Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Conservatism is an intellectual exercise. It is an exercise in thinking, in bringing the magnificent past, the history that we have to draw from, which is unbelievable, the history we have to draw from, the events, the great writers, the philosophies. This is part of the equation. It’s not just the founders. There were people before founders. The founders are part of it, sure, but they’re not all of it. It’s bringing the beauty and knowledge and the good traditions and institutions of history into the present to deal with our current issues and problems, but not always dealing with them using government and politics. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Jerry in Georgia is next. Hello, Jerry, how you doing?
Caller Jerry: Good morning. Look, 17 years recently retired from the insurance industry. I think the first thing I would say is, one, there are 70 million baby boomers in this country. This is simple supply and demand economics. I think what we have here is one perspective of this is right. This is supply and demand. There are just a lot more people that need medical services than there are medical providers, just simple math. Here’s the thing, in 10 or 15 years, just like we had with peak oil in this country back in 2007 and 2008, as baby boomers, to be quite frank, begin to die off, we start moving back towards equilibrium. What I’m getting at is, insurers know this. Insurers understand this. Insurance companies, like oil companies, know exactly where all the reserves are, know where all the future clients are. I think, in a sense, yes, if you want to say they were unpatriotic, whatever.
Companies are out to look for their own interests and the interest of shareholders. Rather than fight the administration, they said: Fine, let’s give the administration what they want. What we all know is what the administration wanted and what it got was an absolute train wreck and a disaster. Nobody in the industry, as far as I know in the last 16, 17 years of doing this, thought there was any way in hell that this was going to end other than the way it is. Here’s the beautiful thing, I think, at least for the insurance industry, if you will. They’re doing exactly what their “customer,” the single payer, the U.S. federal government asked for. Like I said, that’s going to end badly.
As a political issue, I think Ted Cruz lined himself up correctly. I think he’s going to be able to come back in a year, nine months and say: Hey, guys, this is what I was arguing for. This is what I was trying to tell you. This is a bad piece of legislation. The sticker shock, none of this can work. I think truthfully, Mike, as much as it pains me to say this, I think this is the kind of debacle, if Republicans, if conservatives will stand up and fight for it, that could actually, on the other side of it is the silver lining, I think, could actually, for this younger generation, could truthfully advance the cause of conservatism and expose the liberal ideology for the pipedream that it really is.
I think that’s the one thing, as we talk about this and hammer this out, we keep that in mind. I see a generation of young people who don’t understand why we need the federal government the way we do. That’s a baby boomer generation, a World War II generation mentality. These young kids, they get stuff done lickety-split on their iPhone and they can’t figure out why this is such a debacle. Truthfully, I think if the Republicans would do what they need to do, I think there’s some real upside to the cause of conservatism in just a simple supply-side economics that we know and hold so dear. Thanks, man.
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Mike: Thank you very much. I don’t agree with most of that, but thanks for offering it. [mocking] “Mike, what don’t you agree with?” Well, first of all, this idea, which I cannot seem to divest or talk many people out of, that politics and political victory is linked to conservatism and that they’re joined at the hip. It’s almost, [mocking] “No, no, politics comes first; conservatism comes after.” No, no, no, conservatism would come first and doesn’t have much if anything to do with politics. You try and say that and you get [mocking] “Yeah, but we have to do this.” As Professor Ryn points out in this magnificent essay on the decline of American intellectual conservatism — I brought this in today because I knew somebody was going to call or send a piece of hate mail that was going to be pretty much in line with what we just heard, although the caller was not being hateful, so please don’t misunderstand. It’s this idea here that the term conservatism is linked to this other term called politics. If you cannot separate the two, then I don’t think you’re practicing conservatism.
Conservatism is an intellectual exercise. It is an exercise in thinking, in bringing the magnificent past, the history that we have to draw from, which is unbelievable, the history we have to draw from, the events, the great writers, the philosophies. This is part of the equation. It’s not just the founders. There were people before founders. The founders are part of it, sure, but they’re not all of it. It’s bringing the beauty and knowledge and the good traditions and institutions of history into the present to deal with our current issues and problems, but not always dealing with them using government and politics. Briefly, here’s what Ryn writes in part:
Needless to say, it is highly desirable that some intellectuals should take a strong interest in the study of politics. Indeed, as thinkers or as participants in politics, they can exert a salutary influence on political practice, but they can do so only if they understand the realities of politics, including its limits, and understand how it is shaped by ideas and imagination. Activism that is not informed by this kind of realism is ineffectual or self-destructive.
The “pragmatic” preoccupation with practical politics in American intellectual conservatism is closely related to a fondness for economics and business, which is often so pronounced that it amounts to regarding the aims of conservatism and business as the same. But civilization, including a civilized market place, depends, as Wilhelm Röpke has observed, on moral, imaginative and intellectual preferences that do not arise spontaneously from the economy as such. The priorities set by businessmen and financiers in their economic activities are not ordinarily prescribed by the good, the true and the beautiful. Too many conservatives with libertarian leanings underestimate the extent to which purely economic considerations need to be subordinated to other motives and the extent to which institutions and individual gate-keepers must help foster moral restraints, good taste and respect for truth. If many businessmen in the Western world have exhibited admirable traits like honesty, good manners and social responsibility, it is because, like others, they have been formed by an ancient civilization. They have been subject to the elevating pressures of priests, thinkers, aristocrats, teachers and artists. Today, as our civilization deteriorates, the utilitarian one-sidedness and greed that business tends to generate when left to itself are being released from those traditional restraints.
Mike: That’s just part of Ryn’s essay. It’ll take you about an hour and a half to read the whole thing, so it’s quite an endeavor. It is well worth the read because, as usual, Professor Ryn is thinking outside the exclusive realm of politics, the exclusive realm of everything having to have some sort of a political component and some sort of a political solution. Say it ain’t so! It’s isn’t so. The last caller just illustrates that. [mocking] “We’re gonna bring young people back to conservatism and back to politics. We’re gonna win some elections.” So? Gingrich won elections. So? Reagan won elections. So? We all agree that the deterioration, that the bulkheads have been breached. What did winning those elections do?
You have an existential, civilizational problem at the foundation, my friends. It is a lack of spirituality, a lack of respect and admiration and humility for the past. It is over all. It is a lack of intellectual effort, intellectual thought. In other words, we’re quick to pounce, quick to demagogue, quick to pronounce. We’re not so quick to reflect, to mediate, to sit back and go: Maybe we should pay more attention to some other things and not just the machinations of the national legislature, which is out of control, comprised of, for the most part, morally corrupt individuals, and seeks at every level our ruin. Even if they say they don’t, they are pursuing a course that is ruinous, and I think we all agree on that. Society, civilization is allowing the ruin to happen. Whose fault is it, the society that permits it or the politician that is chosen from the society that executes the will of the vox populi? Answer that question and you will have absolution.
End Mike Church Show Transcript