is a political discussion blog. Please read the annoying legalese on the "About" page.

Misguided conservatives…

I’ve been thinking recently about conservatives decrying liberals for support of government intervention (aka “Liberal Fascism“).

The argument goes that liberals are the enemy because we want to sap and impurify the perfection of free market capitalism. Or more seriously, that our misguided belief that government has a positive role to play, threatens the fabric of the nation and the intent of our founders.

This has risen to particular fervor as of late because of the recently passed healthcare legislation. And Libertarians and Republicans (which increasingly are indistinguishable) are up in arms over the impression that we are moving toward a socialist state, that taxes are tyranny, and that evil liberals in their quest for power desire a totalitarian state. In their world, government is the enemy and corporations are our friends.

Unfortunately for conservatives (and frankly all of us because despite a supposed “two party” system, both parties essentially follow the same Ayn Rand-ian dogma these days), they have the “enemy” exactly backwards.

The problem is not government intervention, the problem is the need for government intervention. While it is true that our Constitution imbibed us with certain inalienable rights, those rights come with the caveat that we do not abuse them. If the people can be trusted to behave morally, then the need for intervention, that is, law, is unnecessary. If they cannot, our government exists to correct.

In a perfect society, and certainly more toward the Libertarian view, there would be no need for laws at all. We would not need even laws against murder, rape, or theft.

But malfeasance and immorality go far beyond simply breaking laws that are as clear as the Commandments. It goes into the spirit of the Constitution, not just the technicality of it. Thus when a person or corporation neglects their duty to act fairly – to pay a reasonable wage, to protect their workers, to not abuse their power, to treat the shared environment with respect, to provide for the poor, to not avoid the law with loopholes, or to not act in a generally immoral (or amoral) fashion, they sacrifice their right to unfettered freedom.

Thus in a sense the “Liberal” and the “Libertarian” become one – both agree “laissez-faire” is the ideal but the “Liberal” only if those who are its subjects behave within reasonable bounds.

So, if insurance companies, and doctors, and hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies were all to work within ethical bounds, there would be no need for “Healthcare Reform”.  If companies paid fair wages (including enough to afford insurance), there would be no need for “Minimum Wage” laws. If people treated the environment as the common resource it is, the EPA could cease to be. And if banks behaved ethically in their lending practices, there would be no need for a “Consumer Protection Agency”.

Therefor, you see, the problem is not the intrusive laws, but the inability for us as a society to behave in a fashion that would allow us to exist without them. In short, the enemy is not the government, but our own tolerance, and execution of, immorality.

And immorality is a loaded word, one that has lost at least half of it’s meaning these days. At one time, specifically when Christ was giving his Gospels, it meant not just having sex out of wedlock, pornography, homosexuality, or adultery. It also meant lying, being greedy, treating others unfairly, ignoring the poor, inflicting usury, or just generally abusing your neighbor. It meant not just observing the letter of the law, as if Pharisees, but also the spirit of it.

This is what is lost in the current quest for Libertarianism. They seek the freedom without the morality – quite the opposite in fact. In their world corporations can do no wrong and it is an obligation to their shareholders to do whatever it takes, regardless of morality or intention of any law, to exact their pound of flesh. In short – moralism ends at the corporate doors.

So I call on Republicans and Libertarians, if they wish to see the government gone, to fight the real enemy – fight those who abuse the privilege of the freedom you seek to unleash so that the need for intervention is no more.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>