Skip to comments.Santorum: A Massively Expanded Welfare State is ‘The Genuine Conservatism our Founders Envisioned’
Posted on 01/12/2012 4:58:10 AM PST by IbJensen
"I believe what I've been presenting is the genuine conservatism our Founders envisioned. One that fosters the opportunity for all Americans to live as we are called to live, in selfless families that contribute to the general welfare, the common good."
Posted by Jeff Emanuel (Diary)
Despite strident opposition from supporters who maintain that Rick Santorum is a true conservative in the mold of you guessed it Ronald Reagan, the already huge mountain of evidence that he is, at heart, a big-government conservative continues to grow. As Erick noted previously, in 2008 Santorum said:
This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I dont think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldnt get involved in the bedroom, we shouldnt get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals cant go it alone.
Now, consider these two quotes from Santorums 2005 book It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, both of which are very telling:
What was my vision? I came to the uncomfortable realization that conservatives were not only reluctant to spend government dollars on the poor, they hadnt even thought much about what might work better. I often describe my conservative colleagues during this time as simply cheap liberals. My own economically modest personal background and my faith had taught me to care for those who are less fortunate, but I too had not yet given much thought to the proper role of government in this mission.
-Preface, p. IX; audio here
I suspect some will dismiss my ideas as just an extended version of compassionate conservatism. Some will reject what I have said as a kind of Big Government Conservatism. Some will say that what Ive tried to argue isnt conservatism at all. But I believe what Ive been presenting is the genuine conservatism our Founders envisioned. One that fosters the opportunity for all Americans to live as we are called to live, in selfless families that contribute to the general welfare, the common good.
-Conclusion, p. 421; audio here
Though the second quote is the money shot, as it were, the value of the first is that it sets the stage for Santorums exploration of the role of government in the book. As the second quote demonstrates, Santorum has not only concluded that it is the role of government to ensure that all Americans contribute to the general welfare, the common good by acting as the chief arbiter of charitable resources and their distribution.
This is wrong on several levels. While there is absolutely a role for government in creating and maintaining a social safety net (Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, etc.) for the population that cannot take care of itself (whether that should take place at the federal, state, or local level, and in what measure each, is a different discussion), Santorums instinct appears to be to use government to expand that safety net to all who may be in need or want of charity. Further, he accuses conservatives in Congress who disagree with a significantly expanded role of government in enforcing redistributive charity and welfare of being cheap liberals who havent though [enough] about the issue of the poor to recognize that making decisions about charity is clearly governments job to do.
Not only does Santorum argue for an expansion of the welfare state as the proper way to ensure that all Americans contribute to the general welfare, and not only does he dismiss criticisms that his view represents an extended version of compassionate conservatism or big government conservatism, but he actually claims that increasing the size and scope of government, and its role in growing the welfare state, represents the genuine conservatism our Founders envisioned.
Im not criticizing Rick Santorum for being concerned about his fellow man. However, instinctively turning to government to cure all that ails our society and individuals within it and calling that a conservative instinct shows a lack of understanding about the role of government itself within our society. Further, his belief that only government is able (and benevolent enough) to ensure that all Americans contribute to the general welfare in an acceptable manner reveals a lack of faith in, and understanding of, conservatism and conservative Americans. Were he to step outside of his more-government-is-the-solution bubble, he would learn, for example, that conservative Americans voluntarily contribute to the common good by donating to private charities at a very high rate much higher than liberals who, like Santorum, look to an ever-expanding government to take care of the poor using Americans tax dollars.
Santorum certainly isnt unique within the community of current and former lawmakers in his faith that government has the answers and the moral requirement to make fiscal decisions (including where charitable contributions are to be made, and in what amounts) for the American people as a whole. However, denying that such a belief is big government conservatism (if it is conservatism at all) is only surpassed on the absurdity scale by the claim that such a belief truly represents the genuine conservatism our Founders envisioned.
There is a Marxist/ Liberation theological strand in the Catholic church which I once considered to be more of a fringe element but have notice their rhetoric to have seeped into what many consider main stream in recent years.
The excerpts of Sen. Santorums writings include the phraseology and philosophy espoused by this element. It is taught in theology classes at Catholic universities and, in fact, permeates the curriculum across all disciplines at some of these institutions. Invited speakers and authors who decry American values, rail against the pursuit of happiness, foster class antagonism in the name of social and economic justice are celebrated and their ideas are often advanced in the form of common reader , cross curriculum assignments.
