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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

CNN Poll: Majority says government a threat to citizens' rights

Interesting poll results. Of course we don't know exactly how the question was phrased, but really this concept (that government is a threat to individual liberty) OUGHT to be BASIC EDUCATION delved out in any and all US Civics courses. Taking a poll on it ought to be akin to asking: should the government operate via a system of checks and balances and thus be composed of an executive, legislative, and judicial branch? Duh!

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:52 PM [+]
+++
3 comments


3 Comments:

Well, to be fair, the Constitution is predicated on the idea that government can, potentially be a threat to citizens' rights if authority is concentrated. That's different than saying that the government the Constitution created is itself, now, a threat to citizens' rights.

Also, this is the sort of question that people can answer in the same way for diametrically opposed reasons. A pinko leftie and a conservative libertarian would agree the government is a threat to their rights, but in very different ways. If you believe healthcare is a right related to the right to life and the pursuit of happiness, well the failure to pass comprehensive healthcare legislation is a threat to your right, for instance. Someone else would see such passage as an unacceptable centralization of power in the hands of the government thus depriving the individual of his rights as a citizen.

The problem with the conservative movement is that while the preference for limited government has found its bumper sticker slogan, a similar distillation of the line below which is 'too little government' has not been put forward. That is, Republicans are always in danger of becoming libertarians and anarchists. Limited government is not the same as no government or very little government or only local government, etc. I don't think anyone wants truly laissez-faire economics or government, but the question is how much is too much, how little is too little.

While I respect the Constitution a great deal and think things would be better if we were more consistently originalist in our reading of the Constitution and with a more active use of the Constitution's purposeful amendment process, at the same time I am not convinced our system is 'exceptional' in the way Americans are sometimes wont to claim it. It is an exceptional document and a very wise system of government in my opinion, but it has failings and weaknesses and it is far too often divinized, in my opinion, on all sides of the political spectrum. There isn't enough suffering assumed, though language about the 'responsibilities' that go with our 'rights' start getting at such. It also doesn't acknowledge enough of the wrongheadedness and stupidity inherent in humanity such that their freedom is not always in keeping with the needs of the weakest and powerless among us (children, the poor, natives, immigrants, etc.)

By Blogger orrologion, at 1:25 PM  

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Well, to be fair, the Constitution is predicated on the idea that government can, potentially be a threat to citizens' rights if authority is concentrated. That's different than saying that the government the Constitution created is itself, now, a threat to citizens' rights.

Yes, just so. I wasn't clear if THAT was how the question was specifically asked. I wish all pollster data would include the exact question in quotes. As you say, I've no grand interest in divinizing the Constitution or beatifying the founders...but I do believe they were on to something good and unique in that there were foundationally concerned with government authority - designing their new government in order to help prevent it from having too much authority. That's pretty unique in history I would think - though there may be some other examples. But being unique I don't think is a criterion of great importance...but rather whether or not this foundation (liberty) is in fact the best way to "govern" (i.e. protect everyone's freedom).

That is, Republicans are always in danger of becoming libertarians and anarchists. Limited government is not the same as no government or very little government or only local government, etc. I don't think anyone wants truly laissez-faire economics or government, but the question is how much is too much, how little is too little.

Yes, true and people will go on arguing about that. As I see it: a government which views its primary mandate/vocation as being the protection of individual liberty is neither anarchy, laissez-fair capitalism, nor what we currently have before us now. Because such a government is committed to protecting the liberty of us all.

If you believe healthcare is a right related to the right to life and the pursuit of happiness,

I'm largely uncomfortable with notions of "rights" be used in terms of what I get to have provided to me. It seems to me, that "rights" are those things that government cannot take from me. But I see your point...I'd just say that those who believe they have a "right" to all manner of government provisions (whatever they may be - quantitatively and qualitatively) are simply espousing a political philosophy that is diametrically opposed to the one upon which our government was originally founded. That may or may not mean anything to them, but I would also caution that anytime you invite the government as a guest into your living room, bedroom, or doctor's office you may eventually find you regret the decision - particularly when said government takes to hearing the voices of those rather not fond of what you might choose to do in those places. I'm thinking here of cigar stores here in Western Washington that used to have "tasting" nights. Sigh...no more...alas. Oh how I wish I could fight "da man" on this one.

continued...

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:32 PM  

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continued...

Obviously, as Christians we have strong notions of responsibility to one another, to our families, to our neighbors, and to our community. I'm fully on board with the idea that we enforce such responsibilities with normative social and religious pressures...but I'm less inclined to have them mandated by force of law. (Of course in our secularizing society I see more and more people looking to government as the arbiter of morality and this worries me a great deal.)

Both sides of the political fence LOVE to have government enforce responsibilities and duties. But, the more and more we do that, the more and more we become vested in the government and the more and more we will fight and argue amongst one another because we all worry about who has the ear of the government upon which we have become so dependent...indeed we see that already: in the great and ongoing culture war and the insane amount of money spent lobbying by corporations and other special interests. This is how even the most simple of legislative bills evolve into 1,000 page monstrosities.

I've no vain notions that the culture war cease and that this poll likely means a REAL shift this November...it will simply be a shift toward a different sort of big government looking to oversee different stuff than the one prior. Ah, man...now I'm getting cynical.
:)


Hmmm...I didn't mean to turn this into my libertarian manifesto...but there ya have it :)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:35 PM  

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