Manny Montes: American philosophies: Equality or liberty?
August 3, 2018
A conservative would say, "You've got to pick yourself up by your bootstraps."
The progressive would respond with, "Yea, but what if he doesn't have any boots?"
How clever. I didn't think of that. Well, to borrow a phrase from "Cool Hand Luke," "What we have here is a failure to communicate."
Progressives are mixing metaphors, and they know it. Picking yourself up by your boot straps means exerting the mental and physical effort required to make a good career and life for oneself, to be self-reliant. This is characteristic of everyone making their way in life. If you don't have this, and don't have someone's back to climb on, you perish. The boots progressives refer to are government programs, like welfare, food stamps, social security disability, extended unemployment benefits, etc.
Throttling back the economy with burdensome regulations and taxes, and asking someone to go out and be self-reliant in a stagnant economy is like showing a picture of oxygen to a drowning man.
Obama's major job growth was in part-time jobs. That is why the government was handing out so many boots during his tenure as president.
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How many companies could have been, but were not, because of burdensome regulations and taxes? An excellent example of government getting out of the way is when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in 1985, opened several bands of wireless spectrum, allowing them to be used without the need for a government license. With government getting out of the way, a whole new industry was created, the Wi-Fi industry. How many countless jobs created as a result, not to mention how the technology so dramatically changed our lives.
President Trump has resuscitated America's economic heart. Now many are saying, turning a phrase from "Treasure of The Sierra Madre," "Boots? We don't need no stinking boots."
All the above is but a subset of a larger conflict between the Right and the Left, irreconcilable ideologies which are in fact an ideological, now violent, civil war.
America is the brain child of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason. Ideas generated by the enlightenment, which were abstract theories in Europe, became living ideas in the American laboratory. For the first time in the history of mankind, we took a philosophy of individualism, and turned it into a governing creed. As former prime minster of the UK, Margaret Thatcher, stated, "Europe was created by history, America was created by philosophy." The value and achievements of our founding are in plain sight for everyone to see, yet there are those determined to undermine it at every turn. How did this derision for our republic, the most remarkable experiment of governance in the history of the world, come to be?
Well, in the late 1800s, American universities did not offer PhD programs, universities in Germany did. So, American intellectuals, wanting to gain their PhD headed to Germany. There, they were immersed in Immanuel Kant, Rousseau, Marxism and Hegelianism, political philosophies diametrically opposed to ours, subjectivist in nature, placing feelings above reason, and explicitly advocating for the individual to be subordinated to the state. This has been the condition of man throughout history. Our founding was radically new. There is no third way.
American intellectuals fell head over heels for this collectivists approach to governance. In 1919, intellectual, Lincoln Steffens, after visiting the USSR wrote, "I have seen the future, and it works." Unfortunately, he couldn't witness the courageous souls, braving armed guards, vicious dogs, and land mines, attempting to escape the Communist heaven of East Berlin to enter the Capitalism hell of the West.
Progressives today still embrace the collectivist socialist dogma. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton were asked, in different venues, what is the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? They all deflected, and gave comments that were not answers to the question. They couldn't have cited any difference. It is like being asked, aside from duration, what is the difference between night time and a total solar eclipse? None. If a conservative were to be asked to cite the difference between a conservative and a socialist, he'd answer, night and day.
Progressives emphasize equality. Conservatives emphasize individual liberty and limited government. Equality consistent with liberty is equality before the law. Pursuit of any other equality is inconsistent with liberty, such as what happened to Catholic charitable adoption services.
The moral superiority of personal liberty rests on the major ingredient of limited government. Progressives say equality above liberty, big government above limited government.
Manny Montes lives in Auburn.