Acts Like A President

Fred Thompson on the Conservative Agenda in today's WSJ. Still plays the part well. Four principles:
Congress cannot repeal the laws of economics. There are no short-term fixes without longer term consequences.

- In a free and dynamic country with social mobility, there will be great opportunity but also economic disparity, especially if the country has liberal immigration policies and a high divorce rate.

- An education system cannot overcome the breakdown of the family, and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.

- Free markets, not an expanding and more powerful government, are the solution to today's problems. Many of these problems, such as health-care costs, energy dependency and the subprime mortgage crisis, were caused in large part by government policies.

Prof. K. worries that Thompson takes our social ills too much for granted.
Conservative" policies work particularly well when there’s a healthy civil society, when, in other words, there isn’t a high divorce rate and there aren’t lots of families on the road to worldly perdition (not to speak of the hereafter). Certain things that pass in America for conservative contribute to these problems.

I’m not arguing that the answer is big government, surely not big government of the sort promoted by Senators Obama and Clinton. But if we take our current social conditions for granted, a simple emphasis on the market will surely make them worse.

True, but I don't read Thompson that way. I understand him to be making precisely Prof. K's argument, and showing how to argue the so-called "social issues." Why is it Conservative to support traditional marriage? Not because we lack sympathy for gays and divorcees, but because broken homes are the greatest risk factor for poverty and children with social pathologies stemming from a decayed culture can't learn, no matter what percentage of our tax money goes to education.

[Update: The Prof & I debate Fred's meaning a bit further in comments at his place. Next time, Fred, be more clear. ]

There is no doubt in my mind any candidate for Congress could do well if he reminded the electorate of these principles, especially points 2 & 4. Regarding these --taking up the theme that not every up or downturn of industry requires Congressional intervention-- I must point out George Will's take on the subprime mortgage crisis, which Congress is in the midst of breathlessly investigating. (I wonder if Congress will investigate itself or HUD for pressuring lenders to loan money to sub-prime borrowers?) He asks
Do young couples struggling to purchase their first homes concur with the sudden consensus that the decline in prices is a national misfortune?
Great line by way of conclusion:
The housing perhaps-not-entirely-a-crisis resembles, in one particular, the curious consensus about the global warming "crisis," concerning which, the assumption is: Although Earth's temperature has risen and fallen through many millennia, the temperature was exactly right when, in the 1960s, Al Gore became interested in the subject.