Personally, I am sick of all the gloom and doom heard in conservative circles of late: exploding government debt, the ever expanding welfare state, the ratchet effect, demographic decline, the impossibility of cutting back middle-class entitlements, yada, yada, yada. Yes all of those are big problems. Yes, all of those are very big problems. I agree.
But what the pessimists don’t see is that the glory days of conservatism are NOW. On precisely the issues enumerated above.
I know, I know. According to historical evidence, government spending will keep going up, middle-class entitlements will never stop and government debt will accumulate until the crack of doom. But as the economist Herb Stein once put it, “if something can’t go on forever, it will stop.”
And right now, we are at the point in history when it can’t go on. The welfare state first made its appearance in the late 19th century when Otto von Bismarck created old age pensions for German citizens. For a long time it was a great deal. But as entitlements expanded, longevity rose, retirement ages went down, the age when people entered the workforce went up, the family unit broke down and, most importantly, fertility went down, the system became unaffordable. Right now it is broke. Not only in North America but in Japan and the European Union as well (where things are far worse in this regard than here). So instead of grumbling about the triumph of socialism, conservatives should be realizing that we are at a pivot point in history.
In a crisis, things that used to be impossible become not just possible but inevitable. When it is all sorted out we will have private, defined-contribution pension plans (as they do in Chile), government budgets will be balanced, middle-class entitlements will be chopped and people will be relying much more on their family and themselves. The latter will mean that the family unit - which suffered so much damage in the 60’s with the adoption of the New Morality - will begin to heal itself.
Will this transition be a good time? No. Especially for our elected officials - regardless of party.
But we must remember that the time Winston Churchill correctly called Britain’s Finest Hour wasn’t all that fine for Britons at the time. It was, properly speaking, terrifying - with almost all of continental Europe under the grasp of totalitarianism. Nazi Germany had just destroyed France in less than a month - a nation that was able to field over 100 divisions on the first day of the war! And when Churchill was giving his speech, Nazi Germany was right across the channel, bombing London every day. But it was still Britain’s finest hour.
In the same way, this will be conservatism’s finest hour. And like Great Britain, we will win. Entitlements will be privatized, deficits will be tamed, debts will be paid off, people will become self reliant, the family unit will be repaired, and - as a result of the latter development - the fertility rate will climb to replacement rate and beyond.
So buck up, and get ready for the scary ride to victory!