The Right Opinion

Why Liberalism Doesn't Work

By William Murchison · Dec. 11, 2012

Reason No. 1 not to tremble at the prospect of liberal ascendancy, world without end: Liberalism doesn’t work. At any rate, not the way liberals commonly suppose it’s going to work when they devise enormous taxpayer-funded, government-run programs, minimally connected, if at all, to the realities of human existence.

An article in the Dec. 9 New York Times, of all places, gleams in the darkness of the present political moment as the Obama administration works to rub away resistance to its vision of an all-encompassing federal government. “This is painful for a liberal to admit,” admits Nicholas D. Kristof, a Times columnist who, oddly, doesn’t see his job as requiring regular trashing of conservatives, “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.” Do tell. Kristof’s careful examination of anti-poverty programs in Appalachia presents a viewpoint far more nuanced than, say, a Barack Obama speech urging the overhaul of capitalism. He finds that giving people too much free money for too long can create disincentives to live non-dependent lives. He talks about parents who pull illiterate kids out of literacy programs to avoid forfeiting a $698 monthly Supplement Security Income check meant to “help” the intellectually disabled.

Kristof (unlike various think tank and media figures) notes the complexity of the poverty issue. Part of that complexity, he reports with amazing realism (notwithstanding a well-earned personal reputation for realism), consists in the seductions of money.

Kristof understands marriage as “one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married households, only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households. He sees intellectual disability as a category unrealistically enlarged: presently covering "a full 8 percent of all low-income children,” at an annual taxpayer cost of $9 billion. “Those kids,” he says, “may never recover: a 2009 study found that nearly two-thirds of these children make the transition at age 18 into S.S.I. for the adult disabled. They may never hold a job in their entire lives and are condemned to a life of poverty on the dole – and that’s the outcome of a program intended to fight poverty.”

Better, he continues, to work at creating environments favorable to helping welfare clients stand on their own feet. He praises the efforts of the aid group Save the Children, whose Appalachia staff visits “at-risk moms,” helping “nurture the skills they need in the world’s toughest job: parenting.”

He notes a growing body of research suggesting that “the most effective strategy is to work early on children and education, and to try to encourage and sustain marriage.” As in – Kristof didn’t say this; I’m saying it – ye olden tyme, before the welfare lobby conspired with Congress to make welfare the solution of solutions to every human plight.

Kristof’s insight, it is fair to note, has major antecedents. Charles Murray, in “Losing Ground,” was first to make in sustained fashion the point that welfare, by fostering dependency, undermines social stability. Last January, Murray followed up, in “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1920-2010,” with chilling confirmation that a “great divide” exists between new classes, upper and lower.

“Changes in social policy during the 1960s,” he writes, “made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man…”

The old social norms have broken down. Who’s to reconstruct them now? Conservatives? By themselves? What about conservatives, joined by liberals such as Kristof – eyes on both sides of the philosophical spectrum bulging with horrified recognition of harm inflicted in the name of salvation.

Conservatives can do business with liberals who, so to speak, get it – unlike the hierarchs of the new/old administration in Washington, where denial of plain facts seems to many the plainest proof of virtue. For now.



Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:

Liberals only remain so, until mugged by reality.....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

They've created a system that encourages laziness, lack of morals, and just plain disinterest in doing any better. When you can sit on your ass and live better on the dole than people working low-paying jobs then there is no incentive to work. I fault the Social Security administration and doctors for the many young men on disability who in reality could do some kiind of meaningful work. However, like Mac says, it the votes that count and the disgraceful parasites who have no shame in living off the hard work of others will continue to for for the Condum party.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas said:

Great article. I'd like to make two points about it.

Mr. Murchison writes, "Better, he continues, to work at creating environments favorable to helping welfare clients stand on their own feet. He praises the efforts of the aid group Save the Children, whose Appalachia staff visits "at-risk moms," helping "nurture the skills they need in the world's toughest job: parenting.""

