by Jack Hunter
WTMA commentary broadcast 7/15/08:
“Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them” Ronald Reagan once said, summarizing a bedrock conservative principle – that government is undesirable because it causes more problems than it solves. If conservatism could be whittled down to one basic philosophy, a natural distrust of government would likely be it, and in fact, most conservative criticisms of our 40th president typically focus on instances where he failed to live up to his own words.
Last week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain offered his own words; “Government should take care of those in America who can not take care of themselves.” These words wouldn’t have been the least bit controversial, nor unexpected, if they had been spoken by Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, as such nanny-state rhetoric is standard liberal, Democratic jargon. But McCain is a Republican. Adding insult to injury McCain even added “I count myself as a conservative Republican.”
McCain should count the astronomical amount of taxpayer dollars that our government has wasted in the name of “taking care” of Americans. Writes Pat Buchanan “Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs.” Reagan’s observation that endless handouts had produced “welfare queens” was absolutely correct, and far from helping the poor and disenfranchised, government created a permanent underclass by subsidizing poverty. There are literally generations of Americans who have never known any way of life other than the deplorable existence their government has conditioned them to endure. Even more acceptable welfare-state programs like Social Security, have proven to be little more than Ponzi schemes, that are as inefficient as they are bankrupt. My generation will likely never see a Social Security check, but we’re still paying for it. Government doesn’t work.
By saying he believes it’s the government’s roles to take care of people, McCain has proven his critics correct - that he’s essentially a liberal Republican with little to offer conservatives. That McCain still calls himself a conservative means he thinks we’re stupid.
And maybe he’s right. After all, in addition to trying convince voters that Barack Obama is secretly an America-hating, black terrorist, talk radio has warned that the Illinois Senator is the “most liberal” Democrat to ever run for President whose “economic redistribution” will set us on the path toward “socialism.” In all honesty, Obama is simply a welfare-statist, not much different from John Kerry or even Bill Clinton. If Obama’s welfare-statism makes him a “socialist” then so does McCain’s. Obama is an awful choice for America. Despite what talk radio says, Comrade McCain is no better.
This is not an exaggeration. When Reagan said “Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them” he was describing the modern welfare state, in which government seeks to extract as much money as possible from private citizens in the name of social engineering. Welfare and entitlements represent power, and politicians will forever benefit more from scaring voters into believing someone might take away their government goodies, than to be financially responsible and let taxpayers keep their own money. Dismantling the welfare state should be a top priority for any conservative. McCain not only wants to preserve it – as of last week, he wants to expand it.
In an election year when talk radio spent much of the Republican presidential primary trying to convince people that Mitt Romney is a conservative, even though he was the man who introduced America to socialized healthcare, or defend George W. Bush as a conservative, even though he’s spent more money than any other president in history, I suppose McCain can call himself a “conservative” too. Let’s completely toss the dictionary out the window. Obama’s a “socialist,” McCain’s a “conservative” and the only promise concerning “change” we can expect this election year, is that both candidates will remind us that nothing ever does.