Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One Mind at a Time

The great question of our time is whether or not a powerful and wealthy republic can maintain itself in perpetuity or if it is doomed to collapse under its own weight. If it is doomed to collapse, whose fault is it?

As I’ve said before, we’re different than the rest of the world. The rest of the western, “democratic” world is moving to a democratic socialism (probably, in actual function, closer to Marx than the Declaration of Independence). These systems are tyrannies of the elite backed by the majority. Individual freedom is dying a slow death in Europe and now maybe in America.

Europe has come to believe the purpose of government is the preservation of the “community.” Don’t understand what that means? Let’s look at it in a microcosm, let’s look at Taxes.

In a community oriented view, citizens are obligated to pay taxes to government because it is in their common interest. It’s hard, at first glance, to argue with this logic. You want roads? You must pay taxes so government may build them. You want to make sure all children have a good education, you must contribute to public education.

The implication of such logic however is that individual liberties are subservient to the good of the society as a whole. Therefore governments are instituted among men (and women) for the benefit of the community and anything that threatens the supremacy of society should be destroyed.

What is it then that threatens society and its government? Anything that requires an allegiance to something other than the society or its representative government. Think that’s a stretch? Consider this: No one member of a committee (say 535 members of Congress) can be said to represent society, but collectively they form a body that does, by definition, represent the interests of society. They, under oath to serve and protect society, aggregately form a government.

In this case the name, government, is even more significant because it is a clear description of what this body does; it governs society. It disciplines appetites and desires, motivates, directs, and even controls society for its own benefit. It is the only single actor that can because it represents society in the aggregate.

Under such a paradigm, such a government’s power must be infinite. It must have the power to achieve its aims. It must have the coercive ability to herd the many felines of differing interests.

Europe has adopted such a worldview. Fine. Let them. They are willing to accept unemployment rates continually in double digits in exchange for public goods.

The current American administration holds that view. That is why President Obama admittedly and openly says he’s going to redistribute wealth to those who need it. It is why, he believes anybody making over $250,000 a year has an obligation to pay more than they do now. He’s willing to accept the consequences (higher unemployment, larger welfare bureaucracy, more government intrusion into the lives of every day citizens). I’m not.

The American Republic was built under the rubric of a very different paradigm. America’s constitution was built on the belief that society’s role is to protect the freedom of the individual. This world view holds that every individual (with obvious exceptions) is capable of being totally self sufficient. Given basic tranquility and blind law, every man (and woman) is capable of not only feeding themselves but of excelling in whatever field they desire.

This, of course, does not imply that all people born have the same abilities, or even the same opportunity to achieve. The human experience is replete with enough examples to prove that is not the case. But it does mean, given a framework (law) that is open to opportunity, everybody is better off left to succeed or fail based on their own merits.

Here, as with the reverse philosophy (and especially in a republic), government “represents” the people and makes decisions and institutes laws. But here, the goal of the government is not what is best for society, but rather what is best for the individual. If you take care of individual liberties and success, society will be taken care of by weight of all the individuals succeeding. (As opposed to the effort to ensure the success of some over others which is an oligarchy.)

But what of those that can’t you ask? In a highly successful and free society or nation, surplus is almost always available. A free people, successful and flush with the rewards of their hard labor do not feel threatened and therefore are willing to share with those “less fortunate” or less capable. (Hence the origin of the belief in a basic public safety net or a willingness to pay higher taxes to take care of the poor.)

Under such a view, the individual’s freedom is paramount because only when the individual feels free from threat will he be most willing to build or create, take risks and push the boundaries of what is possible. Thus government is limited and restricted (restrained by a list of “negative rights” as some immature critics have called it).

The reverse is also true. When an individual feels that all they have worked for can be taken away, they tend to hide and hoard their individual rewards. Hence they don’t build, they don’t invest, and they don’t create jobs.

Ironically enough, the only way a nation can shift between the two views and the resultant governments, is through an attitude shift of its populace (and, if you believe Thomas Jefferson, the natural elite). That is; the people must be willing to embrace the change a single individual at a time.

Who then is responsible for the shift in government’s focus seen over the last 100 years in America? You! In the end, it is we the people that will chose, one person at a time. It’s in your hands.