handicapped in finding practical solutions to most any problem that arises. These are not the folks who can best steer the ship of state. Unfortunately for America, we have a bunch of ideological inebriates in the wheelhouse of Congress who might run the ship aground.

If you want reasonable government and workable solutions to common problems like national debt, stop electing ideological wing-nuts to office. These people have frozen minds and contracts of allegiance with priests of ideology that preclude objective thought and reasonable compromise.

As we approach the so-called fiscal cliff, the Republicans from their ideological bar stools are still boisterously preaching trickle-down economics. But, if tax breaks for the rich, the alleged job creators, really worked to ignite the economy why has the nation suffered its second-worst economic downturn after President George W. Bush lowered taxes on the wealthy?

Much of the huge increase in national debt incurred since President Bill Clinton left office is the result of those Bush-era tax cuts and that president’s two misguided Mideast wars. Social welfare spending is not the only factor to be examined in curbing national debt. But the Republican politicians insist on following a failed economic ideology, not necessarily because they believe in it, but because they think that enough citizens have been convinced to believe it. These politicians simply want to keep taxes low on the wealthy, including virtually all of them, and they are counting on an ideologically intoxicated public to support that effort.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to read previous columns.

» on 12.02.12 @ 10:11 PM

It is very difficult to guide the Ship of State when it has to tow a garbage scow like Texas (and the rest of the confederacy…)

» on 12.02.12 @ 11:44 PM

There are so many inaccuracies in this article that I am afraid the same ideological bias and rigidity the author is accusing others of can be applied to himself. To call the health care systems of Germany, Scandinavia, and Australia socialist and very successful is far from accurate. Before repeating talking points indulged by ideological partisans, I would recommend the author do some research regarding these countries before parroting these largely untrue statements.

Although it is easy to stereotype many people as supporters of unfettered capitalism without any safety nets and no regulations, it is essentially untrue. No one I know takes this absolutist position except in the recesses of the author’s mind where people are either logical (as defined by the author) or idiots.

I could write a long dissertation of the many inaccurate statements in this piece as a result of the author’s laziness and sloppy thinking, but I will end my critique with this incredibly stupid assertion:

“Much of the huge increase in national debt incurred since President Bill Clinton left office is the result of those Bush-era tax cuts and that president’s two misguided Mideast wars.”

The next time the author decides to include falsehoods like the above statement, he might want to ask himself how much of the $11 trillion of public debt since the Clinton Administration was caused by the Bush tax cuts (at least on the rich) and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, taking the time to actually discover the answer might inform his own lack of objective and logical thinking.

» on 12.03.12 @ 08:56 AM

Last Place Lou will search the darkest corners of Heritage Foundation type sources to find miniscule points to argue. Germany vs. USA healthcare systems are the perfect point. What matters is that both systems are intended to achieve universal coverage despite the vague differences Segal chooses to focus upon.
  Not recognizing the impact of unfunded wars(dont forget to factor long term care for our vets ) and unfunded tax cuts should tell you all you need to know about this failed ideology.

» on 12.03.12 @ 10:42 AM

Randy, you make a compelling argument about the value of social programs and spending.  But your article is titled “Ideologically Intoxicated Republicans Fail to Find Balance.”  I am not understanding your point here…why are you singling-out the republicans?  Neither side has been willing to give, although at least the republicans have stated that they are willing to consider some tax increases.  The democrats have given nothing - they refuse to even consider any spending cuts to entitlements.  Where is the compromise on the democrat side?  The reality is that, although social spending is certainly needed, we owe $16.3 trillion (and counting).  The bill is not coming due, it has come due.  We are all going to have to suffer and to pay, to address this problem.  We cannot simply tell the “rich” to pay the bill for everyone else and expect this to be an easy solution with no economic consequences.  This kind of naive solution is no different than deregulating the banking industry and expecting there to be no consequences (we have seen the results of that fiasco).  Compromise, by definition, means both sides have to give in on some things.  So far, if you are honest about it, neither side has done enough.

» on 12.03.12 @ 02:42 PM

Wow, Randy, did you hit the nail on the head!  The trap of the ideologue.

The assertion that “the other side won’t compromise either” misses the point that the Democrats don’t start from an extreme ideological position (unless you can call the recognition that some of our needs can only be addressed collectively an “ideolagical” position).  Is Warren Buffett a left wing ideologue?

» on 12.03.12 @ 02:44 PM

Nice response Craig, Lou. Socialism, a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution of goods and services are controlled by the State and operated according to equal outcomes rather than market principles of merit, is often misapplied to services that are not particularly well suited to private enterprise.

In a country the size of ours it would be ridiculous to assume major infrastructure and common defense would be privately controlled. But the tendency the last 90 years has been to include far more than infrastructure and defense. The liberal ideology that all people in a country have a minimum standard of living and in fact all people should have material equity regardless of effort is the root cause. Most of this is driven by the inequality inherent in a free enterprise, private capital system where the disparities are magnified particularly by those who accumulate vast amounts of wealth at the expense of others rather than accumulating wealth by building wealth into the markets.

Unfortunately, we never look at this extremely important distinction and thereby lump all wealth accumulation into the same bucket then make the tragic mistake that most state owned or controlled economies make by punishing successful enterprises that build intrinsic value right along with those that are a net drain.

Our major banking institutions were created by industrialists who made fortunes building the very manufacturing, mining, extraction and agricultural infrastructure today’s Wall Street pirates and looters are systematically pillaging to line their pockets. This looting is bad but they are not the only culprits as the legal industry through onerous obstructionist regulation and the labor unions were the first to loot our empire.

Whether you believe the state should own or control the economy or whether it should be in the hands of private citizens or even somewhere in between, makes little difference if the state of that economy is one where there is no building only warfare over who gets what scraps. If you think about our national wealth, the total value of all our assets, resources and intellectual property minus what we owe, as a pie, and then imagine those who make pie, those who eat pie and those who move pie around, we have far more movers and eaters than makers.

Banks, lawyers, governments, healthcare, teachers firefighters, military, truckers, clerks, accountants, street sweepers, hotels, entertainers, sports celebrities, political pundits, news organizations, community organizers, unions, advertisers, environmentalists, churches, etc, etc, etc don’t make real intrinsic value for the economy no matter how much we want or need them. If you grow something at a surplus, dig something up or drill for something on our soil, or better yet use your labor and intellect to make something useful from those materials at a surplus then you will add intrinsic value or wealth.

That is about as non partisan as I can make it. The whole point of our country’s experiment with a democratic republic and a free market capitalist economy was to minimize government intrusion, power and the historic tendency toward corruption and abuse. We are systematically going backwards toward more government power and calling it progress. If progressives really wanted to see where progress lies they would do everything possible to thwart the size of institutions and increase the individual responsibility, for that is the antithesis of human nature. The most progressive political, social and economic experiment ever tried was the one we are destroying today in the name of progress.

» on 12.03.12 @ 04:53 PM

Still think Republicans are unwilling to compromise?


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