Damn Libruls!

And then that bleeding heart wuss Reagan actually signed a UN treaty outlawing torture. The generation that faced down Communists and Nazis had no idea what evil is. All of human history begins with Baby Boomers! That’s why we’ve made everything so much better since the 60s. What will you Gen Xers do without us, the most important people who ever lived?

  • JasperBuck

    “The whole modern world has divided itself into
    Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making
    mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes being

    • Dan C

      Clever, but GWBush is one of yours.

      • Chatsworth

        And President Partial Birth Abortion Troop Surge in Afghanistan Barack Obama is one of yours. So who’s ahead?

        • Dan C

          Ummm….the point being that, unlike the clever aphorism indicates, conservatives commit errors too. The aphorism is an appeal to some mythological state of conservativism in which it “conserved”. Not since WW2 has this been the case.

          • ivan_the_mad

            Dan, you have misunderstood the quote of GKC. He’s castigating both. The political context is the early 20th-century UK, but there is a certain timelessness to it.

      • Irenist

        Well, G.W. Bush is certainly a Republican. But he’s hardly a conservative in the sense of, say, Bolingbroke, Burke, Newman, Brownson, Chesterton, or Kirk, just to stick to a few Anglophone examples. In foreign policy, e.g., the instincts of Bush the Younger were positively Jacobin: invading foreign lands to bring them the principles of 1789, instead of leaving them well enough alone. Bush the Elder, to the contrary, was far more of a “conservative” in his instincts, and certainly the last decent Republican president we’ve yet seen.

        N.B. that Bush the Younger was hardly a “liberal” in the sense of Locke, Smith, Bright & Cobden, or J.S. Mill, either. We’ve got two parties right now that are captive to corporate interests and are excessively fond of bombing foreign countries. Neither “conservative” nor “liberal,” in the old honorable senses of BOTH of those terms, really describes either present party.

  • linda daily

    Who are you addressing in this piece?

  • Rosemarie


    Yes, that’s part of what the Eisenhower Administration pledged to do. The whole thing is available here:


  • http://www.jonathanfsullivan.com/ Jonathan F. Sullivan

    “What will you Gen Xers do without us, the most important people who ever lived?”

    The snarky part of me wants to answer “We’ll start the process of rebuilding,” but the honest part says “We’ll rely on the Millennials to start the process of rebuilding.”

  • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

    Yes, US conservatives have politically changed since 1956 because they, exactly like the left, tried some stuff when they were running the place and found that it didn’t work. They then changed their policy prescriptions.

    Learning from failure is somehow transformed into a betrayal of ideology instead of evidence that the movement holds the scientific method, evidence and truth as higher values than ideology.

    In other words, one more cheap shot to leaven the usual fare that Mark Shea dishes out. Well, I guess I appreciate the good stuff more for the contrast.

    • Chesire11

      Nonsense! Those things that “didn’t work” produced a large, growing, and secure middle class, an expanding economy, and social stability.

      Then the politicians learned that they could get more by simply whoring themselves out to the wealthy, and so preached policies that severed the bonds of solidarity in favor of “unleashing” the poor oppressed rich. The result has been record corporate profit, lack of corporate accountability, a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few utterly disconnected from their performance in terms of creating new wealth, uncontrolled explosion of both private and public debt, lack of investment in education or infrastructure, environmental degradation, decline of the middle class, loss of the manufacturing sector, social instability, political radicalization and financial collapse.

      Other tan that…yeah.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

        There are certain policy prescriptions that accomplish their task at the time but set up severe consequences down the road. The most clear of these that you are likely to understand without a lot of argument is the PRC’s one child policy. It works like a charm to bring down the dependency ratio (its actual public policy task) and creates a multi year “golden hour” in a country’s demographic. I have been arguing against its fans for years and perhaps you have too. The political downside is that it sets up a demographic nightmare after a few decades, one that the PRC entered in 2010.

        Such long term poor consequences are often covered on this blog using the device what could it hurt/how we’re we to know so its not like Mark doesn’t know about the effect. The world has changed a lot since 1956.

