Author Archives: Quincy

Where multiculturalism fails drastically…

New LLP member Lone Pony pointed me towards this article, Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online, which included the following:

…the bogus notion of multiculturalism has blinded us to a simple truth: we in the West can live according to our own values and should not allow those radicals who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other unmentionables to threaten our citizens within our own countries.

There is a very simple truth here, and one that very few in America have the awareness or bravery to embrace: Any ideology and its adherents that do not respect the core values of life, liberty, and property deserve no respect and no sympathy from civilized people. No, this does not embrace tolerance and acceptance of all things. It embraces tolerance of what is tolerable and acceptance of what is acceptable with the realization that there are many things that are neither.

Radical Islam is not tolerable, since it seeks to oppress everyone on the face of the planet. All forms of socialism are not tolerable, since they do not respect the property, and often do not respect the lives and liberty, of those who live under them. When you look at the incredible harms brought to this world by the phenomena listed above, everything from 3,000 dead on September 11, 2001 to the rampant unemployment accross socialist Europe, the dictatorial regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, the honor killings murders committed by men in the Muslim world seeking to protect the family image, it is truly terrifying.

Multiculturalism insists that the values that led to these things are equal to the values of life, liberty, and property. This is the prime failing of that philosophy. Life, liberty, and property are not just mere values of the west, they are quite demonstrably the values that are key to human flourishing. History has proven, time and again, that when people have more freedom, they have more room to flourish. Likewise, history has proven, time and again, that when people have to fear for their lives and their property, they don’t have the foundation upon which to flourish.

When we look back at the Soviet Union, which, with all its natural resources, should have been much more prosperous than the US, we see instead a country that was destitute. People had to wait hours in line for bread, even though there was enough farmland in the USSR to create a surplus in grain. But, the people, fearing the state and having nothing of their own, had no reason to work the farmland efficiently. It was no different in factories and shops all over the Soviet Union. People did what they had to do to survive.

Sadly, when the USSR fell, Russia’s new government still did not embrace the institutions necessary to the defense of life, liberty, and property, most importantly the fair rule of law. Instead, the Russians went from a state ruled by communists to a state ruled by opportunists. Many continued to suffer. Now, they are slowly heading back down the road to communism.

When we look forward to the Cartoon Wars of today, we see many Muslims calling for an incredible double standard where they have the right to deprive people of life and non-Muslims may not even offend them. Anyone who believes in or is calling for this double standard is an evil person and deserves nothing from the civilized world. We must not be sensitive to their feelings, since that is bending to evil. We must denounce them publicly and often. We must realize that any people who would turn to violence over a set of cartoons are not civilized and should not be treated as such.

No, this is not a multiculturalist or politically correct viewpoint, but in this case those viewpoints are the wrong ones. They tolerate the intolerable. They, through a vacuum of criticism, tacitly condone the behavior of those rioting. While the vast majority of civilized people sees the evil of the Muslim reaction to a set of cartoons, radical Muslims looking at our news media see none of it, and are further emboldened. When they hear the mealy-mouthed reaction of the US government, which talks about sensitivity to Islam, they are emboldened. Multiculturalism has prevented the civilized world from speaking in a clear, united voice on the cartoon riots, and so they continue. It has been a drastic failure.

Cross-posted at News, the Universe, and Everything.

“the freedom of speech, or of the press”

That phrase comes from the First Amendment. Here, for context, is the entirety of the Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On the whole, the amendment deals with the freedom of conscience, which, along with life and property, is one of the most fundamental rights inherent to being human. What is freedom of conscience? According to Wikipedia, it is:

the freedom of an individual to hold a viewpoint, or thought, regardless of anyone else’s view.

That, however, is only the beginning of it. For freedom of conscience to be meaningful, people must be able to live as their conscience demands. The First Amendment deals with several aspects of it, including freedom of belief, freedom of expression, and the freedom to push for change in government. All of these freedoms center around the individual, because conscience is a solely individual phenomenon. Makes sense so far, right?

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The Alito hearings were worthless

I am deeply disappointed in the Senate this week after seeing the absolutely horrible confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito. The truly important issues of the day, property rights, privacy, and free speech, fell by the wayside in favor of abortion and executive power. It is no wonder we never got a useful answer from Samuel Alito, since he was never asked a useful question.

The first useful question I would have asked him is what happens when stare decisis comes into conflict with one of the core rights of Americans, namely life, liberty, and property. In Kelo v. New London, the left wing of the Supreme Court decided that municipal tax revenue was a public use, opening the door to rampant violations of the property rights of every American. The truly scary thing about Kelo is that, when viewed in the light of stare decisis, it makes perfect sense. I want to hear anyone who is nominated to the Supreme Court say that the fundamental rights of Americans and the Constitution of the United States come before precedent and settled law. Too bad none of the Senators were principled enough to ask about that.

