Monday, December 10, 2012
The New Government Class
By Paul Kengor on 12.10.12 @ 6:09AM
The more dependent this group becomes, and the more it enlarges -- to the benefit of its Democrat benefactors.
The latest unemployment figures are depressing, but not for the usual reasons. They provide further confirmation of Barack Obama's fundamental transformation of America, and specifically through his creation of a growing government class.
The numbers show a massive increase in government jobs created over the last five months -- 621,000, to be exact, dwarfing private-sector job growth. Those new government jobs account for a staggering 73% of overall job growth. In all, it means that 20.6 million citizens now work for government, out of 143 million people employed in America -- or one in seven Americans.
This is exactly what Barack Obama and modern "progressives"/liberals want.
Indeed, the vision and policies and programs of progressives/liberals are rapidly generating a new government class that relies on government for its livelihood. The current such class -- the one that re-elected Barack Obama -- is comprised of federal workers; of state, county, and municipal workers; of employees in public-sector unions; of Americans collecting food stamps, welfare, and unemployment benefits; of those looking to government for their healthcare; and still more. They don't all vote Democrat, but many of them do. Incredibly, there is even a growing group of young women -- supple prey to demagogic Democrat politicians -- who are angrily expecting Uncle Sam to pay for their contraception and abortions.
We might be tempted to corral this new class into Mitt Romney's "47 percent," though the much-maligned Romney label probably underestimates the total. Likewise, these citizens might be targeted to Rush Limbaugh's "Santa Claus" category, though Rush, too, underestimated; after all, Santa Claus bears a mere gift or two once a year. He doesn't provide full-time paychecks.
Either way, these new Americans constitute a huge and expanding segment of the population -- and voters -- who are becoming not merely dependent upon government but dependent upon Democrats. The more dependent this group becomes, and the more it enlarges, the more it redounds to the political benefit and enshrinement of liberal-Democrat politicians. We can argue whether or not this is intentional by Democrats as a whole, or a deliberate tactic of the wider progressive/liberal agenda, but there is no denying that it is a political reality that liberal Democrats will "benefit" from.
All of these segments of the citizenry -- or, perhaps, constituencies -- have steadily expanded over the last 100 years of progressivism/liberalism, and have surged under Barack Obama. Under Obama, there are a record 47 million Americans on food stamps, up from 32 million at the start of his presidency; that's a 50-percent jump. The welfare rolls have exploded. Unemployment has not only increased but remains stuck and stagnant, with the actual unemployed around 15% and no doubt rising. (There are even 636,000 homeless Americans -- double the number from the Reagan years, and totally unreported by the media.) Not only does the huge number of federal workers continue to balloon, but so do employees joining public-sector unions beholden to Democrats: SEIU, AFSCME, teachers organized through the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
Writing on this phenomenon, my colleague, Dr. Marvin Folkertsma, observes:
America's mammoth federal government constitutes an interest group itself, which means it does all the things other public and private groups do to protect itself…. [A]bout half of the population receives some form of aid from the federal government, according to the Heritage Foundation's 2012 Index of Dependence on Government, and these recipients constitute perhaps the most behemoth group of them all…. [C]lose to one-half of the entire population does not pay federal income taxes, a figure that climbed from 12 percent in 1969 to 34.1 percent at the beginning of the Bush administration, to its current figure as President Obama starts his second term.
That current figure is bad news for the literal solvency of the republic, but good news for those cynically hoping to expand the boundaries (and collective dependency net) of progressivism/liberalism.
The first flame of this roaring government class came with President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s, picking up from the spark lit by Woodrow Wilson's progressive presidency two decades earlier. The next significant expansion came via President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society in the 1960s. Incremental additions happened thereafter, with an agency or new department started here and there. To cite just one example, President Jimmy Carter, for instance, started the Department of Education.
Ronald Reagan, long before his game-changing presidency attempted to halt this, referred to this steady enlargement as "creeping socialism," which is precisely what it is. Oblivious Americans stand idly by and naively vote for Leviathan, and for their country to slowly and steadily become socialist.
With President Barack Obama, another extension -- actually, a major thrust -- is underway, with the centralization of healthcare under Obamacare just one of the more obvious coming manifestations.