        The Phillips curve was thought to be real in 1956. The 1970s simultaneous increase of both components had yet to happen as well as the 1980s decrease of both components, debunking the curve for Republicans but generally not for Democrats.

        Some of the items are still in effect from the list. The Ryan plan for eliminating the deficit respects item 4 from the list by improving results from our currently heading for bankruptcy social safety net. Perhaps you might be more specific in your criticism?

        • Michael Ejercito

          Plus, one of the conditions that allowed for really high tax rates and minimum wages in 1956 was that Europe, at the time, was still reeling from its near total destruction from WWII. Businesses did not have the option of relocating their factories to France or Germany, not while their infrastructure was so bad. It was not until the sixties that businesses could threaten to move to Europe if operating costs were too high.

        • The Deuce

          Yup, or to put it another way, civilization is all about foregoing instant gratification to build a better tomorrow. Leftism is all about destroying civilization.

          • Chesire11

            Yes. You are absolutely right. You figured us out. Fortunately “conservative” policies are all about foregoing instant gratification…which is why they create such spectacular deficits, and financial crises.

            The only bogeymen are the the extremists, whether on the left or the right, extremism destroys. It is the “moderation” that embraces the virtues of each; the dynamism of the right with the solidarity of the left – that is truly Catholic.

            There is a word for a philosophy that distorts truth by obsessive, and exclusive fixation upon one or two truths to the exclusion of the fullness of truth…heresy, and heresies show up in economics as easily as in religion. In the 1960′s our country suffered from a leftist economic heresy; since the 1980′s ideological extremists have imagined that the corrective is right-wing heresy. It isn’t, and we won’t return to a stable economic model until we attain an economic orthodoxy.

        • The Deuce

          The Ryan plan for eliminating the deficit respects item 4 from the list
          by improving results from our currently heading for bankruptcy social
          safety net

          Yeah, but that’s not humane enough. The humane thing to do is to self-righteously denounce conservatives for being heartless bastards and shut down any and all of their attempts to reduce welfare and entitlement spending, until we go broke and the poor and elderly starve to death abruptly.

          • Chesire11

            Take that you pinko-commie bishops!

      • The Deuce

        Those things that “didn’t work” produced a large, growing, and secure middle class, an expanding economy, and social stability

        No, that security was the result of the aftermath of WWII, when the US was the only Western nation that hadn’t been devastated by the war, turning us into an export giant as everyone else struggled to rebuild.

        Bastiat was right that destruction cannot produce net wealth, but it can work out pretty well for you personally if everyone else has a broken window and you’ve got all the working window factories.

        That surge in post-war wealth allowed us to think that we could afford all those things you mention indefinitely, and so we passed them. We could afford to be stupid for a while, but now the well has run dry and it’s time to pay the piper.

        • Chesire11

          The destruction of the European manufacturing base, as well as the depletion of their currency reserves did contribute significantly to American economic growth, there is no question about that. It is the fact that the resulting prosperity was broadly shared throughout the economy, rather than accruing disproportionately to the top of the economic ladder was the result of enlightened economic policies that recognized that such inequitable distribution of wealth is intrinsically unstable, inefficient, and immoral.

          When social programs are executed as giveaways that drain resources from efficient ends, they become unsustainable. When they are executed as social insurance programs that are economically viable and ordered toward increased productivity, they are not only sustainable, but are morally necessary. As it stands, policies that allow wealth to concentrate, redistributing up the economic ladder are no more effective, or efficient than redistribution to the bottom. Indolence among the rich is no more admirable than indolence among the poor.

    • The Deuce

      Exactly. Nowadays, we see governments going bankrupt under the weight of exorbitant pensions and salaries that dwarf the struggling private sector, we see the minimum wage hollowing out the entry-level job market, we see the feminists demanding more “wage equality for equal work” even though they already have it and even though men are struggling because of the affirmative action laws stacked against them in education and the job market, we see people becoming lifelong dependent slaves of the welfare system, we see unions strangling the public and small businesses and confiscating their hard-earned savings to use as political donations, etc.

