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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

GOP: Do You Realize What You've Done?

Dear Republican Members of Congress,

I seriously doubt that any one of you really understands what you have just done:

Senate Republicans, short of votes, abandoned their latest and possibly final attempt to kill the health care law Tuesday, just ahead of a critical end-of-the-week deadline. The repeal-and-replace bill’s authors promised to try again at a later date, while President Donald Trump railed against “certain so-called Republicans” who opposed the GOP effort. But for now, Trump and fellow Republicans who vowed for seven years to abolish President Barack Obama’s law will leave it standing
I also seriously doubt that any one of you care to listen to the following, but I will say it anyway. If not for you, this is for the tens of millions of voters around the country that you have now served a monumental portion of hot air.

I struggle to find a comparison to what you have just done, a comparison that will make sense to you. Your failure to repeal and replace Obamacare - a promise you have won four straight elections on - is the biggest leap in half a century away from the values, the principles and the intentions that constituted the foundation of our country. We have to reach all the way back to President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty to find a Republican defeat of similar magnitude.

In fact, the War on Poverty and the victory of Obamacare mark two parentheses on a period when egalitarianism was fighting conservatism for the right to define our country. It took 53 years, from President Johnson's State of the Union Speech in January 1964 to the failure of Graham-Cassidy in September 2017, but eventually, the egalitarians won. 

You, dear Republicans on Capitol Hill, made that happen. You ended the fight by staying in the locker room for the final quarter of the game. In conceding to Obamacare, you have now, beyond a shred of a doubt, proven that once a federal, egalitarian entitlement program is in place, it will never again be repealed. 

That is why your failure is of such historic importance. You have elevated the welfare state beyond the reach of legislation. You have replaced our Constitution with the ideology that dictates economic redistribution as government's foremost duty. 

Fortunately, there is still a glimmer of hope. We can still fight for conservatism, economic freedom and prosperity at the state level. But time is running out here, as well. We Wyomingites have until November next year to determine what kind of state we want to live in: 

a welfare state defined by European egalitarianism

or 

a bastion of freedom, self determination and prosperity
founded on the American legacy. 

Even if our state lawmakers decide to use the 2018 session to raise taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, we still have next year's election to advance fiscal conservatism.

If we do so successfully, there is still hope. If we don't, then we will reduce our politics to redrafting the cocktail menu on the Titanic. 

Yes, that is how high the stakes are.

I am not an alarmist. I am speaking out of experience. I grew up in the world's most expansive welfare state. I grew up in the country that stood as a role model to the architects of America's egalitarian project. 

For the first 34 years of my life I lived in Sweden, the America that the Republicans in Congress have now rolled out the carpet for. 

In my new book, The Rise of Big Government: How Egalitarianism Conquered America, I trace the Swedish ideological roots of the American welfare state. The originators of modern "democratic" socialism, a Swedish economist by the name Gunnar Myrdal and his wife, sociologist Alva Myrdal, explained already in 1934 how to completely remake a country from the ground up, in the image of egalitarianism and socialist economic principles. They explained how it could be done without the need for a violent revolution - yet from an ideological viewpoint the end result would be almost the same. 

The death of self determination - and universal dependency on government to make ends meet.

The death of prosperity - and the government takeover of most of the economy.

The end of opportunity - and the formation, by the hands of government, of our children's future.

The demotion of life to a budgetary cost item. 

All of this is reality. All of this happened in Sweden. As I explain in my book, once the egalitarians got started, it took them less than 20 years to defeat conservatism and to replace traditional Western values with the principles of the state. In less than one generation, socialists in Sweden turned the individual into a taxpaying entity, whose role in the family was reduced to provision of food and shelter for the kids. Everything else was taken care of by government.

The very same ideals, the very same values and ideological ambitions, were put to work here in the United States with the War on Poverty. While it has taken longer for egalitarians to win here, the end result is going to be no less disastrous. 

I am not exaggerating. I lived through all of this. I grew up in its midst, I went to its schools and I experienced its socialized health care first hand. 

Speaking of health care, in my book I spend an entire chapter explaining how egalitarianism takes your right to your life away from you - literally. By means of single-payer health care, for which there are no longer any road blocks in Congress, it is entirely up to government whether or not you will be given treatment at any point in your life. 

