Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will

Article excerpt

Is there anything more depressing than a cheerful liberal?

The question is prompted by one such, historian David Goldfield, who has written a largehearted book explaining that America's problems would yield to government's deft ameliorating touch if Americans would just rekindle their enthusiasm for it.

Goldfield's new book "The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good," notes that in 1964 nearly 80 percent of Americans said they trusted Washington all or most of the time.

Today, about 20 percent do.

Goldfield does not explain why trust in government waned as government's confidence waxed.

The question contains its answer.

MISSING THE POINT

He rightly celebrates the 1944 G.I. Bill of Rights, but misses what distinguished it from many subsequent social programs.

It was intended as a prophylactic measure against unemployment and political extremism among millions demobilized from the military.

It worked.

Veterans overwhelmed campuses.

Eligibility for the bill's benefits was contingent upon having performed military service.

The bill used liberal means - subsidies for veterans' education and homebuying - to achieve conservative results.

Rather than merely maintaining people as permanent wards of government, it created an educated, propertyowning middle class equipped for selfreliant striving.

In contrast, much of the Great Society's liberalism sought to demoralize policies, deeming repressive those policies that promoted worthy behavior.

This liberalism's political base was in government's caring professions that served "clients" in populations disorganized by behaviors involving sex and substance abuse. Surely this goes far toward explaining what Goldfield's narrative leaves inexplicable:

* Postwar America's political process chose Harry Truman and then Dwight Eisenhower to preserve the postNew Deal status quo. …

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