1) I dislike the term "welfare clients." They are not "clients," they are recipients of the fruits of other people's labor. When I dead with actual "clients" we are engaging in trade, not robbery.

2) Parenting is not the hardest job in the world - not even close. If it was, then we would not have so many single-mothers-by-choice doing it. Doing it with excellence requires work, but that's not the same thing at all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:55 AM

turtlewax in Portland replied:

>>Parenting is not the hardest job in the world

Army Officer : Babies pop out easily enough. I think he meant doing it right is hard. Kids made me give up television, junk food, forced me to exercise, set a good example. Feed them before I feed myself (even when I'm really hungry), read to them (even when I'm really tired).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:51 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas said:

Edit: it should say "deal with" instead of "dead with."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Graciela in San Jose, CA said:

taken from Town Hall:The Heritage Foundation's Jennifer Marshall recently posted a must-read piece on a conservative anti-poverty agenda that deserves wide readership. In it, she rightly emphasizes the importance of the right having an anti-poverty agenda and outlines the "5 C's": Communication, Content, Courage, Credibililty and Critical Mass. Check it out.

As she notes, the "critical mass" component includes working with fellow conservatives to create and advance the agenda. To that end, it's worth looking at some of the programs -- and theories -- laid out in Paul Tough's "How Children Succeed." The underlying idea is that to help children "succeed" -- especially in the context of escaping poverty and other dysfunction -- it isn't enough (or even the primary task) to teach them cognitive skills. Instead, they need to develop character traits like self-control, grit (resilience), gratitude and curiosity ("noncognitive socialization," to use a fancy term).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska said:

Anything left of Yahweh's morality (as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments) is left, liberal, and ungodly. When today's politicians (Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, etc.), churches, preachers, and most people claiming to be Christians are measured against this standard (the only standard by which all things must be ethically judged), they are found to be merely liberal or conservative leftists. It is consequently imperative that Christians do everything in our power to uphold this standard before the secular world and modern churchianity.

See online booklet "Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant" at

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Joe in Texas said:

I appreciate your thoughts on this, Mr Murchison, but you totally missed the point of modern liberalism.

It's not to help the poor, but to keep them on the dole in order to gain votes. Liberalism isn't about helping anybody. It's about gaining central power. Liberals never look for solutions. If they did, they wouldn't repeat history.

For example, Obama knows higher taxes doesn't create more govt revenue. He admitted it. He says it's about fairness (really it's about punishing success). Who cares if it doesn't work?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

"It's not to help the poor, but to keep them on the dole in order to gain votes. "

Exactly. Even Gregory has admitted this:

You (Conservatives) need enthusiastic Hispanics and African Americans and a thriving middle class. There's two things that will happen. Your lot will be cast out in a political Armageddon or moderate conservatives will form a new party sans nutty beliefs. - Gregory in Yakima - Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM

The Democrats need to keep people on the welfare/entitlement plantation. Liberals fear a thriving Middle Class yet a thriving Middle Class is good for America. How can it not be? Yet Liberals do not want upwardly mobile citizens - much preferring them to remain on the government dole.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 9:06 PM

Robert Alexander in Texas said:

Proverbs 22.6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6.4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of יהוה (YAHWEH.)

Deuteronomy 11.19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 32.46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 3:00 PM

BJ in St. Cloud, MN said:

And while we wait for the pendulum to swing back to an honest free America we'll just have to suffer thru it????? I say let the strong survive. On my dime you get no cell phone, no car, no prepared foods, no cable, no DVD player, no, no, no!!
Food should come after standing in line to pick it up after riding the bus in the same building as the urine testing each week. It free so let's make it ugly, make it hard, make some work out of it. MY DIME MY RULES!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 4:11 PM

Blairblaster3 in Illinois replied:

excellent idea

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Roger in rural, Montana said:

Really? And he thinks Conservatism would work so much better?

