Tough Questions for Liberals

This is the first of three posts dealing with difficult questions regarding different political stances.  The second post will deal with tough questions for conservatives, and the third for libertarians (so everyone gets a chance to defend their own viewpoint).

Liberals, Progressives, Socialists, or whatever other term they use for themselves (or others use about them today) have a few key beliefs.

1. That government can solve many/all things.
2. That people are often not smart enough to resolve problems for themselves.
3. That creating government programs that help people is necessary and important for civilization to move forward

If there are other key beliefs, feel free to add them in the comments.  Here, I’m going to discuss these three concepts and why they seem flawed.  Note that I am a student of history and science, and so tend to use these two concepts to discuss whether ideas work or not.

1. On the issue of government solving many/all things, we only have to look at history.  The Articles of Confederation were the laws our nation first were governed by when we broke away from England.  The Articles gave almost all power to the several states, and almost no power to the federal government. Due to this arrangement, the Continental dollar was not worth… well, a Continental. The nation was incapable of raising funds to run an army or anything else.  Clearly, there had to be some structure that gave some power to the federal government. Hence, the Constitution of the United States was formed.

The Constitution, with only 27 amendments since its inception, has been a remarkable document that has caused freedom of speech, religion, and invention to occur in an amazing way. Without such a concept, the world would not have the number of inventions it has today, but would have largely remained in the Dark Ages.  In fact, the head of the patent office in the 1860s said there were no more inventions left to do, and figured his office would soon be closed.

American Government was originally founded on the principle of doing whatever is necessary to protect individual and state rights.  Only in the last century has that radically changed.  Beginning with Teddy Roosevelt, the first progressive, federal government began casting an ever larger shadow.

With FDR’s New Deal, brought on by the Great Depression, federal government grew. Kennedy’s New Frontier looked to expand the space race and the US’ reach into other nations.  It grew again under LBJ’s Great Society as the war on poverty was declared. Of course, Jimmy Carter created the Education Department. Obamacare is the latest greatest government program expansion under liberal presidents.

Each of these great programs was undertaken with the concept of improving society. Thinking about how they were imagined to create a better world gives most of us warm fuzzy feelings inside.  Liberals truly care for the downtrodden, the weak and the poor.

But do their programs make sense? Do they work well?  Do they make a real difference?

FDR’s Social Security program is floundering. Over the last 3 years, it has spent more than it has taken in. Originally designed for people to receive at age 65, who would die within a couple years, it now has been expanded to assist the disabled, and to be a full retirement program for little old ladies who live beyond their 90s. Second, Congress has used the Social Security program as a slush fund to buy votes for decades, and so there is a giant IOU in it. At best, it is totally emptied of money by 2033, however the most recent calculations give us about 10-14 years.

Medicare and Medicaid are even worse off. Forbes states that it could go bankrupt as soon as 2016, if we don’t include the double counting in Obamacare.  Medicare and Medicaid leave states on the hook for upwards of $90 Trillion in unfunded mandates. Obamacare only adds to the problems.  Why do liberals love huge medical programs so much that they would bankrupt the country, force people to lose their insurance and into a more expensive but worse program, and force doctors to retire early rather than accept ever smaller payments for their work?

Carter’s Education efforts, and those efforts that have since followed have made NO difference in scores over the last 40 years.  Today, America is #5 in education spending, but 19th world wide in education success.  Liberals are tied to teachers’ unions, who go to the extremes to protect bad teachers, even at the expense of children. Indianapolis has a 60% drop out rate for high school. The governor and mayor tried to fix it by creating a voucher system for the poorest kids. Guess who fought it in the courts? The liberals and teachers’ unions.  Kids won in Indy, however the fight is now in North Carolina for their program.  Why do liberals love the teachers unions so much that they would harm generations of children with bad schools?

LBJ’s war on poverty?  There are more people in poverty today than ever before.  More people on food stamps than ever before.  Fewer people working than before.

In addition, the EPA, the IRS, the NSA, and so many other federal government agencies are creating regulations that cost businesses and Americans trillions of dollars annually in figuring out how to walk the fine line.  Gasoline is over $3 a gallon, because we are not drilling on public lands, oil pipelines are stopped, etc.  Jobs are lost overseas because of federal rules against oil and natural gas.

