[UPDATE : you can review the whole Fredhead Archive here at your leisure:]
The past 9 months have been instructive, yes? We've seen what happens in the utter absence of conservative governance; when evil, arrogant, and ambitious people have unfettered control over the reins of power. We've seen they are unable to govern either themselves or their lust for power, riding roughshod over all Constitutional safeguards in order to 'help' those they assay to govern. It is only due to a tremendous and wholly unexpected backlash by ordinary citizens that the advance of arrogant rule has been blunted (hardly halted).
So today, let's talk about governance as it should be: Burke and Kirk style.
After a long operational pause, we resume the series on Russell Kirk's 10 Conservative Principles. I hope you missed me, as I have missed our discussions of conservative principles and foundations. To tell the truth, in light of the last 9 months, I'm half inclined to start over at #1. We'll thin about that. But for today, #5:
Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.
From the great one:
They feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at leveling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality.
EPU's short Kirk: People will are different. Let it be.
To the left, people are just things
During WW2, the massive production facility at Willow Run, Michigan produced at total of 8685 B-24 Liberators, at its peak putting out 650 aircraft per month, nearly 1 per hour. A great many ground-breaking techniques were developed along the way that improved speed, accuracy, and quality of production.
The B-24's were tools, instruments of American foreign policy. It was important that they be essentially identical and interchangeable, because that was most useful and advantageous for the war effort; for production, training, spare parts, and mission planning.
It is ever the aim of leftists, under whatever name, to impose sameness upon people. They strive to control people, if only "for their good" (occasionally). They are never content with the messy business of people helping themselves, doing for themselves, deciding for themselves. We've got to be managed, sequestered, lined up, stacked, located on a grid.
Notice how often they call people "workers"? If you haven't, then start. You see, we are not "citizens" to the left. We're "workers". I think you can figure out why. Your goals, desires, and dreams are of no interest whatsoever to the left. Not so to conservative principles. Personal liberty, the unencumbered pursuit of happiness, is the goal of conservatism. You begin to see why they hate conservatives so much.
The left's irrational hatred of businesses (all kinds, not just the evil, maniacal, exploitative "big businesses") stems from the simple fact that businesses are inconvenient to the left. Businesses are, by definition, self-interested. A person starts and maintains a business to make a profit; he sees an opportunity, a niche, and supposes he can do something better, faster, or cheaper than the competitors. The left thinks businesses exist primarily as the vehicles by which "workers" get paid.
Unions are the perfect leftist vehicle for collecting, collating, pressing, folding, and stacking "workers" into great piles of "things" that suit the left. Union members serve the unions, not the businesses they work for, thus disrupting free-market forces. As an aside, it's spectacularly convenient that unions are also such cash cows and cesspools of corruption, there to be plundered for the benefit of all sorts of leftist, anti-freedom rackets -- including Democrat campaigns.
Variety is beautiful
People will not willingly become cogs in some great state-run machine, numbered parts in a bin somewhere in a government warehouse. They do not exist for the benefit of the state. Quite the contrary, as we know -- of the people, for the people, by the people, ring a bell?.
It is ever the aim of people to express individuality. OK, other than teenagers with their emo, screamo, moppy hairdos, goth, girl pants, tramp stamps, and whatnot ["I want to be unique, just like everybody else!"]. Just drive down Dallas highways a day or two, and you will experience seemingly no end of variety in vehicle choices - makes, models, colors, and then all those delicious modifications in rims, decals, bumper stickers [,horsepower!]. Step aside in any store or mall and just watch people for 15 minutes. People just naturally customize themselves and everything else they have.
Holy cow, Democrats. [Holy cow, Republicans too!]
Equal Access to Justice
There is one thing Kirk points out, and we should too, about equality. It is the government's business, and it is their job, to assure that people have equal access to justice, and an equal vote. The consent of the governed can brook no less.
Beyond that, it is not under the purview of government to equalize life. Every OTHER way in which government might try to make people equal involves some form of taking something away from Person A, to which he is justly entitled, and giving it to Person B.
Freedom to succeed means freedom to fail
People like what they like, and they will strive endlessly to do as they will. They choose their own friends, they marry for love, for position, for convenience, or not at all. They seek careers and money, or not. They have pets or not, rent or own, live in the city or country, and they conduct business how they will. Thomas Jefferson, in our founding document, considered life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness rights given by God, and not to be given nor taken away by government.
Some people are very ambitious, study hard, sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term gain. All people have native strengths and weaknesses, and the wise person plays to his strengths, plans ahead, and lives within his means. Some people are naturally lazy, irresponsible louts. Most likely they will have limited material success, but then that was really their choice, Wasn't it?
