Obamacare

Reason Writers Around Town: Matt Welch in the New York Post: "It's the Big Government, Stupid"

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In Sunday's New York Post, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch takes a look at attempts to divine meaning from this summer's mild political kerfuffles, and concludes that the simplest answer may be the most obvious one. Column begins like this:

It's been a hilarious August, watching media supporters of President Obama's health care package puzzle over the obscure motivations of the noncompliant Americans rallying against it.

"Racial anxiety," guessed New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

"Nihilism," theorized Time's Joe Klein.

"The crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy," historian Rick Perlstein proclaimed in the Washington Post.

While the commentariat's condescension is almost comical, the whole evil-or-stupid explanation misses the elephant in Obama's room: Americans of all stripes, it turns out, aren't very keen about the government barging into their lives.

Whole thing, including a Top 10 list of Obama government grabs, here.

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59 responses to “Reason Writers Around Town: Matt Welch in the New York Post: "It's the Big Government, Stupid"

  1. You racist, nihilist, crazy, fascist bastard.

  2. Occam was a racist.

  3. Not a NYP fan personally.

    Also, check out their comments on the article. So far just a ton of conservatives who are using the same lame anti-Obama quips I heard last November and one Democrat arguing that because Bush tripled the government, that no one can criticize Obama for expanding government either.

  4. Nice article. The comments will of course be all YA or hate filled you evil conservative posts.

    The sole progressive comment so far was worth the read.

    What’s the bugaboo about “Big Government” anyway? Our government tripled in size under the Bush Administration and no Republicans complained about it then!

    The more people in government, the more we can handle the problems of the country.

  5. No, Occam was a razorist.

  6. “What’s the bugaboo about “Big Government” anyway? Our government tripled in size under the Bush Administration and no Republicans complained about it then!

    The more people in government, the more we can handle the problems of the country.”

    Whoa! That comment is genius and completely changes how I view this issue. Maybe if the commenter was supported by the govt so his blog could be read by millions of people, all would be well.

    I hope some more people on this thread independently come to the same conclusion about this amazing comment too.

  7. I think it’s genius, too. My only question is whether we can have absolutely everybody work in government, or if we, like, have to reserve at least one person to be the governed.

  8. The more people in government, the more we can handle the problems of the country.

    We should just put everyone in the government.

  9. The more people in government, the more we can handle the problems of the country.

    1000% of people should work for the government.

  10. It’s not the size the counts, but how you use it, of course.

  11. Can’t you wingnuts see that a team of bureaucrats can handle your life better than you ever could (and if you’re on that team of bureaucrats, even better)?

  12. I’m including you in this, too, Tony! Can’t you see that more bureaucrats makes the government more efficient?

  13. The more people in government, the more we can handle the problems of the country.

    And here I was laboring under the mistaken notion that the people in government were the problem.

  14. Americans of all stripes, it turns out, aren’t very keen
    about the government barging into their lives.

    “But,” the Administration apologists smugly counter, “they want their Medicare! Isn’t that government intrusion into their lives?”

    Yes, it is. Except the debate isn’t about an entrenched entitlement program that isn’t going away any time soon. It’s about taking that nearly bankrupt program and expanding it tenfold.

  15. My only question is whether we can have absolutely everybody work in government, or if we, like, have to reserve at least one person to be the governed.

    The workers govern themselves, the way the Founding Fathers intended. It’s like a perpertual motion machine.

  16. “The crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy,”

    For a site called “reason” you guys spend an awful lot of time watering the crazy tree.

  17. Americans didn’t vote for big government last November.

    Yeah they did. They may have not intended to, but they did.

    If they really wanted to not vote for big government, they should have voted as to result in divided government.

  18. Good article — too bad it wasn’t published in a liberal paper.

    He’s basically preaching to the choir.

  19. Colin, a liberal objective responsible newspaper would never run an article like this. Can’t be a party to Matt’s bought-and-paid-for disinformation and scaremongering, don’t you know.

  20. So you think Krugman shouldn’t be running articles?

  21. They may have not intended to, but they did.

    They voted for the brother. There’s a difference, in theory.

  22. They voted for the brother. There’s a difference, in theory.

    Hahaha, “Big Brotha”

  23. “The more people in government, the more we can handle the problems of the country.”

