Government’s Disfigurement of American Society
I’ve been meaning to highlight the following paragraph, from Kevin Williamson’s March 7 National Review consideration of How the West Was Lost by Dambisa Moyo:
The U.S. and Europe have the worst kind of problems: ones that are easy to understand but difficult to solve. Our worst problem is that democratic governments lack the kind of robust fiscal controls that prevent the political class from pillaging the productive economy to feather the nests of its own members and their clients. (China has relatively strong fiscal limitations: a police state and poverty.) The West is in trouble not because Beijing is lending us money, but because of why we are borrowing it: At every level — federal state, local, county, school district, sewage-treatment authority — we have disfigured our institutions such that they function principally as wealth-transfer mechanisms for the benefit of the political class. The word for this is “corruption,” and it is at least as much a moral problem as an economic one. We are our own disease.
Williamson oversteps in two respects. A nondemocratic government doesn’t have fiscal controls against its own corruption that democracies lack. It just doesn’t offer the frustrating promise that peaceful democratic action can thwart the political class’s will over the long term. The only option is violent revolution.
Consequently, “our worst problem” isn’t the lack of internal government controls, but the deterioration of our culture.