If the treatment costs more than you can be expected to contribute in taxes for the remainder of your life, then government will refuse to provide the care you need. 

The demotion of life to a budgetary cost item is the most powerful transformation mechanism in the egalitarian tool box. When people are at the mercy of government for their own very survival, they will gradually replace their desire for self determination with gratitude and gratefulness toward the government that allows them to live. 

Even in less drastic settings, socialized medicine will turn independent-minded people into supporters of the egalitarian cause. When a person has been forced to wait for ten, twelve, fourteen months for knee replacement, and in the meantime been crippled to the point where not even crutches help, the day when the operation happens will be all the more joyful. And filled with praise for the government that finally ended your pain and gave you a new lease on life. 

When taxes take half of your earnings, and there is no chance you could ever afford to send your kids to the college of your choice, a grant or a loan from government will turn you into a passionate egalitarian. When government takes half of the last dollar you earned, and you barely even make median income, you will thank government for sending you bread crumbs in the form of a housing cost subsidy or a child allowance check (instead of a child tax credit, which lets you keep your own money). 

When high taxes prohibit savings and force both you and your spouse to work full time; when you cannot afford to stay home with your children when they are small; you will thank government for providing paid family leave as a replacement for self determination. Not to mention how happy you will be to have access to tax-paid, universal child care, courtesy of the federal government.

Unrealistic? Won't happen here? Yes, it will. President Trump has already opened the door for a federal paid family leave program. Republicans in Congress, allowing Obamacare to stand, have moved us within a few legislative inches of single-payer health care.

With single-payer and paid family leave, we are only one entitlement program away from completing the standard, egalitarian welfare state. That last program is universal child care. 

After the final victory of Obamacare, if paid family leave passes Congress we can expect single-payer health care and federal, universal child care in the 2020-2024 presidential term.

If Republicans had repealed and replaced Obamacare, they would have shown that the egalitarian welfare state is not inevitable. Now, they have proven that it is. 

In doing so, they have also sentenced our children to a life less prosperous than ours. They have immortalized economic stagnation. They have made impossible any growth-generating tax cuts at the federal level. They have saddled coming generations with a seven-percent extra tax burden just to pay for the debt that the federal government has built in order to construct, operate and expand the welfare state. 

We may not be able to do anything to turn the ship around at the federal level. But we can still save Wyoming. We can still implement reforms that shield us from the federal government's egalitarian ambitions. All we need to do is, in consecutive order:

1. Stop trying to raise taxes. I think this point is self-explanatory by now...

2. Focus on market-based reforms to education and health care. This is not the easy way, but easy is not the way to prosperity. Egalitarianism thrives when people choose the easy route through a legislative session. Freedom and prosperity, on the other hand, flourish when nurtured by the blood, sweat and tears of bravery, courage and hard work. 

3. Deregulate our entire state to a point where it is attractive to set up and run businesses here. A good rule of thumb is that a business loses 50 cents to regulations for every dollar it pays in taxes. That is an enormous loss of productive capital; imagine the growth we would open for if we, here in Wyoming, could just cut the cost of regulations in half.

4. Start reforms that will, eventually, concentrate government on its essential functions, namely law enforcement, fire and rescue, and infrastructure. In an egalitarian welfare state, government does nothing well. Not even law enforcement. In fact, when faced with its inevitable budget problems, many welfare-state governments choose to cut back on law enforcement in order to protect its entitlement programs. For example, Sweden has about half as many law enforcement officers per 100,000 residents as the United States - and by consequence they have a runaway violent-crime problem. Only a government focused on its essential functions will guarantee fully funded, well trained, responsible and productive law enforcement agencies.

5. Reinforce our state constitution to protect economic and individual freedom at all turns. I will leave the details here to constitutional experts; my only point is that when government can sprawl in all directions without running into an obvious constitutional wall, something is missing in the founding document of our state.

We can still save our state - provided we are willing to fight for it. 

The next 14 months will decide Wyoming's future. With no help from the federal government, we have to roll up our sleeves and get the job done here, where we live and where we want our kids to have a future.

This is about much more than tax hikes. It is about a choice between European egalitarianism and American freedom and prosperity. 

There is no room anymore for indifference. 

Where do you stand?

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