Naturally, it goes without saying that the American Founders did not envision this. No, they are rolling over in their graves. They argued over checks and balances, separation of powers. Most important, the Founders spoke eloquently and wisely of a virtuous citizenry, one capable of successfully self-governing itself before successfully self-governing the republic. George Washington expressed this conviction often, believing that virtue and morality were both synonymous and "indispensable supports" to the American republic. Influencing Washington and the Founders was a French philosopher named Charles Montesquieu, whose crucial work is utterly foreign to the current generation, and most certainly not taught in schools. His work included the seminal The Spirit of the Laws (1748). There, Montesquieu concluded that the best form of government is a self-governing one, and yet it is also the most difficult to maintain because it demands a virtuous populace.
In more recent times, great conservative minds like the late Russell Kirk spoke of a citizenry capable of "inner order." Citizens needed to achieve "inner order" before their republic could maintain "outer order." America needed what other great thinkers have called an "ordered liberty," or a kind of "trained liberty." Consider the line from one of this nation's sacred political hymns, America, the Beautiful: "Confirm thy soul in self-control; Thy liberty in law."
To the contrary, our new government class is not about confirming one's soul in self-control, but about confirming and ordering one's life around Washington, whether through milking the system for ongoing welfare benefits, demanding that taxpayers fund their contraception, or relying upon the federal government for full-time work -- and punishing any politician who vows to scale back government in order to save America from becoming Greece. Any real leader who threatens to dissolve the Department of Education, or de-fund PBS, or enact wage or hiring freezes is attacked as a pariah and mortal threat to the United States of America and its citizenry. He is cast as a rogue villain who must be defeated. His attempts to preserve the republic's fiscal sanity are viewed as pernicious, as anathema to the interests of the new government class.
This new poster child of progressivism/liberalism would make the Founders shudder, and perhaps even go back to the Constitutional drawing board.
Ironically, the government class in America today -- and those governing it -- look not to the American Founders but to the Western Europe that the Founders fled. In fact, it's rather amazing that a leftist, anti-colonialist like Barack Obama would find his ideal in Western Europe, but, alas, he does -- and he leads his party and its millions of unquestioning, dutiful followers right along with him. It's funny: for decades liberals have been indoctrinated in their universities to despise Western Europe. Yet, they've completely embraced Western Europe's welfare-statism. It is their end-goal.
So, where does this leave us as a republic? Well, in very deep trouble. Most of those in the new government class become rapidly conditioned to their reality. Easily lured into their situation to begin with, they will be easily prompted into vociferously defending their position -- especially those in unions. They will defend their status quo with ferocious loyalty when the right buttons are pushed by liberal-Democrat organizers and agitators who benefit from their votes. And Barack Obama's sycophantic, partisan "journalists" will be their unfailing ally.
Ronald Reagan said that the only guarantee of eternal life in this world is a government bureaucracy. He was correct, especially once the government bureaucracy is unionized; ditto for the bureaucracy's programs and goodies. You will not be able to undo Obama-care; trying to do so will be like unscrambling eggs. Look at Britain's National Health Service; it is the third-rail of British politics. Even Margaret Thatcher couldn't touch it.
For a glimpse at America's future, look to Greece, France, and Spain, which are already long gone, populated by virtual citizen-zombies walking along with their hands out. The one glimmer of hope might be Britain circa 1978-79, when the electorate somehow awakened and hired Margaret Thatcher, who took on the unions and the government class. In the United States, however, it will not be easy. We will need a Thatcher or a Reagan, who will be demonized unlike any American heretofore, and can withstand and defeat the demonization. Moreover, we will need that leader very soon. If this isn't halted quickly, America as we know it is over.
How long? We have four years. Think about it: How many more Americans over the next four years will be employed and unionized by government, on unemployment, on food stamps and welfare, on government for healthcare, on government for contraception, and more? And they will be further trained to believe this is the norm and their natural right, and that anyone standing in the way is a monster. It may already be too late. The seeds have been planted and are now germinating.
Barack Obama promised a fundamental transformation of this nation. It is now fully underway, courtesy of breathtakingly oblivious voters and pro-Obama "journalists." They have joined him as the handmaidens to this ominous new government class.
To read another article by Paul Kengor, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:16 PM