Liberals also are (surprisingly) very fond of war.  Woodrow Wilson led us into WW1. FDR into WW2. LBJ into Vietnam. Even President Obama has found a fondness toward drones that kill Americans without giving them their due process rights, an NSA that knows everything about us, and an IRS that will have our medical records.  Do we really want a big government that creates a giant bureaucracy that will create tyranny?  Well, we are getting what we elected!

When are we going to quit following the liberal softy heart programs that are not working and that are bankrupting our society, impoverishing our nation, and creating a nation on the verge of ruin?

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

20 thoughts on “Tough Questions for Liberals

  1. Here’s another tough question for “progressives”:

    What, exactly, are we progressing towards? And if you answer with a term such as “equality”, or “justice”, please explain why only progressives get to define those terms.

  2. 1. That government can solve many/all things.

    Well, assuming that the words “the government” can be substituted by the words “We, the people”, I have to agree. Who else is going to do any problem-solving?

    2. That people are often not smart enough to resolve problems for themselves.

    Sometimes it’s not a question of being smart, but having enough power and influence in order to be able to solve the problems. Individuals are up against powerful institutions that seem to prefer the status quo, because it allows them to retain and increase their power and influence.

    3. That creating government programs that help people is necessary and important for civilization to move forward

    I reiterate: “We the people” must help each other so that civilization can move forward. If “programs” are the problem, then I hope the Church stops creating “programs” to help Church members.

  3. Well I’d assume progressives would say govt represents the will of the people, while business represents the will of the market. Do you want the direction of society to be determined by the flow of dollars or dictated by the will of voters.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think they are wrong but at the core they support the tyranny of the vote over the tyranny of the dollar.

  4. Rame, just a suggestion: I’m skeptical of jumping into this thread from the outset, because (if this is an objective look and various political positions) it seems that you start with some staw-man-ish language to describe progressive positions. At least in #1 and 2. When presenting another’s position in a discussion, I think its better to use the language that they themselves would use. Its like an Evangelicals saying to you: “Why do you believe that God’s grace isn’t good enough for your salvation?” or a progressive saying: ” Why do you think that helping people isn’t important?”

    I’ve been deleted here before for pointing out false premises and I hope that it doesn’t happen this time, because I mean it well. And I may return later to attempt to address your points anyway.

  5. Mark N. – the ultimate problem with government action, be it progressive, socialist or conservative, or copratist, has got nothing to do with institutions that seem to prefer the status quo.

    That makes it sounds as if all we have to do is get a bunch of revolutionary non-status quo people continually involved and then we can get some real change.

    The ultimate problem is that government action presupposed government answers. While we can often agree on a lot of principles (increasingly less so), moving those principles into action is very flawed, because none of us has the right answers, nor all the facts to formulate those answers. And even if we had the facts, I hope mankind is still creative enough to accept the truth that we can come to different conclusions based on the facts.

    Does this mean since we can’t know everything we should do nothing? No! Of course not! “Exclamation Point!” But recognizing our limitations, recognizing the agency of our brothers and sisters and that they have a God given right to come to different conclusions and govern their life as they choose, we should do our best to inform people of the facts (all sides, not just the aspects that tilt toward our conclusions) and let the people make decisions for themselves.

    In practice with a problem like health care, that might involve persuading people to help society by getting insured, promoting and increasing catastrophic health care plans, which offer some degree of cross subsidy (these policies are, well were, still profitable, which means that the users consumed less than they spent and therefore subsidized older sicker types, breaking down barriers to entry and competition while ensuring fair play among companies. Enabling companies to offer policies their customers would want to choose (with or without maternity, therapy, nursing pumps, birth control, etc).

    Make the case that you should sign up for such and such a policy, but let the people decide and you’ll likely see an improvement.
    For instance, in this case, I’m quite certain that if Obama had done nothing to the heatlhcare market, and just did as much as spend months campaigning at universities to persuade people to enroll, and ask the private sector to develop and target plans at a certain segment of the population we’d have more people signed up 4 years later than we do now. And the country would have a billion dollars more more saved from the boondoggle implementation. And we wouldn’t have others with raised rates or cancelled plans.

    Instead we go for the most complex solution possible, and then have the gall to blithely say as it turns out selling insurance is complicated. Yes it is, that’s why none of us want to get into that business! And why many insurers are exciting individual markets because… da dum dum, the governments answers are making that market more complicated.

    The solution is not better answers, better programs, or less entrenched stakeholders. The solution is a little political humility that doesn’t start with “I have a plan” hubris.

