As the old aphorism goes: Knowledge is Power.
But, another old aphorism is: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
So, does knowledge eventually corrupt?
Don’t blithely answer that. In my view, it is a rather profound query. Adam and Eve had a snack from which tree again?
Knowledge can be a tricky thing, actually. And it often trips up those of us on the right who hold that the allure of knowledge is an animating thing to most people. Conservatives tend to make their arguments based on the belief that most adults are not only persuadable, but are actually desirous of being persuaded –by knowledge.
Conservatives, by nature, look to knowledge –and to it’s cousins Reason and Experience and Observable Science– as touchstones to personal growth. They tend to revere history, to relish folklore, and hold in high esteem those that likewise understand these things, and sacrifice to ensure their growth in perpetuity.
But, I posit again: Does knowledge eventually corrupt?
For example, one of the taproots of modern conservatism is the correctitude (at least in reference to governmental policy) of lower marginal tax rates because they bring in more revenue, and expand the economy. This is what history and experience and observable economics teaches us. It simply isn’t open to debate. The proof is as wide and deep and broad as it is that, say, the sky is blue. Lower tax rates balloon the federal coffers.
Now– remind me again why is this desirable? This is a crumb of knowledge that has corrupted, and grotesquely so.
If there was a failing of Ronald Reagans (and I say “if”), it was couching the morality of lower tax rates in the framework of good governmental policy. The left, you see, NEVER (and I mean NEVER) does this.
Everything the left proscribes is sculpted in moral terms. They want to “make things fair”. They want to “level the playing field”. They want to make sure “no one falls through the cracks”. They want “marriage equality“. They never say “Lowering marginal tax rates from a high of 90% to 25% increased revenues to the federal government by over 7 trillion dollars between 1982 and 1989.” Those with busy lives start turning the channel by about the word “marginal”. Even when the left veers off into something that requires a bit of minutiae to explain, they always follow it up with heart-rending appeals to false morality: “When amounts of atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons are increased from 2,500 parts per billion to 2,750 parts per billion, it increase overall liklihood that the earth’s ozone layer is depleted by .0007%. And that increases cancer deaths by too many to calculate.”
Pace Barack Obama, lowering the oceans plucks much more deeply upon the heartstrings than Mitt Romney’s appeals to put on the green eye-shade and pore over the books. Snooze-a-rama.
I suggest: From now on, the Right should couch their arguments in such moral terms. The difference, of course, is that our knowledge of what is moral, and right, and correct is informed by thousands of years of experience, of knowledge, and observable science. It is not based on the left’s false morality of a phantom nirvana over the next horizon. Again, the appeal is to the morality, not the knowledge behind the morality.
For example: Tax Cuts shouldn’t be sold as a funding mechanism for an insatiable federal monster.
Tax Cuts should be sold because they are good. They are fair. Plain, simple. Likewise, Taxes should be explained as a legalized form of theft, and everyone knows stealing what doesn’t belong to you is wrong; which is why, by the way, those in Christ’s day had such a low opinion of tax collectors.
Taxes are just as wrong, I will add, as being “unfair“, or “unjust“, or “uncaring“, or “unequal“. Getting money you simply haven’t earned is wrong, and most people know this intrinsically… including those with enormous trust funds who sit on beaches listening to Jimmy Buffet.
Likewise, our goal ought not be to sluice more “revenue” to the Federal Monster. It is wrong to give more money to institutions which have proven manifestly incapable of handling it responsibly, just as it is wrong to give an alcoholic a shot of vodka. Our goal, again (–couching our arguments in moral terms) is to be “good”, and “thoughtful”, and that means –not just tax cuts– but “government cuts”.
“Government Cuts”. That ought to be our rallying point in the years to come. And they should be explained in moral terms, about how corrosive government is, how dehumanizing it is, how coercive it is, how horribly arbitrary and pernicious it oftentimes is. How ugly it is. Knowledge tells us this.
But, you can feel it, too.