THE AMERICAN MIND – ON THE DISASTER OF THE WELFARE STATE WITH CHARLES R. KESLER AND YUVAL LEVIN

THE AMERICAN MIND – ON THE DISASTER OF THE WELFARE STATE WITH CHARLES R. KESLER AND YUVAL LEVIN

The Claremont Institute
The Claremont Institute
A discussion of the Welfare program and how disastrous it has been
 
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there’s a way which both parties now we’re just vehicles for checking off
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lists that they’ve just been holding in their hand for decades that the
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democrats have had them
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since the mid sixties a Republican system in eighties everybody’s kind of
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forgotten how we ended up with this list and why
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which is no we gotta get it done and that’s counterproductive for both
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parties
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Yuval a couple of years ago I’m
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you wrote the following and national review a quote
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our domestic politics in the coming years
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will be focused intently on picking up the pieces
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the terrible disaster unquote above the welfare state
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discuss and
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well you know I think our domestic politics already
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is devoted to a great extent to dealing with the consequences
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up the great society up the turn in public policy
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in the nineteen sixties there was preceded in some respects
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nineteen-thirties an earlier but that
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really took form through the great society in the johnson years
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that put in place a set of institutions premised on a very different vision
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what American government is forward than it ever really been
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the case in american life institutions that try
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to manage American society to control
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American Life rather than to enable it and those institutions have turned out
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to be
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not only dispiriting and damaging to the very people
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they were intended to help in many cases specially the actual welfare portion of
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the welfare state
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I and not only
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practically unworkable in ways that
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that that help us to see the problems with technocratic ideas and government
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they’ve also turned out to be fiscally unsustainable
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which actually is why they’ve come to the fore in our politics
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because they’re becoming impossible to ignore the problems with them
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are getting to a place where they’re simply becoming unaffordable
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this is especially true for entitlement programs on
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and especially so of our old age indictments and especially the medicare
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program which was created in a great society years
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Tom a lot of what we’re going to have to deal with in the coming years always
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have turning those institutions
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around and replacing them with a different set of institutions that
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are better positioned in better designed to sustain a space for society to thrive
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to enable society to flourish
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rather than to try to run the United States of America
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and so I i think that the
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the brief moment love
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I’ve very misguided consensus in the mid-nineteen sixties
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is one that we’re still trying to get over now oftentimes
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you hear people talking about that moment as though it were a golden age
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where people kind of agreed Republicans and Democrats get along and they have a
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drink after work
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what they were doing in that time is basically making a massive mistake
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and our constitutional system is designed to prevent just that kinda
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mistake from happening
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the the incredible super majorities that the democrats had nose ears
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and the post-war consensus that the republicans were also part in this
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year’s
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a made possible a mistake that is very difficult to reverse now that
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those super majorities and that consensus are gone I think we’ve
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actually return to normality in American political life
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but that means that fixing the mistakes we made in that exceptional period is
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proving to be very very difficult
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I think that’s it that’s exactly right but is it literally the case
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that there’s no way out I
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except reform I mean I
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there is there is to name one socialism
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be I mean water water the prospects
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if you are on the left to speculate for a moment well how would you view the
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the impending disaster from the point of view
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love a have a socializing and ever more socializing
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yeah mindset well I think that there is
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a a group of people on the left to do think that the crisis %uh the welfare
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state can be an opening for social democracy they certainly wouldn’t call
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it socialism and it isn’t social dance and they respect
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but on for more and more government involvement in
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our economic life in our private lives for
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this kind of combination %uh economic collectivism
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and sand and moral individualism that amounts to the left world view at this
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point com
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I i think that they they manage that
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view by ignoring a lot of what is going wrong with the liberal for state
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the left today is in much worse intellectual trouble than the right
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there’s not been an engagement with the problems have the welfare state
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there’s not an agenda there’s not if you think about the left the American Left
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since nineteen thirties is always had an
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front of it some big fish in some next thing to do
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it would not be easy to say what that looks like now maybe it’s
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universal preschool but thats you know that thats minuscule by definition
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I am what the next progressive candidate for office for
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for the presidency says gonna have to run on is not easy to say
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on and a lot of that would have to involve doubling down on things that the
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public believes not to be working
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so I think there and very great trouble and they haven’t come to terms with that
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fact
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that cancers are also in trouble because in a lot of ways republicans today
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are offering just another form of the agenda that they offered
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a in nineteen eighties in nineteen seventies really a set of solutions that
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were designed to
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address problems have that period in ways that turned government around in
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the right way some of them were in fact
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inactive something we’re not but they the challenge we have
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is to use the the difficulties that the country faces
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to turn our institutions around and to create institutions that are better
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ordered for the the the role of government we have in mind
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I think ronald reagan and people around him did a very good job of turning the
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challenges in the late nineteen seventies
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into opportunities that way the challenge is a extremely high marginal
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tax rates have hyper-inflation
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a over-regulation but today we face different challenges I wouldn’t say that
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that high marginal tax rates are high among the challenges we face would be
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nice to have been lowered
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but on you wouldn’t put them very high on the challenges that a middle class
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family faces
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hyper-inflation just is in the fact now certainly
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deregulation can help us a lot but not in the not in the industry tonight in
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the ways that were used to thinking about
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conservatives need to think about how to apply our principles to today’s
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challenges because that’s the way
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both to get the public to see us as a constructive force
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and to actually make changes that would turn things in the right direction and
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so
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I think what we need to be doing and what national affairs tries to do and
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what I think more and more people are trying to do in the right
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is to apply those same principles to a new set of problems to serve challenges
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that face american families
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and that results in a different policy ginned
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in a different agenda for reform that’s moved by the same
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and
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as reagan’s was but that involves different means because
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we are living in a different time there’s a way which both parties now
