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Sanity Zone 11-3-2011 Tuscaloosa Dumpling, or Intellectual Dishonesty

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Posted 11-02-2011 at 03:58 PM by xan

Intellectual dishonesty appears to be the newest fashion. The more grotesquely fraudulent a statement, the closer a statement can come to actual criminal fraud, the more celebrated the perpetrator. With a society and economy that is as complex and interdependent as ours, these power criminals prey on the ignorant and vulnerable, exploiting their ill-conceived, misinformed world-view to tilt policy to favor and perpetuate their desire for more power.

Former judge Andrew Napolitano is a thought leader for the current “Tea Party” movement and a self-professed “Conservative Libertarian.” On the Daily Show the other evening, he was asked to summarize how Libertarians view government. He said:

“Government is an inherent evil”

“Government is the antithesis of liberty”

“There’s a knock on your door, you answer your door, there’s a guy with a gun. They guy says to you, ‘give me your money, I want to give it away in your name.’ You say to yourself, ‘this guy’s crazy. I’m gonna call the police!’ But he IS the police. He’s an IRS agent who has come to collect your money to give it away in your name! You wouldn’t give your money to this crackpot! You wouldn’t give it in a collection to your neighbors! You wouldn’t give it to the GOVERNMENT to give it away in your name!! You want to give your money away, do it on your own.”
I’m not picking a fight with Mr. Napolitano. He gets paid to say these things, so, especially in our economy, why not get a paycheck. I’m picking a fight with the concepts as they pertain to our society.

Let’s dispense with this whole “good” versus “evil” detritis. Bodily harm, theft, lying and incest. Those we can all essentially agree that are universally undesirable behaviors. Beyond those 4, all else is relative. Just because someone’s activities do not align with your desires does not make them “evil” or your desires “good.” If you lose a battle of wills that does not make you “bad” or the other person “bad.” Relativism (not Relativity) observes that the value of any interaction is solely dependent on the situation of the participant. There is no “good” or “evil” in absolute terms for the vast majority of human behaviors. There can be no “unified morality” beyond the stipulated 4 because there are no other absolutes. Saying government is “inherently evil,” Mr. Napolitano suggests that the government’s sole business is to LITERALLY beat you, take your wallet, sodomize you and tell you it was someone else who did this to you. Right. Mr. Napolitano tries to manipulate your transient intellectual laziness to react to and adopt a fallicy.

There are two basic theories about Man and why Governments form. The first is that Man is inherently self-interested and has incentives to harm other Men to advance agendas; therefore Governments are formed to protect the collective from those potential harms. The other is that Man is inherently altruistic and as such, Governments would only arise opportunistically to address issues that individual or even small groups cannot manage. Either way, Governments are constructed and paid for by the individuals who agree to be bound by the contract between themselves and that Government. The Government represents the desires of the governed. It is therefore intellectually dishonest to say that “government is inherently evil” because that assumes that the government is a third party wholly unbeholden to those that govern and promotes the stipulated 4 behaviors as core tactics.

There are two polar views on “fairness.” The first is, in essence, whatever happens to you is fair (anarchy). The second is that circumstance and chance are not uniformly distributed, and that individuals within a society have minimum expectations of fairness and means of redress (social justice). Any contract individuals enter restricts certain activities addressed by the contract. A social contract is one that a large group undertakes to promote its wellbeing. Key assumptions of social contracts are that individuals are generally weak and that the society must protect the weak. Regardless of form, Governments are the product of social contracts. Membership of the society requires all participants to give up some rights and freedoms in order to preserve certain definable core rights and ensure the stability and health of that society. There are NO societies in which there are no rules or restrictions. And, generally, individuals are free to disengage from a society and join another if that individual disagrees with the social contract. A Liberty is not a right. A Liberty is a well defined set of acceptable behaviours that will be protected by that society. Any Liberty is a key component of the social contract. What is intellectually dishonest about Mr. Napolitano’s argument is that any Liberty can exist outside a society. In essence, Mr. Napolitano advocates that the individual decides what any Liberty is and implicitly, is not beholden to its definition or redress by any individual, group or society.

A Government that is effective requires resources. Explicit within the social contract is that the Government provides means of redress when rights have been violated. Executing the redress requires that the citizenry remit those resources. The contract also gives the Government the right to collect those resources. It is profoundly intellectually dishonest to suggest that any individual is being robbed at gunpoint by their Government. The mere fact that the society has given the right to assess and collect those resources to the Government by definition makes the statement problematic. In addition, suggesting that the individual had no input into either the assessment or dispersal of those resources is and outright fallacy. Just because the individual doesn’t agree with the collective reasoning of the society (the discussion in which that person either chose to or not to participate), doesn’t mean that the Government is either criminal or arbitrary. It means that the individual’s desires did not match that of the society as a whole. It doesn’t mean that the individual is exempt from duty to the society from whom he derives his wealth, status and safety because of the disagreement.

Mr. Napolitano is promoting the concept that Government operates outside and against the society that forms it. I’m not going to argue whether there are individuals in Government who act dishonestly. That is not his argument. His argument is that we should dismantle our codified set of principles that are enacted to protect the weakest and weaknesses of our society so that the stronger can act with impunity. Ultimately, his Conservative Libertarian thesis envisions the least government possible, with the least number of agreements as to what the minimum accrues to the individual.

As mentioned above, individuals, especially in the United States, have many Liberties protected. One of the key liberties is that any individual does not have to abide by those established. It’s just that individual must act on that denial elsewhere. For Conservative Libertarians like Mr. Napolitano, I suggest Somalia. I hear it is the very utopia of minimalist government and the anarchy of his dreams. As long as he has enough wealth to dream.

Even then…

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  1. Old Comment
    Halo's Avatar
    I don't believe ANYTHING that I read in the paper or see on TV. We live in the age of bought and paid for media; there is no such thing as "journalism" or journalistic responsibility.

    Everyone has an agenda, and this is on both sides of the aisle in Unites States politics. Agendas permeate every facet of "media" from TV, print, blogs, and any way messages can be delivered.

    Best thing to do is gather facts, observe all sides of issues: for, against and critique. Only then can people make judgements on their own. Unfortunately, that's too hard for many in America to accomplish, so our populace is lead about like sheep.

    We really have a "reading" problem in this Country, and I'm not talking about literacy. People do not want to take the time to commit the act of reading and that will be our undoing.

    Think about it!!
    Posted 11-06-2011 at 08:02 PM by Halo Halo is offline

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