Liberty, tyranny and the rule of law
By Dr. Robert Owens
A foundational difference between a country that enjoys the benefits of limited government, individual liberty, personal freedom and economic opportunity, and one that suffers under the yoke of tyranny is that the former observes the rule of law and the latter witnesses the rule of whim.
John Locke the intellectual font from which our founders drank long and deep said, "The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom."
Many people who see themselves as defenders of the common man give their support to people and programs that restrict liberty and relegate most citizens to the role of pawns in the puzzle factory of central planning. These low information voters and starry eyed fellow-travelers either wake up for elections voting for the party their parents did or they believe the demagogues who sell them some version of Utopia. The former are just taking a commercial break between reality shows while the latter honestly believe that one more program will actually usher in heaven on earth and there will be a computer on every desk, a cell phone in very hand and all will be right with the world, Kum ba yah, my lord, Kum ba yah.
The problem with the low information voters is that they really don't care enough to find out what is happening and they believe whatever the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media tell them. You can't do much in the face of militant apathy. The inertia outweighs the momentum. All we can do is wait for reality to shout loud enough to wake them up.
The starry eyed fellow-travelers however might be reachable with a reasonable discussion. They are after all seeking after a better world. However, they have swallowed everything the progressive educational system has been swilling out for the last few generations. Less is more: man-made global warming, it takes a village; America is to blame for the troubles of the world, capitalism, bad socialism, good, etc.
In this essay I wish to address these fellow citizens and hope to convince them that when they sign on to the various progressive plans for central-planning whether it is for health care or of the whole economy it inevitably leads to violation of the rule of law, a breakdown of the social contract and the loss of liberty.
When attempting to plan an entire economy or even of a large part, as the 1/6 that represents health care, it is impossible for any piece of legislation to specify every detail for every circumstance. Therefore the laws when passed though they may be thousands of pages long will be large guidelines empowering agencies and bureaucrats to write the specifics with the force of law. Thus the representatives of the people actually delegate their power to unelected individuals who can make law with the wave of a pen. The form of a representative government operating according to democratic principles is maintained while in reality we have rule by decree and an autocratic regime.
James Madison, the Father of the Constitution and our fourth president told us, "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood."
In these attempts to control and plan entire economies or of large segments of economies those who direct those economies must choose between outcomes. One outcome advances the plan and one does not. Obviously since the plan is the plan whatever obstructs its accomplishment is less desirable than what moves it towards its goal. Therefore the planners must encourage one thing and discourage another. This all comes down to limiting choices and picking winners and losers.
Coal is bad because it slows the progress towards a zero carbon footprint and according to the pet pseudo-science of the day contributes to the global warming that in reality is cyclical and ended more than a decade ago. Therefore coal production and use must be discouraged.
Solar power is good because it is renewable and once you are past the production of the solar panels it causes no pollution. Therefore solar panel production must be encouraged even when it is an inefficient power source. Even after billions of dollars have been poured into boondoggles which profited no one except campaign contributors and other progressive stake-holders good money must follow bad for the plan must go on.
This choosing of winners and losers according to a predetermined plan by unelected members of the nomenclature restricts the liberty of people to work and prosper as they will while rewarding others who make poor investments and some who even go bankrupt leaving the tax payers to clean up the mess.
This is the opposite of the rule of law. Laws to be fair have to apply to everyone. When a nation lives under the rule of law the government does not deny individuals of opportunities or rights. Whenever a government launches out on the road to Utopia it is necessary that it micromanage the economy making specific decisions relating to the actual needs of people with regard to the plan. They must slow some down and speed some up if they want everyone to arrive at the desired location at the desired time.
When law ceases to be generally applied and instead arbitrarily chooses between what one can do and what another may not do, and these choices are different, then the law is no longer creating a level playing field it is building a maze.
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens