November 10, 2010

Jim Demented

You canít be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.

So says Jim DeMint in his latest poorly thought-out public pronouncement. It takes a special kind of arrogance, ignorance, and outright stupidity for a Senator to find a way to offend so many potential allies at once.

Americans on both sides of the political center are coming to the inevitable conclusion that our nation's current spending habits are unsustainable. There is recognition, even in the most socialist of enclaves, that government spending and growth must be curtained, else the entire nation fall.

In such an environment, a conscientious Senator that imagines himself a leader of men should have the common sense to build a coalition of as many allies as possible in order to affect the fiscal agenda so important to this Republic's viability.

But Jim DeMint isn't conscientious, or a leader of men, or, apparently, blessed with common sense.

He has now potentially damaged relations with fiscally conservative libertarians, gays, agnostics, non-Christians, and Christians like myself that are opposed to forcing our religious beliefs onto others. The Tea Party attracts people from all walks of life that simply want to be left alone. Jim DeMint reveals that he represents nothing more or less than another would-be elite, just one cut out of a slightly different cloth.

The fiscal conservatives of the Tea Party and their allies can have a major impact on this Republic, but only if they keep narrowly focused on the all-important work of fiscal reform. If any of the more traditional and fragmented groups and agendas manage to hijack the movement, then the Tea Party will lose the essential wide base of support that is needed to force both parties to reform.

We don't need you, Jim DeMint, and we don't want you telling us what we are, or what should become. Lord knows, we have enough of that coming out of Washington already.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 10, 2010 02:37 PM

Well, think about it. What are the two main "social conservative" issues: redefining marriage and abortion.

Redefining marriage -- or lessening the important of marriage -- has a major effect on the entitlement and welfare mentality of the culture. This has a major fiscal consequence in increasing the welfare state.

Now, abortion... when a culture does not believe in the sanctity of life, then it can then justify and define when life does not need to go on. Where does this rear its head? Healthcare. "Death Panels". Determining which life deserves government care and which doesn't based on a cost-benefit analysis.

So social issues are very much intertwined with fiscal issues. If we had a healthy social structure, our fiscal problems would not be as bad. But with the deterioration of the social structure in this nation, fiscal problems have become even worse.

You seem to think that the breakdown in the family structure (out of wedlock births, no father figure, etc), the pro-promiscuous sex culture and lack of belief in the sanctity of human life come without fiscal consequences to the society at large, and the only issues are high spending and high taxes. Well, WHY do we have high spending and taxes? A HUGE part of it is to pay for the welfare state. Well, what is the origin of the welfare state? Social/cultural breakdown.

Posted by: Michael in MI at November 10, 2010 02:55 PM

Most of the marriage issue you lay out is not a marriage issue but an entitlement issue. If no entitlements were available, not only would the incentive to be a single parent dramatically decrease, but the choice of whether to be a single parent, cohabiting parents, same-sex parents, married hetero parents; -- indigent or otherwise -- would be of far less fiscal consequence to the state.

There's a similar argument to be made regarding the illegal immigration/migrant labor problem. Most of what are described as immigration/migrant problems are actually entitlement problems. Eliminate entitlements for all, and most elements of the immigration/migrant complaint disappear.

As for abortion, we can have reasonable arguments all day long about the moral concept of when life begins, but as far as the law is concerned, life begins when the IRS says it does, at the point of live birth.

Given the myriad circumstances that surround the period between conception and birth, I'd much rather a mother rely on her faith, her doctor and her family to guide the decisions regarding a pregnancy, than to have government attempt to make that decision through a one-size-fits-all law.

To paraphrase a well-known caution, a government with the power to prevent an abortion is a government powerful enough to mandate an abortion. With that in mind, is control over abortion a prerogative that you really want to delegate to the government?

As for making the leap to death panels, we're back to talking about an entitlement problem. If there's no healthcare entitlement, there's no opportunity for the government to deny care.

Posted by: Junk Science Skeptic at November 10, 2010 04:10 PM

Forgot to add:

With all that said, DeMint is a moron. Between him and Goober Graham, there must be something in the water in SC.