  6. I just returned from visiting Cuba. They have free housing, free education, free medical care, and the right to purchase below market basic food that covers about 1/3 of their total needs. As a result there are very few homeless Cubans on the street but most Cubans are hungry, the income from their government jobs very rarely covers their total food needs. The obvious solution for Cuba is to lay capitalism over it’s socialist base and that has been happening unofficially and often illegally for some time now. Certainly they would have done better with this bold experiment without the trade blockade but worldwide the trend is some mix of capitalism and socialism because neither system on it’s own works for everyone. Capitalism on it’s own works far better than socialism because it efficiently rewards geed but it leaves many out, intimately Zion is to run on the Law of Consecration, a form of divinely guided collectivism.

    Rather than pridefully viewing our personal accomplishments within the capitalistic system and looking down on those who’s “lazy” performance falls short I think it’s important to realize that in practice free markets don’t really exist, the playing field is always tilted to benefit some who encourage the tilting and not others who have no input to or knowledge of the tilting. Not everyone marches to the same competitive drummer yet world productivity is so great that a large volume and wide variety of goods in all colors and with your choice of features chases a more limited number of buyers in a declining price spiral begging the opening of new markets. In short as the price and labor content of food and electronics approaches zero as it has been doing for decades, those on the bottom cannot find jobs producing them and it is compelling that the producers share, even pro bono. Perhaps they share the the jobs or the production or both but total employment at a living wage is a pipe dream in today’s world economy and those who revere “pure capitalism” have no solution to this and instead tend to blame those on the bottom for being there, yet by definition someone must be there!

    Today my smart cell phone is a TV, radio, music player, movie player, browser, alarm clock, stop watch, calculator etc., etc., etc. In the 1950s the TV alone would have been a significant piece of furniture, the phone a large instrument attached to the house required to house all this stuff. It took far more people to produce these features that the silicone chip, screen, battery and plastic housing it comprises today! Those jobs are forever gone. How many more lawyers do we need and does their presence in large numbers enhance and facilitate or tax production? Capitalism works best but it is elitist and in practice excludes many.

    What, exactly, are we progressing towards? It’s a issue as old as our country, individualism vs. collectivism. Conservatives generally support social collectivism in the sense that individualism should be restrained for the “greater (collective) good” which in practice generally means those who disagree with me should be forced or encouraged in some way to comply. Socially progressives believe individual rights trump but liberals argue fiscal collectivism while conservatives and libertarians recoil at the idea of institutionalized sharing.

  7. LBJ’s war on poverty? There are more people in poverty today than ever before.

    Probably, but I can only find data back to 1959. If you had made this claim as recently as 2008, you would have been wrong. As for LBJ, 14.5 million fewer people were in poverty at the end of his term than at the end of Eisenhower’s term, and the poverty rate declined by 9.4 percentage points. Since then, the number of people in poverty has increased, on average, by 600,000 people per year when a Republican is president and by less than 300,000 per year when a Democrat is president (which is a slower rate than the overall population growth, so the poverty rate has declined under Democratic presidents–thanks entirely to Bill Clinton). My conclusion–government can reduce poverty when it tries. It just doesn’t always try.

    More people on food stamps than ever before.

    Obviously true, but this is mostly due to policy choices, not policy failures. And hardly any of it can be attributed to LBJ. At the end of his term, fewer than 3 million people were receiving food stamps. Since that time, food stamp roles have increased by 1.1 million per year under Republican presidents and 0.8 million per year under Democratic presidents. So I conclude that either Republican presidents are more liberal than Democratic presidents when it comes to hunger issues or they are just better at creating the need for assistance.

    Fewer people working than before.

    Seriously? In 1960, 65.8 civilians were employed; now, the figure is just short of 144 million. Even if by “before” you mean before Obama, the figure is only 1.4 million lower and will probably be zero in 12 months. If this is the best you can do, you’d better make your move quickly because soon there will be no data left to cherry pick.

  8. LL, I am not going to get into a back and forth on these issues because it is a huge waste of time, but I would simply point out that when Rame means “fewer people working than before” I am pretty sure he means the labor force participation rate, which is the lowest it has been since the Carter presidency. Some of this is due to the baby boomers retiring, but most of it is due to the lack of opportunity in the labor force. There are global forces at work here (the Fed, for one) that go way beyond liberal and conservative, but if we are going to be honest we cannot deny that it is a problem.