    No wonder we’re fucked, with thinking like that.

  24. Tony | August 23, 2009, 6:52am | #
    It’s not the size the counts, but how you use it, of course.

    ***

    Using it when it isn’t asked for, consent-wise, is called “rape”, Tony.

    You statists really know how to fuck people, in other words.

  25. Yes, it is. Except the debate isn’t about an entrenched entitlement program that isn’t going away any time soon. It’s about taking that nearly bankrupt program and expanding it tenfold.

    But that’s not what a lot of the protesters are complaining about. They’re afraid that expanding the program to others will mean less largesse for themselves. Hardly lines up with Welch’s assertion that Americans don’t like the government getting involved in their lives.

    And I’m no Obama apologist, just a realist law-and-order libertarian who recognizes that the enemy of my enemy is not nec my friend.

  26. “Can’t you wingnuts see that a team of bureaucrats can handle your life better than you ever could (and if you’re on that team of bureaucrats, even better)?”

    Got that right, Art. Hell, once the Dems finally stab the last stake in the heart of the private sector, they’ll REALLY roll up their sleeves and start “helping” the people.

    First step: Matching uniforms, mandatory morning workouts, rationing of razor blades and toilet paper, and a job for everyone at the local Newspeak center.

  27. Generally competent analysis, but I die a little inside when I read unedited lines like this one:

    The message of the various Tea Party protests, which predated this summer’s ahistorical media panic over town hall “lynch mobs,” has been pretty simple, says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the nonprofit that has helped organize the protests, told Reason magazine this spring.

    Yikes.

  28. For a site called “reason” you guys spend an awful lot of time watering the crazy tree.

    It’s finally noon here, so
    DRINK!

  29. Tulpa, They’re afraid that expanding the program to others will mean less largesse for themselves.

    In a round-a-bout way, that may be true. If we go Zimbabwe-wise, then not getting what they do get now is the least of their problems, and they know that. Isn’t it fair to acknowledge that, considering the vocal opposition to the “stimulus” spending came first?

  30. The more people in government, the more we can handle the problems of the country.”

    Whoa! That comment is genius and completely changes how I view this issue. Maybe if the commenter was supported by the govt so his blog could be read by millions of people, all would be well.

    LOL, good one there.

    One thing I’ve noticed over the last few days: when you discover a sincere liberal progressive who believes that government is going to “fix” health care and everything else under the sun, if you ask them WHY they have so much faith in the government to do all these things well, you never get any sort of intelligent, reasoned response.

  31. I don’t know why this is so hard for liberals to understand. Most people are not that political. Most people were not cheering on Bush as he spent. They were at best tolerating it because they didn’t trust the Democrats to prevent another 9-11. Then when they grew tired of the spending and didn’t trust the Republicans on terrorism anymore than they did the Democrats, they threw the Republicans out. Not even Bush’s strongest supporters ever loved his big spending. They tolerated it as a necessary evil.

    To put it in simple terms, the Democrats are shocked the country is revolting over big spending even though the country threw the Republicans out primarily for the sin of running up the deficit. Honestly, do they think the Republicans lost control of Congress because the deficit wasn’t big enough?

  32. I’ve seen the whole, “Bush spent lots of money first” argument peddled around a lot. And no, libertarians were not sitting on their hands during this time either. SOme conservatives looked the other way, but let’s remember, before 2008 and tarp, Bush’s biggest deficit was about 500 billion. And yes, that includes the military spending. I’ve heard a lot of people argue that Bush’s war spending isn’t included in official figures, because military spending bills were passed off the budget, but the truth is that mid year spending bills still get factored into the budget anyway. The Bush deficit peaked midway through his 8 years and then began to taper off. For about a year or two, the deficit actually shrank as a percentage of GDP. The spending that we’ve already seen, plus Obama’s proposed deficits, are already higher than any deficit that occured under Bush. The borrowing that occured before the TARP bailout (started under Bush) seems quaint now. That is why people are protesting.

