Joel Watts – Question 3 Response 1
Elgin Hushbeck – Question 3 Response 1
Joel Watts – Question 3 Response 2
1) I would agree with your statement that, “liberty is not absolute freedom as that would lead to anarchy.” I found your statement, “we are truly never free given that even free will is a myth” puzzling, but I fear pursuing it as that would take us wildly off track. Still at the end I was left uncertain about the answer to my question “Where does liberty fit into your view of Government? “
For example you wrote, “Economic Liberty is a wild animal to tame, but it must include the notion not of unlimited enterprise or unlimited gain, else by such measures we limit others, but the liberty to pursue or not pursue individual wealth so as to not harm the social compact.” This is a statement that I could agree with, but a lot is buried in the definitions of “unlimited” and “pursue” and I suspect that while we both might agree with the statement, we would then disagree about what it actually means.
I believe, for example that the free enterprise system is not an unlimited or anything goes system, but one that is constructed to ensure competition among suppliers and thus choice for consumers. Only in such a system do people have both the most opportunity and liberty. I believe that government, at least as it is currently constructed, is a barrier to this, limiting competition and thus choice. The larger the government is, the greater will be the burden on society and the limits on individuals. Thus both choices and opportunity will be restricted.
In addition, it also distorts the market in a way that leads to problems. For example, as I detail in my book, the cause of the financial problems of 2008 and early 2009 were a combination of bad government policies and regulations. But since it is government that holds the hearings and writes the laws, they rarely focus on themselves, and thus most of this was just ignored.
A key problem is that, even when not flawed, government regulation comes at a cost. As government regulation increases, the burden of simply keeping up becomes a barrier to entry for smaller businesses wishing to enter a market. Thus it is not uncommon to find large organizations pushing to be regulated, as they know that it is a cost they can afford, but their smaller completion cannot. Often the end result is that regulations have little if any actual benefit to the consumer, but instead have the negative effect of limiting competition and choice.
To be clear this is not an argument against all regulation, but rather that the cost of regulation and their impact on competition must be carefully considered, something that is clearly not happening at the moment.
2) While I generally agree with your second answer, I do not think that the division is quite so clear cut. The realms of the moral and the realms of the natural overlap to a considerable degree. While you claim that “Government cannot replace God, nor the individual conscience,” It certainly seems at times to be trying, such as in the recent HHS mandates that would require individuals to violate their conscience and what they perceive to be their duty to God. If Government and God are to be kept separate, the larger and more encompassing the role of Government the less room there will be for God. Sure if one’s views of God are in sync with the views of the Government, then one may not perceive any problem, but that would hardly be religious liberty.
3) What distance is the Federal Government away from us?
Perhaps the distance metaphor did not work for you, but it does for a vast majority of Americans. In fact, many in the Western states often speak of a War on the West. It is so well established that we speak of Washington D.C. as inside the beltway, in the sense that the beltway is a barrier to the rest of America.
When you said that “In our system, we are intertwined” I think you are confusing the effects of the federal government which people do encounter every day, with the rule of the federal government, over which they have little say.
There are many factors in this. One is just simple population/mathematics. Your input at the community level is larger than your input at the state, which is larger than you input at the federal. I discuss this and some of the other factor such as the concepts of safe seats, and the problems with elections in my book, but the bottom line, is that we simply have very little say in what actually happens at the federal level.
For example, polls consistently showed that ObamaCare was opposed by significant majorities of the American public. Scott Brown even won an election in the Democratic bastion of Massachusetts in an attempt to stop it. But it was passed anyway, and while it remains unpopular is unlikely to be repealed any time soon. Then there is the fact that the bill itself was only an outline compared the tens of thousands of regulations that will affect our daily life, but over which we have no effective say.
The point here is not ObamaCare one way or the other and I have no doubt that you can come up with some examples of your own from the liberal perspective. But it is an example that politicians in Washington are cut off from the people. And this is the political branch, the courts are even worse.
It is just a fact that in almost every election people have supported keeping the traditional definition of marriage. The people of California voted twice. But come June the Supreme Court may overrule the people yet again and impose a new definition of marriage on the entire nation.
Again the point here is not really marriage per se. New York passed same-sex marriage and I would be opposed if the court ruled that unconstitutional as well. The point here is that the federal government would impose this view, not based on the will of the people (who have repeatedly voted against it), or on the Constitution (which does not mention it), but because that is what a majority of the justices think it should be.
This is what I was referring to, that the level of government we have the least influence over is controlling more and more of our lives. The mayor of New York can ban 32 ounce drinks, and while I laugh at him and think it silly, if that is what New York city wants, who am I to say otherwise. I don’t have to go to New York. But if this was done at the federal level how could I avoid it?