  9. Geoff hits it on the employment issue. The reality is, the liberal programs have had a grand desire to fix things, but the things have not been fixed. There still is a war on poverty going on, with millions of children going hungry every night.
    Back during the Clinton Administration, I had a friend who is an econ professor at a big southern school, who went to Congress to explain that if we just gave each family on welfare a check for $20,000, we would save over $300 million per year in bureaucratic overhead costs alone.

    It isn’t that the liberal/progressive concepts are evil/bad/etc. It is that they necessarily create a bureaucracy that has only one core focus: grow. Programs that are no longer needed are almost impossible to end. Instead, they get bigger. Medicare and Medicaid, while caring for those in the programs, are huge programs that are leading us towards bankruptcy. Obamacare could have fixed these programs. Instead, they were made bigger, and money “saved” from these programs that are already going bankrupt is now being used to finance more subsidies for others!

    I really would like to hear a rational voice from among liberals that can explain how such programs benefit America in the long run. When the $90 trillion in unfunded mandates hit, how will our children and grandchildren manage when their taxes will increase solely to finance the interest on the debt?

    Other nations have gone bankrupt and fallen apart in recent history. The vast Soviety Union went bankrupt and now replaced by tens of smaller nations, several with nuclear weapons. Why did it go bankrupt? Giant government programs and 5 year plans killed productivity. Big government, designed to be the savior of the people, ended up slaying tens of millions through starvation, etc. Thousands disappeared in Gulags, the end result of government snooping on its own people. Long food lines for even basic items became the norm.
    The Ukraine, which was the bread basket of Europe prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, ended up importing food to survive. Now that they are a freer nation, they are again the bread basket of Europe (unless/until Russia squashes them).

    Of course, Americans always say that such things could never happen here. Tell that to the thousands of Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during WW2, without due process of law. The reality is, whenever government is concentrated, it picks winners and losers, and the losers tend to lose a lot of freedoms and rights.

    In the giant Chrysler bailout/stimulus, unions won and stockholders lost in the aftermath. Big banks are flush with cheap money, while those who borrowed money from them are still having their homes foreclosed on. Bernanke is giving away $85 billion a month to the rich, money that is printed out of the ether. This devalues our current money, causing food prices to rise.

    Big government failed to fix the Great Depression, wherein many of today’s best economists state that government involvement caused it to last longer than it needed to, and led to the 2nd World War (by starving Germans and leading them to elect a savior: Hitler).

    The problems with big progressive governments is that they fix some small things, but leave huge messes in their wake. Woodrow Wilson created a new European map that led to WW2 and even the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. LBJ’s Great Society has torn apart families, especially among blacks, where unwed mothers and youth violence have destroyed generations.

  10. It was a teaching of Spencer Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and Gordon Hinckley when each was President of the LDS Church, that a large segment of the population, mothers, should not participate in the labor market. If the nation could get back to Carter-era levels of that it would be a good thing. I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind for the first time a few months ago, and one thing that marked it a product of the 70s was when Terri Garr playing a young housewife told her UFO-obsessed husband Richard Dreyfuss that she was not going to get a job to support the family after he was fired from his job; that was a duty she expected and required of him.

    Unfortunately, labor force non-participation trends of our day are pretty much the opposite of this.

  11. My father attended a couple of years of business school, went to work as a driver and over time became a purchasing agent for a small manufacturing company. He was competent but never very aggressive in business preferring to stay clear of the politics and therefore avoided the management positions offered him. My mother was a SAHM of four children. We owned a house in Southern CA which Zillow shows is worth $825,000 today, it was furnished with all the usual stuff. My father bought a new Pontiac every 8 or 9 years. Today it takes two earners and more education to accomplish this standard of living.

  12. Rame, you are basically asking two questions: Can we afford these programs? and: Are they worthwhile or valuable?

    For social security and Medicare you ask: Can we afford them? by pointing out that we are running deficits on the programs. But you neglect to ask: Are they worthwhile? On that account, the American people obviously think so, because the overwhelming majority of elected politicans won’t go anywhere near reducing medicare and social security expenses. So on medicare and social security the answer is:

    They are both programs highly valued by the American people, but they haven’t been funded properly. This means that we need to reorient budgetary priorities, raise taxes, or try and reduce benifits. But one thing is certain: They are valued, and they are HERE TO STAY.

    For the war on poverty, you ask: Is it worthwhile? pointing to the fact that we have more people on welfare roles today than ever before. This is a very good question, and one that I’m certainly not qualified to answer. The follow up questions I would ask are, does this account for population increases, and does it account for various other societal changes not directly related to the War on Poverty? For example, can we isolate some of the complicated factors involving the Civil Right’s Movement, drugs, immigration and crime which have all contributed to inner city poverty since the War on Poverty? Are there elements that are working, however imperfectly that may be? Are we saving any lives in addition to creating problems of entitlement? What kinds of reforms could be made?