Posted by: Junk Science Skeptic at November 10, 2010 04:13 PM

Most of the marriage issue you lay out is not a marriage issue but an entitlement issue. If no entitlements were available, not only would the incentive to be a single parent dramatically decrease, but the choice of whether to be a single parent, cohabiting parents, same-sex parents, married hetero parents; -- indigent or otherwise -- would be of far less fiscal consequence to the state.

Are you saying that if we took away incentives for married couples, that the fiscal consequence to the State would decrease? I don't see that happening. The fiscal incentive to get married is a benefit for our society. It gives incentive to raising intact families where children have both a father and mother. Take that incentive away, and we're still left with our current problem (promiscuous sex, out-of-wedlock births, children without fathers, etc), only worse.

Unless you are suggesting, in addition to taking away the marriage incentive, to take away the welfare state (where mothers are given handouts from the government simply for having children).

Take away the parachute and less people are willing to jump out of the plane. And, in this case, the government wouldn't be denying anyone having sex, they simply would not be subsidizing their irresponsible sex lives.

I still say, though, that this fiscal issue of the welfare state is based on a breakdown of social issues. The lack of focus on the importance of marriage and stable families has led to the growth of the welfare state. Sure we can just get rid of the handouts and that takes care of the fiscal issue of taxpayer money subsidizing bad behavior, but why not just focus on the issue of the bad behavior? That's the "social conservative" issue here.

You can take away the welfare state handouts, but that won't fix the bad behavior. But you fix the bad behavior and the welfare state will then take care of itself, as we'll have less people dependent on it.

Posted by: Michael in MI at November 10, 2010 04:43 PM

The tea parties are self-organized anarchist bands, in the best sense of the term.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at November 10, 2010 07:38 PM

Actually, I wasn't bringing up the fiscal incentives to marry at all, just the welfare side entitlements.

The marriage incentives in the tax code could arguably be considered an entitlement, but their net cost is minuscule compared to the welfare entitlements.

I do agree that the incentives for married couples are a benefit to society, even though I don't think it's an appropriate role for government to offer those incentives. I'm not advocating the elimination of the existing marriage incentives, I just think it creates a slippery slope.

Where you've lost me is that you acknowledge that incentives encourage the perceived good behavior of marriage, but you insist that taking away the welfare incentive won't reduce ("fix") the bad behavior.

Setting aside the debate of whether government should be offering incentives on either side, it's a pretty simple concept, incentivize the behaviors you do want, don't incentivize the behaviors you don't want. It's basic human nature.

I forget whether it was Franklin or Jefferson who observed during the course of traveling through Europe, that the communities that made it "easy" for poor people, had more poor people and a lower standard of living than the communities that made it "difficult" for poor people.

That was 250 years ago. That was still the case 60 years ago when government welfare was more difficult to obtain. The "Great Society" made it easy to get welfare, especially for single mothers. Indigent households that would have otherwise had two married parents were suddenly incentivized to be fatherless homes. Is it any surprise why this bad behavior grew?

Posted by: Junk Science Skeptic at November 10, 2010 08:18 PM

I never have liked him. The Religious Right is desperately trying to coopt the Tea Party movement but cannot.
They shot their wad in 2004 which was the high water mark for that movement. It's never going to have that kind of power again.
We don't want it. We don't need it. It won't happen.
Thanks for posting this.

Posted by: Gary Foster at November 11, 2010 11:26 AM

So are social liberals known for economic conservatism? Everything about social liberalism screams "make other people pay for invented rights and imagined wrongs!" Tell me a socially liberal cause that you support that doesn't slap the values that were common in this country for 200 years in the face.

Are homosexuals the constituency that someone thinks will flee the tea party movement if it becomes too social-con? Sure would hate to lose that 1/2 of 1% that aren't libs. Let's just sell our souls to them, and maybe also to the 3% that are Jewish while we are at it.

Posted by: Smarty at November 13, 2010 07:47 PM

Pardon me, but my impression when I pay taxes is that as far as Federal income taxes go, I pay a marriage PENALTY rather than receive an incentive. The partner who has a lower income ends up paying taxes at the rate of the higher paid partner, which makes it a penalty, not an incentive.

I agree that it's an entitlement issue. Government should be involved in as few issues as possible. They tend to screw everything up.

Posted by: Dave Navarre at November 13, 2010 10:10 PM