Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Freedom of Press is limited to those who own one - H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Latest from PJ

P.J. O’Rourke, the patron saint of this blog, has a great interview to go with his new book (which I’m waiting for the mailman to deliver).  There’s some great stuff in there about the kind of people who go into politics and the ambiguities of Afghanistan.  He also has some pointed remarks about the McChrystal interview that got him fired.

But here’s two of my favorite notes.  First, on whether we can really roll back our outsized federal government:

I think it’s very, very difficult to roll this back. The only thing that will cause us to roll back the continued intrusion of the political system into our personal lives seems to occur during a financial crisis. Basically, that’s the lesson of Margaret Thatcher, it’s probably the lesson of Reagan; it’s definitely the lesson of France and Spain right now.

What happens is that as political systems expand infinitely, they run up against the laws of math. They can’t get enough money to fund all this crap. And in the process of attempting to get enough money to fund all this crap they put the brakes on society, they put the brakes on economic expansion, they put the brakes on prosperity, so you wind up with a situation like Europe, where you’ve got high nominal unemployment, but huge structural unemployment. People aren’t even looking for jobs, or they’re doing bogus job-like things. You get slow growth and bad opportunities for small businesses.

I think we’ve already hit this wall.  This is what has given birth to the Tea Parties.  However, as I’ve said, what really needs to happen is for the Left to realize that we’ve gone too far and need to start prioritizing.  Even France is prioritizing their welfare state now that they’re out of money, too.

TheDC: When do you think we reached a point where it became taboo to discuss individual responsibility? Because we seem to have skipped that argument with homeowners, too. We’ve said that it’s not fair that peoples’ homes are worth less than they owe, so maybe they shouldn’t have to pay all that back.

P.J.: This is the explosion of positive rights, as opposed to negative rights; “gimme” rights versus “get outta here” rights. The Bill of Rights are all “get outta here rights.”

TheDC: Stay out of my gun cabinet, out of my bedroom.

P.J. Get off my lawn.

I’ve rarely seen my view on rights so precisely distilled.  When I think of human right or civil liberties, I think of them as something intrinsic to us or something given to us by God.  The government does not “give us” the right to free speech.  We have it.  It comes with being human.  What the Bill of Right does is demand that our government respect that intrinsic right.  As Reagan once said, our Constitution is based on the idea that we the people will allow the government to do the following things as long as it respects the appended fundamental liberties.

The growth of positive rights—of things that people are entitled to (usually at someone else’s expense)—is antithetical to this.  It’s no longer “get off my lawn”; it’s “make my neighbor sell me his lawn ... at a discount.”

Posted by Hal_10000 on 11/10/10 at 05:05 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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