William A. Galston issues a challenge to liberals to retake the political high ground by coming out in favor of individual freedom ("Taking Liberty," Washington Monthly, April 2005). But Galston's notion of freedom is the usual, redistributional, ignore-the-consequences, liberal version; for example:
"A system of universal health care would allow all Americans to pursue their dreams and take more risks." But who pays? And what happens to the quality and quantity of available health care when government takes the inevitable next step of controlling supply as well as demand?
"And it means getting serious about the millions of talented poor and minority kids who don't continue their education after high school because no responsible adult ever told them that they couldand should." Oh, really? No one? Never? Of such bombastic assertions is liberal policy made.
"[I]ndividual choice, while not always synonymous with liberty, and sometimes contrary to it...." Examples, please, of lawless forms of individual choice that are contrary to liberty?
"[T]here is plenty of room short of vouchers for more personal choice in K-through-12 education. Minnesota, for instance, has long permitted its families to choose among public schools across district lines; Britain does much the same." And when "failing schools" must scale back, do the "gaining schools" get to hire teachers who know what they're teaching, or must they hire the same sub-educated "professional educators" who caused the failing schools to fail?
"[F]reedom is seldom without cost. It usually requires sacrifice." Yes, but the kind of sacrifice required -- the willingness to go in harm's way -- isn't the kind of redistributional sacrifice liberals have in mind when they talk about sacrifice. Nor is it reinstatement of the draft, which Galston invokes in so many words.
"We must love not another country's dream, but our ownthe American Dreamand we must work to make it real for every American who reaches for it." As long as the "rich" (that is, everyone who makes an above-average income) pays for it. Of course, there would then be far fewer rich and far more poor among us, but Galston and his ilk neither know that nor care much about it.
The liberal agenda already has exacted an immense cost, a cost that will continue to mount as the liberal agenda advances. Equality in squalor is the name of the liberals' game.