Friday, February 24, 2006

Crunchy Con Blogging Rampage!

They're lighting it up over at the Crunchy Con blog at National Review. While daunting, it's well worth reading the whole thing. For a bite-sized taste, read the (brief) manifesto.

Some of the early criticisms leveled against Dreher & Co centred around the red herring of coercion: 'Surely the government won't force us to wear Birkenstocks?'

As Bruce Frohnen points out, the question isn't the out-and-out banning of non-Crunchy conduct, but rather how since government policies cannot be neutral we therefore need to pay close attention to what interest is being served:
Societies and governments are definitely not neutral. For example, our current tax structure punishes families for having children and for making the choice of relying on a single income, along with a stay at home mom. And I do mean punishes. The tax structure assumes that all of us are atomistic individuals who may happen to choose consumption items, like children, for which we will give them some tax relief, because we claim to like kids. A system based on the family as a fundamental, natural basis of society would start from the presumption that the family is the unit taxed... Libertarians, and too many conservatives, buy into the notion that the government can be “neutral” by pretending only individuals exist. In fact, government is going to serve some set of interests, and if we don’t make those interests clear and specific (and crunchy) they will be, as they are, hostile to our most important institutions and communities.
Ross Douthat suggests another way to ease the difficulty of adopting a Crunchy lifestyle: tax breaks for telecommuting:
Telecommuting a few days a week gives working parents more time with their kids (if only because it knocks out the time lost in the commute); it also makes it easier for families to live further out from city centers, which not only fosters the "crunchy" virtues that come with rural living, but also drives down the cost of raising one of those large traditionalist families that Philip Longman thinks will own the future. Real estate prices are lower the further you get from urban cores, and so is the cost of basic goods and services...
The biggest policy change needed hasn't been mentioned so far: the implementation of true educational choice. Currently, the paradigm of funding only public schools not only discriminates against alternative and religious private schools, but also discourages homeschooling while subsidizing the two-earner family.

But more still can and ought to be done to undermine the liberal materialist culture that surrounds us. A good start could be had by first, regulating the content of commercial advertising to eliminate the lifestyle appeals that add nothing to the public's knowledge of market options but produces a dead-weight loss to the economy while reinforcing the consumerist impulse in modern society. A substantial tax should be slapped on remaining advertising revenues to further combat the consumerist mentality. These measure would have the added virtue of hitting the broadcast media the hardest, reducing the influence of mass-manufactured "culture".

More thoughts later, no doubt.


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