Seemingly benign and overflowing with pathos and compassion for the less fortunate, parishioners, idealistic college students and many in the general population find the words noble and readily embrace what they perceive to be moral social teaching in the spirit of Catholic identity.
I heard it when Newt described how he would deal with illegal aliens who had resided in this country for some period of time and I recognize the strains in Sen. Santorums words quoted above. Some are calling it big government conservatism. I have come to the conclusion that the rhetoric is more like a gateway drug to socialist-progressivism.
Be very, very, very careful. This is not the stuff that was in your grandmothers catechism.
Memo to all those who think that “the guy who shouts the loudest about the social issues is the true conservative:”
Ain’t necessarily true. Can you say “Santuckabee?”
Socialism is the morally corrupt belief that we each can (and must) live off of the income and wealth of others. Christians should know how this violates at least trhee of the Ten Commandments: lies, coveting and theft. But recall that socialists themselves love to scold the rest of us about “sustainability”, yet as Margaret Thatcher once quipped, socialism works until they run out of other people’s money.
So, the dirty secret about socialism is that in the long run, it is not economically “sustainable”, and is in fact built to fail. Sadly, socialists not only think they have the right to seize the income and asset of others, many of whom they have never met, they don’t stop there. To read Keyenes or Marx is to read the plans and proposals of someone who assumes the right to own, control and in the end, to even wholely consume the personhood of others. It is a sociopathology so vast in scope, that it is only restrained by how many humans it can place under its insatiable grasp.
Socialism is evil, plain and simple. Those who advocate socialsm are advocates and supporters of evil. They are our our enemies and are a threat to our lives and our prosperity.
The economist Ludwig von Mises showed in 1920 [1,2] that since a socialist economy destroys price information via government intrusion, the myriad of participants in the economy are unable to make a fully rational calculation about true profit and loss. Any economic activity that operates at a loss cannot be sustainable, a concept the left loves to scold us about, yet cannot really grasp.
Taking another approach, the Nobel economist F.A. Hayek showed that a national economy had such an immense myriad of dynamic economic relationships that no single committee or bureaurcracy, no matter how smart or how well staffed, could possibly know enough to direct prices or production levels. His Nobel Lecture  was entitled The Pretence of Knowledge. Hayek had previously used this idea as the basis for a very thorough article  on the subject, The Use of Knowledge in Society.
When these two different withering critiques of socialism are combined, it is easy to see that not only is it dangrously foolish to think that economic decisions can successfully be made by government, but that competing bureaucracies will invariably react to the consequences of intrusions in the marketplace by each other. It would be like trying to control the height of waves on a lake by measuring them from the back of a boat circling in its own wake.
 Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth by Ludwig von Mises
 Why a Socialist Economy is “Impossible” by Joseph T. Salerno
 The Pretense of Knowledge
 The Use of Knowledge in Society, American Economic Review, XXXV, No. 4; September, 1945, pp. 51930.
If not only the means but the objects are unlimited, the parchment [the Constitution] should be thrown into the fire at once,
Brant, Irving the Fourth President - A Life of James Madison [Eyre & Spottiswoode (Publishers) Ltd. London, 1970, pg. 257
I’ll still take him over Newt any day.
I think Newt knows where a lot of keys to a lot of closets are and knows the combination to more than a few locks.
America needs someone that will do more than lead, we need also someone that will be, in the blue collar world, a pusher that gets things done.
There's still time before the election, and I am not bored with what is happening before our historical eyes.
With that pathetic bunch of insiders running for president, it’ll either be Romney or Obama, and socialism in our future.
Is he better than Romney? yes
Is he better than Paul? yes
Is he better than Newt? possibly
There isn’t a perfect candidate but there are several which are far worse.
The whole thing is a chopped up hit job on a man with an extensive record easily taken out of context depending on the author's political bias.
“...itll either be Romney or Obama, and socialism in our future.”
for a brief period, yes. Unfortunately, we’ve spent ourselves into oblivion so much so that there will not be enough money left over to steal to feed the socialism/communism in this country.
We’ll either end up with Free-market capitalism again, or a dictatorship.
Same thing in Europe.
There is simply not enough money to steal to make it work.
“Well either end up with Free-market capitalism again, or a dictatorship.”
Or civil war/anarchy
No, of course not.
What, then, is the meaning of the mish-mash of quotes rendered here?
