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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 29, 2007

 
Liberal Error

by digby

Atrios brings newbies up to speed about why it's such a stupid idea to bring the fake "social security crisis" back into the political dialog and also links to a Matt Yglesias post about the "whole mountain of stupid" Villagers like Joe Klein forced us to climb when Bush decided his tiny 04 mandate meant he could destroy the nation's most successful program.

One of the problems with Klein (who has admittedly become ever so slightly less reflexively Villager in recent months) is that his views were so long considered to be the epitome of those of a sensible liberal. This had the unfortunate effect of making average citizens naturally loathe and despise liberals while at the same time marginalizing actual liberals as being beyond the pale even though they are at least as large a constituency as the social conservatives who are worshipped and embraced as Real Americans among the village elders. It remains a serious problem for Democrats who have to tip-toe around these false designations to reach out to their own voters without getting the whole village lynch mob running after them with bar-b-que forks and sharpened swizzle sticks.

And on social security, the "liberals" like Klein were at their absolute worst, spouting gibberish that it had to be "fixed" for reasons that gave any sane person a headache:

Government was, and very much still remains, the last of our major institutions that stuck in the Industrial Age, where the paradigm is top-down, centralized command and control, assembly line, standardization, and one size fits all.

In the Information Age, Clinton knew that the paradigm was the computer, that the government had to be more decentralized, that bureaucracies had to become more flexible, and that our social safety net had to reflect that--the fact that people had more information and have to have more choices about where they get their health care, where their money for their retirement is held, and so on.


I wrote this
about Klein's gibberish at the time:

The government has to be more like a computer. Bureaucracies have to be more flexible and our social safety net has to reflect that because people have more information so they have to have more choices about where they get their health care and where they put their retirement money. Huh?

I can't find anywhere where Klein actually explains why we need to have all these choices about our safety net or why having more information compels it. Indeed, as Josh Marshall pointed out earlier, it is counterintuitive. In a world in which people are asked to take many more chances in their careers, where pensions really are a relic of the past, where health care can be yanked from beneath you in a moments notice, it seems to me that government guarantees of basic security are more important than ever.

Klein's DLC catechism has all the markings of someone who jumped on a sexy trend when he was younger and hasn't realized the fashion has changed. There is no there there. He's like one of those e-venture capitalists of the late 90's spewing fast talking bullshit about "new organizational paradigms where knowledge is defined in terms of potential for action as distinguished from information and its more intimate link with performance." In other words, gibberish.

It was fashionable for one brief period to think that turning government into a collection of kewl, outsourced, totally, like, stand alone pods of individualized data collection and service modules, but most people sobered up sometime in early 2000. It was always crap.
.


There is no crisis. That's not just a slogan. Even with Bush spending like a drunken sailor we're still good until 2047. Bringing this into the conversation now for any reason is a big mistake especially when we've got a real impending crisis on our hands with medicare, which can only be cured with comprehensive health care reform. (And if you want to talk about a financial crisis, there's the billion a week we're tossing down the rabbit hole in Iraq.) Social Security as an issue helps nobody but Republicans and their enablers like Joe Klein who want to persuade people that modern life requires that they constantly put absolutely everything they have in the world on a roulette wheel called "the market." I understand why wall street types want to get their mitts on a piece of that action but I don't understand why why anyone who calls himself liberal would think it's a good idea.


*And yes, I understand that Obama was not endorsing anything particularly radical --- but after all we went through to finally get it off the agenda, seeing a Democrat putting the issue back in play is just depressing.


.

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