I got quite a bit of feedback on this, but most of it I can't reproduce because, at the time, I had a notice on the Essays page that I wouldn't reprint E-mail here without permission. I don't have that on there anymore :) because I really think some folks have some good points to make, but they either don't want their name on a web site or just forget to give permission.
One I got from a respondant named Tim who had some ideas to add to the essay.
|Like your site. An addition to
your right-winger article:
"I don't believe that the profit motive creates virtue in people, so they call me a liberal. "
I understand that charity through force does not create virtue, so they call me a reactionary right-winger.
Date sent: Mon,
29 Jan 2001 18:31:54 -0800 (PST)
Doug, well reasoned and expressed essay. However, would you consider killing someone who attempted to enslave you? If you take this perspective, then an involuntary or undesired pregnanciy could be looked at as enslavement, in which case abortion becomes self defense. I really think that the real issue is, should people (women primarily) be able to decide for themselves whether to have a child or not. I do not beleive that government should be in the business of promulgating morality (there are lots of moral codes and perspectives). This is up to the individual so far as they are not initiating force against another independent individual. What a woman does with her body is her affair, not mine. Even in a marriage or other committed relationship the final decision should be made by the woman, not some subset of society.
I consider abortion not a great or necessarily desirable solution, but sometimes it is appropriate one and may be the 'best' choice.
Regards, John LuValle
This was my response to John:
Before you use an analogy to create a new perspective on an issue, you should at least insure there are no gaping holes in the logic you use to form that analogy. Your enslavement analogy falls apart immediately when you consider the area of intent. The master/slave dynamic requires, at the very least, intent on the part of the master to subjugate or coerce the slave. I don't really believe that you can confer such an intent on a fetus.
But that's just the start. You suggest that since extraordinary means would be required to stop that enslavement (the killing of the master, in your example), then by your analogy you attempt to show that the killing of the fetus is thus justified. But there are two problems here. First, if we try to stick with the analogy and ignore the above intent problem, the mother is no slave, but more accurately an indentured servant, sold into her condition by her own actions. Killing a master with whom you willingly signed a contract is not justifiable, I would argue, even if you believe the baby to be a slave master. And beyond that, our indentured servant has a 9 month escape clause, which in the real world is adoption.
So you see, there is no enslavement at all, since there is no intent to enslave, and since there are actions that can be avoided (sex) and actions that can be taken (adoption) that remove the need to kill one's baby.
I think parents ought to be allowed to decide whether or not to have a baby, but that choice is not at a point in time where liberals like to place it. It's not after the life has been created, but before. After the life has been created, as I said in my article, it is no longer anyone's choice as to whether or not the baby lives or dies.
The government is already in the business of promulgating morality because it already has laws against murder, and the valuing of a human life is an inherently moral decision. Our founding fathers understood this when they said that the right to life, among others, is a right conferred on us by our Creator, not by government. They knew well that a society without a collective sense of morality would disintegrate into tyranny, and I believe that abortion is an expression of that kind of tyranny against the innocent. Yes, different people may have different moral codes, but then we have laws that go against them anyway? Ever try to bribe a policeman out of a ticket? It might not work here, but it very well may in another country. Should we then remove our laws against bribery because it might offend their moral code? No, of course not. We want a standard of honesty from law enforcement, and that is a moral decision we have made, and out of that decision a law was written.
(I use the example of bribing a policeman for a ticket because my sister, who used to work for a U.S. Representative once read a letter from a constituent incensed that a policeman would not accept a bribe to avoid a ticket. This man was from a country where, in their morality, it was OK to do that. But we don't changes laws to accommodate him. He has to change to fit ours.)
Obviously I strongly disagree with the idea that the killing of a fetus is somehow not the initiating of force against another independent individual, and again my article dealt with that issue. The fetus is an independent individual from the biological and scientific perspectives, even if the legal perspective hasn't figure it out. Whether or not innocent children are being killed should definitely be your affair because, as I wrote, the child's location, in the womb vs. out, does not determine their individuality. I daresay that if the millions of children aborted each year had been instead 1 month or even 1 week old, you would make it your affair.
And I'm sorry to have to characterize your last line like this, but the idea that abortion is sometimes the best solution is a cop-out of epic proportions. Is it really the best solution for the million plus children every single year that die of "choice"? It's better to die than live for every one of them? Even if you allow the "rape, incest, life of the mother" exclusions so often quoted, according to numbers I've heard you still have about 800,000 children dying every year because they're inconvenient. But you just throw your hands up and shake your head, simply calling it undesirable. I call it government-sponsored mass-murder. You don't want "some subset of society" telling women what to do with their bodies, even though the baby is demonstrably not their body. I don't want some subset of society telling babies that their life isn't worth anything. I believe that's the difference between you and me.
The first response I received from this essay was from Carlie Coats, addressing another aspect of how today's government varies greatly from that which the Constitution is intended to regulate.
|Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 13:59:08
From: Carlie Coats <email@example.com>
Subject: thoughts from "What's the Difference"
Dear Mr. Payton:
On the topic of
"What did the founding fathers intend for government?"
and the view of government it embodies, the following thought comes to mind: the Founders in no way imagined the vast bureaucracy we have today.
What checks and balances might they have imposed on the bureaucracy? The Executive Branch has an intrinsic conflict of interest, and can not therefore be expected to control it. Rather, it encourages the bureaucracy! The bureaucracy have grown so numerous and so pervasive that Congress cannot. The Judiciary cannot, in the absence of other parties to bring action under its jurisdiction.
