Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mill on Personal Freedom

"The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it." J.S. Mill
I have many objections to Mill's philosophy, and even the quote above is problematic. But one could do worse than brand this view on one's soul. If this aphorism were our current society's watchword, virtually none of the fascism we're currently fighting would even be considered.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cass Sunstein Outdoes Orwell

Cass Sunstein unveiled the Federal government's plans for (cough) 'regulatory overhaul'.
Sunstein said that the reform proposals, which are now available for public review as they head to become final rules in roughly 80 days, “underline and italicize the words freedom of choice.” [emphasis added]
Coming from this Administration - and Sunstein in particular - that is a statement I regard as roughly equivalent to the Nazi slogan Arbeit Macht Frei [Work Makes You Free] used at the entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp.

By the way, as of two days ago, none of those sections allegedly designed for public feedback were operational and there were no comments.

P.S. If the partial list provided at AEI is any indication, none of these changes touch anything serious. (Yes, I'm not surprised, either.) For example,
- Creating a system of hazard labels that conforms to “international harmonization.”

- Making sure federal regulatory code doesn’t refer to nations that no longer exist.
Color me underwhelmed.

[Update] IBD does a good job of showing why, even if Sunstein and crew were sincere, this would still be a drop in a leaky bucket.

Caving to the Left

Since the publication of William Voegeli's book, Never Enough a few conservatives have signed on to the idea that the welfare state is ineradicable. They propose that we 'accept reality', compromise, and call a truce with Progressives (or at least moderates). They suggest, in essence, that we lie back and enjoy it, hoping for at least a little petroleum jelly to ease the pain.

What they are suggesting is not a truce but a suicide pact.

Every aspect of the welfare state is immoral, impractical, and unconstitutional, and therefore completely illegitimate. It violates everyone's rights, including the recipients, to steal from Peter to pay Paul. Calling it "charity" or "good citizenship" or any other pleasant sounding description only adds insult to injury.

It's hardly a metaphysical given that welfare programs - along with every other Progressive policy - can not be eliminated. Progressives are influential - because of their outsized representation in education and the media - but they still number only about 20% of the population.

Persuade the other 50%+ not yet clear on the issue, those who don't yet realize how destructive to their own long-term interests the welfare state is, and we'll have won the intellectual battle, and therefore avoided any necessity for a physical one.

Now is no time to preemptively surrender. Progressives are on the ropes. Keep up the blows for another 10 years and this country might actually survive in some recognizable form.

Alternatively, accept an Obama-like return to America's '1967 borders' as the best you can do and you have agreed to jump off the cliff into a full European social democracy. Become Denmark circa 1990? No thanks. Even the Danes have backed away from that precipice. That road leads to Spain circa 2010.

The welfare state can not be saved by compromise, nor should it. Whether it will fade or consume us, time will tell. One thing is for sure; we should never cease to oppose it with vigor.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

David Brooks, Liberal Fascist

The following was quoted by Ed Crane of Cato, talking about David Brooks:
Neoconservative superstar David Brooks wrote in the New York Times just this past March, "Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise.

Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a national project."
I long ago took the measure of David Brooks, but this revolting statement surprised even me.

If Brooks believes one's life gains meaning only through service to the nation, he should make clear he speaks for himself. Thankfully, there are still a fair number of individualist Americans for whom that idea is anathema.

Clearly, the man is a thoroughgoing collectivist of the Nationalist variety. There's a term for that but Godwin's Law forbids me to use it.

Small wonder the Times keeps him on.

Heading to London

I'm off to London for a long-overdue vacation starting in early June. I'll be there about a week. Anyone know of a superior used book store in the city?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Conversations with Progressives, Part 36

Most of the time I refrain from engaging Progressives. They're so dishonest, not just in content but in method, that I judge it a waste of time to try to reason with them. However, from time to time, I respond if I think the audience might find what I have to say useful.

This is one example.
Progressive: Any attempts at repeal [of ObamaCare] with [sic] negatively affect almost 50 million Americans and I'm sure a good number of these citizens do vote. Repeal is a no go and that is a good thing. Denying care to clients because of lack of money and/or insurance is never a good thing or haven't any of you figured this out or do you even care?
Me: You can't back up those numbers, but that's a side issue.

Denying care to clients because of lack of money or insurance is both moral and practical. Most businesses deny service to clients for lack of money. It's called voluntary trade. Nothing in life is free. Forcing you to pay for my health care is immoral and impractical.

Attempting to do so only distorts price signals even further and undermines the market system that makes supplying health care services possible. Not least, it's unconstitutional from start to finish. It violates the rights of free trade and individual sovereignty as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

If you wish to engage in private charity, by all means devote your resources to supplying health care to anyone you wish. Coercing others to do so is wrong in every way.

I'm a middle-aged self-employed writer with less than stellar health who makes an absurdly low annual income. I choose not to pay for health insurance and accept the responsibility if my health goes south.

But whether I suffer through my choices or through no fault of my own, you have no moral or Constitutional obligation to pay for my health care or to provide me health insurance. Your money does not belong to me.

As to the question "how do you handle that problem?" it's no one's problem to handle but mine. I don't owe you any support and you do not owe me any.

Life is not free. It costs money to sustain. Those who can not afford it must rely on voluntary charity.

Even if one granted that government had a role to play in that charity, there's no valid argument whatever for the Federal government to play that role. All American citizens live in some state (or territory). What justification can there be for the taxpayers of Illinois to pay for the health insurance of a resident of Idaho?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Goldberg Chastises Krugman

... but for the wrong thing.

Jonah Goldberg joins the chorus of those chastising some liberal for his 'elitism'.

Populist conservatives should give the 'elite' charge a rest. There's nothing wrong with being a "member of the elite" if you actually are superior at something worthwhile.

Einstein was near the top of the elite in physics. James Madison was a superior political philosopher. Admiral McRaven is an elite military man.

The problem in Krugman's case is (a) the Nobel Prize for Economics is a joke, nowhere near as worthwhile as the one in, say, Chemistry; (b) Krugman's economic theories are all completely false and even a modestly well-educated person can know this; (c) Krugman himself has no superior personal attributes, morally or intellectually and; (d) he works for a company - the New York Times - that is itself laughable in every way: as a business, in its political point of view, and even on the basic scale of honesty and competence.

If Krugman were anything remotely like, say, Peter Ferrara, I would have no trouble whatever applauding him for being 'elite', because he would have earned that description.

To be opposed to anything 'elite' is at best to misuse language and at worst to oppose excellence and invite another French Revolution among the mob.