Addison Gardner: Always Right
September 1, 2009
Just societies spring from virtuous laws and virtuous citizens; they don’t arrive by force of presidential charisma or bureaucratic edict.
History is rife with examples of centrally planned “social justice” – schemes that germinated in the febrile minds of philosophers dreaming of alabaster cities; places where the enlightened few would lead lesser humanity to tables spread with plenty.
Tyrants always promise tables laden with perfectly sliced “pies,” and – from the city walls – views of perfectly leveled playing fields stretching, uninterrupted, to a rose-hued horizon.
Only, those promises are never kept.
Egalitarian dreamers beget boneyards surrounded by steel-reinforced concrete walls: They deliver cobbled streets scarred by tank treads and gray-faced homogeneity – they give us the many managed, ruthlessly, by the few.
There is no pathway to a perfectly just society on this Earth: There are no perfect priests, no perfect churches, and there has never been a state managed by bureaucrats who governed, selflessly, for the greater good.
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Those who govern us will always demand their fleets of private jets, their gold-plated health care plans (contrasted with our good enough, “public option”), and those congressional waivers – their “perks” and their passes to the box-seats.
The second great lie is that “greed” is limited to corporatists, capitalists and proponents of free enterprise – while those who govern us are above such mean self-interest and immune from the lures of self-advancement.
We have a Treasury secretary who cheated on his taxes, and a House Ways and Means chairman who recently discovered a half-million-dollar checking account that he “forgot about,” while preparing his disclosure statement: He claimed he didn’t know about his off-shore rental income because he “didn’t speak the language.”
“Honest, officer, I thought that Route 101 sign was the posted speed limit.”
Blocks of frozen cash in Louisiana freezers; an Illinois governor (and the senator he appointed) disgraced for selling political favors; a leading presidential candidate (trial lawyer, no less) disgraced for bilking the system, cheating on his cancer-stricken wife, and lying about his paternity. A South Carolina governor who went for an Appalachian hike and discovered a paramour in Argentina.
These are the folks we’re entrusting with the force of government arms, while we lose sleep over McDonald’s menus, fret about executive bonuses, and are better informed about the Bronco’s No. 1 draft pick than we are our mushrooming national debt.
The Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman once asked Phil Donahue, “Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler, somehow, than economic self-interest?”
Friedman reminded his skeptical host that — in every case — the few societies that have rescued the masses from “grinding poverty” are those that have encouraged free people to pursue their separate interests with a minimum of government interference.
Free enterprise and free trade have been the great instigators of innovation and wealth accumulation in America and in the world – not overweening government with its fairness directives and redistributionist impulses.
Henry Ford (while looking out for his family) did more to advance the quality of life of the American worker than all of history’s union bosses rolled into one: Ditto men like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – they’ve produced more prosperity and jobs than all our yammering politicians.
John Locke, the English philosopher, greatly inspired the Constitutional Framers when he wrote, “No one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”
George Mason expanded upon this, in 1776, when he penned the first article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights … namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
We should be free to “pursue our happiness” as long as the exercise of our freedoms doesn’t impinge upon the rights of our neighbors. My failures don’t impose an obligation on you. It’s not the role of government to act as my agent, and force you – at gunpoint – to underwrite my failures with the fruits of your successes.
Yesterday, the Obama administration admitted that it understated the effect of its spending spree on our deficits by a third. We’re looking at something north of $9 trillion, by 2019, instead of the former $7 trillion projection aired a couple of months ago.
A couple trillion, here, a couple trillion, there – pretty soon you’re talkin’ about real money.
Bush doubled the debt before leaving office, and a campaigning Obama rode that like a jockey at Churchill Downs. But Bush’s deficits were a party-pony to Obama’s Clydesdale, and suddenly our ever-alert press, New York Times’ columnists, network news anchors and congressional committee chairs are too busy eulogizing Teddy to notice.
The latest in maudlin cynicism, “KennedyCare” will add trillions more, and Obama’s spending spree is just beginning to flex its bureaucratic muscle. Since we’re busily redesigning our currency, we might as well ink Barack’s mug on $100 bills and retire Ben Franklin.
The phrase, “Moderation in all things,” is suddenly passe.
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