Saturday, March 27, 2010

The "Violence" of the Dems' Health Care Reform

A recent phenomenon has served to concretize and clarify a fundamental issue at work in our culture. David Lightman and William Douglas of McClatchy Newspapers write:

"Law enforcement officials are investigating a series of threats against Democrats in the House of Representatives who backed the recent health care legislation, threats that have lawmakers on edge about potential violence against them both in Washington and back home."

The name of that article is "Words, and now bricks thrown at lawmakers over health care vote".

This behavior has been roundly condemned, including by the Democrats. And the Dems are right to condemn physical violence. But their angst rings hollow in the face of the passage of their health care "reform" bill. That is because ObamaCare and the violence, their words and the bricks, spring from the same root. What is that root?

In Force and Violence: How the Left Blurs Terms, Amit Ghate answers by exposing a common fallacy:

"The fallacy is the equation of violence with force. The error and its consequences are manifest in what the left condemns and condones.

"...under the left’s influence and urging, government now exerts force against its own citizens in myriad and ubiquitous ways. It forcibly takes our tax dollars to fund public schools — leaving us with little choice or means to give our children the education we consider best. It decides which drugs can and can’t be tested; how approved drugs are to be marketed; and which patients, no matter how willing they are to take a risk, qualify for experimental drugs, etc. It regulates commerce and trade in issues ranging from trivial to critical. Just ask any businessman how many arbitrary rules he must heed every single day — under punishment of fine, closure or even jail. Everything from the placement of signs, to interview questions, to campaign contribution limits — even pricing! — is dictated to businessmen.

"So while leftists may recognize the evil of a thug shooting an innocent victim dead, they simultaneously champion laws that prevent a person from buying the life-saving medicine she needs. The pain and suffering leftists cause by unleashing governmental force leaves them unfazed. As long as their victims remain nameless, and the proceedings are carried out behind closed doors (preferably by some bureaucracy or committee to give them 'legitimacy'), the left is happy to use force to advance its agenda.

"Yes it is proper to condemn the initiators of violence. In fact it is morally mandatory because such action represents a tremendous evil. But violence is wrong precisely because it is a species of force. For the left to oppose open violence while promoting every other form of force is more than hypocritical — it’s an unconscionable intellectual crime.

"Whatever its form or specific target, force is evil because it impedes or defeats man’s use of his mind and its products."

The common root shared by ObamaCare and the violence aimed at lawmakers is that they both represent the exercise of force. The equivocation of force solely with its physical manifestation - violence - allows statism to grow unchecked. But you can have force without violence, though not the other way around. The threat of physical violence lies behind the entire edifice of the welfare state and is its hallmark. But the statists don't acknowledge the threat as equivalent to the actual. But the threat of force entails its logical end result - actual physical force. Ultimately, those who break the law will face the physical confiscation of their property and/or physical arrest and incarceration.

The use of force is right and proper in regards to criminals who initiate force against their fellow citizens - either directly as in the case of rape or armed robbery, or indirectly as in the case of financial fraud. The retaliatory use of force is what government's are for, and it is right that the government must have a legal monopoly on the use of such force. It is, in fact, the only reason to have a government.

But what about the case of government-initiated force? That is why we need a constitution: to limit the government from initiating physical force in any of its manifestations. When it does, it is stepping outside of its proper bounds. It is no longer protecting individual rights, but violating them, just as any common criminal does. The difference is, the citizen can fight back against the common criminal, in the form of a government that will arrest and prosecute the perpetrator, and force him to pay restitution to the victim.

But when the citizen's protector, the government, becomes the criminal, the citizen is left legally disarmed. Ultimately, this leaves him no choice but to step outside of the law to seek restitution. Of course, today the citizen is not totally disarmed ... yet. In America, we still have the powerful weapon of free speech, coupled with the right to elect our political leaders. Violence, or rebellion against the government, is not yet the answer.

But never forget that our Founding philosophical document, the Declaration of Independence, sanctions rebellion as a fundamental human right and as a last resort:

"That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." (Emphasis added)

The welfare statists want to pretend that they are somehow different from the perpetrators of violence. But they are not different, in the essential respect. Their violence is hidden, but nonetheless real. The physical violence should be condemned, for the same reason that ObamaCare should be condemned: Both entail the violation of individual rights. The difference is, the legislative victims of threats have the law to protect them, while the victims of ObamaCare are themselves victims of the law. They are legally disarmed, with no one to protect their rights.

The actions of anti-ObamaCare thugs is a precursor and a glimpse at what the ultimate end of America's current statist direction will look like - violent rebellion. It doesn't have to happen, and it's way too soon to justify this kind of behavior against our politicians. I join in in condemning the violence. But one must be consistent. One must condemn all forms of the initiation of physical force. The Democrats do not, and that is their weakness and their hypocrisy.

Amit Ghate calls for the right approach to the problem cited in the McClatchy article:

"It’s time to reject the notion that only 'violence' is objectionable. Instead, let’s focus on eliminating the initiation of force, whatever its manifestation. Since the principle of individual rights is the principle which banishes force from human relations — let’s reestablish it. In so doing we’ll undo decades of leftist malfeasance."

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