Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Is State Redistribution of Wealth Social Economic Justice?

President-elect Obama believes that the Constitution is flawed.  According to him, it is so because it fails to address wealth redistribution.  He says the Supreme Court should have intervened years ago to accomplish that.  He assigns a great deal of this failure to The Warren Court because it failed to “break free from the essential constraints” in the U.S. Constitution and launch a major redistribution of wealth.

In 2001, Obama said

“… the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution … [emphasis mine] 

one of the … tragedies of the civil rights movement was [that] … the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.”

Is Mr. Obama correct in his assertion that our Constitution, which has served our Republic well for over 2 ¼ centuries, is flawed?  Is this document, which birthed, sustained and allowed the American people to thrive, prosper and become the envy of the world, so fundamentally flawed, that it took him, in 2009, to finally bring it to light?  Or is it more probable that it is Mr. Obama’s reasoning and political views which are flawed? 

It’s very obvious that Mr. Obama, who is a supposed constitutional scholar, does not understand [or does he?] that it is not the Supreme Court’s job to write domestic policy or rule that it is “just” for wealth to be “redistributed”. 

JUSTICE FOR ALL 

Before considering the issue – Is redistribution of wealth just? – let me say that many, erroneously, I believe, carelessly throw words like “injustice” around as labels for whatever they happen to find personally or morally unsatisfactory.  These claims often involve a careless confusion between what people deserve morally and what they deserve economically. 

Let’s consider this analytically and from the standpoint of justice.  Justice, if it means anything at all, means at least, that whatever is done must be done fairly, honestly and righteously.  Living in a nation where a major tenet is “liberty and justice for all,” we must grant that whatever justice is, it must be for all.  One of the characteristics of justice, we are told, is that it is blind.  It is so because it cannot discriminate based on appearance or lack thereof. 

Liberal policies which are consumed with egalitarian (equality) issues are bent on defining justice, among other erroneous ways, as equality of result based on need.  To them, equal result, not equal opportunity, is “just.”  Although often they are not, sometimes inequalities based on need are just.  A just distribution of grades for a college course should have nothing to do with whether a student “needs” a particular grade.  In this case, the just grade should be assigned on the basis of what the student has earned, not what he needs.  The notion of “need” is extremely ambiguous.  People “need” things for many different reasons.  A student may feel he needs a particular grade in order to qualify for the football team, in order to graduate, in order to continue on the dean’s list so as to qualify for a scholarship, or to increase the student’s self-esteem.  However much sympathy such needs may generate, they should not be relevant in cases like this.  Many believe, perhaps rightly, that a good society will not allow certain fundamental and essential human needs to go unmet while a surplus exists.  Unfortunately need is too elastic a concept to serve as the precise standard required for distributive justice.  Needs have a way of expanding as people become accustomed to former luxuries.  It also seems to me that such efforts by a society to meet essential needs should not be described as justice, but rather as charity. 

How important is it for us to properly understand the issue of social justice?  It is of such importance to the continuance of a free society that Friedrich Hayek spoke of social justice as “the Trojan Horse through which totalitarianism has entered many societies in the world.” ¹ 

I would like to now examine, by analogy, Mr. Obama’s, and other liberals’ assertion that wealth redistribution is economic justice.  I believe you will see in this argument that redistribution of wealth is not only unjust, but also incompatible with freedom.  Let’s imagine, for reasons of our discussion, a society where the following conditions exist:

          1) “Justice” has been achieve by state redistribution (equal distribution, distribution according to need, or any other theory of                distributive “justice”).

          2) All citizens are free to exchange or transfer their holdings in any way they choose.

          3) Any transfer of a person’s holdings by theft, fraud, force or other criminal activity will be recognized as unjust and forbidden by law. 

Therefore, with everyone in our imaginary society now in possession of a just portion of holdings, all subsequent transfers will be just no matter how much they depart from the original state (original redistribution).  It follows logically then that in any free society, where our conditions are met, any noncriminal voluntary transfer or exchange of holdings like property or money will be a just transfer.  It doesn’t take a great mind to see that it would not take long for new holdings to again vary greatly from the original pattern created by state redistribution. This “situation” would confront Mr. Obama and all defenders of wealth redistribution (and other kinds of wealth transfers) with three options: 

          1) They might be sensible and realize that even though great discrepancies in holdings now exist, the disparity resulted from voluntary, legal, and just exchanges.  And so even though the later situation no longer resembles the preferred pattern of distribution (equality), the situation must be judged just and no further meddling with the new result is justified. 

          2) Given the mind-set of liberal ideologues, what is more likely is that after a certain period of time, Mr. Obama would announce that the distribution is once again unacceptable (“unjust”), which fact would require the state to step in to rectify the situation.  The use of words like “rectify,” “do the right thing,” “spread the wealth around,” or “do justice” in this context would certainly be odd since nothing immoral, criminal or unjust occurred.  How then can there be anything to rectify?  But suppose that redistribution, under the name of “justice,” was again implemented by state power and again after free transfers between individuals the same deviations from the preferred equality were again evident?  And suppose this was done several times over with the same legal and free transfers between individuals yielding the same result – “inequality.”  What then?  Would continued state redistribution schemes be just?  Absolutely not!  Note that at the time of each redistribution, people who had acquired holdings honestly and fairly would be deprived of them without recourse; and this would be done in the name of justice!  This, of course, is not justice, but tyranny. 