    I’m not defending Bush at all. After all, he was the one who got the ball rolling with TARP. However, to argue that libertarians and conservatives were sitting on their hands while Bush was in power, only taking to the streets now because of racist and partisan motivations, is disingenuous. Clearly there is a difference between the borrowing that took place up to TARP, and the borrowing and government intervention of the bailout era. All people on the left want to argue is that since there weren’t people in the streets during the Bush years proper that the people protesting now must have something else driving them. They’re simply ignoring the difference between the borrowing before 2008 and the borrowing we’re going to see over the next few years.

  33. To put it in simple terms, the Democrats are shocked the country is revolting over big spending even though the country threw the Republicans out primarily for the sin of running up the deficit.

    No. Full stop. There was something else going on in 2006 that was damned unpopular. You know, the thing you like to mock Obama for continuing.

    You’re right though, in saying that most people are not political. But you then try to have your cake and eat it too when you say that despite not being political, they’re viscerally concerned with the federal deficit. I repeat: the people protesting at the town halls are by and large concerned with losing out on *their* federal money, not with long-term projections of economic doom. Coupled with Palin’s “death panel” idiocy (albeit useful idiocy) this is what’s driving the people to protest.

    If you seriously think the people love limited government but those durned politicians refuse to give it to them, you haven’t been paying attention the last 80 years. True, there have been brief spurts of limited govt popularity, most recently in the mid-late 90s, but these only crop up during economic good times. You’re certainly not seeing it now.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to apologize for Obama, but deluding ourselves about what the American people want isn’t helping anyone.

  34. the people protesting at the town halls are by and large concerned with losing out on *their* federal money

    Yeah, taxes go up to pay for more government intervention.

    And yes, they defend the smaller programs against something bigger. Do they realize both are unsustainable? Do they realize neither are strictly Constitutional? Do they understand that once it’s passed it’s not going away, because bread and circuses become an expectation?

    Some do, some don’t, but in aggregate I have no idea how it splits. Again, the tea parties which preceeded this indicate somebody’s actually aware of the problem with tax-and-spend Democrats.

  35. tkwelge

    I’m not defending Bush at all. After all, he was the one who got the ball rolling with TARP.

    True enough and I won’t defend Bush either. But if the TARP deficit puts the final nail in the Obamacare and Carbon Tax coffins, I’m going to have thank Bush for his unintended benevolence.

    It is possible to eventually pay off debt, even staggering loads of it. But it is impossible to pay off beyond-your-means spending each and every single year, on programs that will never ever ever go away. Which is what Obamacare will be.

    The Carbon Tax might hurt today if it passed, but I suspect it won’t hurt too much before the political motivations to damp it down become overwhelming. Though it would probably still become a little sandbox for congress to piss away some fraction of American productivity, for ever and ever amen. Better that it never sees the light of day.

    Tulpa,

    but deluding ourselves about what the American people want isn’t helping anyone.

    Sure enough. About half of them are Big Government Democracts of various flavors. The other half is a rudderless mongrel mix with its own dose of Big Government-ism. The only real disagreement in the American majority, is just which parts of government should be made just how big. But this is a democracy so in the long run we compromise and give everybody the chance to make their preferred part big, to something approximating their preference.

    The American people have been split roughly down the middle since, oh, maybe the time of the American Revolution. I seem to remember there being a Civil War thing happening one time when people got really serious about disagreeing.

  36. http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/downchart_gs.php?year=1970_2010&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=fy10&chart=H0-fed&stack=1&size=l&title=US%20Federal%20Debt%20As%20Percent%20Of%20GDP&state=US&col=c

    Okay, so i was wrong, the debt didn’t shrink as a percentage of GDP during the Bush years, but look at the increase over Bush’s entire presidency (up to tarp) and the increase projected for 2009-20010. WHen Bush was inaugurated, the debt was 57% of GDP. In 2007, it was 65%. By 2008, with tarp, debt as a percentage of GDP was 70% and by 2010 the debt is projected to be 98% of GDP. That is something that has never happened.

  37. Well, okay as a percentage of GDP debt was over 100% during WW2. But that was over a short period of time. Nobody has any idea when we’ll even be able to start reducing the debts growth to a comfortable level, let alone reducing the debt itself.

  38. People who are claiming that conservatives and libertarians are two faced for not having tea parties under Bush are sorta missing the big picture.

  39. Good article, Welch.

  40. Quite true, tkwelge. I think there were no tea parties under Bush, because social networking wasn’t as big back then. Plenty of conservative talk show hosts railled against Bush’s statists policies.