Well, let us recall the Founders idea of self-interest eventually raising the standard of living for all. Certainly, that's a conservative ideal? Using nicely clipped quotes, I would imagine I could subvert that notion into something like: ‘a governments role...should foster...individual...contribution to the whole.’ I mean, this kind of boiler plate distortion is just what lefties have used to distort the general welfare clause into the entire welfare system. Something the Founders, BTW, could not even imagine on any scale of their time. It goes without saying that it is also anathema to their other codes and principles.
What Santorum is arguing, IMO, is that it is in the gub’mints interest to foster (real two parent) families (Duh, that's a Western concept, no?) so that in the fullness of time they, in fact, will better everyone in the physical, moral and social sense. It goes without saying (should, anyway) that the opposite has been going on for a long, long time and the result of the gub’mint Daddy model is crime, disorder, immorality, disease and decay of our national order. In short, by not supporting the family (no, not with welfare checks but with the creed of our founding ideals) we are surely killing ourselves. Nowhere in this screed is Santorum advocating an expanded welfare system to spend billions more and bring about more of the same disorder and decay.
It is the governments role to foster the values that contribute to freedom and liberty - chiefly through upholding those values in the laws and institutions of our land. Those values are Judeo-Christian. Those values used to be common sense. These days, all bets are off and the gub’mint, in fact, makes war on all these things. Santorum is not arguing for more of the same. He is simply arguing for a return to the essential basis for a strong and free society; that is, a return to strong and free families.
“Or civil war/anarchy”
Oh, we’re guaranteed plenty of that. We’ve got a form of “government anarchy” right now, to use a contradiction in terms.
The intervening time between socialism-on-credit and the withdrawal of credit will not be fun. Without grown-ups in charge it will be deadly for many. It’s clear that the crew we’ve got from the GOP are not the grown-ups necessary to navigate these waters. Too bad.
Taking money from one person under threat of punishment and giving it to another is theft, regardless if it is the local street hood or the government. Some once said that he would rather be robbed than have his money taken by the government, since the robber would leave and not talk about all the great things that would be done with his money.
The truth is if the government was less intrusive, there would be more generosity by those who work, as they would have more to give. Yes, some would be greedy and not give at all, but why is that a government issue?
But the government and the poor don't like this. The government doesn't like it because private charity reduces government influence. The poor don't like it because private charities are more discerning in their giving, and many will require the poor to better themselves.
Exactly, our founders never intended the “General Welfare” cluse to be used in the manner it is today, nor as compassionate conservatism.
... as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them.
What is it then?
Is Santorum this “Big Government Conservative” we’ve been reading about, or is he the guy that wants to bring immediate cuts to Social Security and put grandma out on the street like what was reported last week? You can’t have it both ways here.
How about "Hucktorum".
Agreed. Some here might mistake that talk, however, for comm-u-nism!
If the gub’mint simply went back to its corner (and we had a Judeo-Christian culture) it would fall on the people to provide for one another. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if people are not doing that today, then they’re blind, wicked or stupid. Care for one another is as small as cooking a little extra for the elderly or shut-in down the block or across the road. Bringing people extra garden produce. Taking somebody to town for an appointment. Noting the grief, needs and lonliness of those around you and acting on those needs. Giving money where your conscience leads. Etc., etc., etc.
Is he better than Rick Perry?
Not by a long shot.
Just the wording of the general welfare clause in context demonstrates that the means by which the general welfare was to be promoted were the limited and enumerated powers of the Constitution.
When the government forces "altruism", it is communism. When altruism is performed by an unfettered and willing people, it is "community", such as the Amish or the early church.
Thanks for your excellent post on this hit piece. It saved me the trouble of doing it myself. Rick doesn’t have a chance for the top spot but would make a fine VP pick (IMHO).
Rick “you’re heartless if you want to enforce immigration law” Perry?
Thats a tough one but we can talk about it when Rick wakes up from his nap.
He also is well connected to the lobbyist community — Rick is no “outsider.” People who put there hopes into him as some true conservative outsider are going to be very disappointed.
You're right, though, about the necessary function of altruism. Unfortunately, it is also the lynch pin on which deceivers build their argument.
I have a problem with these kinds of arguments in the context of candidates for national offices because they just make sweeping generailzations about "what the government should do" without specifiying or taking into account which government we're talking about.
We are a republic. That means there is a system of defined spheres of authority divided between the State and national governments.
It's fine to think that government in general should be taking care of the poor, but if it is to be done it needs to be done by the state governments. There is no enumrated power of the national government that empowers them to do that.
