Sunday, December 26, 2010

Neocons: New Deal Conservatives

In this debate with Congressman Paul Ryan, David Brooks argues that the debate over the size of government is misguided; the central question should be the effect on character of the citizenry. For this reason, he is okay with FDR’s New Deal, but not LBJ’s Great Society. Social Security did not corrupt character the way welfare did.

Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, also distinguished himself from other conservatives in his arguments against the Welfare State. The criticism made by mainstream conservatives was the Welfare State was either inefficient, unconstitutional, or both. Kristol said, the welfare created dependency among its recipients. The perverse incentives had an immoral effect on the lives of the indigent.

Brooks ends his speech by saying all Conservatives want to turn back the clock; they just disagree about how far they want to go back. For example, Tea Partiers want to go back to the Founding. Claremonsters want to remove the Progressive Era (Founders + Lincoln alone). Brooks himself would draw the line at 1965.

For him, what matters is not the color of your skin, nor the size of the government, but the content of your character.

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