Conversation With a Liberal

Non-Liberal (NL): What business does the government have spending people’s money against their will? Not only the money of real people, but money from generations far into the future — wealth yet to be created, money yet to be earned — that will never be paid back anyway? By what means do you call this “paying our bills”? It’s not even real money! It’s simply politically-created debt. Raising the federal debt ceiling without cutting spending only perpetuates the illusion and deceit.

Liberal (L): That’s conservative hogwash. That’s George W. Bush’s policy.

NL: But Bush did the same thing — only for billions, not trillions. He and his Republican Congress raised the debt limit repeatedly. They spent like Democrats used to spend, before Obama.

L: No, Bush was different. Don’t argue with me about it; he just was, that’s all.

Liberalism is concerned with the right of the individual. Liberalism is sensitive. Liberalism is inclusive, pro-freedom, and truly right.

NL: Rights of the individual? Which individuals?

L: The right of the individual to live his life comfortably, without worry over health care, food or shelter.

NL: But what about the individuals who are to provide this for those other individuals? Somebody pays for it, and somebody makes it happen. Do the people who finance these things, and the service providers — doctors, for example — have any say in it?

L: Of course. They can lobby in Washington D.C. That’s our democratic process. Majority rule, minority input.

NL: But they don’t have a say in whether or not they have to provide these things for other people? Government isn’t providing the health care, the food, or the shelter. Other people are. Government is forcing those other people to do so. By what right do you justify government doing this?

L: Well, nobody has ever asked that question. That’s a question from the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Those issues were settled a long time ago. We have the income tax and we have Social Security, Medicare. These things go back decades or even a century. Nobody questions those. Are you crazy? That’s like questioning God.

NL: Does the fact that they’re old ideas or policies make them automatically right? The Constitution, which does not provide for any of these things, is even older. If age is the standard of truth, then doesn’t the Constitution trump those programs?

L: The Constitution implicitly provided for these.

NL: No, the Constitution didn’t implicitly provide for anything. It was quite explicit in how it limited the powers of government, especially the federal government. It specifically provided for named powers, such as defense. But leaving that aside — what’s right is right, regardless of the Constitution, correct? The question here is what’s right.

L: That’s correct. And all Americans have a right to health care. All Americans have a right to a diverse and prosperous, comfortable existence. Nobody should be left behind in a society with so much wealth and comfort. It’s wrong!

NL: But in a free society nobody is stopping you from sharing everything you want. If you have millions or billions, you can give it all away — through foundations, or whatever. You can stand on your front lawn and simply hand it out. Or you can support, even go volunteer or work for, some billionaire who is giving it all away. Billionaires and other wealthy people do that even in our semi-socialized society. There’s no law, in a free society, against doing whatever you want for another person, so long as they let you.

L: That’s naive! That’s foolish! That’s country club Bush Republicanism.

NL: I don’t know what country clubs have to do with this. And I don’t know what Bush has to do with it. Bush was just another in a long line of mediocre, pro-welfare state presidents. Bush agreed with you; Bush agreed that the welfare state as we know it must be preserved. He even expanded Medicare by billions of dollars. He cut taxes a little, but only for the express purpose of generating more economic growth so that the government may spend more. No, Bush’s price tag wasn’t as high as Obama’