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Government as Tiresome, Expensive Nag

Nanny State

 

Have you noticed that as government becomes more of a ponzi scheme where it takes in huge amounts of money and doles out some of it to a large number of recipients in the body politic it has taken on the hectoring privileges of a parent paying out allowances to wayward brats?  The late Kenneth Minogue did.  From 2010:

 

My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.

No philosopher can contemplate this interesting situation without beginning to reflect on what it can mean. The gap between political realities and their public face is so great that the term “paradox” tends to crop up from sentence to sentence. Our rulers are theoretically “our” representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up. The business of governments, one might think, is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves. Debt, intemperance, and incompetence in rearing our children are no doubt regrettable, but they are vices, and left alone, they will soon lead to the pain that corrects. Life is a better teacher of virtue than politicians, and most sensible governments in the past left moral faults to the churches. But democratic citizenship in the twenty-first century means receiving a stream of improving “messages” from politicians. Some may forgive these intrusions because they are so well intentioned. Who would defend prejudice, debt, or excessive drinking? The point, however, is that our rulers have no business telling us how to live. They are tiresome enough in their exercise of authority—they are intolerable when they mount the pulpit. Nor should we be in any doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step towards totalitarianism.

We might perhaps be more tolerant of rulers turning preachers if they were moral giants. But what citizen looks at the government today thinking how wise and virtuous it is? Public respect for politicians has long been declining, even as the population at large has been seduced into demanding political solutions to social problems. To demand help from officials we rather despise argues for a notable lack of logic in the demos. The statesmen of eras past have been replaced by a set of barely competent social workers eager to take over the risks of our everyday life. The electorates of earlier times would have responded to politicians seeking to bribe us with such promises with derision. Today, the demos votes for them.

Go here to New Criterion to read the rest.  What we are living through in the West today is the end stages of dying welfare states.  Many politicians get elected by promising that the government gravy train will continue and will expand, even as the ability of governments to conjure funds out of thin air does damage to economies and burdens nations with debts that cannot be repaid.  These same politicians get elected by trumpeting the positions of increasingly arcane pressure groups at war with the moral codes of the past:  You want to call two men and two women shacking up marriage?  No problem!  You think it is right to kill kids in the womb?  Ok and the government will pay for it!  Nine bucks a month too expensive to make sure you don’t have bastards?  Heck, we’ll make your employer pay for your insurance for it, so you’ll get it “free”!

Bad enough to live under a nanny state.  Sheer torture to live under a nanny state where nanny is drunk and degenerate.  Paying through the nose so that people you despise can impose values you hate has become the leitmotif throughout the West of our noble experiment in self rule.  The only saving grace that I can see is that the money is about to run out.  Pretending that reality does not exist is short term fun and long term disaster, and disaster always marks the finish when societies embark on mass projects of “let’s pretend!”.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

10 Comments

  1. Carl Schmitt argues that this is inevitable.
    In Schmitt’s view, parliamentarianism and liberalism existed in a particular historical epoch between the “absolute” state of the seventeenth century and the “total state” of the twentieth century. Parliamentary discussion and a liberal “private sphere” presupposed the “depoliticization” of a large area of social, economic and cultural life. The state provided a legally codified order within which social customs, economic competition, religious beliefs, and so on, could be pursued without becoming “political.”
    This all changed with the rise of mass political parties. “Democracy and liberalism are fundamentally antagonistic. Democracy does away with the depoliticizations characteristic of rule by a narrow bourgeois stratum insulated from popular demands. Mass politics means a broadening of the agenda to include the affairs of all society – everything is potentially political.”

  2. “Sheer torture to live under a nanny state where nanny is drunk and degenerate.”
    .
    This is called alcoholism at the national level. It is drunkenness without the booze. People are drunk on pleasure, whatever titillates the senses and gratifies the flesh. It is the same problem about which St Paul wrote so eloquently in his epistles. It is not a new problem, but an old, even ancient problem. It is called sin.

  3. The government is bureaucracy. The state is the people who constitute the government, the entire body of citizens with the entire government of bureaucracy, every single person alive and well this day, our ancestors, our Founding Fathers and our constitutional posterity, all future generations.
    .
    The imposition of evil and sin on the state, that is, the nation of people, us, past, present and future, our forebears and our posterity, those persons who have come before us and those people who will come after us, each and every one of us by only several individuals, the government, the bureaucracy, is so evil, and is a miscarriage of Justice, a violation of equal Justice, un-American, unconstitutional, and the abrogation of our Preamble and every article of the U.S. Constitution.
    .
    All future generations are begotten in perfect legal and moral innocence. All ancestors are forgiven their transgressions and failings and remain with us in legacy. The trust established by our ancestors, our Founding Fathers, and given over to our posterity must remain unblemished in the perfect moral and legal innocence into which God creates all human beings’ immortal souls.
    .
    Justice for every person is imprinted in our souls, a trust born of our heritage and our legacy, a trust endowed by our Creator, perfect Justice.

  4. Nope, that was the legal term under the law for children brought into this world outside of wedlock. Up until quite recently, just the past few decades, paternity cases were known as bastardy proceedings. It wasn’t a nice name because it wasn’t a nice thing to be, deprived of two parents and a father’s care and support. The reality of being a bastard remains not a nice thing, despite the attempt of the World to pretend otherwise, and I say that as someone whose beloved mother came into this Vale of Tears as a bastard.

  5. Donald R McClarey

    You are right and “bastard” is surely preferable to the more euphemistic but nonsensical “illegitimate.”
    The latter is from Latin “legitimus,” meaning statutory and the Romans never used the phrase “liberi legitimi”– statutory children – and would have found the expression puzzling. They did talk of “heredes legitimi” or legitimate heirs, for the order of succession was laid down in a lex – the Law of the Twelve Tables. “Heredes legitimi” is quite a mouthful and they used “Legitimi” as an ellipsis.
    To legitimate means to place in the order of succession.

  6. Donald McClarey: “The reality of being a bastard remains not a nice thing, despite the attempt of the World to pretend otherwise, and I say that as someone whose beloved mother came into this Vale of Tears as a bastard.”
    .
    I would hope that your mother’s advent into this “Vale of Tears” was ameliorated by common law marriage as it is by matrimony in the Church. I suspect that this is why you have chose law to be your profession. To me, Lex, legis is having a leg to stand on in the vernacular.
    .
    While all that you and MPS have written is verily true, I stand by my notation.

  7. “I would hope that your mother’s advent into this “Vale of Tears” was ameliorated by common law marriage as it is by matrimony in the Church.”

    Nope. My grandmother went to work to support her daughter and herself and my great-grandmother, who my mother regarded as a saint, largely raised her. My grandmother later married a tough longshoreman who became a loving father to my mom and a loving grandfather to her two sons.

    “I suspect that this is why you have chose law to be your profession.”

    No, I chose it as an expedient until something better came along. Thirty-two years later I am still on the outlook for “something better”!

  8. “My grandmother later married a tough longshoreman who became a loving father to my mom and a loving grandfather to her two sons.” Thus, your mom became legitimatized.
    .
    The American Catholic is “something better.”

  9. “bastardy proceedings”
    .
    Reverend August Newman, R.I.P. said that these children are children of the Church. Perhaps Father Newman understood that these children are created in innocence and are victims visited with their parents’ transgressions. Perhaps, there was a clandestine marriage (without the approval of the state or of the Church) which later dissolved because of real impediments that were unforeseen by either parent and that necessitated a separation. Nevertheless, the children are victims and adopted children of God and of the Church.

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