Dear Dr. Hurd: I understand you’re against social conservatives for wanting to use the force of government to restrain personal and private behavior. However, I cannot envision myself supporting any Republican, for any reason at any time. I don’t care what you say about Obama. He got rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military, and he’s keeping abortion safe and legal. I really don’t care about health insurance, taxes, and all the rest. Human dignity comes first; economics is a distant second.
Dr. Hurd replies: Wow — that’s a short statement with so many errors, I hardly know where to begin!
Do you mean to imply that human dignity has nothing whatsoever to do with economics? Are you saying that you’d be just as happy living in Soviet Russia, or some third world totalitarian dictatorship like Iran, North Korea or Cuba — so long as they let you have sex with the adults of your choice, and an abortion if you want one? Is that all that matters to you in life: Sex and reproduction?
Please say you’re kidding. If you’re not, then you’re just really, really wrong. None of us should ever settle for only some of what some government or political party is willing to give us. These politicians, in both parties, have crafted coalitions in a way to give them power. Obama and other Democrats like him have found that by letting people retain their individual rights in some areas, they can get power over what really matters to them: industry, health care, and the American economy. Republicans are willing — they claim, at least — to let go of some of that power over the economy, in exchange for making sure that certain social liberties are denied. Each has built up a guaranteed and permanent political coalition by taking these stands. Notice that neither one can hold onto it for long, as each coalition seems to be getting booted out of office at the rate of every two to four years.
Liberty and individual rights are an all-or-nothing proposition. If you honestly don’t care whether you’re living in a comfortable (even humble) home with ample heat and air conditioning, ample food and supplies, or whether you live in a hovel, starving and without the regular advancements in technology we’ve all come to except — well, if you honestly don’t care, then that’s up to you. But you have no right to impose this on the rest of us by supporting a candidate (primarily Obama, although most of the others as well) whose economic policies are steadily leading us all to poverty, stagnation and ruin.
But more than that, liberty does not exist in a vacuum. If you say, “Go ahead, I don’t care about my liberty in economics,” then you have no moral or practical basis for asserting your liberty in the areas that DO matter to you. Once you give the government the power to take away liberty for some — or others — you have given government the power to take liberty away from you too. This is not merely a lofty, grand statement; it’s a matter of the most practical, down-to-earth and real-life fact.
Imagine if your next-door neighbor started storing his excess things on your beautiful front lawn. When you confronted him, he’d say, “Tough. I’ll do what I want.” I can imagine what your reaction would be, even if sex and abortion are the only things that matter to you. What if you called the police and they replied by saying, “Well, it’s against the law for him to put food or medical waste on your lawn. But so long as he’s putting non-perishables on your lawn, he’s really within the boundaries of reason and justice.”
This is the kind of nonsensical hair-splitting in which you’re engaging when you say, “Support Obama–he gives us the freedoms that are the most important to me.” This would be no different than your other neighbor telling you, “What’s the problem? The police may be unfair, but at least they don’t raise our taxes. As long as they don’t raise our taxes, I’ll put up with these infringements on our rights.” That would be crazy. The reason it’s crazy is because we are all entitled to all of our liberty, not just some of it!
As for economics, I want to live in a society which is always growing, thriving and producing. I want to live in a society where people are rewarded for their talents and achievements, not for their political connections. I support freedom in economics as well as the bedroom, because the two are inseparable, in theory as well as practice. Truly bad guys, who engage in fraud or who initiate violence, should be punished, but nobody should be punished for being “too successful,” as Obama and others desperately want to see happen.
To me, capitalism is not merely important so that I can earn lots of money (and keep it) if I want to, but because capitalism promotes a society in which excellence wins, not people like we now see in the White House, or running to live in the White House. No society is perfect, but it’s possible to achieve the ideal in practice, based on the right principles. America came closer than any society has so far. I realize that in any given election, you either abstain from voting or, if you vote, you choose the lesser of two evils, assuming there’s any basis for doing so. But to morally or otherwise defend one of those evils as somehow tolerable or acceptable — whether it’s Obama, or anyone else — is just the sort of thing that ultimately brings governments and societies down into ruin.