Before anyone gets their arrears in knots, let me assure you that I don't have any more preference for liberals than I do for conservatives. I think both are equally bad. What difference does it make where the money comes from if it means sacrificing future generations to the State? Who really cares whether the "official" designation of the State is Fascist or Communist? The results are going to be the same.

Fact is, the Bible clearly lays out that parents, not the Liberal/Conservative State, are responsible for raising children. Parents, not the State. Until we get back to the understanding that we, as parents, have responsibility to God to bring up our children in the fear of the Lord, then we will bring them up in the fear of the State. We have no other option.

We, and our children, will either serve the Lord God Almighty, the One Who makes and breaks lawmakers and societies, or we will serve the one which is broken. "Choose you this day whom you will serve." "How long will you waver between two opinions?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Rick in Rural Texas replied:

Apparently you are not familiar with the Conservative message. That message is mainly to get off your lazy butt, get a job and contribute to society. Marry the woman you have children with and be around to help them grow up. It also requires that the government get out of the way so that these decisions are possible. While the Conservative position lies closely alongside the Bible, it does not demand strict adherance to it. It seems that you have been listening to the liberals define conservatives.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Tod in Brooklyn, NY said:

"Give someone a fish, and they eat for a day, teach someone how to fish, and they may eat for a lifetime."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Pastor Louis in Texas said:

Romans 13
New International Version (NIV)
Submission to Governing Authorities

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:46 PM

Brent in Portland replied:

Since it is generally the fault of many to take Paul completely out of context, especially when reading diluted renditions of the New Testament (NIV) I feel it necessary to post the ENTIRE context of the passage you just posted form the KJV. Paul wrote this as an entire epistle...we are the ones that attached chapter and verse to find things. But when taken out of context, it is very easy to presume he meant one thing when he actually meant another. You will note that Paul is not talking about government officials and their power to tax, nor is he calling government officials God's servants. Otherwise "Might MAKES Right" by Machiavelli would be completely true.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Brent in Portland replied:

I present, for the illumination of other reader, as I am certain you will not move from your opinion:


1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Brent in Portland replied:

And now backing himself up as an Apostle of the Lord he writes in 13:

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Brent in Portland replied:

The LAW that Paul is referring to is the Law of God: following His ordained servants and the ordinances, paying of tithes and offerings...etc...the end of the Law being Love. He is NOT referring to principalities or magistrates. If that were true, we are all guilty for having rebelled against the King of England; every Government current in Europe is guilty of disobeying the Pope, who was in turn guilty of disobeying Constantinople. And if you want to get really silly, the Romans should have never overthrown their Etruscan masters, the Jews should have never appealed to return to Jerusalem and should have contented themselves with living in Babylon, we would not have the Bible, nor the writings of Paul to begin least not writing to the Romans. Maybe the Egyptians. Or the Philistines...or the (fill in local tribe here that the Israelites were at one time subjugated to).

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Chris in Wisconsin replied:


Excellent! It's the Body of Christ, His Church and those in positions of authority within His Civil Body Politic. His Kingdom/Will On Earth.

It's so good to see men such as yourself that haven't fallen for such nonsense as the "Pastor" has spewed forth from his 501 (c) controlled pulpit, granted to him by the god (state) he went to to obtain creation of his "church" (via incorporation), now owned and controlled by its creator, the state.

You nailed it!

Yahweh Bless You.

Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Chris in Wisconsin replied:

"Pastor" Louis,

I guess that means that if I lived in Russia at the time of Stalin's reign of terror where, among many other atrocities, he and his government starved millions of Christians to death, I'd be obligated to, not only be at minimal in full support, but help to finance it as well ???? !!!

"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."

And you're a "Pastor" ??? "When the blind lead the blind, they both shall fall into a pit."

Unless you repent, your fate will be worse than those not in such a position as yours. "Woe unto them that call good evil and evil good."

"Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!"

Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 12:23 PM