‘The Decider’ and ‘The Re-distributor’

‘The Decider’ is anti-intellectual, religious, a moralist, and authoritarian. He doesn’t care about individual rights, and chops away at nearly every fundamental right the constitution of his country promises his countrymen, all the while claiming to protect them from terrorists, and their way of life – which was once based on the idea of liberty – from Islamic fascism. He claims to be a “free marketeer” (or other enemies of liberty make that claim hoping to convince people who are already convinced because they have never been taught to think for themselves) but presides over the biggest expansion of government in half a century. His moral standards do not allow him to accept that ‘obscenity’ is a form of free speech – ‘consent’ is an idea that is alien to his thought process. That’s why his escalation of the “War on Drugs” doesn’t come as a surprise; he even managed to fuck Mexico in the process. His father was no different. (You can read Abhishek’s posts on the “war” here)

‘The Re-distributor’ is an intellectual who gives a speech an hour long on an issue which can be answered in one sentence, if he had the conviction to do that. He is a “liberal” who is “pro-choice” but doesn’t dare to say it immediately, preferring instead to legitimize the voices of the “pro-life” lobby by claiming first that “answering that question with specificity… is above my pay grade.” For him, everything is a matter of consensus; he is, after all, a politician. He believes that the government has a big role to play in business – through more regulation; he believes that wealth needs to be “spread around.” He talks about how that may be achieved in a 2001 interview to a radio station (ignore the special effects designed to whip up passions). He specifically says this-

You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.

But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And, to that extent as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways we still suffer from them.

And then-

You know, maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way. You just look at very rare examples where during the desegregation era the court was willing to, for example, order changes that cost money to local school district[s]. And the court was very uncomfortable with it. It was very hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues you know in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time. The court’s just not very good at it, and politically it’s just that its very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally; you know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.

Read this WSJ article for more information.

His views on profits

When I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers had given themselves $20 billion worth of bonuses, the same amount of bonuses they gave themselves in 2004, at a time when most of these institutions were teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don’t provide help that the entire system could come down on top of our heads — that is the height of irresponsibility.

It is shameful. We’re going to be having conversations as this process moves forward directly with these folks on Wall Street to underscore that they have to start acting in a more responsible fashion if we are to together get this economy rolling again.

There will be time for them to make profits and there will be time for them to get bonuses.

Now is not that time.

Without getting into who was responsible for the crisis, and which finger the government should have shown to “businessmen” who came begging for government aid, this view on profits is a sweeping generalization that fails to consider the employer-employee contractual relationship, and the incentives that are a part of such a relationship. Were it not for his pragmatism, I would mistake him for a card-carrying member of the communist party. Then there is his sacrifice-thyself-for-society idea which includes his idea of national service-

I believe one of the tasks of the next Administration is to ensure that this movement towards service grows and sustains itself in the years to come. We should expand AmeriCorps and grow the Peace Corps. We should encourage national service by making it part of the requirement for a new college assistance program, even as we strengthen the benefits for those whose sense of duty has already led them to serve in our military.

‘The Decider’ and ‘The Re-distributor’ – their paths differ, but their goal is the same – the subjugation of the individual to the state. One uses (I won’t say misinterprets) God to strike at everything he doesn’t consider right; the other uses society to achieve the same end; one disregarded the constitution to “save” people from terrorists, the other thinks that the Founding Fathers didn’t play fair by placing constitutional constraints on the power of the state, making the task of redistributing wealth – economic “justice” – a bit more difficult; one fought against obscenity, the other believes in the “fairness doctrine.”

It would be a grave mistake to assume that this is just about Bush and Obama, or even about America. They are just symptoms of a greater malaise – a pandemic – collectivism, and a bankrupt thought process. For example, while writing about the choices the American public had when it came to the presidential elections, Edward Cline said this

The rational among us are anxiously debating whom to vote for in November. From one perspective on the current race for the White House, we are faced with a choice of which devil to cut cards with (to paraphrase Wellington at Waterloo).

Do we vote for John McCain, who may or may not be better than George W. Bush in foreign policy and in adopting a semi-rational attitude toward America’s dedicated enemies, but who is “pro-American” in the same sense that Mussolini was “pro-Italian” and Hitler was “pro-German,” that is, in an un-American, nationalistic, service-to-your-country-in-a-higher-cause-than-yourself way, which implies the partial or wholesale regimentation of the American population to combat the bogeyman of the moment?

Do we vote for Barack Obama, whose anti-American, anti-military, anti-freedom, serve-your-country-until-you’re-flat-broke-and-living-in-penury-for-a-cause-higher-than-yourself solution to all problems, foreign and domestic, might mellow once he is in office and is handed on morning one the intelligence reports from the various security agencies on what our enemies (including Russia and China, not just the Islamists) are up to vis-à-vis tightening the noose around America’s neck? Or would he just grimace and think: We brought it upon ourselves.

[…]

When one studies side-by-side photos of McCain and Putin, one sees a similar, power-hungry glint in their eyes. One may legitimately suspect that the “reform” McCain promises is not so much of government, but of the American people. No, he does not believe in compulsory national service, but one may be sure of penalties if one does not “volunteer” for it. His vision of Americans united in a single cause differs in no fundamental from Obama’s, except in the path on which each wishes to lead them, “reformed” or “changed”: socialism with fascist overtones, or socialism for the sake of gutting the country of the remnants of its individualism and liberty.

In “The Nature of Government”, Ayn Rand wrote about the “legitimate” role of government, and what the constitution actually is-

In mankind’s history, the understanding of the government’s proper function is a very recent achievement: it is only two hundred years old and it dates from the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Not only did they identify the nature and the needs of a free society, but they devised the means to translate it into practice. A free society—like any other human product—cannot be achieved by random means, by mere wishing or by the leaders’ “good intentions.” A complex legal system, based on objectively valid principles, is required to make a society free and to keep it free-a system that does not depend on the motives, the moral character or the intentions of any given official, a system that leaves no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny.

The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement. And although certain contradictions in the Constitution did leave a loophole for the growth of statism, the incomparable achievement was the concept of a constitution as a means of limiting and restricting the power of the government.

Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals—that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government—that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government.

Now consider the extent of the moral and political inversion in today’s prevalent view of government. Instead of being a protector of man’s rights, the government is becoming their most dangerous violator; instead of guarding freedom, the government is establishing slavery; instead of protecting men from the initiators of physical force, the government is initiating physical force and coercion in any manner and issue it pleases; instead of serving as the instrument of objectivity in human relationships, the government is creating a deadly, subterranean reign of uncertainty and fear, by means of nonobjective laws whose interpretation is left to the arbitrary decisions of random bureaucrats; instead of protecting men from injury by whim, the government is arrogating to itself the power of unlimited whim—so that we are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

Did Bush have the brains, or does Obama the inclination, to understand this?

Actually Obama does understand; only, he disagrees. Rand’s government is based on the idea of true liberty – “negative liberty” – freedom from wanton interference. Obama’s “liberty”, as of every predecessor of his going back 150 years, is a “positive” one – the government will tell you how to lead your life so that you can fulfill your “potential.” A constitution based on negative liberty leads to a limited government that treats its citizens like adults; one based on positive liberty will lead to a nanny state that treats its citizens like kids; a state that prescribes rules of behavior, a state that tells them what to wear, eat, watch, listen, read, say, do; a state that lays first claim on their income through a “voluntary” income tax of the progressive kind – the one who earns more, pays more.

‘The Decider’ and ‘The Re-distributor’ may be political opponents, but they are ideological partners-in-crime. The crime is the murder of freedom in broad daylight as the world watches, and applauds.

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