I was reading venture capitalist Albert Wenger’s blog about society and human rights. I left a comment on it and decided to turn it into a blog post.
Here is my comment:
Philosophy brings out less commenters! I will take a stab. I think that humanism is not well understood. It comes from the canon of Western Civilization and started with the Greeks, was passed to the Romans. For modern times, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Humes, Carmichael, Locke et al outlined it. I think that the US Bill of Rights, and the Constitution are "humanist" documents which codify humanism into a society structure.
Some of the greatest writings in American history were written by Transcendentalists which was an offshoot of Humanism. Thoreau and Emerson (Civil Disobedience and Self-Reliance respectively are two essays people should read and understand) outlined a uniquely American character that persists today.
I don't think humanism works well with things like "collective" or even a word like "solidarity" which feels too strong and too unyielding. A better word for solidarity might be "commonality".
We have the rights of man endowed to us by our Creator-they are not rights endowed to us by a government or king. Those rights give us freedom, but that freedom comes with a huge responsibility and opportunity cost. In the series 1883, when the women were chatting they said the journey on the prairie gave them unprecedented freedom, but that freedom came with fangs.
“Each man should promote, so far as it is in his power, the common good of the whole human race, and, so far as this allows, the private good of individuals” ([NR], p. 48). This relates to our ‘mediate’ duties since we indirectly signify our love and veneration of God by treating his creatures well."
It is worth noting that Carmichael also said you don't have to worship God to be a humanist. But, certainly Christianity and Judaism have embedded in their faith humanist principles and Humanism in the 17th/18th century came out of them.
But, here is a distinction I probably have with people from the left. Each man promoting the common good comes from individual actions, not collective ones or ones commanded by an over riding government power.
How do we learn this "common good"? In America,
it came from our families.
You learned it at home from
of your parents. The breakdown of the American family has led to a breakdown of society. Interestingly, that breakdown corresponded almost exactly to President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" in 1965. Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Johnson trained Americans to look away from themselves and the principles of self-reliance and instead look to government to solve their problems.
As the founder's realized and wrote extensively about in their own essays, but also in the Federalist Papers, when a society looks to and relies on government, the government becomes all powerful and oppressive.
Governments are not angels or King Solomon. They have their own economic incentives and opportunity costs and that drives their decision making in the long run (and sometimes short run).
We are at that point in America today where government has become tyrannical and oppressive. The evidence is hard to tease out in the data, but intuition will tell you simply by looking at migration patterns that there is something happening.
A few things have been bubbling inside me the past week. I traveled to Chicago this past week. I had to wear a mask in an airport (I didn’t) and there were announcements saying this was a “law”. It’s not a law, it’s a mandate and an order. There is a difference.
In Chicago, I had to show a vaccine card and wear a mask to enter an establishment. If that doesn’t remind you of Nazi Germany, you didn’t get educated. It at least ought to remind you of the social credit score system in China. Maybe if you are lucky, you might recall how the British tried to restrict the movements of their subjects in America prior to the Revolution.
I was sitting in the furniture store Room and Board by myself with no one around me. No one was in the store, I wonder why? I had been in the store for at least an hour. I had a mask on, which is a policy not based on any science at all. Some Karen came by and told me I had to have it over my nose. My wife and I left the store. I won’t buy from Room and Board.
Covid has let the inner totalitarian of people come out. They are unmasked in a masked society.
I notice we can get four free Covid tests from the government now. Why do we need them? Why only four? Who is paying for the “free” tests? The graft, fraud, and patronage around Covid are amazingly large. On my trip to Chicago, I saw several pop-up Covid test sites where private businesses used to be. No doubt, these test sites might be privately owned but they are fully funded by the government. They probably also have to jump through “equity” hurdles to get licenses to operate.
It reminds me of the time I went to my country club in Las Vegas with five people. Nevada would only let you dine in groups of four as if there was some scientific knowledge that if you had one more diner than four, we’d all come down with a disease that would kill us. The uncomfortable data for the totalitarians that issued this policy is that if you are healthy and under 20, you have a 0% chance of dying. For people 20-70, it’s a .002 chance of dying. Even over 70, the risk of dying is far less than recovering. Our governor in Nevada isn’t that bright. He is a dim person incapable of making independent decisions. I guess when you sell time-shares for a living and win a lawsuit that makes you money instead of actually earning it you have a different perspective.
I recently had Covid. It lasted ten days for me. I slept a lot, had a fever, some night sweats, but I never thought I should go to the doctor. For the large percentage of the world population, it’s the same. Yet, here we are with shitty totalitarian policies all over the world.
In my opinion, and in several other people’s opinions, the American government is way too big and intrusive. Currently, we have an administration that is more concerned with things like “social equity” than the general welfare of all American citizens. When you criticize that movement, you are categorized by them and their followers as racist.
Governments use fear all the time as a motivator to get what they want. There are no angels in government. They are human. Government has a “culture” just like corporations have a “corporate culture”. Each of them acts in their own best interest, not in the best interest of individual rights and civil liberty.
