Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Faith and morality go hand in hand
I would argue the proper definition of American Exceptionalism is that the United States was founded by the people, granting powers to a government rather than the other way around. Government is subordinate to the people as opposed to citizens being a component of the state.
The U.S. is the only country where, if you find oil under your house, it is yours, not the crown's or the government's. Thus we are the exception to the rule hence American Exceptionalism.
Underpinning this is the establishment of rights imbued to the individual by God, not by the government.
The U.S. is predicated on the idea of a moral citizenry thus enabling citizens to hold the power entrusted to them by the constitution. It is this link, between a moral citizenry arising from a religiously inspired moral structure that is explicitly under attack by the modern left.
Progressivism is an alternative moral structure designed to weaken and ultimately destroy the faith based moral structure on which our country was founded. In order to create a "new" United States, it is necessary to tear down the existing country and ripping apart the foundation is the strategy of the left. That is, eviscerate the legitimacy of morality by destroying the concept of God or a religious moral structure and then concept of a citizen guided by such a morality becomes illegitimate. This clears the path to the primacy of the government and the power that entails.
The modern Progressive eschews the idea that individuals could rightfully own oil or natural resources found on their property. In their view, those resources rightfully belong to the collective or state.
Similarly, the fruits of one's labors also belong to the state. How else to make sense of "You didn't build that" comments by President Obama? This is the end game for Progressives in their attacks on religion and morality in the public square, transferring all power to the government.
Progressives hate religion because it interferes with their decadent ideology. They are a plague who wants more sexual promiscuity, abortion, no rule of law, no morals, no integrity, and relativism where anything goes.
Most atheists are progressives and feel humans have no business believing in a higher power or God. Scientists now believe that our planet is so exceptional and unique in the universe and is very likely there is no other planet with the richness of life and order present in our planet. This raises the question of us being here for a purpose and an intelligent design.
A few months ago there was a column in the Wall Street Journal by Dan Henninger titled "The New Stupid Party: Democrats call Republicans the stupid party. But now, there’s dumb, and dumber."
That morning I was also reviewing Fukuyama's new book, "Political Order and Political Decay," wherein he identifies three crucial institutions of a modern state: the state itself or government and bureaucracy, the rule of law, and mechanisms of accountability. As I was reading the introductory and summarizing chapter, I got the distinct impression that he places too much emphasis on a large bureaucratic state.
Fukuyama recognizes that and closes that chapter arguing that size is not necessarily the answer, that quality is also important. "Much more important than the size of government is its quality." Moreover, there needs to be a "balance between government power and institutions that constrain the state," a subject that is very dear to me.
The reason I brought this up in the context of stupid, and again now, is that Fukuyama closes the introductory chapter by saying that "this volume will not provide any straightforward answers, and certainly not easy ones, to the question of how to improve the quality of government."
And that is the big problem, isn't it?
People like Elizabeth Warren, who was featured in Henninger’s article, and Progressives more generally, don't have any answers either, they just make promises, create more bureaucracy, and throw money at it.
My preference and that of the more conservative right is to be more humble and to err on the side of less government and let market forces and the checks-and-balances of democracy do the job. So I bring up stupid because the first step in overcoming it is to recognize that we are indeed stupid when it comes to the quality of government, that the answer doesn't lie in larger, more "scientific" solutions because we don't know what these are and the so-called experts don't know either.
All the experts have are simplistic models that help explain some things but are really helpless against the immense complexity of our society and economy.
Rules or laws are the glue that holds societies together. Some govern our everyday social relations. Others only apply to certain circumstances and types of relationships and are important only to limited groupings.
I've broken the whole mess of rules into very long term, medium and short term. The very long term rules are constituted by the moral and ethical values that have come down to us from our ancestors. These are so important and constant that they have survived the test of time and have been folded into a religion.
Because they are so important, we teach them very intensely to our children and review parts of them in formal weekly gatherings.
Then you have the medium or near long-term rules like those of our Constitution, moving down to the more short term laws, statutes and regulations passed to achieve and enforce shorter term objectives. These are always in flux and, unfortunately, expanding but it is the price we pay for social and economic progress and growth.
It would be ideal if we all knew those rules but it is obviously impossible. That alone becomes a problem because we can't follow rules we don't even know exist.
In my reading of the dynamics of social change, one highly undesirable area where rules are growing, and I believe this is the one the people object to most, are rules that substitute for the moral and ethical values we learned at the feet of our parents and the pews of our churches.
These are certainly not perfect and we know they need to keep up with the times but changing them is not as easy as changing the flow of traffic in our streets. We all know to be alert to the rules of the road in places we haven't been to before, but moral and ethical rules are very deeply embedded in our psyches since they were so insistently drummed into us already as babies.
No surprise then that the Sandra Fluke kind of moralizing from Washington is so controversial, yet in the bigger scheme of things so inconsequential, except if they lead to a society that gets its moral and ethical values from government.
The moral and ethical rules we have today were arrived at through thousands of years of trial and error. We are fools who think we can do better by a stroke of a pen or a cost-benefit analysis.
To bottom line it, it is not about one side being better than the other but about what is the best way to govern. I think it behooves conservatives to somehow get across the idea that there are no magic solutions to quality in creating new bureaucracies like, say, the Independent Payments Advisory Board, or IPAB, to manage the healthcare market, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, to keep banks from abusing consumers; that we need to be humble and recognize our limitations; that in most cases we don't even know what "quality" is; and that we should let markets, a well-functioning democratic process, and our values and morality, yes, our morality, or core laws do more of the job.
The better our core moral values, the fewer imperfect and often low quality government-made laws and regulations we will need.