December 15, 2007
To paraphrase someone: throughout history, the normal condition of human existence has been one of misery, oppression and poverty.
Today is the 216th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments to our Constitution, as ratified in 1791.
This document, along with the one it amended, has been an all too rare experiment in popular self-government – and was the first (?) such experiment to temper democracy with a codified respect for individual rights. Indeed, several of our founders – at the time of the Constitutional Convention – were at pains to explain that the fundamental strength of this new system was not that it established democracy, but rather that it restrained it.
It is no accident that our republic has been as successful as it has.
Yet, pick up today’s newspaper – or turn on the TV - and you will see and hear academicians, politicians – and self-appointed social engineers in the media – lecturing us in the smooth, assured, narcotic language of “social welfare” that our experiment has failed; that our founding principles were – and are – flawed. They soothingly inform us that our principles are antiquated and irrelevant, inadequate and inapt for our current societal situation.
“Rights?!”, they cry, “What good are rights when you can’t find a job…when you can’t afford healthcare…when your neighborhood is wracked by violence. ‘Rights’ won’t keep you fed, employed and safe…but we can. Bah! What good are these two hundred year old ‘Rights’? What YOU need is the ‘right’ to a job! The ‘right’ to healthcare! The ‘right’ to decent, affordable housing! Those are the ‘RIGHTS’ you want, eh? And if you’ll just forget about those ‘old’ rights, we’ll grant you all these ‘new’ ones. We’re experts. We only want to help you. Just let us run things and we’ll take care of you. You won’t have to worry about a thing; we’ll tell you what to do. We know what’s best."
We need a new “Leviathan”, they insinuate – to “correct” our system and right the wrongs perpetrated under it.
"Now, since we're going to have change things around a bit, it'll be a bother to have naysayers constantly nagging us - so we're going to have to control what the press can say. You won't mind will you? And if some 'hard-heads' won't go along with the new program, we'll - regrettably - just have to put them someplace where they can't cause us any problems, right? Don't you agree? Of course you do. The bigger picture, after all, must be kept in view. Hmm?”
The other side of the story – the one they never talk about – is that “Rights” granted by “government” can be disposed of with the stroke of a pen. Rights, granted by man, are as ephemeral as man himself – and thus by definition – cannot truly be rights. Do you have the “Right” to a “socially secure” retirement? Sure you do…until the government runs out of money – and then…oh, well, so sorry.
To gravely point out the unfairness "inherent in our system” and glibly promise an impossible equality of outcome…to talk earnestly of the “needs” and “rights” of “Society” as though they were threatened by the continued maintenance of individual liberties - is just a new chorus to the age-old, dæmonic siren-song of the despot-in-waiting. A “Society” is an aggregate of individuals. To hold that individual rights are an impediment to society is not merely logically invalid, but nonsensical. Individual “
Is it not wise to ask what system it is that these ‘philosopher kings’ would impose? Is it not prudent to understand the history and efficacy of that cure which they prescribe? If all is as they say, could they not simply present theirs as the superior option? Why have they not done so?
Rather, consider the concerted, coordinated, tireless assaults mounted against the continuation of our experiment and the banishment into exile of our Constitution over - and for - the last 75 years. All done in the name of "The People". Does that sound familiar? Anyone? Anyone?
Is it not meet that we should, today, reflect - just for a moment - on the fact that our national strength, will and self-confidence have begun to falter with the adoption of their prescriptions?
Do those who harangue us really know what's best...or do they only flatter themselves that they do?