Sunday, October 09, 2011

Elizabeth Warren and liberalism, twisting the ‘social contract’

Batty Elizabeth Warren thinks the government builds America's roads. Roads are in fact built by American workers who are paid by the American taxpayer. The government is merely a ham-fisted intermediary. And almost all income taxes are paid by "The Rich" -- defined as the top 50% of income earners. So it is in fact "The Rich" who have built the roads! -- JR

By George F. Will

Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor and former Obama administration regulator (for consumer protection), is modern liberalism incarnate. As she seeks the Senate seat Democrats held for 57 years before 2010, when Republican Scott Brown impertinently won it, she clarifies the liberal project and the stakes of contemporary politics.

The project is to dilute the concept of individualism, thereby refuting respect for the individual’s zone of sovereignty. The regulatory state, liberalism’s instrument, constantly tries to contract that zone — for the individual’s own good, it says. Warren says:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.... You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Warren is (as William F. Buckley described Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith) a pyromaniac in a field of straw men: She refutes propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

Warren’s statement is a footnote to modern liberalism’s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government — of the ability to govern one’s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds.

In “The Affluent Society” (1958), modern liberalism’s symptomatic text, Galbraith, a Harvard economist, baldly asserted that corporations’ marketing powers — basically, advertising — are so potent they can manufacture demands for whatever goods and services they want to supply. Corporations can nullify consumer sovereignty and vitiate the law of supply and demand. Galbraith asserted this while Ford’s marketers were failing to create a demand for Edsels.

Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose “false consciousness” is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders. This means subordination of the bovine many to a regulatory government staffed by people drawn from the clever minority not manipulated into false consciousness.

Because such tutelary government must presume the public’s incompetence, it owes minimal deference to people’s preferences. These preferences are not really “theirs,” because the preferences derive from false, meaning imposed, consciousness. This convenient theory licenses the enlightened vanguard, the political class, to exercise maximum discretion in wielding the powers of the regulatory state.

Warren’s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable — that the individual depends on cooperative behaviors by others — misses this point: It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity.

Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation. Government facilitates this cooperation with roads, schools, police, etc. — and by getting out of its way. This is a sensible, dynamic, prosperous society’s “underlying social contract.”



The ‘Injustice’ Department: J. Christian Adams’ New Book Exposes DOJ Defending Racism, Islamic Extremism

There is something terribly wrong with our Justice Department. Under Barack Obama, it is no longer interested in justice at all but instead has become a base used by far-left ideologues and race baiters to destroy the American idea of the equality of rights of all people before the law.

J. Christian Adams is the heroic former election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights section at the U.S. Department of Justice. He blew the lid off the Black Panther case of voter intimidation that Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder refused to prosecute. Now he is exposing the Obama administration’s secret (or not-so-secret) race war and complete abandonment of individual rights.

In his new book, Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department (Regnery), Adams, who worked inside the DOJ for five years, tells the whole shocking story about how Obama has allowed – or commanded – the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department to be politicized. For his efforts to expose the corruption of the Obama Justice Department, Adams was my co-recipient of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Annie Taylor Award for Courage in 2010. And that honor was richly deserved. As Adams shows in this book, if you’re not a member of one of the groups that the Obama administration considers to be its constituency, there’s no justice for you. But if you are a black militant or a member of one of Obama’s other favored groups, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done: you won’t pay any penalty, no matter how serious your crimes.

Adams resigned from the DOJ after Obama’s cronies in the Justice (!) Department dropped the charges against the New Black Panther Party for its violation of voters’ rights on Election Day 2008, when menacing and threatening Black Panthers patrolled polling places in Philadelphia. During the actual voting, New Black Panther Party members threatened voters at the polls with deadly weapons and blocked poll and campaign workers from polling places with threats. Despite that, Obama, our Chicago political boss-in-chief, refused to prosecute the Panthers with their nightsticks and billy clubs.

In Injustice, Adams tells the whole story of that sorry episode for the first time and provides details of Obama’s public appearance with the Panthers in 2007. The New Black Panther Party offered Obama vocal support. New Black Panther Party support for Obama’s candidacy was posted loudly and proudly on Obama’s website back in March 2008, as I showed at the time at my website. Blogs like Atlas Shrugs that shined the light on the ugly underbelly of Obama’s campaign of race baiting and anti-semitism got the Obama campaign to take down a Panther-created support page. Nevertheless, as Adams shows in Injustice, their support for Obama has paid off big-time.

If the politicization and corruption of the Justice Department were limited to this one incident, that would be bad enough. But Injustice shows that the rot has spread much farther. Adams reveals how Obama and Holder have actually changed the hiring standards at the DOJ so they could pack the department with more radical leftists.

Adams also sheds new light on the case of Safoorah Khan, the Muslim teacher in a Chicago middle school who demanded three weeks off to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and whose case was taken up by Obama’s DOJ. Who starts a teaching job and demands close to a month off for hajj? What teacher would leave her students in the lurch for a month? And who pushed a Justice Department to “examine” the case of this hajj pilgrim in a move completely at odds with its goals and objectives? Islamic supremacists seeking to impose religion on the public square, that’s who.

And what Justice Department would sue on behalf of Muslim Brotherhood-tied Islamic supremacists? That of Iran? Malaysia? Egypt? No, the one in Obama’s America. Obama has made this the mission of his presidency. This was hardly the first case of the DOJ suing to impose Islam on the secular arena.

