Dan Popp
A poverty of principles: Paul Ryan's plan to save socialism
By Dan Popp
July 29, 2014

Were I to attempt to sum up what socialism is, I would say that it was simply a new system of serfdom. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Congressman Paul Ryan is a finely etched example of intellect unbounded by principle. As you may remember, his 2012 Republican Vice Presidential campaign was based on his plan to save Social Security – a Democrat redistribution and vote-buying scheme that has ravaged our country for generations. Now Ryan has another plan – a plan to make looting more businesslike; to supplant the church and the family more gently; to fix the inherent flaws of socialism with...more socialism.

The problem with organized crime, he thinks, is that it's not very organized.

Ryan's proposal, "Expanding Opportunity in America," seems to respond to the question, How can we make Marxism a little less malevolent? Surely if we down enough Red Bull and fill up our whiteboard with out-of-the-box ideas, we can solve this thing. OK, everybody, now think: How can we make the biggest scourge of the human race, the most murderous and oppressive political idea in all of history, slightly less hellish?


Ryan's agenda is supposed to "make federal aid more accountable and more effective." But who said there should be "federal aid?" Not the Founders. Certainly not the Bible. Ryan and other leftists assume that everyone accepts their premise of charity-at-gunpoint. I don't. As I've said before, federal almsgiving should not be done (it's immoral), may not be done (it's illegal) and cannot be done (it's impossible). If you wish, you can read those arguments here, here, here, here and here.

Mr. Ryan regurgitates one of the pet projects of faux conservatives: Block grants. If you don't think about block grants very hard, they have a vaguely federalist appeal. But it's the same old socialist shell game, only with larger shells. If it's wrong for government to rob Mindy to give to Marty, then it's wrong to plunder Missouri for the benefit of Montana.

The root question is this: Does someone else have a right to what I earn? If not, then no amount of shell shuffling will hide the fact that this is, in essence, slavery.

Ryan doesn't want to repeal the 16th Amendment and cut the problem at the root. No, he envisions a fresh new pattern for the deck chairs.

The Congressman thinks Americans don't save enough. But his solution isn't to let interest rates float to market levels and to stop taxing interest. Oh, no. That wouldn't leave enough room for micromanagement by your Favorite Crazy Uncle. Listen to politicians speak – any solution that doesn't involve central command is not considered a potential solution.

Ryan has all sorts of manipulations planned for Education. These would be wonderful, I'm sure, if the federal government had any legitimate role in education.

Federal job training programs have been a giant black hole into which money goes in, but no long-term improvements come out. Ryan's solution? Block grants.

This is my "shocked" face.

Then the Congressman turns his massive melon to ponder the problems of the Criminal Justice System. He doesn't like "rigid and excessive mandatory sentences" for some crimes. But in whose eyes are they "excessive?" Why do we have mandatory minimum sentences? We have them, in part, because the people of the United States rose up and demanded them. We were sick of bleeding-heart judges releasing criminals with a "slap on the wrist." The disproportional sentences for crack cocaine, which Ryan bewails, were implemented at the insistence of black communities being devastated by this powerfully addictive drug.

It's funny how activists for "democracy" seldom want to acquiesce to the will of the majority.

Congressman Ryan then scans the smoldering American economic landscape and proposes "regulatory reform" – but only for those regulations that unduly burden low-income constituents. I'm not sure what part of the Constitution allows legislators to delegate their legislating authority to bureaucrats at all; but I don't see how equal justice before the law can be preserved when leftists target "reforms" for the benefit of certain groups.

But justice and lawfulness and righteousness aren't really the goals, are they? The goal is simply to keep the vote-buying machine running for a few more years. Then it will be someone else's problem. Perhaps some future Congressman in the mold of Paul Ryan will step forward with a bold and audacious proposal for More Of The Same.

Here's my counter-proposal. It has four advantages over the Ryan plan: (1) it's simple, (2) it's moral, (3) it's legal, and (4) it works. The plan is this: Get government out of all its make-believe mercy ministries. Our primary institution of justice must stop trying to "help" various groups, and instead do its real job of protecting everyone's lives and property.

Block grants mean you're over-taxing somebody. And of course they're unconstitutional.

The national government has no authority to intervene in education. Period – full stop.

If you want to reduce the number of criminals in jail (here's an idea for the whiteboard!), reduce crime. We know how to reduce crime: Make punishment swift and certain. No parole. Fewer appeals. Eliminate the "three strikes" rule. Don't soften the consequences of wrongdoing; toughen them.

As with crime, the recipe for reducing poverty is no deep mystery. Just do the things that were being done when poverty was declining dramatically in America. What things? Nothing, as far as government was concerned. Government's efforts to "end poverty" in the 60's actually ended the decline of poverty.

He who sits in the heavens laughs.

And one more thing – perhaps the best idea of all: Automatic impeachment for any public official that proposes an unconstitutional measure.

Families, communities and churches provide charity and education. The cords of kinship and caring woven without coercion form the real "social safety net." Government programs grow government and corrode these institutions of real human relief.

Where is the conservative leader who will point the way out of our Marxist morass, instead of promising to put a new coat of mire on it?

© Dan Popp


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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