Glad I’m not the only one who says this a a hatchet job on Santorum. The title itself is pure BS as if he ever made such a statement. Lots of out of context mish mash here folks.
Santorum or Newt 2012
Wrong, there was a perfect candidate out there. Name was Herman Cain. The left was mortified of his popularity and honest. So they found a few bimbos willing to lie and exaggerate any fact on his behavior.
Newt has to be the nominee if Cain doesn’t return, period. This Santorum is no better than Obama if he leans socialist. As for Romney, he makes me puke. I’ll have to carry a pail to the polls to vote for him so I can puke on the way out.
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And just to think...if someone decent had actually run...they would have walked away with it.
And just to think...if someone decent had actually run...they would have walked away with it.
yes Cain was a good candidate. Is he still a candidate? No, but perhaps you haven’t read the news lately.
To compare Santorum to Obama is ignorant.
Exactly the AstroTurf these Romney bits are peddling is not
Even logically anymore
First the concerned freak that Rick is stripping away
Medicare or SS now he is evil for not doing it.
They have run out of smears do they make
That idiot Rick Perry is looking better and better every day.
“selfless families that contribute to the general welfare, the common good.”
There is a difference between “contribute” and “compelled”.
The kind of difference that sparked creation of this country in the first place.
Thanks. Unfortunatley, I believe that even if Mr. Santorum is somebody’s VP pick, we’re still going to lose (see my tagline). Using a conservative to bolster a weakling ticket is a tired and unprofitable tactic. No, scratch that. Using a conservative in this way is nothing more than baiting the trap with an attractive scent so that we’ll all be trapped and killed.
In this election, far too many conservatives will be willing to go down that road and, as a result, we’ll likely see another BO term. If, and I do mean if, the country can be saved after that, it will be far more open to men and women of principle and direct action than the weak and vaccilating are now - “conservatives” included. Any candidate who is chiefly electable is nothing more than an empty husk that mirrors the fears and greed of an unprinciple electorate.
We are in deep, deep waters and principles - even unpopular and unelectable ones - are exactly the prescription needed to save the Republic.
All of these options are well connected to Lobbyists ?
Perry and Newt are lobbyist pals .
The other options are worthless .
Why are we destroying the only conservatives left in this post with alot
Of half truths , lies etccccc from a blogger with an
Agenda and who is loose with the facts ?
This plays directly into the Left’s hands. Divide the conservative vote 3 or 4 ways while the conservatives continue to search for the “perfect” candidate (there isn’t one, and never has been), Romney is the only one left standing, Obama waltzes to a second term. Game, set, and match.
No one else headed up the Republican K Street Project. If you did that, there is no way in Hell you are an outsider.
Who are you astroturfing
You post a blogger rant with an agenda whose facts are
Dubious at best .
I don’t think he’s advocating ‘care’ in the sense of more welfare checks at all. For the life of me I cannot envision Santorum expanding welfare - ever. He might go soft on the status quo (and not one of the others would be diffent) but his ideals are far different than giving more power to the loving arms of a godless federal gub’mint.
The Federal government, in it’s proper role, should expand liberty by upholding and fostering the very principles at the base of the Tree of Liberty - that is, strong and free families. A very Western tradition. Upholding those ideas, in this age, need be nothing more than getting gub’mint out of those areas it shouldn’t be and upholding the laws and institutions that foster traditional families
I agree with you, however, that handing out welfare money ought to be a state right.
Sorry bud. Bible says to care for WIDOWS and ORPHANS. Show me 1% of those on welfare who are truly either?
If they cannot afford kids..they should not BREED. I’m so f’ing sick and tired of the welfare mentatility. Some groups just need to be let to die out...sounds harsh? So the hell what.
Either Perry and Santorum get behind Newt or it's a done deal for Romney, and Romney will NOT beat Obama.
A most excellent analysis.
W/ knees jerking all over this thread its good to see someone maintaining balance.
Depending on which link you go to, Santorums conservative voting record is not that great, between a weak 83 and a somewhat respectable 88 per cent.
That puts him below Newt. Below Perry. And gads, yes, below even Mitt.
My ONLY point in this is simply stating that “taking the slings and arrows” for social issues is admirable, but it DOES NOT MEAN ON BALANCE THAT YOU ARE NECESSARILY A GOOD CONSERVATIVE.
Santorum is only a C student conservative overall, yet his supporters insist he is THE CONSERVATIVE in the race. Nay nay.
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