The Liberal Welfare State is not Sustainable

It is increasingly clear that the liberal welfare state is not sustainable in its current form, and its costs and inefficiencies are increasingly present and real and are putting huge burdens on our economy at every level. This can’t really go on. From here on, the Left has mostly to play a defensive game of retrenchment and reaction, and this is an exhausting game, especially for liberals.

Yuval Levin

This comment encapsulates part of the argument that Jim Bennett and I make in forthcoming book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come.

The liberal welfare state is long past its peak. The question is, what next? We offer some predictions. But the main thing to consider is the transformative nature of the era we are living through. Both sides of the political spectrum are still stuck in 20th Century thinking, both thinking that the Blue Model can be tinkered with. It can’t. The challenge for Conservatives will be to figure out what they want to conserve and how to adapt their principles to the times. Progressives will need to figure out how to preserve their goals of protecting the weak and powerless using new methods, since the old ones are not working and will not continue to be popular once voters understand the burdens and costs.

Cross-posted on Chicago Boyz.

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2 Responses to The Liberal Welfare State is not Sustainable

  1. Pingback: Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » The Liberal Welfare State is not Sustainable

  2. ErisGuy says:

    Do liberals (that is “Progressives” which means “Communists”) believe the welfare state isn’t sustainable? I thought one of the defining beliefs of liberalism is that economics is created by the state. It isn’t an independent variable. That means with enough laws and the compulsory obedience that accompanies law, the money to fund the state can be made inexhaustible.

    Once one disbelieves in the blank slate—that the new Socialist/Feminist/Communist Man can’t be created; once one disbelieves that the economy is a creation of a repressive, exploitative plutocracy and instead is as real as physics—so that progressive, enlightened economy with enough Green-certifiable lifestyles for all cannot be created, then one is no longer a liberal. (I recall in Horowitz’ writings somewhere, one his professors says something like, “if you believe that, then you are no longer a Man of Left.”)

    Reality says “you can’t.” You can’t create paradise by liquidating the bourgeoisie, you can’t order new forms of technology like you order a taco, you can’t….Well, you get the idea.

    And I have never thought that “Progressives” were in least interested in protecting the weak. Exploiting the weak for their own purposes, yes. Which is why no proof of the failures of liberal programs (Head Start, Green subsidies) causes their cancellation. Liberals are not interested in what works, only it what makes them look good.

    All, IMHO, of course. “Liberal” is a big word.

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