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David Frum: Making the Conservatives Case For Them

March 2, 2010

The Government hasn’t been making as many Giant, Life Changing, Sweeping changes as David Frum likes. He’s blaming transparency and limits placed on congress and, for some reason, thinks that the alternative is better.

From CNN:

Take this quiz. Name the most important legislation enacted in the 30 years between 1950 and 1980.

Overwhelming isn’t it? Civil rights. Voting rights. Interstate highways. Medicare. Medicaid. The deregulation of the airlines, natural gas, trucking, rail and oil. The immigration act of 1965. Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts. Supplemental Security Income in 1974. I could fill the whole screen.

Now … the next 30 years.

There’s the Reagan tax cuts of course. Deregulation of the savings & loans in 1982. The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Welfare reform in 1995. Medicare Part D. What else?

You hear many grand, sweeping explanations. Let’s try just one simple one.

Congress in the first period was controlled by a handful of committee chairmen, who owed their positions to seniority. The committees did their work in secret. Bills written in committee typically could not be amended on the floor of Congress. The institution was authoritarian, hierarchical, opaque. And stuff passed.

In the mid-1970s, Congress underwent a revolution. The power of the committee chairmen was broken. The number of subcommittees proliferated. The committees met in public. Amendments multiplied. Congress become more open, more egalitarian, more responsive. And stuff ceased to pass.

David makes a compelling case – until you ask why stuff NEEDS to be passed in huge measure. Sure we can take the romantic position that big measures provide big benefits, but that ignores the big – often HUGE – costs. Look at the costs of some of those big measures David trumpets. Medicare is broken and, unless something is done to fix it, soon to be unsustainable. Social Security is in a similar mess.

Don’t fall for the “big benefits” part of that argument either. Remember that the Union has survived almost Two Hundred Thirty Four YEARS without whatever legislation is being touted and it is up to the proponents to prove that the proposed change is better than ANY alternative – not just the one they get to cherry pick.

Consider especially the means David wants to use to reach his ends.  Coverups, keeping the people affected by the legislation in the dark about it, back room deals between cronies more interested in their power than your opinion – mainly because your opinion is more in line with your own welfare than their political careers.

As evidence of this, look at what would have happened if David’s rules were currently in place.  We would have National Health care.  It wouldn’t have a public option – the public version would be the ONLY Option (Despite what Obama says, that WAS his original plan).  Cap and Trade – and the original Kyoto accord would be a done deal and Obama would now be busily forming “get to work” programs to blunt the resulting 25% unemployment rate.  When he’s not drafting an amendment to repeal presidential term limits (after all, why should Honduras have all the fun?).  The only thing really standing in the way of all of this is the fact that we can see it happening and oppose it.  This should be too obvious to have to explain, even to David Frum – if you have to hide it from us to pass it, it’s probably NOT in our best interest.

David Frum complains about gridlock.  I don’t.  Why should I?  After all, past experience shows me that when the government is NOT hindered, it takes away my freedoms and spends my money.  Compared to that, give me gridlock, transparency and limits on government power ANY day.

Update: Yes, I KNOW he’s considered to be a conservative Journalist – by CNN.  Need I say more?

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