Monday, May 16, 2011

Two great columns

George Will had two wonderful columns this past week. First he looked at liberals' myopic view of history building off of Obama's laugher of a comment saying that “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons.” It's amazing that a graduate of Ivy League schools would be so ignorant of American political history. Doesn't he know that the South was reliably Democratic until the early 1970s? After making fun of that mistake, Will uses it to look at how liberals seem to think that Medicare is such a fundamental part of America that it should never, ever be changed.
Responding to Ryan’s budget proposal, Obama said it “would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known certainly in my lifetime. In fact, I think it would be fundamentally different than what we’ve known throughout our history.”

Well. It is unclear what “fundamentally” means to Obama, but consider some possible metrics of what is, and is not, different than what we have known “throughout our history.” Ryan’s plan would reduce federal spending as a percentage of GDP from the 2009-11 average of 24.4 to 19.9 in 10 years. It was not until the nation was 158 years old — in the Depression year of 1934, with the New Deal erupting — that peacetime federal spending topped 10 percent of GDP, and it did not reach 12 percent until the war preparations of 1941.

Ryan’s plan would alter Medicare. But Medicare has existed in its current configuration for only 46 of the nation’s 235 years.

Ryan’s plan would involve some seniors paying more of the costs of routine health care. But what is anomalous, viewed in the context of “our history,” is today’s “12 cents” problem. That is the portion of every health dollar paid by the person receiving the care. Fifty years ago, when John Kennedy became president and the nation was 185 years old, the figure was 47 cents.

Ryan’s plan would expand states’ discretion in the administration of Medicaid by making it a block-grant program. Would it make America, in Obama’s words, “fundamentally different than what we’ve known throughout our history” to take this small step away from the practice of reducing states to administrative extensions of the federal government?

The hysteria and hyperbole about Ryan’s plan arise, in part, from a poverty of today’s liberal imagination, an inability to think beyond the straight-line continuation of programs from the second and third quarters of the last century. It is odd that “progressives,” as liberals now wish to be called, have such a constricted notion of the possibilities of progress.

Liberals think Medicare and Social Security as they exist are “fundamental” to the nation’s identity. But liberals think the Constitution — which the Framers meant to be fundamental, meaning constituting, law — should be construed as a “living” document, continually evolving to take different meanings under whatever liberals consider new social imperatives.

The lesson of all this is that one’s sense of possibilities — and proprieties — is shaped by what we know, and often do not know, about history. The regnant ideology within the Obama administration and among congressional Democr is reactionary liberalism, the conviction that whatever government programs exist should forever exist because they always have existed. That is, as baby boomers, in their narcissism — or perhaps solipsism; or both — understand “always.”
"Reactionary liberalism" is the perfect term to describe how the Democratic Party regards the Great Society programs. They were instituted and they should never be reformed no matter the problems that we're now encountering. Liberals like to pretend that the choice is between something terrible that Paul Ryan and the GOP would like to do to destroy Medicare and some Platonian ideal of how Medicare is supposed to work. They ignore the fact that Medicare cannot continue to exist as it is currently configured. The news is increasingly dire for the future of Medicare and Social Security.
Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and the Social Security trust for the disabled and retirees are running out of money sooner than the government had projected.

While Medicare won’t have sufficient funds to pay full benefits in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate, Social Security’s cash to pay full benefits runs short in 2036, a year sooner than the 2010 projection, the U.S. government said today in an annual report.
Gee, the estimate for Medicare going broke moved up five years since last year's estimate. Just imagine what the estimate will be in another few years. The Medicare cupboard is going to be empty, yet these Democrats are still mouthing platitudes about Medicare as if no reforms are necessary.

Next George Will turned to the gangster tactics of the NLRB to keep Boeing from building a plant in South Carolina because that would violate the rights of the union workers in Washington state.
he NLRB complaint fictitiously says Boeing has decided to “remove” or “transfer” work from Washington. Actually, Boeing has so far added more than 2,000 workers in Washington, where planned production — seven 787s a month, full capacity for that facility — will not be reduced. Besides, how can locating a new plant here violate the rights of IAM members whose collective bargaining agreement with Boeing gives the company the right to locate new production facilities where it deems best?

The NLRB says that Boeing has come here “because” IAM strikes have disrupted production and “to discourage” future strikes.

Since 1995, IAM has stopped Boeing’s production in three of five labor negotiations, including a 58-day walkout in 2008 that cost the company $1.8 billion and a diminished reputation with customers.

The NLRB uses meretricious editing of Boeing officials’ remarks to falsely suggest that anti-union animus motivated the company to locate some production in a right-to-work state. Anyway, it is settled law that companies can consider past strikes when making business decisions to diminish the risk of future disruptions.

The economy is mired in a sluggish recovery. But the destructive — and self-destructive — Obama administration is trying to debilitate the world’s largest aerospace corporation and the nation’s leading exporter, which has 155,000 U.S. employees and whose 738 million shares are held by individual and institutional investors, mutual funds and retirement accounts. Why? Organized labor, primarily and increasingly confined to government workers, cannot convince private-sector workers that it adds more value to their lives than it subtracts with dues and work rules that damage productivity. Hence unions’ reliance on government coercion where persuasion has failed.
This is what the Democratic Party is reduced to when it has become a subsidiary of the unions. Are Democrats who represent right-to-work states thrilled to have the Obama administration shut down the possibility of businesses relocating to their states. It's a question I'd like to ask my senator, Kay Hagan.

Well done, Mr. Will, but the Obama administration keeps proviing so many actions worthy of his rightful derision.