Sunday, April 11, 2010

Principle, Not Preference Should Inform Policy

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By Daryl Luna, Editor at:
*In Defense of the Constitution*


So often when arguing against statist programs and privacy violations I hear many of the same contentions: "It doesn't bother me, personally." "I don't mind it, so why should I care?" "I am too busy to do it myself, so I'm glad to let the government handle it for me." "I have nothing to hide." "As long as someone's not breaking the law, they have nothing to fear." The list goes on and on, but the gist of each is a lack of concern for liberty violations based on personal opinion.

However, one's personal feelings should never guide policy and never trump the protection of liberty. Yes, personal feelings are at play in any matter. They inform our decision making processes and are important in a number of ways. But in the ultimate scheme of things, principle--not preference--should be the deciding factor in all we do.

In order to flush out this idea, let us look to some examples.

Obamacare is one of the most controversial legislative acts in recent history, but it is nothing new. It is just another example of the federal government extending its reach into an area once properly handled by the private sector (even though the government's involvement in health care has made it more and more difficult for the private sector to be effective). Instead of the government providing health care, private charity should help those suffering who cannot provide for themselves.

In fact, this is true for a whole host of matters. It is the private sector, not the government, which is responsible for providing most things in a free society, and acts of goodwill for one's fellow man definitely do not belong to the state. But, sadly, the government has injected itself as the primary source of many "charitable" actions. Of course, it is not really charity; it is forced redistribution. Charity cannot come at the point of a gun, and that is what taxation involves. Don't believe me? Refuse to pay your taxes, resist the government's attempt to collect, and have a gun shoved in your face.

What makes the whole thing worse is the welcoming of this usurpation of responsibility by many. I have actually had friends tell me that they supported the government redistribution "charity" through welfare because they are too lazy to do so themselves. Rather than helping out their fellow man, these folks want the government to control the resources and do with them what it wills. Not even looking to the inefficiencies of the government bureaucracy, this belief is still problematic.

Though one may not mind the government choosing how to spend his or her own fruits, that does not mean that all share such a view. Many do not. In fact, many like to choose where their funds are spent, who it is that they help, and want to truly do acts of charity themselves. When government is involved it forces all taxpayers to be involved in a way that is inefficient and can violate one's conscience or property rights. And as Jefferson noted, "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Even if one does not mind his funds being redistributed, that does not mean his neighbor will feel the same. And we must ask: Does one's lack of concern for a policy warrant a violation of another's liberty. Just because a policy doesn't bother you so much, should it be forced on someone else whether they want it or not? This is not charity, but tyranny. If we are to be a people who value individual liberty, it cannot be so.

The same goes for privacy issues. Should one's own lack of concern trump another's liberty? Of course, there are practical reasons for resisting privacy violations, but even in cases that seem harmless, we must not trample upon a central principle of liberty based on personal preference.

If you feel comfortable with an increasingly intrusive "Big Brother" but your countryman does not, should you not respect his liberty? What would happen if the tables were turned and something you did care about was put in jeopardy? Surely then a call for principle, not preference, would arise.

The fact is that individual liberty is in jeopardy anytime government extends its influence into a particular area. Therefore, we must fight back against any attempt for unwarranted and unconstitutional government action. This includes fighting it in areas we may personally not be concerned with.

Likewise, we should not welcome government overreach in areas in which our countrymen will unnecessarily see their liberties infringed. By doing so we may not offend personal preference, but we may harm the very principles of liberty.

Don't forget to visit Daryl's blog:
In Defense of the Constitution