      I don’t see a single item on this list that the Republicans weren’t right to abandon. I’ll take Reagan over Nixon or Eisenhower, thanks.

      • Chesire11

        You do realize that this isn’t 1974, right? Or did you completely miss the past four decades of American life??? You seem to be stuck in a feedback loop of 1970′s stereotypes.

        BTW, the reason those public pensions are such a problem is because they were unfunded. Governments are going bankrupt because they pandered to the pubic’s desire to get something for nothing, and preferred to fund tax cuts by neglecting to fund the pension obligations. Had “conservatives” not robbed the pension to fund tax cuts, the pensions would either have had to have been funded or reigned in. Unfortunately, they did neither and now we are left with the worst of both worlds.

  • http://canfrancisbringmeback.wordpress.com/ ganganelli

    Amazing to see how far we have devolved since then.

    In the 1950′s the top tax rate was 91%, the unionization rate was 4x what it is today, GM was the country’s largest employer(now it’s walmart), and a man could support his wife and kids on one income. Oh, and they had this thing called a pension back then.

    Expect to hear a lot more about “savage” capitalism from Pope Francis with facts like these staring us in the face.

  • JonSc

    Isn’t this precisely why Bill Buckley started National Review? Even the “conservatives” were liberals. So yes, Mr. Shea, Eisenhower, who had many virtues, was no conservative. If your point that there was a good old day when even Republicans favored greater centralization of our lives in big government, then I guess score one for you. Me, I think centralization in all its manifestations, whether it is big government or big business (usually the one supporting the other) is the problem. And it is worth pointing out, that although there were many virtues of 1956, as far as economic standard of living if one looks at the statistics there is not a one of us who would want to go back to those years.

    • chezami

      Yes. Today’s GOP is the picture of health. So is the US. Things are great. Business is booming. Life is beautiful. Let’s have another war. More bailouts for the rich on the backs of the middle class.

    • Paxton Reis

      Speaking of Eisenhower, we tend to be familiar with his warnings on the military-industrial complex, which plagues our systems today; yet that speech also warned of scientific-technological elite intertwined with the government:

      “Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now
      hundreds of new electronic computers.

      The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations,and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

      Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

      It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

      • Stu

        I think we also have add the growing healthcare industrial complex to present day threats.

        • Paxton Reis

          Yes, it is all woven together with the connected government insiders-financial-corporate elite.

    • Chesire11

      Actually, Eisenhower WAS a conservative, back before conservatism viewed things like the wheel, and fire askance, as liberal innovations that threatened traditional raw meat eating values of their forefathers!

      So far as the standard of living in the 1950′s, goes, an economy in which a large family could be supported from labor of a single wage earner, and allowed time for actual leisure, and time as a family…um, yeah, sign me up.

      • Robert

        I hate to burst your bubble, but in the 1950′s a single wage earner could NOT support a large family. My parents had four kids and it took two incomes to support us.

        • Chesire11

          That’s okay, I’ll reinflate it. My father supported a family of five on his income as a high school graduate, starting in the mid 1950′s when my oldest brother was born until I (the youngest) left home in the mid eighties, putting three of us through college along the way. We didn’t take a lot of trips, nor did we have the latest and greatest gadgets on the market, but we owned our own house, and always had food on the table.

          • Paxton Reis

            “We didn’t take a lot of trips, nor did we have the latest and greatest gadgets on the market, …”

            Our gadgets etc., our consumption is part of the problem today. Patterns in per capita consumption of goods, energy in the US (and the developed world) changed significantly over the past 30-40 years. How many households today have multiple TVs, multiple vehicles, etc?

      • ivan_the_mad

        I know of a rather conservative fellow who might agree with you.

        “The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.” — Russell Kirk, Ten Conservative Principles, 1993

      • The Deuce

        You mean, back before liberals thought that things with wheels were evil unless they run on the power of rainbows?

