A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

George Will: Spending Is Decadent, Except When I Support It, Which I Don’t, Except When I Do

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Because even George Will must feel the vulgar urge known as competition, he one-ups Russ Douthat’s recent moral demand that American women plop out more babies with an economic one:

America has its lowest birth rate since at least 1920 — family formation and workforce participation (which hit a 30-year low last year) have declined in tandem. But it has an energy surplus, the government-produced overhang of housing inventory is shrinking and the average age of Americans’ cars is an astonishing 10.8 years. Such promising economic indicators, however, mask the country’s democratic decadence, as explained by the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth in the Dec. 24 Weekly Standard.

Will quoting the Weekly Standard is like Meatloaf covering the Nuge. Go on.

Deficit spending once was largely for investments — building infrastructure, winning wars — which benefited future generations, so government borrowing appropriately shared the burden with those generations. Now, however, continuous borrowing burdens future generations in order to finance current consumption. Today’s policy, says DeMuth, erases “the distinction between investing for the future and borrowing from the future.”

I know what you’re thinking: did George Will support the Iraq War? He did?! What an investment in various American futures. Next?

There will be no significant spending restraint. Democrats — you know: the people respectful of evidence and science — even rejected a more accurate measurement of the cost of living that would slightly slow increases in myriad government benefits. Accuracy will be sacrificed to liberalism’s agenda of government growth.

I know what you’re thinking: while he’s on the subject of respecting science, does George Will support various funding for green companies, or climate change research, or anything else that might keep the earth inhabitable for future generations? He doesn’t?! What an investment in various American futures. Next?

This state cannot be funded by taxing “the rich.” Or even by higher income taxes on the middle class. Income taxes cannot fund the government liberals want, and they dare not seek the consumption and energy taxes their entitlement architecture requires. Hence, although Republicans are complicit, Democrats are ardent in embracing decadent democracy. This consists not just of infantilism — refusing to will the means for the ends one has willed — but also of willing an immoral means: conscripting the wealth of future generations.

I know what you’re thinking: nobody ever said income taxes could fund the entire government so that’s a strawman argument did George Will support the Bush tax cuts, the same Bush cuts implemented when we were paying for the Iraq War he supported? He did?!? But if the state cannot be funded by taxing the rich, how could its gratuitous wars be funded by tax cuts?

And so on. This gets old quick, but let’s go back to that first graph for a mo:

Deficit spending once was largely for investments — building infrastructure, winning wars — which benefited future generations, so government borrowing appropriately shared the burden with those generations. Now, however, continuous borrowing burdens future generations in order to finance current consumption. Today’s policy, says DeMuth, erases “the distinction between investing for the future and borrowing from the future.”

The casual reader will be forgiven for concluding from this graph that George Will supports infrastructure funding, the columnist having offered it as an example of productive spending. I know what you’re thinking: didn’t Will endorse Paul Ryan’s budget—the one that would devastate infrastructure funding? He did, and he did it by quoting “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which is sort of like the Nuge covering Charles Mingus.

Will seems mighty confused as to whether he actually supports certain forms of funding as American investment. Unless, of course, his cute “decadent democracy” thesis was predicated upon a false dichotomy in which the Dems’ excessive spending was contrasted against the Republican’s reasonable budgeting, and not, say, that Dems’ funding of the necessary functions of government contrasted with the Tea Party’s self-negating starving of the beast. By the by, how’s that beast-starving working out, Sandy victims? Who wants some infrastructure spending now?

Written by evanmcmurry

January 3, 2013 at 8:20 am

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