Stirring up apathy

The oft-quoted wisdom “The only thing necessary for the triumph of
evil, is for good men to do nothing” comes to mind. (Though nearly
always attributed to Edmund Burke, it was likely a Bartlett’s error
that lives in infamy….but that’s another story…)

Mark Steyn has this good piece at NRO on a political strategy that wouldn’t seem to occur to anyone less than shrewdly calculating.

Big government depends, in large part, on going around
the country stirring up apathy — creating the sense that problems are
so big, so complex, so intractable that even attempting to think about
them for yourself gives you such a splitting headache it’s easier to
shrug and accept as given the proposition that only government can deal
with them.

Rings true, doesn’t it?

Take health care. Have you read any of these health-care
plans? Of course not. They’re huge and turgid and unreadable. Unless
you’re a health-care lobbyist, a health-care think-tanker, a
health-care correspondent, or some other fellow who’s paid directly or
indirectly to plough through this stuff, why bother? None of the
senators whose names are on the bills have read ’em; why should you?

We’re faced with a gamut of huge issues right now and we’re
overwhelmed. So….what?…..we trust the people in charge are going to
figure it out because we’re too busy getting by. But by saying ‘you fix
it’ and believing the political rhetoric that sounds like they will,
government is growing very large.

“Health” is potentially a big-ticket item, but so’s a
house and a car, and most folks manage to handle those without a
Government Accommodation Plan or a Government Motor Vehicles System —
or, at any rate, they did in pre-bailout America.

More important, there is a cost to governmentalizing every
responsibility of adulthood — and it is, in Lord Whitelaw’s phrase, the
stirring up of apathy. If you wander round Liverpool or Antwerp,
Hamburg or Lyons, the fatalism is palpable. In Britain, once the
crucible of freedom, civic life is all but dead: In Wales, Northern
Ireland, and Scotland, some three-quarters of the economy is government
spending; a malign alliance between state bureaucrats and state
dependents has corroded democracy, perhaps irreparably. In England, the
ground ceded to the worst sociopathic pathologies advances every day —
and the latest report on “the seven evils” afflicting an ever more
unlovely land blames “poverty” and “individualism,” failing to
understand that if you remove the burdens of individual responsibility
while loosening all restraint on individual hedonism the vaporization
of the public space is all but inevitable.

The key part of that bleak snip is the last sentence. And this:

A society of children cannot survive, no matter how all-embracing the government nanny.

But here’s the kicker:

I get a lot of mail each week arguing that, when folks
see the price tag attached to Obama’s plans, they’ll get angry. Maybe.
But, if Europe’s a guide, at least as many people will retreat into
apathy. Once big government’s in place, it’s very hard to go back.

Resist apathy with all your might.


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