Mandeville, LA – Scott Galupo at American Conservative Mag.com has a peculiar piece on their site titled “Government ‘Revel’-ing in Private-Sector Investment”. In the post Galupo argues that it is “moral” for government to invest OPM in their pet projetcs from time to time:
President Obama is not a closet socialist or cunningly patient radical. What he is—or what he fancies himself—is a neo-Whig. The Henry Clay of the 21st century. He never tires of pointing out that the federal government in the 19th century midwifed the transcontinental railroad and land-grant colleges. In the 20th century, it developed a proto-internet and the global positioning system. In the 21st century? Obama dreams of a green-energy revolution. High-speed rail. A smart electrical grid. And more.
Like TAC contributing editor James Pinkerton, I’m partial to the American System way of thinking. I find it frustrating when conservatives don’t admit that government goods and services can make economic as well as moral sense. I’m excited, for example, by the administration’s plan to undertake the brain science equivalent of the Human Genome Project. But this is the kind of basic research that even private sector R&D executives concede is necessary to make new treatments possible.
My response (which I submitted but AmConMag did not publish).
At least 5 President’s vetoed Clay’s overreach: Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Tyler & Pierce. Madison even told Clay that to use the general government for such purposes would require an amendment to the Constitution.
That business has a voracious appetite for other people’s money did not end with Pierce and thus Lincoln granted yet another egomaniacal perversion of the Constitution with his signature of the Railroad Act.
That government provided funds for the internet and GPS “successes” presupposes that those innovations or perhaps superior innovations would not have been made in the absence of government coercion and depletion of capital; this is a negative that cannot be disproven but is required to complete this argument. The conservative should cheerfully acknowledge this principle (see Russell Kirk’s “Prospects for Conservatives”
When government “invests” it cannot “de-invest” and instead plows more resources into colossal failures – e.g. see the I-95 corridor around Washington DC. But when business builds a McDonalds in a poorly chosen location it ultimately becomes a car wash then a liquor store with bars on its windows, the owners being the only person(s) whose capital has been depleted. Implying that this government practice is moral, based on a few wildly inflated “success stories” is like saying an unwitnessed (by man) sin is nothing for the soul to be concerned with.
If you want “moral” investments on “research” then secure at least 3/4 of the populations approval AND their commitment to directly fund the endeavor on a limited basis subject to their review. Otherwise this “conservative” desideratum is but another excuse for an elite to direct resources they do not own and can only gain through confiscation (read tax).
Is THAT conservative?