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I haven't made a political post in a long, long time.

I'd make one now, except just thinking about it depresses me. I was not happy about the results of the midterm, needless to say... and I am even less happy, if possible, about this "compromise" that Obama has made with the GOP on taxes. From where I sit, it smells more like capitulation than compromise. Give a lot, get almost nothing.

Obama is the most intelligent president we've had since Jimmy Carter... and, sad to say, he is looking more and more like Jimmy every day. A good man, but not a good leader. At least not so far. He doesn't seem to have the stomach for a fight. We need another FDR, another JFK, another LBJ. NOT Jimmy II. (And, yes, I know, Obama has accomplished some important stuff. But so did Jimmy. Camp David accords, remember?)

Yeats was writing about his own time in "The Second Coming," I know, but sometimes I think he was prescient:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And could that rough beast whose hour has come round at least be... Sarah Palin?

No, please. Tell me that's just a bad dream. Somebody wake me up.



Dec. 16th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
"Government, according to Locke (with whose philosophy the Founders were intimately familiar and agreeable), protects life, liberty, and property from the depredations of other men," you write. "Health care does not fall into that."

It doesn't? What is health care for, if not to protect life? If I am sick and need medicine and do not get it, I am just as dead as if the redcoats killed me.
Dec. 16th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Health care is indeed to protect life. You are indeed just as dead as if the redcoats killed you, but that's not the point.

Valar morghulis, it is said. All men must die. Government, per Locke, is meant to help protect men from men, not from nature. The inalienable rights that the Founding Fathers envisioned were things that one could possess in and of themselves, none inherently requiring the services of others as a prerequisite to their existence.

Health care is fundamentally different. It would not exist without its providers. By declaring health care as a right, you are saying that one is entitled to the portion of a doctor's life, that what they provide belongs not to them to sell, but to all. I cannot see that as a position with which classical liberals would agree.
Dec. 16th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
I've got one problem with your argument in general. The thing is, that your whole argument works on the basic assumption, that the money you make is yours and that this would stay the same if there was no state at all. I think you are heavily mistaken here.

If there was no state, you could not be sure, that your boss will pay you anything on payday. There wouldn't even be money without a state. There would be no "work" as we know it today. It's only one the groundwork of a state that there is work and a market. So by which right can one seriously claim that the money one earns through market mechanisms is not earned due to the existence of the state?
Dec. 17th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
The statement that work and market would not exist without the state is categorically untrue. Barter systems, for example, have existed longer than government.

I think you're putting the cart before the horse here. Government is not here to create work and markets from nothing, but to protect the ones that already exist.
Dec. 17th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
I think it depends on what you consider a government. Barter has existed since before modern government, certainly, but that doesn't mean that it was a good system before there was effective governance.

Barter systems have existed for a long time, true... but they have always relied on knowledge that, if the other person cheats you, you have some means of redress. Without a trusted intermediary, this means of redress is violence by you on the person who you believe cheated you, which doesn't make for a very good barter system.

Effective barter, or effective commerce of any kind, requires somebody who has the authority to ensure that people don't cheat each other, and punish strongly enough those who do cheat each other. Otherwise, assault, murder, and war become part of that commerce. Hence, government being involved in the economy.
Dec. 17th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
While I agree that the whole idea of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness does not include health care, I disagree that only these things are the purview of the government. Roads, for example, are something which it would be very difficult to put together without governments. Fulfillment of contracts is another example...if I agree to deliver you goods for payment, but after delivering said goods, you refuse payment, then under your argument, the government should do nothing, as my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness hasn't been infringed. However, under this scenario, the whole economy would collapse and that would generally be regarded as a bad thing for everybody.
Dec. 17th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Bear in mind that "pursuit of happiness" is a very fancy way of saying one's right to make a living for themselves, not necessarily chasing down a state of mind of being.

For the example you have listed regarding contract enforcement, the Lockian ideal of government protected life, liberty, and property applies. If someone takes something without paying for it, it's called theft. Enforcing laws against that is certainly the government protecting ones right to property.
Jan. 30th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Something in this makes me realise that defending personal rights ultimately defends the corrupt people that harbor the principles which are at the root of the problem. They are the people who benefit most from the current system, so defending the rights of all people ultimately defends them the most.
Dec. 17th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Inalienable rights?

What is a 'human right' and what is not differs from place to place and time to time. I would argue that rights are not 'inalienable'. Certainly in my country (Great Britain) we think of healthcare as a right. No politician, no matter how right wing, would ever seriously suggest tearing down our National Health Service.

Perhaps we can all agree that the function of government is to enforce and protect human rights. The argument is about what human rights should be - and it doesn't help if one group or another declares their opinion to be 'inalienable'.

Dec. 17th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
This conversation is about American politics and the United States Constitution. Therein, rights are not granted by the government; they are assumed to exist, inalienable to a human being by right of that person's existence.

I was not declaring my opinion inalienable. I was using the language of John Locke and the Founding Fathers. They describe the rights of man as inherent and inalienable. They cannot be taken away, only violated.

In this context, the idea of health care as a right is in fundamental opposition to those ideals. If rights to ones life and liberty are held to be inviolate, then coercing someone through the governments monopoly on force and imprisonment to give a portion of their life to someone else doesn't hold water in the context of what government is supposed to do.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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