Paul Ryan Ignites Great Debate About Morality, Role of Government
August 12, 2012
Leave A Comment
By: Dave Rogers
The people Paul Ryan listens to at the Ayn Rand Institute say health care is not a right.
We would hope that instead of following Ayn Rand he would listen to those who wrote the Constitution of the United States that says we should "promote the general Welfare."
Rep. Ryan is proposing to cut 1 million students off Pell Grants, cut out food stamps and Medicaid for 50-60 million citizens and make Medicare into a voucher program.
He calls his budget "The Path to Prosperity."
Newt Gingrich calls it "right wing social engineering."
Ayn Rand wrote: "In a system of full capitalism, there should be a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church."
But it appears Rep. Ryan wants to marry the state and economics by perpetuating tax breaks and wars that impoverish citizens.
Obviously, he has not read Rand closely enough.
We fought the Civil War over the right of one man to enslave another.
Now we are fighting over the right of one group -- the wealthy -- to capture the profits produced by the entire society, not by themselves alone.
It amounts to enslavement since it involves theft of the products of a society by a small group. That group of oligarchs uses the power of the government through the tax code and lobbying payments to legislators to strip out enormous wealth for themselves and impoverish the lower classes.
When President Obama famously said "you didn't build that" it was immediately condemned as socialistic thinking. Of course he was referring to the structure of society that business owners benefit from -- roads, homes, schools, wage-producing businesses and industries -- society at large. And all of American society provides that structure; a business owner doesn't operate in a vacuum.
One school of thought says those in society who are too poor to pay taxes shouldn't receive any benefit -- such as health care -- through the government.
This attitude ignores the fact that we all cooperate to preserve our way of life; in fact, it is poor folks mainly who fight our wars. The rich don't usually fight under our current volunteer military.
And without a vigorous, educated middle class society with enough income to buy the goods and services produced by companies owned by the rich, all will go broke together.
Unless the wealthy are wise enough, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, to continue to support the structure of society, eventually the collapse of the economy will impoverish everyone -- including the wealthy.
Says Buffett: "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."
This nation is now engaged in a great debate about morality in government. The economy is at the root of this discussion.
The essence of the debate concerns the proper role of government in economics and social justice.
The ideas of Ayn Rand, as interpreted by Paul Ryan, vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, are front and center.
Ryan is an advocate of Rand's radical views that seem to veto any government involvement in economics and support of the social structure.
Ryan's proposed budget is the start of getting government out of providing any services except defense. This is Ayn Rand gone wild.
Statements by Leonard Piekoff of the Ayn Rand Institute reveal how this philosophy can be twisted:
"Under the American system you have a right to health care if you can pay for it, i.e., if you can earn it by your own action and effort. But nobody has the right to the services of any professional individual or group simply because he wants them and desperately needs them. The very fact that he needs these services so desperately is the proof that he had better respect the freedom, the integrity, and the rights of the people who provide them."
But almost nobody can afford health care today out of pocket. Even moderate income people will die in the streets outside hospitals while doctors and nurses pine for patients. The idea is not only inhumane, it's insane.
Buffett faults the incentives in the U.S. medical industry, where payers reimburse doctors for procedures (fee-for-service) leading to unnecessary care (over-utilization), instead of paying for results.
That is exactly the flaw in the health care system that so-called Obamacare seeks to remedy. And it would spread the risk by mandating that all citizens contribute to the federal insurance pool.
The conflict of ideas takes us back to the Civil War, that is still being fought on a philosophical basis.
States' rights, income taxes, the power of the central government -- all were issues 140 years ago and have persisted through the decades.
Morality and ethics were introduced into American politics by James G. Birney, the first Presidential candidate to espouse the anti-slavery cause.
Prior to Birney, no candidate for the highest office had dared to challenge the right of one man to enslave another.
The U.S. government by supporting slavery was sanctioning an immoral practice that was against God's laws.
Birney wrote that the government had a duty to protect the rights of people, as well as property rights. Men could not be property held by other men since freedom was a natural right, given only by God. Birney's philosophy was followed by John Quincy Adams and Salmon Portland Chase along with Lincoln.
After Birney's crusade was adopted by the Republicans, leading to the election of Abraham Lincoln on the anti-slavery ticket, and after the Civil War, this nation no longer protected slaveholders in their exploitation of men, women and children.
The great thinker Ludwig von Mises concluded that the only viable economic policy for the human race was a policy of unrestricted laissez-faire, of free markets and the unhampered exercise of the right of private property, with government strictly limited to the defense of person and property within its territorial area.
Mises was chief economic adviser to the Austrian government in the 1920s. His acolyte Freidrych Hayek won the Nobel Prize expounding the theories of Mises.
Mises is the "god" of conservatives and the Ludwig von Mises Institute is the main purveyor of his ideas.
Mises wrote: "Whenever one thinks of the worst injustices in history -- massive wastes, confiscatory taxes, purposeless wars, great depressions, slavery, concentration camps, and genocide -- one inevitably finds that such injustices were either a direct or an indirect result of governmental action.
"At the same time, governments usually meet valid and basic needs of human society (although almost never in a valid way). Thus, governments also provide water power and roadways, prevent fraudulent business practices, combat air pollution, quell riots, protect patents and copyrights, capture criminals, and defend their citizens against foreign invaders."
So, there is a great dichotomy in thinking about the role of government; even the most conservative thinkers say government exists to support society.
Somebody needs to tell that to Paul Ryan.
Columns Article 7264
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
More from Dave Rogers
Send This Story to a Friend!
Letter to the editor
Link to this Story
Printer-Friendly Story View
--- Advertisments ---