Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why Atlas is Shrugging

The below excerpts are copied from Kevin at smallest minority who is reading Mark Steyn's book. best explanation I've seen for the "2 americas" concept. Now in my cart:

Once the state swells to a certain size, the people available to fill the ever expanding number of government jobs will be statists -- sometimes hard-core Marxist statists, sometimes social-engineering multiculti statists, sometimes fluffily "compassionate" statists, sometimes patrician noblesse oblige statists, but always statists. The short history of the post-war western democracies is that you don't need a president-for-life if you've got a bureaucracy-for-life: the people can elect "conservatives," as from time to time the Germans and British have done, and the left is mostly relaxed about it all because, in all but exceptional cases (Thatcher), they fulfill the same function in the system as the first-year boys at wintry English boarding schools who for tuppence-ha'penny would agree to go and take the chill off the toilet seat in the unheated lavatories until the prefects were ready to stroll in and assume their rightful place. Republicans have gotten good at keeping the seat warm.

In 1945, Hugh MacLennan wrote a novel set in Montreal whose title came to sum up the relationship between the English and the French in Canada: Two Solitudes. They live in the same nation, sometimes in the same town, sometimes share the same workspace. But they inhabit different psychologies. In 2008, David Warren, a columnist with The Ottawa Citizen, argued that the concept has headed south:

In the United States, especially in the present election, we get glimpses of two political solitudes that have been created not by any plausible socio-economic division within society, nor by any deep division between different ethnic tribes, but tautologically by the notion of "two solitudes" itself. The nation is divided, roughly half-and-half, between people who instinctively resent the Nanny State, and those who instinctively long for its ministrations.

John Edwards, yesterday's coming man, had an oft retailed stump speech about "the two Americas," a Disraelian portrait of Dickensian gloom conjured in the mawkish drool of a Depression-era sob-sister: one America was a wasteland of shuttered mills and shivering "coatless girls," while in the other America Dick Cheney and his Halliburton fat cats were sitting 'round the pool swigging crude straight from the well and toasting their war profits all day long. Edwards was right about the "two Americas," but not about the division: in one America, those who subscribe to the ruling ideology can access a world of tenured security lubricated by government and without creating a dime of wealth for the overall economy; in the other America, millions of people go to work every day to try to support their families and build up businesses and improve themselves, and the harder they work the more they're penalized to support the government class in its privileges. Traditionally, he who paid the piper called the tune. But not anymore. Flownover Country pays the piper, very generously, in salaries, benefits, pensions, and perks. But Conformicrat America calls the tune, the same unending single-note dirge. David Warren regards these as "two basically irreconcilable views of reality": "Only in America are they so equally balanced. Elsewhere in the west, the true believers in the Nanny State have long since prevailed."

Increasingly, America's divide is about the nature of the state itself -- about the American idea. And in that case why go on sharing the same real estate? As someone once said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The Flownover Country's champion ought, in theory, to be the Republican Party. But, even in less fractious times, this is a loveless marriage. Much of the GOP establishment is either seduced by the Conformicrats, or terrified by them, to the point where they insist on allowing he liberals to set the parameters of the debate -- on health care, immigration, education, Social Security -- and then wonder why elections are always fought on the Democrats' terms. If you let the left make the rules, the right winds up being represented by the likes of Bob Dole and John McCain, decent old sticks who know how to give dignified concession speeches. If you want to prevent Big Government driving America off a cliff, it's insufficient.

The Conformicrats need Flownover Country to fund them. It's less clear why Flownover Country needs the Conformicrats -- and a house divided against itself cannot stand without the guy who keeps up the mortgage payments.


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