Obama’s attempts to mine America’s racial divide and pander to Islamic supremacists, and his use of the Department of Justice to do it, are despicable. This ugly racism and shilling for Islamic extremism ought to be obliterated and shunned by society. Instead, this man revels in it. Obama’s ties to radicals and seditious, America-hating groups is disturbing and dangerous. And as J. Christian Adams shows in this essential new book, those ties have now thoroughly corrupted the Justice Department.



"Mandates" to be trimmed back under Obnamacare?

At last a still, small voice of reason: Health-care law benefits must be limited to ensure affordability, panel says

An advisory panel of experts on Thursday recommended that the Obama administration emphasize affordability over breadth of coverage when it comes to implementing a key insurance provision of the 2010 health-care law.

Obama officials charged with stipulating what “essential benefits” many health plans will have to cover should make it a priority to keep premiums reasonable, even if that means allowing plans to be less comprehensive, counseled the committee of the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM).

“The question is what is the fairest, most transparent way to get a reasonable set of benefits and still keep it affordable for both the user and for the taxpayers,” said committee member Marjorie Ginsburg. “We don’t want to say that one is more important than the other..... But the limiting issue obviously is affordability.”

The findings highlight the difficult balancing act the administration faces in carrying out one of the the health-care law’s most sweeping, yet ambiguous, mandates. The statute sets out 10 general categories — ranging from hospitalization to prescription drugs — that all new insurance plans for individuals and small businesses must offer starting in 2014. It also states that the scope of the essential benefits package should be equal to that of a “typical employer plan.”

But Congress did not specify whether this referred to the more generous plans sponsored by large employers or the more minimalist versions bought by many small businesses. And it gave Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius ultimate authority to decide both how much more detailed to make the package and what to include in it.

If she adds little to the legal requirement, the market could end up split between cheap, bare-bones plans of use only to the healthy, and exorbitantly priced full coverage plans financially out of reach of many sick people who need them most.

If she adds too many requirements, premiums for all plans could soar — with consequences for not just individuals but the success of the law as a whole. That’s because many healthy people could decide to pay a penalty instead of buying pricey insurance, skewing the risk pool toward the sick and causing premiums to spiral higher.

That would also cause a spike in the subsidies for health insurance premiums, which the law requires the federal government to offer low-income people, hammering the national budget.

Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, said the recommendations were “very helpful to the discussion.”



The Power of Civil Society

Conservatives and liberals clash frequently on a wide array of issues, from taxes to trade, from deficits to defense. But their greatest conflict may lie in their contrasting attitudes toward civil society.

Conservatives regard the institutions of civil society -- families, churches and communities -- as sources of hope and renewal. Self-styled "progressives" see these institutions as seedbeds of prejudice and ignorance.

Conservatives believe that poverty stems largely from a lack of spiritual resources, resources that are typically transmitted through private, voluntary groups. Progressives view poverty as a simple lack of resources.

Conservatives believe that social justice is best pursued through the restoration of community, familial love, self-respect and responsibility -- all products of a robust civil society. Progressives believe that social justice requires that we redistribute material wealth.

Consider, too, how both groups react to the Tea Party movement.

For conservatives, this movement is a classic example of civil society in action: Ordinary Americans, appalled by the sudden, massive expansion of Big Government, and by the equally sudden, explosive growth of the national debt, have spontaneously organized into associations demanding change.

The great French author Alexis de Tocqueville would surely applaud the Tea Party movement. He would see in it an example of how a vigorous civil society, by serving as a check on the centralizing ambitions of the state, is vital to the health and well-being of democracy.

But progressives support the centralizing ambitions of the state. Thus, they've attacked the Tea Party movement with a fury that might have reminded Tocqueville of the French Revolution's hatred of religion. Prominent progressives have denounced Tea Party members as "terrorists," "racists" and "Nazis" who deserve to be "taken out."

The depth of progressive hatred of the Tea Party movement is startling. But I suppose this is how the "ruling class" invariably reacts whenever the "lower orders" start acting uppity.

Make no mistake: although today's "ruling class" calls itself progressive, it is in fact profoundly reactionary.

By undermining civil society, strengthening the state, and even trying to pin a smiley face on Big Government by renaming it "the federal family," it is laying the groundwork for the democratic despotism that Tocqueville foresaw, and warned against in his landmark book, Democracy in America.

Progressive hostility to the Tea Party movement has reinforced my conviction that strengthening civil society is more urgent today than ever before. We Americans need to regain something of Tocqueville's sense of awe and wonder at the power, ingenuity and creativity of those vital institutions.

Several years ago, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a Heritage Foundation audience how a vibrant civil society contributed to a more just society in the rural Georgia of his youth:

"When someone down the road fell upon hard times," Justice Thomas recalled, "or when sickness beset a family, or when a hurricane or fire destroyed or damaged someone's house, people instinctively helped in whatever way they could. Not helping was unthinkable."

We need to remember that we are not helpless, ignorant masses desperately clinging to our guns or religion, as President Obama once said on the campaign trail. Nor are we anxiously awaiting the arrival of a messiah-president to deliver us from what Tocqueville called "the trouble of thinking and the cares of living."

Rather, we are the American people. We remain strong and resourceful. And we must open our minds to the untapped potential of freedom, to the hidden strengths of civil society, and to the indomitable power of the American spirit.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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