The question for me is this, how do we change all the federal programs, all the federal regulations, and re-engineer the social safety net so we fall back on our American principles of self-reliance and independence without totally seeing society destruct into mayhem? Roughly 70% of our government budget is entitlement spending of some kind. Before any US Representative or Senator is sworn in, that money is committed and spent. Only 16% of the budget goes to defense. That means 24% is discretionary and fought over unless, of course, you go into debt. We know what choices have been made and they are manifesting themselves as inflation and things like that today.
Mayhem invites even more oppression as we have seen time and time again in human history. Communism comes with mayhem. Socialism can come with mayhem. Mayhem is a feature, not a bug. To be clear, the district attorneys in our large urban centers invite mayhem to increase the power of government and I think they do this intentionally.
It extends to the state and federal governments. People that push policies that increase reliance on the government most likely will never be subject to the rules of that government. They are millionaires, and billionaires, and can avoid most of the apparatus that they advocate for.
But, most Americans would be, and are, under the thumb. You can flee a state and escape. It is much harder to flee a country.
I get into debates with Europeans once in a while about certain topics regarding government payment, subsidy, or intervention into things. They become frustrating debates because the Europeans don’t understand the principles America was founded upon. I remind them, “There is a reason why we left.”
Those people that left understood that individual liberty trumped government power. They wanted to be accountable to themselves, not a king or government. The Founders understood human nature well and knew that people could fail. It’s why Franklin reportedly retorted to the woman who asked what they had given them in Independence Hall he said, “A Republic if you can keep it.”
We have lost a lot of our Republic since 1789. Thankfully, yesterday, the Senate kept the filibuster in order to preserve the rights of the minority. Democrats ought to thank the members of their party that voted with Republicans. The filibuster is a total pain in the ass when you are a majority party, but it forces you to caucus, debate, and compromise with the minority party to enact legislation that will affect the lives of individual Americans.
At least our legislators are elected. You cannot say that for the Executive Branch of government where the true power of government lies today. Unelected people issue rules that affect our daily lives.
When a government or government agency says you can’t exercise your basic civil liberties unless you get a vaccine, even ignoring the science of natural immunity, you know we are in a much darker and totalitarian place than we were two years ago. Even with the Supreme Court decision of last week, do you think we are that much freer? I wasn’t in Chicago and Chicago hasn’t lifted its “show me your papers” mandates.
When businesses and schools segregate by race, or by what a person believes, we are in a darker and more totalitarian place than we were years ago. Can you imagine that this happened in 2021? America is not a racist country, and thankfully Jim Crow ended years ago despite some people trying to bring it back in a new form.
When we see across the board, academic institutions that were supposedly bastions of free thought, radical inquisition, and ideas take aggressive action and fire professors, gag students, eliminate student groups that have principles different than theirs we are in a much darker place. Further, they deliberately teach anti-capitalist and anti-American concepts while quelching the teaching of traditional capitalistic and uniquely American concepts, we most certainly are in a darker and more totalitarian place than we were years ago.
45% of Democrats today think internment camps for the unvaccinated are a feature, not a bug. It would be easy to get to 51% since most people are weak-kneed. I have watched the Covid thing evolve, and I know which one of my acquaintances would send me to an internment camp and which wouldn’t. They aren’t all Democrats.
We have abandoned our core principles of what it means to be an American. The reason we have isn’t immigration. It’s because people like President Woodrow Wilson, President Franklin Roosevelt, President Lyndon Johnson, and their followers trained Americans from looking to themselves and their immediate neighbors to solve problems to looking to government.
Republican presidents were not immune. George Bush 2 used the 9/11 attacks to institute The Patriot Act which is one of the largest assaults on American Civil Liberties we have seen.
I am an out of the closet Republican. It has hurt me in many ways since I practiced my career in Chicago where it is okay to actively discriminate against Republicans. Thankfully, I worked for most of it at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange where capitalism and freedom of thought were exercised fully. In other businesses and non-government institutions, not so much.
I know Republicans aren’t innocent in the breakdown from founding principles to where we are today. We freedom-loving, civil libertarian Republicans are sick and tired of being sold a bill of goods by people in our own party only to find they are just grifters and for slower growth of government; not dissimilar from many of those in the other party who want faster growth of government. I have more distaste for the “GOPe” people than I do Bernie Sanders. At least I know Sanders is a fraud and not on my side.
Government cannot be the be-all-end-all. As I said in my blog comment, governments have their own internal economic incentives and none of them are on the side of more liberty and freedom. The Founder’s knew this well.
We have gone way too far instituting Big Government in the US at all levels of government.
It’s time those of us that reside in this country remember their lessons and implement them immediately. We need a good operational plan to execute it while keeping the mayhem and protest that will result down to a minimum. At some point, we will know the protestors aren’t anything but totalitarian-loving communists/socialists. My gut is they are the minority, so they will be easy to ignore.
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