The next question I would have asked Samuel Alito is what he thought of the privacy right established in Roe v. Wade. My view is that Roe v. Wade sets a very dangerous precedent not because it acknowledges a privacy right, but because it attempts to establish a selective privacy right. The idea that a privacy right only exists in certain circumstances, like sexuality, child-rearing, and reproduction, is contrary to the very concept of rights. From Roe v. Wade:

The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution.

This concept is dangerous because the right to privacy, instead of being one’s right to conduct one’s private affairs without undue interference, becomes a way to protect certain activities and regulate others all based on whether or not the activity resides within a zone of privacy or not. Currently, the surgical procedure of abortion resides in a zone of privacy but the surgical procedure of breast enhancement does not. Logically, this does not make sense. Abortion involves a fetus that, given time, will become a separate being, bringing up a whole host of ethical questions. Breast enhancement involves simply a woman’s decision to alter a part of her self, carrying with it none of those ethical questions. If abortion, with its ethical questions, can be considered a private activity, then certainly breast enhancement should be. That would be reflective of a consistent and broad privacy right. That’s what we need instead of the zones of privacy of Roe. Again, too bad none of the Senators were principled enough to ask about that.

The final question I would have asked Samuel Alito is whether Congress had the right to regulate the speech of private citizens about elections. The First Amendment says that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. It does not contain exceptions for compelling state interests, nor to avoid the appearance of corruption. The left wing of the court, plus Justice O’Connor, upheld, in McConnell v. FEC, the right of Congress to regulate the speech of private citizens based on the compelling state interest of avoiding the appearance of corruption.

These questions, I believe, would have illuminated a great many things about Samuel Alito. Instead of getting to the core of his philosophy, we got to hear a lot about the hot-button issue of today, executive power (which is important), and the worst possible proxy for judicial tendencies, abortion. It’s a sad time for the nation and for the Senate.

Cross posted at News, the Universe, and Everything.

Democracy and Tyranny

If you ask most people to compare democracy and tyranny, they will say that they are polar opposites, since no particular person can gain or abuse power without the consent of the majority. While even this is not true, as proven by Adolf Hitler’s rise to democratically-elected power, it is far from the end of the story. It is never considered whether the majority could oppress a minority, or even whether the majority could oppress itself.

First, let us address the majority oppressing the minority by looking at Social Security. Let me quote from my last article for this site:

With words like this FDR convinced an entire generation to trade away their liberty, and the liberty of their fellow citizens, in return for the promise of a brighter future. Roosevelt convinced a good part of the American population that the government could make better decisions for them than they could themselves. They saw the promise of mighty civic heroes acting to save them from the vagaries of circumstance.

The decision to give up control of one’s life to another, of course, is one every individual is free to make. The problem here is not that people are choosing to do this for themselves, but rather they are choosing to do it through the state, an institution that affects everyone. We all participate in and pay for FDR’s “great defense” program, even though a good number of us would rather not. Because FDR’s program is run through the state, a democracy, our preferences were ignored in favor of the majority.

Haughty equality vs. humble equality — posted 11/24/2005

How is Social Security tyranny? The issue is simple. I am oppressed by Social Security because I am forced to sacrifice some of my property by the state. I was never asked whether I would like to sacrifice some of my property to participate in the Social Security system. A majority, voting decades before I was born, made the decision that everyone should sacrifice some of their property to fund the Social Security system.

Many would argue that, since it was a democratic majority, it is not tyranny. From my vantage point as an individual, it makes no difference who decided I should give up property without my consent; I am oppressed because I am forced to do so. Simple, is it not?

Now, I can already hear some people saying that this Quincy fellow is just a selfish curmudgeon who doesn’t want to help his fellow Americans. While I am a generous person by choice, I resent being forced to do things without my consent. My perceived generosity, though, is neither here nor there in regards to the point of this essay.

Considering that most of the people who would raise the above objection have a certain view on another issue, let us examine that as our next case. Here’s the question: Would it be tyranny if the majority of people voted to ban abortion for everyone?

Ah, now the issue is not as clear cut, is it? If you believe that women should be able to get abortions, then such a vote would be horribly wrong in your mind. If you believe that they shouldn’t, such a vote would be a vindication. In this case, just as in the Social Security case, a majority voted to impose its will on a minority.

This brings us to another question: Does the size of a group that holds a position reflect the rightness of that position? While it should be clear from the last 5 millennia of human history that a majority can be terribly wrong, this is still a commonly held fallacy. Let us consider the case of the Catholic Church during the inquisition. It held the majority view that the earth was flat and everything rotated around it. As we know, from the work of Columbus, Galileo, Keppler, and Copernicus, these views were incorrect. Each of those four men contradicted the views held by millions, but these four were right and the millions were wrong.

If not democracy, then what? That is a good question. I’ve spent the last several paragraphs illustrating the problems of democracy, but I have not yet offered a better way. You may not believe this after reading the above, but democracy is part of the answer. The other part of the answer is the realization that certain things are so sacrosanct that they must never come up for a vote. First among these are the rights to life, liberty, and property. Second are those liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights. They are so important that, no matter what the majority wills, they cannot be abridged. This concept, that the law and natural rights are more important than the wills of men, is vital to ensuring that democracy does not become tyranny. It is something we must learn, or re-learn, before it is too late.

