Liberals, Government Programs, and Unintended Consequences (Part 1 of 2)

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Jews and Liberalism

I’ve been reading an interesting book, lately, that I wanted to share with you — Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006), by Larry F. Sternberg. From the back,

This book makes a powerful argument that the principles of Judaism, its laws, traditions, and commandments, are at odds with the realities of liberalism today. Modern liberalism, with its reliance on the powers of government to solve all of society’s problems, its downgrading of the importance of morality and ethics, and its insistence that people are not really responsible for their own actions, is a distinct departure from traditional Jewish teachings. Larry F. Sternberg chronicles how President Roosevelt invoked the Jewish tradition of charity to woo Jews to the liberal cause during the Great Depression. The author then uses verses from the Bible and the Talmud, as well as documented historical evidence, to prove that Jews are better served by America’s conservative leadership, despite his coreligionists’ almost unanimous support of liberal politicians. Topics discussed include government interference, gun control, abortion, affirmative action, and healthcare.

While I don’t agree 100% with Mr. Sternberg on everything, the book seems to be well-researched & thought out, and he has some good insights and makes some great points. So, I’ll be sharing excerpts from various parts of the book over the next few weeks, many of which will be appreciated by both Jew & non-Jew (like myself). Hope you enjoy, and please comment on anything that strikes a chord. As indicated from the post title above, this first bit is on the liberals’ tenacious promotion of government programs, regardless of whether they ever work properly or not. So, let’s begin….

Unfortunately, the nature of government programs is to take on a life of their own. As these programs grow and expand, the waste and excessive overhead costs that accompany those programs expands. The main problem with government (one-size-fits-all) programs is that there are too many individual differences to be solved by one all-encompassing program. There soon develops a corps of government workers whose jobs and careers depend on enlarging and perpetuating those ineffective programs. Lost somewhere in the bowels of those well-meaning statutes is the purpose for which they were created.

LBJ giving Great Society speech

LBJ giving Great Society speech

Thus there are formed three powerful constituencies: the politicians who appear to be the benefactors of the poor; the bureaucrats who work in implementing and expanding the programs; and of course, the recipients of the benefits. Unseen are those hard-working citizens whose taxes are paying for all of those wondrous programs. Opposition is quickly overcome, and our welfare programs expand and continue without pause. Negligible positive results are glossed over. It is only important that we are doing the “right” thing, and for Jews, we are fulfilling our basic charitable drive.

How have these welfare programs affected the American family, the institution most important to Jewish life? They have been an unmitigated disaster. We have spawned an entire generation of fatherless youths who have grown up largely without a man in the house, and who now must be tamed and civilized by society at large. Does anyone really doubt that the welfare programs — this five trillion dollar monstrosity — has not done serious harm to the structure of our family life? And still the liberal fights tooth and nail to prevent any wind down of those programs.

The two main takeaways I get from this are: 1) the one-size-fits-all approach to many programs, along with the ballooning size & costs that come with trying to do everything; 2) the stubbornness of liberals to continue fighting for these disastrous programs. It is so frustrating to be able to see this, while the typical liberal is blind to the damage their policies have done and continue to do. (More on this in Part 2…)

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