    The War on Poverty is an easy target, but the truth is that most Americans believe there should be some kind of “safety net” for the poor, including Mitt Romney and many Republicans. So again, it’s a program which is valued by the American people, and thus HERE TO STAY. However, most people would agree that it is in need of serious reform.

  13. “They are valued, and they are HERE TO STAY.”

    Nate, I would agree with you on the first part, but beg to differ on the second. These programs are not going to last beyond a few more decades. The demographics just won’t allow it.

    Now, we might have a program called “Social Security” or “Medicare” but they will be mere hollowed out shadows of what they once were.

    Fiscal reality is going to crash the party at some point in the future. And it’s not going to be a pretty sight.

  14. Hi, Ram. I’ll get to the post in a moment, but while I refuse the label “progressive” (as it is associated with support for the former Soviet Union in my mind) and tend to think of myself as a moderate, I think one of your three beliefs doesn’t actually apply to liberals and the others are overly simplified.

    “1. That government can solve many/all things.”
    This one probably does reflect liberal belief, although in the United States, I would tend to think people would say something more like “Government can do a better job treating some problems than private institutions can. Government should focus on those things it can do better than private institutions AND on helping those who cannot help themselves.”
    “2. That people are often not smart enough to resolve problems for themselves.”
    I don’t think this reflects liberal belief (unless we are discussing the mentally-disabled, I suppose). I think a liberal would probably say that structural inequities within society make it harder than it should be for the underprivileged to succeed (in a capitalist sense) and, occasionally, these inequities prevent success (in a capitalist sense) entirely. They probably believe the reverse as well, that those who are born to privilege within society are given much more initial access to success than is fair. The reverse strikes me as more problematic than the initial assertion, but I do think you’ll find it out there.
    “3. That creating government programs that help people is necessary”
    I’m going to break this next one into two. I think that they believe this very much. There are people who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to help themselves or succeed (in a capitalist sense). Liberals think that these people are inherently valuable and that government, as a result, should support them, even if that means these individuals are drain more from society than they provide (in a capitalist sense). As I understand it, conservatives feel the same way (I don’t think anyone wants all the poor (or a subset thereof) starving to death in the streets); they just tend to think that private institutions (charities and churches and such) are better suited to this endeavor than government. I won’t guess for libertarians, because genuinely have no idea what they think about this.
    “and important for civilization to move forward.”
    That is definitely implied in the label “progressive,” I suppose. It might be another reason why I think “progressive” as a label is kind of dumb. It does seem clear that certain aspects of society that we consider backward (racism, sexism, and so forth) were altered significantly by governmental action. But, at the same time, that might be placing the cart before the horse; democratic and republican government doesn’t tend to act until a significant portion of the population supports said act. Determining significance is difficult (not necessarily population, of course, as recent events have demonstrated). I’m not sure how far to push this, though. Are animal rights activists forward-looking? Transhumanists? I guess history might say but I don’t have a clue.

    On to the post:
    “American Government was originally founded on the principle of doing whatever is necessary to protect individual and state rights. Only in the last century has that radically changed”
    Do you want that complicated? Obviously, slavery would be an argument against, as well as the Civil War, the Utah War, and so forth. My guess is that the 19th century politicians mostly paid lip service to these ideals, in much the way our modern ones do. After all, it took all of a couple of years to find the Congress passing a Sedition Act (passed by many of those same founding fathers).

    Regarding welfare, most of LBJ’s reforms were dismantled by a Democrat in the 90s. I doubt we can take a look at poverty today and lay the blame entirely on 60s era welfare programs since we don’t have 60s era welfare programs. In any case, it is not as if the poor lived better prior to welfare. There is a reason those programs were created. Historically private investment also doesn’t appear to have helped the poor all that much (they are not, after all, where the money is).

    Even Obama argues that health care costs are out of control and that reform for Social Security and other entitlements is necessary. So, the liberals agree with you, I guess. I hear all sorts of conflicting information about the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act, so I’m waiting a bit for the shake out. It’s probably too early to tell.

    Unions are not a universal evil, which I think everyone agree’s with (Reagan, after all, was the head of a union). There are good reasons to fight vouchers (government bureaucracy, for all that it slows things down, make some sorts of fraud much, much harder). In any case, even the liberals are looking into breaking the teachers’ unions now so they appear to agree with you, as well.

