A Conservative Of Doubt

They can rant too:

Once again, I am driven to quote the immortal Charles Murtaugh:  the universe is not here to please you.  Fiscal stimulus will make the economy grow faster, or it will not make the economy grow faster, without regard to whether taxation is theft or universal healthcare is an immediate moral imperative.  I doubt I'm the only one who is wearied by the way so many of the participants in the debate seem to already know the answer they want, and are merely looking for a set of questions that will get them there most expeditiously.  Was there ever a time when people didn't think that tricky economic conundrums could, or should, be used to "prove" that their personal values about the level of taxation and spending are a scientific fact?  Probably not. Still, given how important this question is, I wish more people would treat this as a problem to be solved, a question to be answered, rather than a battle to be won.

Like Megan, I don't know either. I've supported the stimulus package because the downdraft right now seems so steep and dangerous that a little cushioning from the feds does not seem to me to be a cardinal sin, and because Obama and the Democrats won the election and deserve to be given an opportunity to respond to the current crisis - and be held accountable for the results of their decisions.

But like many, I remain nervous about heavy government intervention in the economy in anything but Ronpaulgabrielbouysafpgetty a short-term sense. The Republicans have zero, yes zero, credibility on fiscal matters and their inability to formulate a pragmatic critique of the stimulus, rather than have an ideological hissy-fit, is a symptom of their profound intellectual decline. But there is something lingering around this immediate crisis, and Obama's straddling of the leftward-moving center, that worries me for the long-term.

I fear the depression that we are in will lead to more and more decisions that, while pragmatic and defensible by themselves, can add up to a huge shift in government's role in ways that will not help and we may not recognize till it is too late; I worry that throwing a lifeline to some in a tail-spin might unwittingly lead to a deeper sense that deadbeats and gamblers will always be rewarded by government while thrifty and ethical people get the shaft; I worry that Keynesianism is not a panacea and may prevent a necessary long-term reckoning with debt and deadwood; I worry that the consequence-free, debt-fueled capitalism we let grow this past decade requires a nastier payback than we think we deserve.

I do not know these things. But I do know that a serious engagement with the ideas and principles of a non-Keynesian approach to economics - of the kind Ron Paul talks about - is worth having again. At some point the right will have to govern again; and reminding people of the dangers of excessive government, excessive debt, and printing money will be necessary. The groundwork needs to start now. And it needs to be free of partisan cant and ideological posturing.

(Photo: Ron Paul by Gabriel Bouys.)