Friday, July 6, 2012

Convolutions, Part 1

How far down the rabbit hole must I go?


The terms "left" and "right" are too imprecise. They imply a unidimensionality of the political spectrum, but this unidimensionality is a gross oversimplification. Reality is very multidimensional.

Other terms that have more use are "conservative" and "liberal", though their use today is dramatically different from what their use once was and from what their use truly should be.

Originally, "conservatives" wanted to conserve the power of the king; "liberals" sought to put power into the hands of the people, and this implicitly meant at royal expense.

Today, "conservatives" are more accurately those who seek to conserve what has traditionally made America great. Today's "liberals" generally seek to change these things that have made America great; in doing so, they wish to install in America the very systems that have caused other countries to be at best mediocre, at worst hell-on-earth.

Among the things that have made America great, and which liberals have sought so diligently to change, is the idea of limited government and government wherein the people are the masters. America was designed by those who had a real experience at the hands of out-of-control excessive government; America was designed to be a "liberal" country, in the old sense of the word, whereby government power was limited and was controlled by the people through representatives who were popularly elected, and upon whose power many constraints had been placed. What today's conservatives generally seek to conserve is a classic liberal government.

Rightly, though, "conservatism" is not so much a political agenda as it is an attitude toward political agendas; it is a "look-before-you-leap" approach toward political agendas, an approach whereby changes are made incrementally, with continuous assessment of what kind of an impact the changes have before implementing more. In contrast, in this context, "liberalism" means implementing the changes rapidly and drastically. The result of rapid, drastic changes can easily be a big mess which, of course, will require a fix comprised of more drastic changes which, of necessity, are rapidly implemented.

It should come, then, as no surprise that today's liberals, the "left", seek to implement big government programs to fix any perceived societal ill. Such programs, liberally implemented - rapidly, without adequate forethought and without adequate monitoring to see how they are working - result in cures that are worse than the diseases they were intended to treat, in turn causing a need for still more government programs to fix the problems caused by the first government programs.

Some illustrations of this dynamic are in order.

The education system is a perfect example. Initially, the goal was laudable: equal opportunity to education, which was a means for people to make a better life. Equal opportunity meant that it had to be essentially free; perhaps at very modest cost of some kind, but basically free, so the children of even the nation's poorest would have a chance to go to school and build a better life. Fast forward many decades: we spend thousands of dollars per student per year in the government-run school system; in fact, the nationwide per-student average is just over $10,000 per year. The result: students who are behind other industrialized countries in math and science, students who have difficulty reading and writing in English, students whose critical thinking skills are far from adequate; high school graduates unprepared for the workforce or college. The liberal solution: more money for the government-run education industry, and more time in school for our students.

Having our students in the government-run school system is the problem, and more of the problem is not the solution.

This is what they are trying to do to our healthcare system.

The same thinking is behind our government-run pension system.

Those who have astutely studied history understand: nothing is so devastatingly expensive as when the government is going to give you something "free".

Where in the Constitution does the federal government get the authority to be involved in funding education or healthcare or a pension program for nearly every American?

Constitutionally, such powers should be reserved to the states or to the people. Our nation's founders understood that the most important thing is liberty; King George was making the colonies into a prison, and the founding fathers understood that if people could be let out of that prison, they could take care of themselves. That logic applies beyond the federal government, referencing as well the power of the state governments.

Constitutionally, if governments beyond the local governments are to be involved in education, then it should be state governments, but not the federal government. However, the potential is there for the states to become too involved in local schools, as well.

A similar line of reasoning applies to healthcare, mandatory government pension programs for the general population, and so on. Of course, with the Fourteenth Amendment incorporating the Bill of Rights against infringement by the states and their political subdivisions, it should not be assumed that states can do whatever they want.

Rarely is government the solution; generally, government is the problem. The founders of this country understood that, and limited the powers of government. All over the world, people suffer under out-of-control government, and flock to the United States to get away from it, whether that out-of-control government is or has been comprised of Nazis, communists, or sharia-enforcing mullahs. Why would anyone want to recreate here in the US that which was Constitutionally prohibited here and which fails so miserably elsewhere?

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