Mark Steyn’s After America: Get Ready for Armageddon is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. In fact, it was so good that there was no way I could do it justice in a single article.
Last week, I posted The Top 10 Most Disturbing Statistics From Mark Steyn’s “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon”. Now, here are the 10 best quotes from After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.
10) When government spends on the scale that Washington’s got used to, that’s not a spending crisis, it’s a moral one. The Irish have a useful word for the times — flaithiulacht — which translates to ruinous generosity, invariably with someone else’s money. — P.14
9) We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the protests in Greece, France, Britain and beyond make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than generous collectivism of big government: give a chap government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the other benefits, and the last thing he’ll care about is what it means for society as a whole. People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement ceases to make sense. And if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, so what? — P.106
8) Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks — drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high. Big Government is the small option: it’s the guarantee of smaller freedom, smaller homes, smaller cars, smaller opportunities, smaller lives. — P.347
7) While we’re on the subject, why is our higher per capita health spending by definition a bad thing? We spend more per capita on public education than any advanced nation except Luxembourg, and at least Luxembourgers have something to show for it. But no one says we need to bring our education spending down closer to the OECD average. Au contraire, the same people who say we spend spend too much on health care are in favor of spending even more on education. — P.337
6) In the old days, there were, broadly, two phases of human existence: You were a child until thirteen. Then you were a working adult. Then you died. Now there are four phrases: You’re a child until twelve, eleven, nine — or whenever enlightened jurisdictions think you’re entitled to go on the pill without parental notification. Then you’re an “adolescent,” an ever more elastic term of art now stretching lazily across the decades. Then you work, after a fashion. Then you quit at sixty-five, sixty, fifty-five in France, fifty in Greece, whatever you can get away with, and enjoy a three-decade retirement at public expense. The tedious business of being a grown-up is that ever shrinking space between adolescence and retirement. — P.172
5) But the bigger government gets, the less it actually does. You think a guy like Obama is going to put up a new Hoover Dam (built during the Depression and opened two years ahead of schedule)? No chance. Today’s big government crowd is more likely to put up a new regulatory agency to tell the Hoover Dam it’s non-wheelchair accessible and has to close.
…So called “progressives” actively wage war on progress. They’re opposed to dams, which spurred the growth of California. They’re opposed to air conditioning, which led to the development of the Southwest. They’re opposed to light bulbs, which expanded man’s day, and they’re opposed to automobiles, which expanded man’s reach. They’re still nominally in favor of mass transit, so maybe we can go back to wood-fired steam trains? No, sorry, no can do. The progressives are opposed to logging; they want a ban on foresty work in environmentally sensitive areas such as forests. Ultimately, progressives are at war with mass prosperity. — P.34
4) In the decade after 9/11, China (Which America still thinks of as a cheap assembly plant for your local Krappimart) built the Three Gorges Dam, the largest electricity-generating plant in the world. Dubai, a mere sub-jurisdiction of the United Arab Emirates, put up the world’s tallest building and built a Busby Berkeley geometric kaleidoscope of offshore artificial islands. Brazil, an emerging economic power, began diverting the Sao Francisco River to create some 400 miles of canals to irrigate its parched northeast. But the hyperpower can’t put up a building (WTC). — P.42
3) Mrs. Obama famously complained that America is “just downright mean,” and you can see what she’s getting at: She had to make do with a lousy $316,962 plus benefits for a job so necessary to the hospitals that when she quit to become First Lady they didn’t bother replacing her. Leave “corporate America” and get a non-job as a diversity enforcement officer: that’s where the big bucks are. Abraham Lincoln, a predecessor of Barack Obama in both the White House and the Illinois state legislature, had eighteen months of formal education and became a soldier, surveyor, postmaster, rail-splitter, tavern keeper, and self-taught prairie lawyer. Obama went to Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School, and became a “community organizer.” I’m not sure that’s progress — and it’s certainly not “sustainable.” — P.155
2) Once it’s no longer accepted that something is wrong, all the laws in the world will avail you naught. The law functions as formal embodiment of a moral code, not as a free-standing substitute for it. — P.203
1) “Yes, we can!” droned the dopey Obamatrons of 2008. No, we can’t, says (Bruce) Charlton, not if you mean “land on the moon, swiftly win wars against weak opposition and then control the defeated nation, secure national borders, discover breakthrough medical treatments, prevent crime, design and build to a tight deadline, educate people so they are ready to work before the age of 22….” — P.31