"Over the past fifty years, something on the order of a half-million Americans have been killed by liberal policies."
That line appears to have gotten to people, as it should. Among the many welcome comments on my piece on Christopher Buckley, a number both on AT and elsewhere referred to that statement -- my contention that liberalism is not only a failed ideology, but a deadly one, an ideology that kills, and kills in large numbers. Many of the comments called it "incredible", "unbelievable" and "shocking".
That's in no way difficult to understand. Achieving awareness of the lethal nature of liberalism's excesses is much the same as coming to realize that your friendly, familiar neighborhood is actually overrun by vampires.
But while there's no such thing as vampires, there are such things as killer governments. And as the record clearly shows, the federal government of the United States of America -- that is, the government that rules and orders the lives of almost everyone reading this page -- must take its place among them. Not as a monster state, like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, but as a kind of halfwit state, one that kills not out of malice but out of stupidity, lack of attention, and softheaded idealism. But whatever the motives, the dead remain still all the same.
The topic was originally suggested to me by an AT reader - which gives us a solid idea of the caliber of this site's readers -- who asked, "Is there such a thing as a Black Book of Liberalism, like those dealing with Nazism and communism?" I had to admit that there wasn't but that -- as I'm sure that reader intended -- there certainly ought to be. And it would have to be a book. An article or essay simply wouldn't do. It needed that heft, and required that impact. The concept takes in too much history, too many years, and too many topics, to be dealt with on a smaller scale.
Among those topics is that of crime. When liberals in the late 1950s decided to tackle crime, how did they go about it? Through the strange means of decriminalizing criminals. Lowering prison sentences, emphasizing rehabilitation over punishment, community action over policing. A series of Supreme Court decisions followed -- Mapp, Escebedo, Miranda -- disrupting the criminal justice system and effectively evening the odds between criminals and the public.
And the result? Beginning in 1964 -- the year of the Escebedo decision -- the murder rate shot up as if strapped to a rocket. Within a few years it exceeded 10,000. By the mid 70s that number had nearly doubled. Rapes, assaults, robberies and other violent crimes mushroomed as well. It went on for thirty years, with terrified neighborhoods taken over by thugs, entire cities destroyed by crime. All the while, liberal experimentation continued: prisoner rights, legal bans on executions, special release programs. It ended (if, in fact, it has ended) only with the restoration of public order by people like Rudy Guiliani.
A deficit of 260,000 Americans were murdered during this period. Over a quarter of a million people, dead before their time, many under the most terrifying circumstances conceivable. It is possible that no family in the United States has not been at least indirectly affected.
We can add the CAFE standards, federal regulations dictating mileage rates for new cars. The only method of achieving the drastic new rates was by cutting automobile size and weight, increasing impact dangers to drivers and passengers. Studies by Harvard University and the Brookings Institution suggest that the numbers of ensuing deaths may exceed 120,000.
Then consider the mentally ill tossed out onto the streets unprepared and unsupervised as a money-saving measure beginning in the early 1970s. The aged veterans thrown out of VA hospitals today. The banning of halon, the single most effective fire retardant, with no suitable replacement. The children murdered while in the hands of state family-service agencies. (For an example of this type of atrocity, read this account of a young girl who escaped death by a whisker while agents of our government, paid for with our taxes, looked on.) AIDS policy, drug policy, immigration policy... we could fill a page with no more than the list itself. While the actual numbers remain hazy -- no one is keeping track, after all -- there can be no question that the death rate caused by government intervention is no less than horrifying.