It is intrinsically a criminal wrong for government to confiscate from Person A to help Person B. It's more than that. It teaches Person B that there is no consequence for underperforming. Further, it teaches Person A that there is no benefit to excel, to dream lofty dreams, if the government simply robs you of the fruits of your work.
Taken to its conclusion, you get a world where nobody will work anymore. Kinda like Communist Russia. [Or Michigan!?!!??]
Lessons about Russell Kirk's variety
So let's wrap it up. On a practical level, what does it all mean? Most of these are obvious.
- Government-run health care takes away your freedom to choose how, where, and how expensively to purchase your health care.
- Government-run health care takes away the incentives of health-care providers to provide an excellent product at the lowest practical price.
- Government-run health care takes away the incentives of individuals to get into the business. That means doctors, nurses, x-ray techs, all sorts of smart and capable people. Polls indicate that many of them will walk away, leaving us fewer (and probably the less talented and motivated) providers.
- Most of the current problems in the health-care industry are directly or indirectly caused by intrusive, meddling government regulation. Government takeover will do nothing more than cause the charlie-foxtrot of all time.
- Government-run health care lies far, far outside the purview of the government. It's simply not their place, and one must question why they want this level of control over your life.
- Take the first 5 items above. Substitute every government program, every regulatory agency you know about, and every proposed 1000-page program the Democrats are proposing (substitute appropriately for 'doctors' et al). See if you can figure out why it's government's job to do that, and why any sane person thinks the government would do it better than the free market would.
- Overachievers have 40% of their income confiscated by the government, largely to pay for things the government should not be doing anyway. These people are usually also called "employers". Underachievers have from 0 to 10% of their income confiscated by the government. Yet the left continually, unceasingly harps on "tax cuts for the rich", "sticking it to the rich", "rich people succeeding on the backs of regular people", and so on. Most of the current big-cost programs the Democrats sell by saying "we'll just tax the rich more: they don't deserve all that money". This is vile and unforgivable. Not only that, it will merely mean that these people, aka "employers" will lay off employees since their operating income will be lowered by these extra taxes.
- Most regulations are an assault on liberty. What business is it of the government that you want to operate a restaurant that allows smoking?
- Most regulations, in an open market with information freely available, are completely without merit. For example, if all smoking regs were abolished, you would literally see no-smoking restaurants sprout out of the ground. There are so many people, as consumers, that won't eat in a smoking-allowed restaurant that in pretty short order, the marketplace would reflect the desires of the consuming public. My friends, Burke and Kirk are exceedingly wise.
- Public schools should be replaced by private schools, and property taxes to pay for schools should be abolished. I have no kids, yet I have to fork out $6000 PER YEAR to fund that sorry, piece-of-crap, government-run Democrat indoctrination camp in my town. That ain't the government's job, and it shouldn't be my problem.
- The EPU Plan -- You could give people 5 years, and say, on August 1, 2017, there are no public schools, no property tax. You would see charter schools sprout out of the ground, competing for kids, competing for teachers, providing the best product possible for the cheapest price. Good ones would thrive, bad ones would not. An underserved area would draw those willing to fill the niche. The free market is not perfect,m but it creates, by definition, efficiency and excellency in the long run.
- Regarding the above idea: if you don't like it, propose another non-government solution. I don't care. What I do know is that the government is not morally entitled to huge piles of my money to provide for other people's needs. I went to college, I studied, taught myself how to do what I do. I sacrificed tremendously to become the professional I am. And the government takes great huge chunks of it mainly to throw onto wasteful, left-friendly garbage. Do I sound a little bitter? I don't want you to miss this point. That's MY money. Not the government's. We'll touch on this point more when we hit Kirk's principle #7 ("freedom and property are closely linked")
- I think Republicans should campaign, not this year but in 2012, on this: Every year, the next 4 years, we are going to eliminate a cabinet department. Every year, we are going to reduce the federal code by 10%. Every year, we are going to reduce the regulation code books every single place there are regulations, by 10%. And we are going to reduce every year, income taxes and every single fee, license, or any other code-named-tax that the government levies by 10%.
- It goes without saying that the government takeovers of the auto and banking industries were a vile assault on freedom, and on the principle of variety. Ditto for the proposed health care system takeover. Immoral. Tritto on the Cap-n-Tax.
- You do know why gasoline costs what it does, don't you? You do know that the shores of America are teeming, practically swelling with petroleum, untapped because the Democrats won't allow it. You know this, right? You also know that China is drilling off our shores, don't you? We have private companies, chomping at the bit to get to that oil. Just sayin'
Well anyway, enjoy your variety!