I agree with this, but I think Atrios could take it even further:
If They Designed Social Security Today
Well, they probably wouldn't. They might have a slightly more generous SSI program, which would be income and asset tested. Same for public education...
The point is we've moved away from "there are just certain things government does well and should do" and over to "maybe government should do some stuff for the poor but that's about it." It's a problem, both from a policy perspective, as there are certain things the government should do, and from a political perspective, as benefits-for-other-people never gets wide support.
Imagine what the centrists would say if universal government-run mail delivery was proposed today.
Obviously it's not just universal public schooling, mail, and Social Security. Wingnut political correctness requires us to oppose universality even when it's carried out by the private sector. Where's our universal broadband? Many rural stretches of the country still don't have DSL. Hell, there isn't even cellphone coverage in certain swaths of the country -- and any serious push to rectify either of these situstions from, say, the White House would have Beck and Malkin shrieking "SOCIALISM!" even louder than they are now.
Which means, to me, that if we hadn't achieved near-universal electrification or near-universal telephone access before Reaganism ate America's collective brain, we'd probably have gone decades post-Ronnie without stringing electrical or phone wires into the parts of the country that didn't have them -- and woe to the dirty hippie politician who dared to object.
Recall the words of one of the wingnuts' favorite political philosophers, Margaret Thatcher:
"...there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours."
Those people across town? Screw 'em.
It's really hard to imagine any universalized domestic program that wingnuts might not reject if given their druthers. Recently it was road-building:
In a recent radio interview, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) made the seemingly-innocuous statement that the federal highway system, as well as federal laws ensuring safe drugs and safe airplanes, are constitutional. Nevertheless, Shea-Porter is now under attack by "tenther" activists who believe that virtually everything the federal government does is unconstitutional:
Author and historian David Barton, the president of WallBbuilders, [sic] says Shea-Porter's comments reflect her view that Washington government should run everything. He notes that both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments say anything that is not explicitly covered in the Constitution belongs to the states and to the people.
"... The Constitution does say that the federal government can take care of what are called the post roads -- those on which the mail travels -- but outside of that, states are responsible for their own highways, their own roads, their own county, local, state roads," he notes....
Barton is a church-state-separation denialist who is much admired by folks such as Mike Huckabee, possibly the GOP's next presidential nominee. If you don't believe the interstate highway system is legal, and you believe in minimalist government at the state level, you could easily take a short step from that to no public road-building at all.
That's why I'd actually like to see some portion of Wingnuttia break off and become an independent nation (once we'd cleared the military bases and weapons out, of course). I'd love to see what sort of hellish libertarian/theocratic hybrid the looneys would manage to cook up.