Obama's Uniformity of Interests

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Obama said in his inaugural address that "we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." People cheered.

I didn't.

I like conflict and discord. Not incivility, but argument and debate, expressions of disagreement, which often become heated and passionate. A lack of conflict and discord means that everyone agrees, or -- much worse -- are somehow prevented from disagreeing, either by force of government, or a lack of personal desire or will. It's bad no matter the cause. We necessarily will disagree, and we must speak out about our disagreement, which will result in conflict and discord. Without that, we lose liberty -- and quickly -- no matter who is in power, left, or right.

Nancy Pelosi was right when she said she loved "disruptors" under Bush; but she was obviously self-serving when she said it, because she changed her tune about disrptions under Obama, calling it "un-American." It is people like this -- again, of any party -- we must be wary of losing our freedom to if we do not speak out, if we abandon "conflict and discord" in exchange for "unity of purpose."

One of the reasons I love Federalist 10 is because James Madison so clearly explains the importance of understanding dissent and disagreement in the framing of our new government.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

Far from Obama's "unity of purpose," Madison tells us we all inherently have difference of purpose, and that a "uniformity of interests" is not possible.

But many in our society don't accept the impracticability of this. They work hard to give us a "uniformity of interests." One of the obvious examples of this is Social Security. It doesn't make economic or policy sense in any way to give Warren Buffett a Social Security check; we have universal Social Security for one reason only: to give citizens the same passions and interests, that they might share the same opinions. That is: everyone is in Social Security, so most people support it.

If we cannot force people who have different and unequal faculties, and different degress and kinds of property, to share the same opinions, then these people will work on reducing those differences, that we might share the same opinions. That is obviously what the universality of Social Security is about, and it's also what the "health care reform" is largely about: forcing everyone (starting with individuals) into a government-run system like the health insurance exchange, and forcing everyone to have health insurance with individual mandates.

The initial reason behind it is fine, and something virtually everyone agrees with: people should have health care, and should have enough resources to live past retirement age. However, they take a leap many of us don't like, saying government should provide those things to people who don't have them. And because so many of us don't share their opinion, they try to force us into the system in order to slowly change our opinions to supporting the system.

And yes, it is as sinister as it sounds. Individual mandates are not about taking care of YOU if something happens to you, they are about two things: the first is taking your money to give to other people, but no less important is that by putting you into the system, you will be more likely to support its continuation and expansion.

We see this again and again. We see it in forced unionization. We see it in Medicare. We see it in public schooling. We see it in Rep. Rangel's vision for reinstatement of the military draft. Wherever you see government creating a system and trying to force everyone into it, forcing people to have the same interests, encouraging them to share the opinion of continuing and expanding the system is a big reason why.

This is separate from, though related to, the Democrats' push to literally silence the opposition, whether it's pushing out an entire news network they dislike, or trying to enforce "fairness" on broadcast radio stations (which most of the top Democratic leaders in Congress have expressed support for, just in the last year or two).

This silencing and undermining of dissent is more along the lines of Madison's first remedy to faction, the abolishing the liberty essential to political life. But it's all about the same thing: the Democrats want to remove the causes of faction, so Obama can have his "unity of purpose," and they do this as they long have done: by trying to destroy our liberty; and by pushing us to share the same opinions, by giving us the same interests.

I have two things to tell the Democrats (and the Republicans and others who engage in similar behaviors). First, you should embrace faction. It is how we protect liberty, it is how we ensure justice, it is how we progress as a civilization. It is not without problems, but it represents far more good than harm. Its effects can, and should, be controlled, which is why we have a republic and not a democracy. Read the rest of Federalist 10 if you don't understand.

Second, and more practically, perhaps, it won't work. It never does. It only creates more factiousness, and make its effects harder to control. slashdot.org

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