Humble equality vs. haughty equality

In the history of the United States, the word equality has been held in the highest esteem. It has also been subjected to a multitude of meanings. Our understanding of equality has drifted far from what it was when Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” In Jefferson’s day, had one seen one man rich and one man poor, he would wonder if the two men we being treated equally in the civil realm. If they were, then the two men would have been considered equal. This is humble equality. Now, when one sees the same sight, he assumes that there must be an inequality between the two that society must rectify. This is haughty equality.

First, let us look at the concept of humble equality—that we can only level the playing field in the public realm (law, the courts, government, etc.) by ensuring that people are treated equally regardless of race, class, and gender. We do not know you should live your life, nor do we know how you should run your business. You have the same chances to succeed, and fail, as we grant ourselves. We do not care how you live your life not because we are mean or selfish, but because we are simply not qualified. Sadly, we are in the minority.

Now, let us contrast that with haughty equality. Such equality, in fact, is not equality at all. It is illusory. It relies on a fundamental inequality—that some people know, better than you, what you should have or how you should live your life. In thinking about equality, it is an amazing proposition—that people are truly not equal, and should not be treated equally, so that they may appear equal to observers. It is also an incredibly dangerous proposition, since it relies on people to determine what way of life is good and how to enforce it.

Imagine you come upon two people, one rich and depressed, the other poor and happy. They are clearly not equal and your goal is to change that. What do you do to change it? Do you take from the rich man to give to the poor man on the rationale that money is good and the poor man does not have enough? Do you do the same thing on the rationale that the rich man is too rich to be happy? Do you reckon that the poor man is happy as he is and take from the rich man to make him emulate the poor man, keeping the takings for yourself? What is the right course of action for these people? How do you know? Do you even care what is right for them, instead focusing on what you think is right?

How much information would it take for you to make a good decision in this case? Would you need to know why the rich man is depressed? What if he were normally quite happy but had just lost a close relative? Would that impact your decision? What if he had gotten where he is by betraying everyone around him and he was burdened by guilt? What if he were suffering from cancer and needed the money to fight it?

What about the poor man? Would you like to know why he is happy? What if he were married to someone wonderful and wanted nothing more than he had? What if he were about to have a child? What if he were an artist or writer who cherished the way he lived?

Would you make a better decision if you knew any of those things? Absolutely. If the rich man were suffering from cancer and needed his riches to fight it, you would (hopefully) find it unconscionable to take some of those riches to give to a happy, albeit poor man. Likewise, if the poor man actually cherished his lifestyle, you would probably think it futile to give him riches he did not want.

Believe it or not, I gave you more information about the two men than most “haughty equality” crusaders have. Usually, they can only see the cold bottom line: one man makes a lot of money, another makes a little money. They, based on this, decide that the rich man should—must—give up some of his riches to help the poor man. Of course, they do not often deal with two individuals. Instead, they seek, through government, to impose their beliefs on a multitude of individuals—a multitude of lives, of circumstances, of temperaments.

They may deprive a rich man dying of cancer the money he needs to save his life. They may give money to a poor man who does not want or need it. It does not matter. The advocates know, by virtue of intelligence and belief, what is good for each of those individuals even without knowing the details of each life. The advocates are more equal than the multitudes they impact.

This ego trip, though, is not the end of the issue. If, in a democracy, a minority used its power to the detriment of the majority, they would not hold that power long. The “haughty equality” advocates always manage to garner a good amount of support for their efforts. How? The advocates get a good number of people to believe that they will benefit from the scheme. Listen to FDR, perhaps the greatest of the “haughty equality” advocates:

The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:
Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.
The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.
These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding straight of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement. As examples:
We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.
We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.
We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.
I have called for personal sacrifice, and I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call. A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my budget message I will recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying for today. No person should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program, and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

-From FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech.

With words like this FDR convinced an entire generation to trade away their liberty, and the liberty of their fellow citizens, in return for the promise of a brighter future. Roosevelt convinced a good part of the American population that the government could make better decisions for them than they could themselves. They saw the promise of mighty civic heroes acting to save them from the vagaries of circumstance.

The decision to give up control of one’s life to another, of course, is one every individual is free to make. The problem here is not that people are choosing to do this for themselves, but rather they are choosing to do it through the state, an institution that affects everyone. We all participate in and pay for FDR’s “great defense” program, even though a good number of us would rather not. Because FDR’s program is run through the state, a democracy, our preferences were ignored in favor of the majority.

Sadly, this process has been repeated time and again in this country and many others. Time and again, people decide that they deserve to run the lives of others. Time and again, they convince those others that they should be running their lives. Time and again, they will do this in the name of equality. Time and again, these people declare themselves more equal than others. Time and again, these people inflict harm. Yet, if enough time passes, it will happen again, unless we stop it. We should not bow to “haughty equality” again.

(Cross-posted at News, the Universe, and Everything.)

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