    As for regulation generally, is there any evidence that corporations behave themselves without it (or the threat of it)? At least make the fat cats work for it, Ram!

    “President Obama has found a fondness toward drones that kill Americans without giving them their due process rights, an NSA that knows everything about us, and an IRS that will have our medical records. Do we really want a big government that creates a giant bureaucracy that will create tyranny? Well, we are getting what we elected!”
    Do you see the Republicans behaving any differently on the first two of these? Change the third to the FBI and you’d have a conservative trifecta. I can’t argue with any of this, so I won’t. I’m deeply disappointed in most of Obama’s security decisions. I can’t imagine anyone doing better (not even anyone with the last name Paul), but I’m open to being persuaded. In any case, this, the fact that the ACA is mostly warmed over Republican proposals, and Obama’s general hesitancy to confront conservatives until just recently has led most liberal types to consider him a moderate at best. Most don’t see him as particularly liberal anymore. So, I’m not sure what this says about liberals generally. Maybe being wedded to an ideal makes one so sure that they are willing to commit someone else’s blood to the cause. But I’m skeptical that anyone is actually wedded to ideals in Washington any more (including people with the last name Paul). So who knows.

    Of course, liberals would argue that the programs are doing none of the things in your last paragraph, but rather preventing all those trends from being much worse. I suppose only time will tell who turns out to be correct.

  15. “It was a teaching of Spencer Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and Gordon Hinckley when each was President of the LDS Church, that a large segment of the population, mothers, should not participate in the labor market. If the nation could get back to Carter-era levels of that it would be a good thing.”

    John M is partly correct and partly incorrect. One of the reasons married women can join the labor force is that there have been so many labor-saving devices invented over the years, everything from microwave ovens to washing machines. It was unthinkable for married women to join the labor force because, in part, it would be very difficult to get stuff done at home. This is not as much the case anymore. In addition, I would like to point out that many, many women tend to miss adult conversation after raising kids and would like to take jobs, even part-time jobs, so they can get out of the house and socialize with other adults. The primary reason women work is so the household can have the extra money, but there are other life-fulfilling reasons for women to work, even in LDS homes.

    In summary, I do not think it is a good thing that labor participation rates are back to the rates of the 1970s. This is primarily a sign that the labor market is extremely limited and that many people who want to find jobs cannot find them.

    And the kicker is that the female labor participation rate is actually pretty high by historical standards. It is the male labor participation rate that has plummeted. There are a LOT of homes out there were women are working and the men are not. This is definitely not a good thing.

  16. 2. That people are often not smart enough to resolve problems for themselves.

    John C took issue with this statement, but it is true in the case of privatizing social security, liberals don’t believe that the majority or perhaps a large minority of Americans are capable of having the discipline to invest in a safe retirement plan consistently over a lifetime. They are right in my case at least, as I’ve been dismal at saving so far, and if social security is going to bankrupt us as Michael Towns suggests, maybe I should hope that they’ve legalized euthanasia, because I could eak out a living on social security, but with nothing? I’d rather not live out my last days with a tin cup in my hand living in a cardboard box.

  17. nate, good point. Yet, in the nation of Chile, the citizens are each given their own retirement savings account with options to invest. almost all end up with at least an 8% annual return on the investment. Meanwhile, our Social Security does 2% on a good day, but not since we’ve artificially killed the bond market.

  18. Howard wrote: “My father attended a couple of years of business school, went to work as a driver and over time became a purchasing agent for a small manufacturing company. He was competent but never very aggressive in business preferring to stay clear of the politics and therefore avoided the management positions offered him. My mother was a SAHM of four children. We owned a house in Southern CA which Zillow shows is worth $825,000 today, it was furnished with all the usual stuff. My father bought a new Pontiac every 8 or 9 years. Today it takes two earners and more education to accomplish this standard of living.”

    Yes, and this all happened beginning in the 1970s. What’s happened since around that time? LBJ’s Great Society, government grew drastically, government got into education (making it more expensive, but not better), government overspent in the Trillions – leaving no money for businesses to expand or create new jobs, government created “free trade agreements” that benefitted some businesses and hurt others – causing many manufacturing jobs to go elsewhere and leaving us with service jobs that pay less.
    Yes, there are other reasons for the decline in overall wages, but the one thing that seems to be front and center is government involvement.

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