Is Real Reform Possible?

The McCain-Palin campaign is presenting itself as a reform ticket and the country is responding with increasing support.  Some polls have them moving into a double digit lead over Obama.  We have heard promises of reform before, but for the first time in living memory there is a real possibility it will be attempted.  The question is whether or not reform is possible.

Any meaningful, lasting reform would involve major changes in Americans expectations from government.  It would mean at least a partial return to constitutional government, which we have not had for several generations.  Socialist programs that have been implemented since the Great Depression would have to be rolled back and the federal government’s involvement in extra-constitutional areas would have to be severely curtailed.

Both McCain and Palin have expressed the desire to end “earmarks” and pork barrel spending. That’s a good start, but they are kind of a “gimmie” for most Americans and do not address our fundamental problems.  Real reform needs to take place in those areas the public has come to enjoy and expect, but which, sooner or later, will result in our collapse as a free nation.

For example, there is no constitutional authority for the federal government’s involvement in education or health care.  Yet, these two issues are near the top of the list for most Americans who are demanding the government “do something”.  The responsibility for these programs, if approved by the voters, belongs to the individual states not the federal government.  The principle of limited government with enumerated powers is the fundamental principle of our form of government.  We have been moving away from this principle for the past hundred years, since the rise of the “progressive” movement.

Many if not most of the economic and energy problems we are facing today can be traced to a basic principle of socialism.  Sooner or later, socialism always fails.  What we are seeing today is the end result of socialist programs begun in the early part of the twentieth century.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are perfect examples.  They were begun in 1938 as quasi-governmental organizations for the purpose of helping homeowners recover from the Great Depression and provide financing for a depressed mortgage industry.

Since then they have grown to the point where they account for more than half of the twelve trillion dollar mortgage market.  For decades, “social engineering” has been one of Fannie and Freddie’s major functions.  Poor oversight by those responsible for its management, coupled with years of mismanagement and corruption, and sloppy regulation by Congress left it unable to cope with the soft housing market that normally follows an economic “bubble”.

The result is that taxpayers are now on the hook for billions if not trillions of dollars worth of bad loans.  An indication of just how far we have drifted from constitutional government is the extent to which so many otherwise conservatives see the nationalization of over half of the domestic mortgage market as a good thing.

It only took forty years for socialism to wreck our healthcare system.  The current healthcare “crisis” is the direct result of the federal government’s involvement in Medicare and Medicaid.  As with the mortgage market, when a socialist program fails, the proposed solution is usually to nationalize those parts of the economy affected.  Healthcare and energy will be the next ones scheduled for nationalization if we continue on the current path.

Unfortunately, John McCain also takes a “soft” socialistic approach to the problems of energy, healthcare, education, and the economy, only differing from the socialist/democrat agenda in degree and detail.  There is no way of knowing just how Sarah Palin views the Constitution.  In the past seventy-four years I have never heard a journalist or anyone else ask a politician to explain just how a proposal or bill fits within the Constitution.  While most politicians on both sides of the aisle give lip service to a reverence for the Constitution, their actions indicate that compliance with its limitations is seldom considered.

There is no doubt in my mind that John McCain and Sarah Palin represent the best chance in my lifetime for real government reform.  I would feel much more comfortable, however, if once in a while they would explain why certain proposals of Barack Obama are unconstitutional and why those proposed by them are not.

In addition, I cannot help but wondering how the American people would react if McCain and Palin suddenly started attempting to eliminate unconstitutional programs.   How would they react if the redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation was ended, or subsidies for social and economic engineering, or bureaucracies and their accompanying subsidies dealing with education, energy, housing, urban development, agriculture, etc. were cut back or terminated?

Has an educational system dominated by socialism for four generations so indoctrinated our citizenry in the socialist lifestyle that weaning them off it would be too difficult to succeed?  There is no effort to counter socialism as socialism because too few Americans recognize it, or feel its effects on their lives and future happiness.  The consequences of socialism are masked behind an unsustainable level of debt.

Socialist programs seem to endure for about four or five generations before they collapse from their own weight.  This has been the experience of the Soviet Union, Western Europe and our own ventures into socialism.  This is easily seen by examining the history of European healthcare systems, the labor market in France and our own Social Security, Medicare and mortgage financing systems, to name a few.

In spite of the inevitable failure of these systems, most Americans would resist ending or even shrinking them to any meaningful degree.  The outcome of the November election is meaningless if we continue to ignore the damage socialism has inflicted on our form of government and our way of life during the past century.

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