Friday, March 01, 2013

Democracy & Gay Marriages

Democracy & Gay Marriages

Tibor R. Machan

Frankly I have no horse in this race, nothing personal in any case.  For my money you may marry your grandmother or cat, if all parties consent.

Marriages ought to be a matter of contract and not based on any myth or superstition.  Folks should not be interfered with if they want to form a family union, however it is configured, so long as it isn’t some kind of criminal gang.

What I do find odd is for the White House to butt in here, requesting that the U. S. Supreme Court invalidate various state statutes to conform to the doctrine of the ruling party or the president.  In the case of President Obama, an avowed champion of democracy in numerous areas -- whereby as far as he is concerned, majority rule may violate individual property or contractual rights (so that, for example, he supports imposing all kinds of burdens such as various taxes) on everyone because the majority agrees -- the demand that the court uphold the ban on gay marriages would appear to be perfectly acceptable to him if the majority in a state, such as California, so decides. But, alas, democracy must yield when Obama so wishes.

Democrats, be they lower or upper case types, often do not get it: if you believe that what the majority agrees to should be the law, you have no cause for complaint when insidious measures get passed in various elections in various jurisdictions.  Majority rule means just that, rule by the will of the majority.  If you think there are exceptions -- as even the U. S. Supreme Court has said there are and as most sane people would agree -- you need to show why.  The best case for them would provide support from the political doctrine of natural individual human rights.  So that if everyone has a right to speak his or her mind, no majority would be authorized to shut us up no matter how outrageous our ideas happen to be. And there are other equally well established individual rights that no majority ought to be authorized to breach.  So, yes, whom one chooses to marry if all parties agree (remember polygamy!) may not be subject to interference by a majority or its representatives.  Don’t like it but live with it, if you have any respect for the right to individual liberty!

But then do not impose on people measures, laws, regulations, etc., they find morally or otherwise objectionable unless these amount to protecting individual rights!  But it doesn’t seem to me at all that Mr. Obama and his ideological cohorts have any firm commitment to such individual rights, only to some select ones that happen to suit their pragmatic frame of mind.  In other words, they are essentially committed to a fascistic type of “legal” order wherein those who happen to sit atop the government get to tell everyone else what goes.

And they used to fancy the US a free country!  Go figure.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Libertarian Public Interest

The Libertarian Public Interest

Tibor R. Machan

A particularly irksome rhetorical ploy against the free society’s champions is that they refuse to acknowledge that there is such a thing as the public interest (or public good or general welfare or some such goal). Critics of these champions routinely wag their fingers charging that those who insist that the free society -- with its minimal government -- is the most just order that has been conceived by political philosophers and economists fail to pay heed to the public interest and focus only on what private citizens want and benefit from. (Their candidate is usually something like profit or personal pleasure!)

I wish to urge that this charge be rejected good and hard.  As I have tried to stress on other occasions, the fully free society has a perfectly proper conception of the public interest or good.  This is, to put it briefly, the respect for and protection of individual rights.  As the Declaration of Independence puts it, governments are instituted so as to secure the protection of the rights of the citizens.  And that is exactly what the public interest amounts to in a just society, nothing more.

Given the enormous variety of the citizenry in a free society, what will be the public interest or good will vary accordingly.  Since human beings are first and foremost individuals and will pursue a great variety of goals within the country in which they live, the first objective of government or law must be to make sure that everyone’s rights are secure, well protected and elaborated in the legal system.  That is what the public interest amounts to; that is why champions of the free society are the bona fide, genuine promoters of the one meaningful public interest, namely, the securement of human liberty!

The public consists of millions of citizens with sometimes minor and other times major variations in what is to their best interest.  So that they may pursue their best interest of their own initiative, as a matter of their free choice, their rights must be respected and protected vigilantly and competently.  Which is what justifies government or the legal order of a free society.  Such a society does not embrace the typical statist, totalitarian, one size fits all conception of the public good.  It would be tyrannical to do so since imposing some one conception of the good life on all citizens will require a police state and ignores what human beings are.  (To the extent that this is already routine in many societies, they are naturally coercive, statist!)

What is central here is that those who champion the fully free society do in fact have the most sensible, most coherent conception of the public good or interest, namely, a legal order that refuses to deploy just one individual’s or group’s idea of what is right for everyone to do or pursue.  The public consists of millions of diverse individuals, often pursuing goals on their own, most often, however, coming together with a bunch of others and engaging in common pursuits but always voluntarily.  The legal framework for this is what amounts to the public good or interest, not various “public” programs politicians and bureaucrats happen to select, programs that may indeed be OK for some folks but certainly not for all.

So the bona fide public good or interest is the protection of everyone’s right to liberty so everyone can choose, more or less wisely, to seek his or her own proper ends in life.