How Often Does Social Security Check Math Not Add Up Another ‘Great Recant’ Cuts Social Theory

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Another ‘Great Recant’ Cuts Social Theory

December 10, 1975

In our continuing series of Great Recants, the one recently delivered by former Ohio Governor John J. Gilligan has to rank near the top.

The former champion of liberal labor causes surprised fellow Democrats at a recent National Issues Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, with a trio of popular agendas: a national health care proposal, federal involvement in environmental protection and federal housing and community development. .



“As heretical as it may seem to some, I am very reluctant to see the federal government roll out a nationwide health insurance program simply because in the decade since Medicare and Medicaid came along, we have invested millions in providing “health care. system without materially improving either the standard of health or its availability for most American families.”
Gilligan said.

He went on to suggest that most of these federal programs could be better managed at the state or regional level. To the extent that this position is exactly that of presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan, the convention delegates were stunned.

“I guess it’s a departure from some of my earlier thoughts,” Gilligan said: “But there are a lot of things that I believed in ten years ago when I was in Congress that have now been proven not to work.”

The aplomb with which dogmatic opinion leaders turn 180 degrees when their claims fail never ceases to amaze me.

However, we must recognize the intellectual courage these changes require.

If only the clearer thinkers who tell it like it are could be held in the same regard as self-styled oracles!

We delay or destroy good causes at great cost and labor, simply because those who advocate caution are vilified.

We are justified in questioning the remaining pie proposals that are still being hammered by campaigners with a lot of rhetoric and little logic.

Regular readers of this column will remember some of the other Great Retracters of recent years:

  1. About the school bus – by Dr. James Coleman, a sociologist at the University of Chicago who launched the tool of integration with a federal report in 1964. Now says, “Only under certain specific circumstances does integration improve the performance of the black classroom, when the number of blacks introduced is not large enough to disrupt the middle-class ethos of the classroom. When these limits are exceeded, the ghetto ethos prevails.”
  2. On Deficit Spending: By New York City Mayor Abraham Beame as America’s largest city neared bankruptcy. Now he says, “The very practices I advocated 10 and 20 years ago are responsible for our current predicament. Borrowing money to pay off debt was a mistake. It’s a bitter lesson.”
  3. On Federal Control – by UN Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan, then Assistant Secretary of Labor under President John F. Kennedy. Now he says, “American liberals are guilty of overprotecting the good name of the poor, overselling underfunded programs, and avoiding evidence of poor outcomes. In particular, we (liberals) have paid too little attention to the limited capacities of the offices government to bring about social change”.
  4. About New Math: By the California State Board of Education that started the educational fad a decade ago. The board now says, “Not everyone needs conceptual theory. The ability to balance a checkbook or add up a shopping list is basic.”
  5. On permissive behavior – by Dr. Benjamin Spock, infant care specialist and Vietnam War objector. Now he says: “We have raised a generation of brats. Fathers are not firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and parents. Of course. , we did it with the best of intentions. We didn’t realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining parents’ safety.”

We admit that those who espouse hard work, self-reliance, thrift, simple skill, craftsmanship, and all the other ancient virtues may know what they are talking about.

As we look through the list of beautiful social theories of the last few decades, what has been successful?

Not the New Deal, not the Square Deal, not the New Frontier, not the Great Society.

No public housing, rent subsidies, campus riots, black power, isolationism, foreign aid, sexual freedom, affirmative action, welfare, hiring quotas, free tuition.

Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment compensation survive at great cost, but they are in jeopardy.

Given the long and sorry record of errors of yesterday’s theorists, we will be better served by a new generation of pragmatists.

Better to count small blessings than to regret big mistakes.

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