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  • Dionne vs Jackson

    Posted by David Foster on January 11th, 2011 (All posts by )

    …on the seen and the unseen.

    E J Dionne, an establishment liberal who writes for the Washington Post, complains that many House Republicans “behave as professors in thrall to a few thrilling ideas”–ideas, that is, about limitations on the power of government–and says:

    Their rhetoric is nearly devoid of talk about solving practical problems–how to improve our health care, education and transportation systems, or how to create more middle-class jobs.

    Instead, we hear about things we can’t touch or see or feel, and about highly general principles divorced from their impact on everyday life…

    Daniel Jackson, a rabbi who lives in Israel, says:

    Now, it was this last sentence that grabbed my attention. Why is it problematic to discuss things that are abstract? I would have thought that for those who style themselves as intellectuals, keeping abstract, non-tangible concepts in mind would not be an issue.

    Perhaps, however, that is precisely the problem. This is not a new conflict–between those who maintain a fiduciary responsibility to unseen concepts and those who simply cannot understand such phenomena.

    Read the whole thing.

    In reality, of course, the size, scope, and structure of government has an enormous effect on a nation’s prosperity or lack of same. As an extreme example, a society with Soviet-union-level centralization can implement endless detailed programs for improving the lives of its people: it is going to remain a much poorer society than it would have been with a less-controlling structure.

    In the corporate world, a bad CEO may work very hard to make the right decisions in dozens of different areas–but if he fails to delegate and to put the right incentive structures in place, if he strangles the initiative of his subordinates by centralizing everything in his own hands, then he is very likely to fail—and the larger and more complex the corporation, the more likely this failure is to occur.

     

    5 Responses to “Dionne vs Jackson”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      On Wednesday, will Obama (a) take the high road, and back off — or (b) double down and keep tring to link these murders to his political opponents and push for limits on free speech? I would not bet a penny on option (a).

    2. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Conservatives have a set of basic principle that have been enunciated since Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Great Britain followed this plan after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. They had been tested by the 26 year war to the maximum and one might have expected that the financial exhaustion after such a prolonged struggle would have limited their economy for years to come. Instead, they quickly assumed the role of world steward for the next century. One might even contrast this with the consequences of the Second World War when socialism failed to bring recovery for decades. The political left are the heirs of the French Revolution, which resulted in anarchy, then despotism. The best they can show as a basic principle in economics is John Maynard Keynes, whose economic principles have led to debt and inflation. Adam Smith is still valid 235 years after his philosophy was published. Keynes is failing 75 years later.

    3. Shannon Love Says:

      The funny thing is that this is wrong.

      Their rhetoric is nearly devoid of talk about solving practical problems–how to improve our health care, education and transportation systems, or how to create more middle-class jobs.

      That is exactly what the debate is about. Most Republicans believe that reducing government involvement in health care, education and transportation will improve health care, education and transportation. Most Republicans believe that reducing government taxes and regulation will produce more middle-class jobs.

      Moreover, non-leftists “abstract” ideas are directly grounded in concrete realities unlike most leftist abstractions. You can tell that because non-leftists ideas have the tragic vision of life and humanity. It is the left that advances airy fantasies about the possibility of perfection while the non-left abstraction are based on the idea that we must make many painful tradeoffs and compromises while we muddle through life.

    4. alanstorm Says:

      Their rhetoric is nearly devoid of talk about solving practical problems–how to improve our health care, education and transportation systems, or how to create more middle-class jobs.

      Mr Dionne’s problem is that he does not see the other side of the coin: Leftists talk endlessly about their solutions to these problems – and if their “solutions” are implemented, they invariably worsen the situation.

      The problem for the Left is that the rise of the ‘Net has meant that their mistakes are much harder to cover up, and are immeasurably easier for individuals and small groups to publicize.

    5. John Burgess Says:

      What Alanstorm said, but also that in addition to worsening the situation, the programs invariably end up costing tons of money and establishing new entitlements. They do, whether you see it as a plus or minus, also create new bureaucracies with their own desire to outlive the problems.