          3) Should the state eventually grow tired of constantly forcing periodic redistributions, it could pursue the third possible course of action.  It could simply deprive the citizens of the freedom to transfer and exchange their holdings at will.  The state would intrude into the everyday affairs of each citizen and control each and every action. To maintain the status of a “just” society, the state must either continually interfere to stop people from transferring resources as they wish to, or continually (or periodically) interfere to take from some persons resources that others for some reason chose to freely transfer to them.  

This example makes it clear that Mr. Obama’s liberal, leftist, socialist political views of redistribution as economic justice has little to do with justice or morality.  It has to do more with the increase of state control and ultimately totalitarianism, tyranny and loss of liberty. 

“Social justice,” as viewed by Mr. Obama and other leftist socialists, is possible only in a society that is controlled from the top down.  There must be a central agency with the power to force people to accept the state preferred pattern of distribution.  Again, this is the reason Friedrich Hayek could speak of social justice as a Trojan Horse through which totalitarianism has historically taken over many societies. 

Freedom loving Americans must resist this ideological shift to the Left even though they might, in the short run, be “beneficiaries” of Mr. Obama’s misguided political policies of “redistribution of wealth.”  The alternative may just be to wake up one day in a totalitarian America where liberty has been lost because we embraced the deception that it is “just” (fair, right) to take what belongs to someone else because the government deemed it so.  

Theft, even when politically allowed and engaged in by state policies, is theft nonetheless.  And theft always brings a curse.  

May we, as Americans whose heritage is freedom of opportunity for all, not be taken in by the liberal ideologues and elites whose goal is not to be public servants of the people, but rather imperial lords with power over the people. 

‘til next time, 

Danny 

* For more research see Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom or view his educational Free to Choose videos online at:  http://www.ideachannel.tv/

———————-

¹(Friedrich Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty, Vol. II, page 136)


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A New Birth of Freedom?

Our nation has just elected our 44th president. People have much expectations of change on their minds.

As I watched some of the inaugural proceedings on television, I was struck by the words – “A new birth of freedom” – extrapolated from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address set forth, presumably, as the theme of the incoming president’s administration.

“Freedom” is a word that, for the most part, has lost it meaning, especially in our politically-correct and relativistic culture.

What do the words – “A new birth of freedom” mean? What is “freedom?” Whatever they mean, if words mean anything, there is no doubt that they at least refer to something that is replacing something else that has either died or is dead. This is what rebirth means.

There are those who speak of freedom as the liberty to do as one pleases. But true liberty is living as one ought, and not as one pleases. Those of us who believe in a Sovereign God who rules over all the affairs of men, also understand that He has set a standard to Whom we are accountable. That standard is embodied in a Person, who Himself is the Truth. He is the One who declared,

I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.  (John 14:6)

So what is freedom?  Jesus declared that if we would listen to and obey His words, we would

“know the truth, and the truth [would] make [us] free.” (John 8:32)

If truth, according to Jesus, makes us free, what will enslave us? It is logical that if truth liberates, lies enslave.

Jesus links freedom and truth together.  True freedom, therefore, has to do with truth: God’s truth. The “new birth of freedom” we spoke of earlier, therefore, must be based on God’s truth and His perception of reality in order for it to truly liberate as Jesus says. If “freedom” is based on lies it will only enslave even further. The Holy Scriptures declares that there are those who

“promise … freedom, but they themselves are not free.” (2 Peter 2:19 NCV)

They cannot bring true freedom because they themselves are enslaved and living lies.

My prayer is that this new administration’s use of Lincoln’s words (who, by the way, believed the Bible to be God’s word) will be prophetic even though men may misapply and may not even understand the import of Lincoln’s words. I think my hope for this has a biblical precedence played out in the life of another leader referred to in Scripture: Caiaphas, the high priest. He declared, unknowingly and prophetically:

“You don’t realized that it is better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
(John 11:50 NCV)

The Word of God says that being

“high priest that year, he was really prophesying that Jesus would die for their nation.”
(John 11:51 NCV)

I ask God that this “new birth of freedom” would not be what most people, and President Obama believe it is – a remaking of America. America does not need to be “remade”, it needs a return and a new birth: a return in repentance to God, to His truth and to true freedom by a new birth through faith in Jesus Christ. Without God, a new birth of freedom will issue the same old slaveries of the past. To understand the real meaning of President Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, we must quote his whole thought,

“… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom….”
(last sentence in the Gettysburg address)

Lord God, let it be so I ask, in Jesus’ name.
’til next time,

Danny