THE ISSUE THAT’S KILLING THE LEFT

Rasmussen Reports has come out with a fascinating poll that goes a long way towards explaining why not only liberals are doing so badly, but the left in general, the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. Here’s what the poll found:

Liberals are afraid to criticize big government because they think it makes them sound like Republicans. In fact, the idea of devolution — having government carried out at the lowest practical level — dates back at least to that good Democrat, Thomas Jefferson. Even FDR managed to fight the depression with a staff smaller than Hillary Clinton’s and World War II with one smaller than Al Gore’s. Conservative columnist William Safire admitted that “in a general sense, devolution is a synonym for ‘power sharing,’ a movement that grew popular in the sixties and seventies as charges of ‘bureaucracy’ were often leveled at centralized authority.” In other words, devolution used to be in the left’s bag.

 

The modern liberals’ embrace of centralized authority makes them vulnerable to the charge that their politics is one of intentions rather than results — symbolized by huge agencies like the Department of Housing & Urban Development that fail miserably to produce policies worthy of their name.

 

Still stuck back in the states’ rights controversy over integration, liberals fail to see how often states and localities move ahead of the federal government. Think, for example, of where gays would be if there were no local laws to help them.

 

As late as 1992, the one hundred largest localities in America pursued an estimated 1,700 environmental crime prosecutions, more than twice the number of such cases brought by the federal government in the previous decade. As Washington was vainly struggling to get a handle on the tobacco industry, 750 communities passed indoor no-smoking laws. And, more recently, we have had the local drive towards relaxing anti-marijuana laws and the major local and state outcry against the Real ID act.

Conservatives, on the other hand, often confuse the devolution of government with its destruction. Thus while the liberals are underachieving, the conservatives are undermining.

 

The question must be repeatedly asked of new and present policies: how can these programs be brought close to the supposed beneficiaries, the citizens?  And how can government money go where it’s supposed to go?

 

Because such questions are not asked often enough, we find huge disparities in the effectiveness of federal programs. For example, both Social Security and Medicare work well with little overhead. In such programs, the government serves primarily as a redistribution center for tax revenues.

 

On the other hand, an environmentalist who ran a weatherization program once told me that she figured it cost $30,000 in federal and local overhead for each $1600 in weather-proofing provided a low income home.

 

A study of Milwaukee County in 1988 found government agencies spending more than $1 billion annually on fighting poverty. If this money had been given in cash to the poor, it would have meant more than $33,000 for each low income family — well above the poverty level.

WIKI ON: SUBSIDIARITY – Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. . .  Subsidiarity is, ideally or in principle, one of the features of federalism, where it asserts the rights of the parts over the whole.

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