The only group numerous and interested enough to act as a check on the bureaucracy is the People itself. How should they be empowered to do so? My suggestion is that when any bureaucrat breaks the law, those damaged by the illegal action should be given standing to bring suit against that bureaucrat _as an individual_. Sovereign immunity should be no defense; nor should "I was just following orders" (although the latter should perhaps provide cause for expanding the scope of such a suit). After all, under the Constitution, it is supposed to be the people who is sovereign, not the bureaucracy. (And the Nuremburg trials should have established the principle of individual responsibility.) On the other hand, to serve as a check on this practice, there should be a firm policy of "loser pays" with respect to court and legal fees.
Consider the probable effect such a policy would have had in the case of the FBI files scandal: had the appropriate bureaucrats in the FBI known that they would have been subject to civil suit by more than 900 irate plaintiffs, I conjecture that their behavior would have been quite different.
Just a thought from my soapbox
Quite an interesting idea. This further points out the very basic idea that in order to properly implement the Constitution, we must understand what the Founding Fathers intended the government to be. Without that understanding, we become foolish architects trying to build a skyscraper using only the blueprints for a 2-story colonial-style home.
While the lawsuit idea would be one way of remedying the situation, my first suggestion would be to reduce the power of the bureaucracies by shrinking the size of the federal government. Granted, we can never go back to the size of government from the 18th and 19th centuries, since the size of the issues government must deal with are larger (more inter-state commerce, bigger enemies and heftier weapons to defend against, more involved organized crime, etc.). However, when we still have the Rural Electrification Board decades after electricity has been brought to rural areas, and still fund it for project entirely outside their charter, it becomes painfully clear how bloated the federal government has become, and how a bureaucracy feeds on itself.
Carlie amplified the lawsuit idea later on:
|The bureaucracy is many things: too big, too powerful, and too much a law unto itself. We need to attack these facts from many angles, and my proposal on lawsuits was intended to be one of those -- in fact to be an angle that is easily defensible, where you can get up on a bully pulpit and rail at the bureaucracy -- without opening up vulnerabilities about attacking the defenseless poor, etc. As a _political_ strategy, I think it has a lot to commend itself.|
The next response, from Russell Van Zandt, suggests that the differences between conservative and liberal ideas, while substantial, have become blurred due to concessions and compromises made by the Republican Party.
|Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 19:25:18
From: Russell Van Zandt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: What's the difference? Very little
I too am a conservative. I enjoyed your "What's the Difference" essay on the web.
There certainly is a huge difference between conservative and liberal, and I wish more people understood it. However, events, specifically the Budget Deal have shown that, at least in Washington (and my home state of Illinois), there is very little difference between the two parties. That is because most of Republicans are liberal. Proof is that only 3 Republican Senators and 7 Representatives voted against the big government budget plan. Republican Senators are pushing welfare reform further left than Clinton proposed, further than before the Republican Congress took over.
In a time when the economy and government revenues are growing like a rocket, the Republicans have signed onto a package that lets spending grow faster than Clinton originally proposed, and domestic discretionary spending grows faster than inflation over the next five years. It all fits your quote about Clinton's budget:
> On top of that, once Clinton finally
> proposed a balanced budget plan, 83% of the cuts wouldn't take affect
> until 2 years after he retired, so he wouldn't have to make the tough
It spends like crazy until the last two years, then assumes the next set of politicians will balance the budget in a year or two. The same bologna we've been fed for decades. The budget plan creates new entitlements, and doesn't eliminate anything. It guts the welfare reform bill passed just last year. The MSA's and block grants are all being negotiated away. The only things the Republicans get out of it are band-aid Medicare price controls which Clinton was ready to approve anyway, and a tiny tax cut, which gets smaller everyday as new tax INCREASES are passed, and Clinton passes the money out to people who don't even pay tax, something even Gingrich said was "welfare", but he is now going to cave on.
I don't know where conservatives are going to go. We have no party. The party leaders are deliberate ignoring us because they think conservatism loses votes and the further left they can push the party the more votes it will get.
Russell and I exchanged a few more E-mails. I suggested that the Republicans had made great strides in returning common sense to government (in large part via the Contract with America, but also in a number of other areas). His response was that before the 1996 elections that was true, but since the 1996 elections, that move towards common sense has been gutted by Republicans who are, as he sees it, voting in such a way as to appease liberals because that's where they believe the re-election votes are.
I understand his frustration, but I don't think that's entirely what's going on. Clinton's veto pen currently has more power than the current Republican majority. Until such time as you have a Republican president and a Republican Congress, or you have a veto-proof Republican majority in Congress regardless of the party of the President, you have to take what you can get. Incrementalism, over the span of decades, got us in the position we're in now; a huge debt, with the fingers of government constantly expanding into areas it need not be. Incrementalism may be needed in order to bring the ship of state back on the course set by the Constitution.
And don't forget; the Medicare changes in the current budget are precisely the same ones that the Democrats said would close nursing homes and put old people on the street. Now, however, they're on board. First, this should point out how dishonest their scare campaign was. Second, it's a push in the right direction. Gingrich did have to make a compromise, but he did so because it got him more of what conservative Republicans wanted in the budget, and he did so because he couldn't force the issue. Only the American people can give him what he needs--a veto-proof majority or a Republican President--to counter all the failing socialist programs the Democrats have introduced.
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