Due to a security breach (since fixed), visitors to my own site, View from a Height, are receiving a message that claims that it’s suddenly turned into the blog equivalent of Cujo.Â I’ve cleaned off the offending files and am reloading the new version of Movable Type, but until I can persuade Google that there’s nothing to see here, Ben’s graciously letting me co-blog here at his place.
Ben started in on the Bell Policy Center’s Wade Buchanan’s comments to the TABOR Repeal Fiscal Stability Commission on Thursday, but I wanted to point one of the rhetorical devices that he used to justify once and future extravagance on the part of the state government.Â The title of this post actually applies to Mr. Buchanan’s comments.
During his remarks, Mr. Buchanan referred to his own family history, and the choice of the Lamar city fathers to start a college in the middle of the depression, as an act of faith.Â He then went on to claim that the government programs and institutions we have in place are the result of the collective wisdom of our ancestors, and that we should not lightly toss them aside.
Welcome to the ranks of Burkean Conseravtives, Mr. Buchanan.Â For that’s exactly the argument that conservatives – as opposed to libertarians – make about societal and economic institutions that have evolved over the ages.Â Of course, Mr. Buchanan is echoing conservative themes because they resonate, not because they’re applicable.Â I doubt he’d support their use to oppose gay marriage, for instance.Â More importantly, Burke used them to show the interconnectedness and the complexity of such institutions.Â In his own example, you can’t re-create the morning paper every day; the activities required to produce it must be regularized, the efficiencies and processes learned and refined.
And there’s one other major difference: the institutions, programs, and subsidies that Mr. Buchanan refers to are the decisions of a relatively small number of people, legislators, acting in response to political pressures of the day, and capable of funding by someone other than the decision-makers.Â The processes and pressures that produce a small-town college are narrow; those that create – and eventually destroy – the major city newspaper are broad and diverse.Â The civil society and its collective, inherited, and accumulated wisdom, are much better displayed by the latter.
By the way, there’s a much better-known example of faith in the midst of despair.Â It’s not local to Colorado, but that he didn’t choose this example of private investment is telling.