  41. Rush Limbaugh even had an entire day dedicated to criticizing Bush’s prescription drug plan.

  42. And under Bush no minarchist was saying spending all that was a good thing, yet statists call protesting even-greater spending hypocritical, because they have no argument beside authoritarianism (government by experts is for your own good!).

  43. I’m not defending Bush at all. After all, he was the one who got the ball rolling with TARP.

    That would be the TARP that McCain and Obama took time out from campaigning to go to DC and twist arms to supoort, right?

    The same TARP that Democrats in the house voted 242 – 10 to pass (3 NV)? The one that house GOPers voted 156 – 10 to reject (4 NV)?

    Yeah, it was too goddam little and too fucking late for the Republicans to act fiscally responsible but make no mistake about it, TARP was a Bush/Dem accomplishment.*

    * Fiasco seems more appropriate.

  44. Please don’t link to NY Post articles. The more you support Murdoch’s media company, the more you sound like a Bill O’Reilly “THINGS ARE DIFFERENT THAN THEY WERE 30 YEARS AGO AND I’M ANGRY/SCARED” Republican. The Post is one of the many reasons people associate fiscal conservatism with crazy assholes.

    There’s nothing wrong with the article itself, but it’s the fruit of a poisonous tree.

  45. I heard Fox news is evil and CNN and MSNBC shit sunshine and uncorns. Is this true?

  46. Rachel Maddow > Faux News,bleach blonde,silicone-stuffed, Godbot whores.

  47. I dunno, I think Bush not vetoing it was a brilliant political move, and probably fomented dissatisfaction with it (not that it was the right thing to allow to pass). Socialists don’t want to blame him immediately for something that they push so hard and are taking the blame for. It’s rather delicious, but only to a similar extent to that of Afganistan suddenly being a righteous war when directed by The Right People.

  48. So why didn’t you racist Rethuglicans bring your small-penis compensating guns to your anti-Bush spending Teabagger parties….Oh wait,cause you didn’t HAVE any! It’s OK for a White man to recklessly spend to kill brown people but now there is something wrong with investing in our children’s future

  49. Reality: The argue-with-your-imaginary-friend door is thataway.

  50. You really need to bone up on your trolling, reading skills, understanding of this site (see reading skills, and understanding of the ellipsis.

    For the record I like pumpkin pie with whip cream. I also have one mean spatula.

  51. It’s OK for a White man to recklessly spend to kill brown people

    Only if it’s Chuck Norris, or an agent acting with his permission.

  52. I also have one mean spatula.

    They cost a dollar. Don’t take the abuse, dude.

  53. Sounds like “Reality” doesn’t partake of reality.

  54. I don’t know why this is so hard for liberals to understand. Most people are not that political.

    You have to understand that from their perspective, everything is, or should be, political. In their ideal society, the distribution of resources would be determined by a democratic political process, not the market. They want everyone to be involved in a communal decision making process about the distrubion of those resources and the organization of society. Consequently, being “political” is a sort of moral duty. Not participating the political process is like being in a commune and not showing up for the weekly house meetings.

    Also, they seem to think that everyone wants to “belong” to some kind of communal social group, and regard individualism as some kind of pathological condition brought about by excessive commercialism. it hasn’t occured to them that some people (normal, sane, healthy people), just aren’t joiners and are naturally asocial.

  55. You must be referring to socialists, Hazel. Or some other equally appropriate word, but not “liberals”; I would like to have that word back, thank you very much.

    What’s interesting is that I feel like buying one of the “IF YOU’RE NOT COMPLETELY APPALLED, YOU HAVEN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION” bumper stickers from those socialists who demanded you get involved in politics back in the early Bush years. Do I have to apologize to a socialist for not having the bumper sticker back then, or does he have to apologize to me for taking it off his car, now of all times?

  56. “liberal” is a word we’re never getting back, Mark… I’m sorry to say.

  57. I’d like the word back too. And I agree, I prefer to use “progressives”. But it was the word John originally used, so I went with it.

  58. “If they really wanted to not vote for big government, they should have voted as to result in divided government.” – JT

    Sigh.

    Not my fault.

    I tried.

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