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The Liberal Conspiracy To Increase Goverment

— The conservative movement has developed a voice that's far less strident than Rush Limbaugh, and it's Washington Post/Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson. I've cited him before in this blog on subjects like funding for high-speed rail.

Samuelson's message is fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism. He considers high-speed rail to be a government boondoggle. His latest column, entitled How Government Has Become Suicidal, was reprinted in the Orange County Register and the San Diego Union Tribune. His view is that people want entitlements but they don't want to pay for them.

But the thing that caught my eye was his reference to "action intellectuals" in a paraphrase of a political scientist named James Q. Wilson.

"What has abetted this political sprawl, notes Wilson, is the rising influence of "action intellectuals" -- professors, pundits, "experts" -- who provide respectable rationales for various political agendas," Samuelson wrote.

Is this the vast left-wing political conspiracy? Ideologues on the left and the right like to accuse the other of insidious propaganda. Liberals do it by pointing to conservative think tanks, funded by God-knows-who, that promote their agenda and make it look respectable. Now we have the action intellectuals spouting views that encourage government spending and what Samuelson calls "government sprawl."

Look for that phrase more as the debate over government spending continues.

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Avatar for user 'Hopsong'

Hopsong | April 24, 2011 at 8:33 a.m. ― 5 years, 9 months ago

Samuelson divides programs into 2 categories: Big Programs defended by the general population (Social Security, mortgage interest deduction, and I would add Defense) and Small Programs defended by fanatics who point out the small cost in relation to the overall size of the budget (AMTRAC, ethanol, and cultural subsidies--presumably like PBS/NPR). I think the latter are are the "action intellectuals" to which you refer.

I have an alternate catagorization: Good Programs and Wasteful Programs. In the first category I would put Medicare (as reformed by the Affordable Health Care Act), AMTRAC (trains are efficient and need subsidies just like roads), and PBS/NPR (best kids shows on TV and best news on the radio). Wasteful Programs include High Speed Rail (trains to nowhere that were cut in the recent budget compromise) and ethanol (under fire form both sides of the spectrum). The reason these wasteful programs are being cut is action pragmatism. That is the phrase I think we should be hearing more of.

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