Because as we spend ourselves into oblivion and servitude, it's important to know that we failed when we betrayed capitalism. Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.
Today Paul Ryan took a step in the right direction.
The nineteenth century was the ultimate product and expression of the intellectual trend of the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, which means: of a predominantly Aristotelian philosophy. And, for the first time in history, it created a new economic system, the necessary corollary of political freedom, a system of free trade on a free market: capitalism.
No, it was not a full, perfect, unregulated, totally laissez-faire capitalism—as it should have been. Various degrees of government interference and control still remained, even in America—and this is what led to the eventual destruction of capitalism. But the extent to which certain countries were free was the exact extent of their economic progress. America, the freest, achieved the most.
Never mind the low wages and the harsh living conditions of the early years of capitalism. They were all that the national economies of the time could afford. Capitalism did not create poverty—it inherited it. Compared to the centuries of precapitalist starvation, the living conditions of the poor in the early years of capitalism were the first chance the poor had ever had to survive. As proof—the enormous growth of the European population during the nineteenth century, a growth of over 300 per cent, as compared to the previous growth of something like 3 per cent per century.
“Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,”
Philosophy: Who Needs It, 66
If you want to prove to yourself the power of ideas and, particularly, of morality—the intellectual history of the nineteenth century would be a good example to study. The greatest, unprecedented, undreamed of events and achievements were taking place before men’s eyes—but men did not see them and did not understand their meaning, as they do not understand it to this day. I am speaking of the industrial revolution, of the United States and of capitalism. For the first time in history, men gained control over physical nature and threw off the control of men over men—that is: men discovered science and political freedom. The creative energy, the abundance, the wealth, the rising standard of living for every level of the population were such that the nineteenth century looks like a fiction-Utopia, like a blinding burst of sunlight, in the drab progression of most of human history. If life on earth is one’s standard of value, then the nineteenth century moved mankind forward more than all the other centuries combined.
Did anyone appreciate it? Does anyone appreciate it now? Has anyone identified the causes of that historical miracle?
They did not and have not. What blinded them? The morality of altruism.
Let me explain this. There are, fundamentally, only two causes of the progress of the nineteenth century—the same two causes which you will find at the root of any happy, benevolent, progressive era in human history. One cause is psychological, the other existential—or: one pertains to man’s consciousness, the other to the physical conditions of his existence. The first is reason, the second is freedom. And when I say “freedom,” I do not mean poetic sloppiness, such as “freedom from want” or “freedom from fear” or “freedom from the necessity of earning a living.” I mean “freedom from compulsion—freedom from rule by physical force.” Which means: political freedom.
“Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,”
Philosophy: Who Needs It, 65
Mike Allen's Playbook:
TODAY, PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET CHANGES POLITICS AS WE KNOW IT:
--One side of the Republican brain says: This is adult politics - serious ideas, constituting the most serious federal rollback of our lifetime. But the dominant Republican brain says: Are you nuts? The American people want more government than they can pay for, and we're walking into a political buzz saw. We could lose the House majority if this message is mishandled: There's a good reason tea-party candidates didn't talk specifics.
--One side of the Democratic brain says: We don't like Ryan's ideas, but at least he's engaging on unavoidable issues, and ones that independents care about and will reward us for confronting. But the dominant Democratic brain says: Bring it on! The Republicans are handing us a political windfall, and we're sure to get back the seniors we lost in 2008.
FIRST LOOK - "The Path to Prosperity: America's two futures, visualized": A 3-minute House Budget Committee video brings the "debt crisis" to life with a shirt-sleeved Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in his committee's hearing room:
"The United States is heading toward a debt crisis. The only solutions will be truly painful for us all. That doesn't have to be our future. The way we respond to THIS challenge will ultimately define our generation. ... I asked the Congressional Budget Office to model the economy going forward. ... The computer program CRASHES in 2037, because it can't conceive of any way in which the U.S. economy can continue, because of this massive burden of debt. ... Here's what would happen under OUR proposed budget - what we're calling 'The Path to Prosperity.' ... How will we do it? We will CUT SPENDING. ... Washington HAS NOT been telling you the truth." YouTube above.
--The video aims to communicate in an innovative, visually-appealing way - offering a sober assessment of fiscal and economic challenges, and ringing alarm bells with clarity; but also offering an optimistic, Jack-Kempesque growth message - Ryan as happy warrior, framing a daunting challenge as an historic opportunity.
--DAVID BROOKS, "Moment of Truth": "The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate. ... It will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee. ... It also creates the pivotal moment of truth for President Obama. Will he come up with his own counterproposal, or will he simply demagogue the issue by railing against 'savage' Republican cuts and ignoring the long-term fiscal realities?" (more here)
-- Jake Sherman and Richard E. Cohen: "Ryan will roll out a blueprint Tuesday that could slash up to $6 trillion in the next 10 years from spending, reforms and cuts entitlements, and overhauls sections of the tax code. Never mind that Ryan's ambitious vision has no chance of passing the Democratic Senate - the 2012 budget is likely to provide Republicans with a measure of unity they've been lacking as they try to wrap up work on the stalled 2011 spending plan." More here.
--Ryan and his Budget Committee colleagues hold a presser at 10:30 a.m. at the Capitol. Ryan speaks at AEI at noon. More here.
--Ryan op-ed in WSJ: "This budget would focus on growth by reforming the nation's outdated tax code, consolidating brackets, lowering tax rates, and assuming top individual and corporate rates of 25%." Free link here.