Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2011 / 10 Elul, 5771
Lean Forward? You First!
By Jonah Goldberg
During the recent
The long-running "Lean Forward" marketing campaign features different MSNBC hosts waxing poetic on the glories of government and liberalism. The ad they kept running during the debate features
But the real joke of the commercial is the argument behind it. Maddow objects when "people tell us no, no, no we're not going to build it. No, no, no, America doesn't have any greatness in its future. America has small things in its future. Other countries have great things in their future.
The reason the ad is so funny is that nobody thinks liberals such as Maddow would support anything like the
Indeed, look at all the activists attacking the proposed construction of an oil pipeline from
This is just a small example of the Catch-22 liberalism has found itself in. The left yearns to "go big" but it wants to do so through the extremely narrow routes it has created for itself. They say government must rush into this economic crisis like firemen into a burning building. But they also don't want to lighten the useless baggage the firemen must carry or remove the Byzantine obstacle course they've decreed the figurative firefighters must run through before getting to work.
As the number of interest groups claiming sovereignty over their own little slices of policy multiplies, government's maneuvering room shrinks.
Rauch compared the problem to the "hardening of the arteries, which builds up stealthily over many years." Before you know it, first responders to Hurricane Katrina have to undergo sensitivity training before they can save people from drowning and "shovel ready" green jobs require months of "prevailing wage" compliance paper-pushing and are too expensive anyway.
Look, I'm no Keynesian, but there should have been at least an economic sugar rush from the stimulus. There wasn't, in large part because government has lost its flexibility. We poured money down the same mostly clogged bureaucratic drain. When the last bit burbled away, we were told we must "invest" even more in infrastructure and education. We've been doing that for decades. In terms of spending, adjusted for inflation, the size of government has increased 50 percent over the last decade alone.
Who thinks we got anything like a positive return on that "investment"? Why didn't we? Because money isn't the problem, government is.
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