Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Public Funding Morally Odious Projects

Tibor R. Machan

Reportedly representative Bart Stupak, a Democrat representing Michigan's 1st Congressional district who opposes abortion, wants to impose a ban on federal health care funding for abortions. The reason, obviously, is that he and those who agree with him consider it objectionable that they are being forced to pay for something they find seriously morally odious, something that as they understand it amounts to the murder of "unborn children." (This is, of course, a question begging way of referring to the early fetuses slated for most abortions.)

But let me not enter the morass of the abortion debate but stick to the issue of public funding of projects many members of the public find morally wrong. Of course Mr. Stupak has no legal case, not the way our federal system works these days. A great many people object to all kinds of projects funded by the federal government. Some even consider such funding morally objectionable even when they support the projects since it involves robbing Peter to support Paul, a practice that is arguably wrong. Yet in our bloated, illiberal democratic system of governance such practices are ubiquitous and legally authorized.

In order for Mr. Stupak to be credible in his stance on the issue of federal funding of abortion, by whatever method this is brought off, he must oppose all such transfers of resources from citizens to projects these citizens oppose. And that is hardly going to work since as a politician he is routinely involved in supporting such transfer of resources. Why privilege the abortion issue, then? Yes, abortion is a hotly debated matter, very controversial. But then so is the war in Iraq, even in Afghanistan. The war on drugs is perhaps opposed by the majority of Americans, both because it is evil to convict citizens who have violated no one's rights and because it is a colossal failure. Yet I have not read anything about representative Stupak protesting these policies. Why?

I gather Mr. Stupak is not a very principled person and from what we know about most contemporary politicians, this should be no surprise. So his stance on federal funding of abortions isn't likely to bear on his moral conscience. It probably has to do with his particular constituency. And then it is mostly about trying to win their support for his continued service in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Notice, by the way, that Representative Stupak seems to have no objection to a government managed health insurance/care system per se. I doubt he ever objected to Medicare and he doesn't seem to be opposed to the current efforts either. All he frets about is whether abortions will be funded federally. But how about whether citizens will be forced to pay for liposuction or fixing up someone who got into an auto crash because of reckless driving? Many citizens would rather not fund such treatments. Indeed, there are millions of us who oppose vigorously, on moral grounds, federal involvement in medical care or insurance. Does this politician give that any thought? Or is he merely trying to capitalize on his own constituency's agenda?

The big problem with the bloated, illiberal democracy so prominent across the globe is that it lumps us all into a mob that's to be dictated to by those who are most politically active and savvy within that mob. Democracy should never have been expanded to be so applied. It should have be left to the limited task of selecting representatives who were to expand the provisions of the U. S. Constitution to new areas, ones impossible to anticipate fully by the Founders and Framers.

Yes, there are some gray areas there but what we now have, where majorities can dictate to us about nearly everything, is absurd. It is spawning a citizenry at constant odds with itself, where no individual realm of sovereignty is left, where individual rights are treated as grants of privilege from the government with no other basis (say, in human nature).

Well, I suppose Mr. Stupak should not be expected to think of all this but when he mouths off about his own pet projects, he should expect that he will be called upon to account for his inconsistencies.

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