  • Matt Talbot

    On the economic stuff, the 1956 Republican party was actually to the left of a lot of the Democratic Party leadership of today.

    Also worth echoing the observation of others in this thread that the economic situation of the typical worker back in 1956 was way better than today.

    Of course, the plutocracy hated those years, and the last 50 years can be understood as, in part, the plutocracy clawing back the gains made by workers in the 20 years before then – a project that was vastly accelerated beginning with Reagan.

    Economic libertarianism has had the same consequences it had before the reforms of the 1930 and 1940s: yawning wealth inequality, an increasingly powerless and exploited worker class, and an economy that has destabilized due to the greed of the overclass.

    History suggests that this kind of situation can either be reformed (see the administrations of the two US Presidents named Roosevelt) or else it can be overthrown in less kindly ways – but it is literally unsustainable. Greed has consequences beyond just the spiritual.

    • JonSc

      The economic situation of the typical worker was better in 1956? Are you crazy. The poverty rate in 1956 was about 30%, about twice what it is today. In today’s dollars, in the mid-1950s we spent about 600 in government assistance for each poor person. Today, in the same dollars, it is $15000. Again, inflation adjusted dollars puts the media household income at about $6000 higher today than in 1967, the first year data was collected. The size of houses is much higher today. The presence of cars, televisions, computers, cell phones, etc., obviously dwarfs that of the 1950s.

      The two presidencies of the Roosevelts, not without their virtues, sowed the seeds of a leviathan state as both rejected in principle any concept of limited government. Both we friends of big business, and then using big government to manage big business. Both thought that social science could liberate us from tiresome deliberative democracy.

      I am quite fond of William Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed book. I am no libertarian. But the apologies for the state and the almost comical representation of the 1950s economy is absurd.

      • Chesire11

        There is no such thing as a “golden age,” and it is indeed unrealistic to pretend that the 1950′s were perfect, or didn’t sow the seeds of problems that only manifested in the 1960′s-70′s.

        That said, the median household income may be $6,000 higher in constant dollars than it was in the 1960′s (I’ll take your word for it), but that is comparing households which typically included only a single wage earner to households in which twin incomes are the norm.

        Also, the disparity between the material possessions of a 1950′s household, and the typical household of the early twenty-first century can largely be explained by the availability of cheap credit which greatly expanded the money supply, allowing people to finance such purchases with unsustainable levels of personal debt.

        There were tons of serious problems with America in the 1950′s, both economic and social, but it is equally comical to imagine that liberating greed from duties of solidarity is unrelated to the moral, and social collapse of American culture, and the decline of the American Church.

  • ck

    Yep, that was the platform of the Rockefeller Republicans that gave us Roe v. Wade.

    • chezami

      And clearly, there is a logical connection from one to the other. Meanwhile, being pro-torture and reckless war and voting for Romney is the obvious choice of the prolife Catholic.

    • Chesire11

      No, it was the inception of a hyper-materialist consumer culture in America that normalized abortion in the public “conscience.” Roe v. Wade only blessed and enshrined into law a conversion of heart that had already taken place.

      In the end, you can thank an inexhaustible appetite for cheap consumer goods, and an annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Disney of Rat for Roe v. Wade.

      Exit through the gift shop…

  • Stu

    So indeed, the Republican platform was surely different than that of today. Probably different than the Republican platform under Lincoln as well. Political parties change in some things for better and some for worse.

    FWIW, both parties have embraced liberalism and have for some time.

  • Elmwood

    In 1956 we still had the Tridentine mass as the ordinary form, coincidence? I think not.

  • Joe

    We Gen Xers will probably do perfectly fine without Baby Boomers as soon as we euthenize them (you guys aborted us after all). :)

    • lspinelli

      Not to mention taking what’s left of Social Security. The heck with Gen X (me and my spouse) and those wanting-something-fer-nothing Millenials. Why do they need it?

  • SteveP

    I’m sure Gen-Xers will simply find different panegyrists to serenade them with renditions of “How Great Thou Art:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vpqilhW9uI