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"Tax cuts aren't conservatism"

Linked primarily so I won't forget to read them properly in the morning, Henry at Crooked Timber highlights some articles I oughtta go read.

First, David Glenn turns a book review at Dissent of Jason DeParle’s The American Dream into an extended meditation on welfare reform and the left. It’s one of the richest and most thought-provoking short articles I’ve read this year.
DeParle’s thick description of one extended family’s life is worth careful reflection precisely because it does not map neatly onto left-liberals’ usual arguments about jobs, wages, and caregiving. …

The second reason why leftists should reflect on the social crisis is that it occupies so much of the psychic energy of the poor themselves. When I reported on a campaign to unionize home-health-care workers in Milwaukee in 2001, accompanying workers as they knocked on one another’s doors, I noticed how quickly conversations would move from anxiety about wages to anxiety about crime.


Second, Mark Schmitt tells us why the American conservative tradition is “shattered and bankrupt.”

Tax cuts are not conservatism. They are not a coherent worldview. They were a part of the conservative philosophy, but not an end in themselves. Stripped out of the larger framework of smaller government, of modesty about the possibilities of change, of respect for tradition and history, and of the sense that central government can be oppressive as easily as it can be liberating, tax cuts amount to nothing more than a material benefit for a few, and a long-term liability for everyone else. Put another way, imagine that the animating ideas of liberalism were reduced to this promise: “We will create a new cabinet-level agency every single year.” That’s not a vision that can attract deep loyalty, and neither is the promise of a tax cut every year.

Like Schmitt, I don’t think that the decay of conservatism is any cause for celebration. The American conservative tradition has been linked to some deeply unpleasant causes (...), but the conservative temperament, the “urging to be modest about the degree to which human behavior can be modified by law or other collective decisions, and to be respectful of the role that tradition, custom, religion, greed, etc. play in all of human life” has something real to contribute.

Yup, I'm turning into a wonk in my old age. No partisan points to be made here, though - not yet, at least.

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