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we’re just vehicles for checking off lists that they’ve just been holding in
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their hand for decades that the democrats have had them
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since the mid sixties a Republican system mid-eighties everybody’s kind of
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forgotten how we ended up with this list and why
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which is no we gotta get it done and that’s counterproductive for both
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parties
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is one could understand
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as who comes out for a Tea Party rally
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who comes out for Reform Conservative route it well
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we don’t really do rally SNL am
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I would say it should be the same people I don’t
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I don’t see what people are calling reform conservatism I think it was just
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applied conservatism and I don’t see it as intention with the Tea Party I i
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don’t think that
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it’s an answer to the Tea Party in the country I think it’s an answer
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to the same problems that the Tea Party is trying to speak to
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but an answer the tries to look to policy means to address some other
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problems
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so in some respect is an extension of the Tea Party I
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in other respects its a it it it’s a step the tries to use public policy to
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deal with some other problems
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the problems are not just problems with the left they’re not just the growth of
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the state
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they’re also problems on the right there a a
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very comfortable and fatten happy Republican establishment the tries to
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tinker at the edges in ways that get them in powers to the other side without
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any real vision and what it is they want to do
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Tom I think that’s in a lot of ways a bigger problem for the right then the
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left is
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on because it involves getting out of certain kinds of grooves inhabits that
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we really have to get outta
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the tea parties very much a response to that too when I think that the
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the the ideas that have been bunched together is reform conservatism
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are as well their populist in spirit their populist in and
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and in their means that you try to contend with the realities of the
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welfare state to try to start where we are
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and get where we need to go and are they is the
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is there enough coherence to the agenda I mean is it as a
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is a recognizable and is it appealing yeah well I think that first of all
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it is it is coherent in its definition of problems
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on it tries to direct itself to the challenges that middle-class families
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face now
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cost-of-living challenges barriers that stand in the way of people
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achieving what they see as a as a for filling in Flushing life
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I think it’s also coherence in its view
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love the means that is its anti technocratic it tries to use government
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to build a space in which society can address its own problems from the bottom
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up if you think about
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a how conservatives try to go with problems
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it is by creating a creating an opportunity
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for people to try different kinds of solutions to experiment for people to
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choose for themselves what’s working and what’s not and for people to abandon
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failures and keep successes
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well first it doesn’t allow for any of that there’s no experimentation
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because everything is scripted and and regulated
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a people who are receiving services or benefits are not people who are choosing
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among options
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and nothing ever goes away failures stay forever I
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moving from one to the other involves a series
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love policy reforms in one arena after another so what is school choice school
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choice is an attempt to move
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from a centralized bureaucratic technocratic system to one in which
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the people receiving the service make choices and everybody
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who provide that service has a huge incentive to try different ways of
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giving them what they want
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right what is the conservative approach to health care it’s exactly the same
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thing it’s moving from a centralized concentrated technocratic with thinking
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21 where the resources on the table are given to the people in the country
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and they choose among options they keep what they want and
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in the process that the underlying system the in the health care system the
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education system
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gets better because everybody has a huge incentive to gradually incrementally
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tried different ways of improving at the margins I think that’s how change
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happens that’s how improvement happens
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and so you know
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these are all ways in which we do think there is a role for government
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but it’s a very different role it’s the role is to enable this kind of process
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of dynamic experimentation
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to enable people to flourish in their own way it’s very different way of
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thinking about what governments for them
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the well first I me at a at a very basic level conservatives
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almost every stripe are people who feel
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something valuable is threatened and is there
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is the threat both rhetorically and substantively behind
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that you discern in the in the reform agenda how would you put that in
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and can you get people worried yeah I think the threat is first of all a
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threat to that space the space between the individual missed a
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where we actually live for society exists that’s the space in which we live
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our lives it’s a space in which the family is the spatial a civil society is
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the space in which the market exists Tom
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that space is under threat from government because we have a government
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that understands its role
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as clearing out that space so that there’s nothing between the individual
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in the state
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the states provide the state provide services directly
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and their only individuals in our vision of society so that at the same time
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its hyper individualistic and it is statist
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that’s that’s the progressive combination I think that conservatives
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believe that’s
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that almost everything that matters about society happens in that
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in that middle space bienen and happens to mediating institutions certainly much
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the matters happened to that
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yeah not everything but almost every I am and so
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that space being under threat is what is what sort of gets a set of that because
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that means
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that the the the core of the American Way of life
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really is in danger on be on that I also think that the threat is it presents
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itself to the american public allow the time
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is a kind of sclerosus is a sense that we just can’t do anything anymore
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yeah we can’t get anything done and government biggest it is
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just can’t achieve even what it should achieve let alone all the other things
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in stride
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and that is a result of the same set of factors
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it’s a it’s again a result of an overactive hyperactive
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federal government
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and and at in some respects even state local governments that have
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and exaggerated view there on purpose an exaggerated you doing capacity
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I think that what the reformers on writer trying to offers an answer to
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both those problems is to say
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we could do a lot more if we allowed more to get done
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in that space including what we expected government if we allowed the problems
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that the welfare system exists to solve
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to be addressed by putting resources in that space in allowing civil society
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institutions together with public institutions to work to address the
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problems people have
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from the bottom up one by one it’s just more likely to work
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quite apart from it being a better connected to the principles American
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life in government but you’ve all we shall
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look forward to more from you Anto will be watching the
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successive the reform agenda going forward
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and in the meantime let me thank you for bearing on the american minded thank you
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ladies and gentlemen thank you

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