Sometimes, it’s better when people just make things plain. Richard Viguerie, in a commentary on Politico’s Arena blog, has made it plain.
And what “it” is, is the guiding principle of conservatism, whether written by Ayn Rand or voiced by Ron and Rand Paul. It could be called the “gospel of selfishness” – or the Gospel of Wealth. And it can be summed up with the phrase, “I am not my brother’s keeper.” Viguerie, a vanguard of old fashioned conservatism, explains:
For the 75-plus years since Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal, Democrats and their liberal allies, including many Republicans, made what in essence was a moral argument justifying the creation of the welfare state.
While there’s nothing in the Constitution about the federal government being your brother’s keeper, that’s in Genesis 4:9, not the Constitution, many Americans willingly went along with substituting the growth of the federal welfare state for family responsibility and the acts of private charity carried out by religious institutions and local authorities during the first 150 years of the Republic.
While conservatives decried the growth of the welfare state and pointed toward soul-searing dependency for the beneficiaries and fiscal ruin for the government as its logical conclusions, the liberal establishment built what it claimed was a moral consensus behind a dizzying array of federal welfare and human services programs.
Conservatives who objected to the alphabet soup of federal welfare programs from federal housing subsidies, to student loans, to aid to families with dependent children were shouted-down as crackpots, or mean-spirited or downright immoral.
Many Republicans were happy to go along with these extra-constitutional programs, even as they looked for ways to make them cheaper or more efficient, because after all it seemed like the right thing to do.
The problem is, once you abandon the Constitution as the law that governs government, and replace it with what seems like the right thing to do in the eyes of a few politicians, the evils the Constitution was enacted to guard against quickly manifest themselves.
In other words, the conservatism wants to take this country back to the 19th century and before, when there was no social safety net (and no women’s suffrage to permit bleeding heart females to vote for social welfare programs) – and the poor and needy threw themselves upon the mercy of the church or private charities. It was a time when things like orphanages and poor houses existed. A time when a man could hoard great wealth without having to worry about unions demanding more wages to cut into his bottom line; when child welfare laws and the 40 hour workweek didn’t eat into his potential for limitless profit. And when such a man wasn’t forced into the political strait jacket of “compassion” to assuage a conscience that really wasn’t all that guilty.
At base, conservatism wants to repeal the 20th century. And how can the be done? Viguerie explains:
Under President Obama federal taxes are to be collected because “fairness” dictates that they be collected from one group of Americans and redistributed to another.
Obama’s embrace of the tax code as a tool for confiscating wealth in the name of unconstitutional social leveling should come as no surprise – he ran on it in 2008 and has been talking about it ever since. Republicans must not only stand their ground against the Buffet Rule and other logical conclusions of Obama’s campaign of envy and resentment, they must begin to attack the entire premise of the welfare state before what’s fair in the eyes of Obama and a few Democratic politicians overwhelms the economic freedom our Constitution was intended to protect.
Viguerie isn’t alone in believing that the entire “welfare state” – its very premise, from Social Security to Medicare and Medicaid and even military pensions – which conservatives vigorously fought from the time they were introduced for those who fought the civil war on behalf of the union – must be fought, and undone. That’s also the premise of Paul Ryan’s plans, which would tax the poor to give more tax breaks to the rich – literally.
This isn’t a peculiar quirk of Mr. Viguerie. It is a widely held conservative doctrine – that the government should not force charitable acts upon Americans, and should do nothing to stand in the way of those who can amass great wealth, even if they do so by exploiting the work of others.
By the way, the income tax is a product of the 20th century, too. In the conservative vision, it too would disappear. And a frontier America, in which it was every man for himself, would return.
You can agree or disagree with the vision, but a more ones debate could be had if more people recognized it for what it is.
Read Viguerie’s entire commentary here.