Thursday, June 02, 2005

"Opportunity Society" vs. "Welfare State"

One thing that has bothered me about liberals is there longing for Europe. American liberals tend to think that Europe is some kind of political nirvana, with womb to tomb care and where people sit in cafes talking about Camus.

Okay, I was lying about the Camus part.

David Brooks chats about the recent referendumns in France and the Netherlands concerning the proposed EU constitution. Brooks thinks that Europe is sliding economically because of its clinging to an expensive entitlement system that these nations can't afford anymore. Most American liberals want a wide array of government programs without thinking about how we are going to pay for them without slowing down the economy. The Democrats still want some kind of welfare state here, even though most Americans aren't that interested and even though such a system was more suited to an industrial era.

This doesn't mean that government should get out of the business of helping people. Sadly, pols from my party have taken to slashing the safety net and expecting that non profits like churches can help the poor. While I support limited government, one can't say that society must ignore the hungry or the person without healthcare through no fault of their own.

What has to be done is to pick up again the mantle of a "safety net" something that both affirms our market economy and also makes sure that people don't fall though the cracks when that market fails to provide for a person or a family.

The Yellow Line talked about establishing an "Opportunity Society" last month. There were no clear plans, but the emphasis is to create policies that would amount to finding ways to help people help themselves.

What I believe moderate Republicans must do is to fashion an idea where government doesn't get out of the way and doesn't do everything, but is a partner in helping people not become homeless or hungry or without health care. Maybe instead of crafting a large Canadian-style health care system, pols could fashion a way that health care could be more portable and maybe matched by the government in paying premiums. I don't know how or where this would lead, but Centrists need to find a way for government to provide help to Americans beyond the choice of Big Government of Liberals or the choice of ignorance or callousness from Conservatives.


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