Sunday, July 27, 2014

License for Leviathan

Victor Davis Hanson roasts Silicon Valley:

In medieval times, rich sinners sought to save their souls by buying indulgences to wash away their sins. In the updated version, Silicon Valley crony capitalists and wheeler-dealers buy exemption for their conspicuous consumption with loud manifestations of cool left-wing politics.

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Cool — defined by casual dress, hip popular culture, and the loud embrace of green energy, gay marriage, relaxation of drug laws, and other hot-button social issue — means that one can live life as selfishly as he pleases in the concrete by sounding as communitarian as he can in the abstract. Buying jet skis is as crass a self-indulgence as buying an even more expensive all-carbon imported road bike is neat.

If Silicon Valley produced gas and oil, built bulldozers, processed logs, mined bauxite, or grew potatoes, then the administration, academia, Hollywood, and the press would damn its white-male exclusivity, patronization of women, huge material appetites, lack of commitment to racial diversity, concern for ever-greater profits, and seeming indifference to the poor. But they do not, because the denizens of the valley have paid for their indulgences and therefore are free to sin as they please, convinced that their future days in Purgatory can be reduced by a few correct words about Solyndra, Barack Obama, and the war on women.

It’s these liberals Senator Rand Paul is reaching out to. Note the name they invent for themselves: “conservatarian.” What’s a conservatarian? A further betrayal of “conservative”, or yet another word for “liberal.”

Sure, they want the state to support a minimum standard of living for the beleaguered masses, but what’s really important to them is for the state to intrude less in their private lives. Thomas Edsall sounded the alarm bell on this evolution on liberalism in the New York Times:

There is a striking generational split in the Democratic electorate.

This deepening division is apparent in a June Pew Research Center survey of more than 10,000 people, “Beyond Red vs. Blue.” The Pew survey points up the emergence of a cohort of younger voters who are loyal to the Democratic Party, but much less focused on economic redistribution than on issues of personal and sexual autonomy.

Edsall is more worried than he should be. Liberals will tax themselves at redistributionist rates to unburden themselves of responsibility for their neighbors. Liberal praise for the pre-converted Ebenezer Scrooge proves it.

This is the libertarian compromise: peace with a tax-and-spend Leviathan; in return: maximum personal license, guaranteed by the state.

Charles Hurt writes a sober piece on marijuana legalization in the Washington Times.

Here is the thing that really bothers me now. Go ahead and smoke all the dope you want to. But why is it that I have to now pay these people’s health care bills, which are going to be much higher now that it is legal for them and their children to suck dangerous carcinogens down their windpipes?

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I, for one, have never really cared one way or the other if people choose to smoke pot. My experience is that it appears to make most people dumber and slower. But it also seems to make some people happy and fall asleep, which I view as a real positive. Especially the part about putting them to sleep.

But I certainly don’t think that my long-developed and strongly held views against using drugs should be inflicted upon other people to whom I have no responsibility. Nor do I believe that someone else’s devotion to a weed pipe in any way impinges upon some high morals or precious views that I might hold.

The only way I can reach that conclusion is if I imagine a world in which people don’t lean on each other to discover the truth in themselves. But we don’t live in that world.

I’m not my brother’s keeper, the libertarian says, throwing up his hands. But if we aren’t in some sense, then government will be, and charge a high price and do a bad job to boot.

Getting high is a sad waste of freedom. Who can condone it and call himself your brother? We live in a liberal society where it’s safe to assume most people live by their own motivating truths. The law is a teacher, unifying the culture around positive secular values, at least. The absence of law is Balkanization, hedonism, and anarchy.

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