Thursday, May 20, 2010

When Ideology Meets Morality, Morality Usually Wins:

Two objects, even if they are just two philosophical constructs, 
cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

It Is Not Just a Moot, Ideological Point, this argument that the Nation has been having between a presumed moral need for universal health care of some sort, and the clear constitutional mandate for individual liberties. Now the argument has reared its ugly head once again, and it appears yet again in relation to a battle fought 45 years ago, over the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

The Latest Related News out of Kentucky is that Republican United State Senate candidate Rand Paul has articulated his opinion that the Federal Government has no right to impose its moral values on private businesses and individual citizens. Even when it comes to the civil rights of other American citizens.

In Ideological Terms, this view seems factually correct: the United States Constitution is designed to prevent government from taking liberties away from private citizens. 

But the Constitution Also Mandates that there shall be no second-class citizenship.

And for the 100 Years from the Civil War until the 1965 Civil Rights Act, what America had was de facto second-class citizenship.

In the Pre-Civil Rights Act Days, African-Americans constituted “second-class citizens,” for all intents and purposes.

Even Though Federal Facilities might empower people of all origins to use them, so long as private companies, and even local and state governments, presented obstacles to passage and to nourishment and to accommodations, it could be practically impossible for persons of some origins to reach full access to government. (One needs only read the stories of Jackie Robinson and other African-Americans who helped break the “color barrier” in American sports, to see the truth of this.)

What Is Most-Striking about the Civil Rights Act issue is how it puts two opposing aspects of American ideology into conflict: where do the rights of some citizens, to equal rights, resolve in relation to the rights of other citizens, to run their lives and their businesses how they choose?

In Retrospect, Forty-Five Years Later, it is hard to imagine skin color ever again becoming the controlling factor in any American’s right to avoid second-class citizenship status.

So Now One Might Make a Stronger Argument for the return to the pre-Civil Rights Act rights for businesses to “reserve the right to refuse service to anybody.” Forty-five years later, it is hard to imagine that private “law” being much-imposed against people of color. But the continual presence of “white supremacists”in our society argues against this.

And If it Were True, it would only be so as a result of our 45-year history of racial and ethnic equality since the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Reconciling Conflicting Rights

It Takes Some Mental Finesse in one’s thinking, to see how essential such an overreaching action on the part of the Federal government was on behalf of the conflicting rights of all Americans. The short description of that “finesse” is this:

Without the Overreaching Civil Rights Act and its enforcement, those few who were determined to keep the African-American citizen “in his place” had the power to do so. (As I say, it only takes a few “No Coloreds Allowed” blockades to restrict access everywhere else.)

This Situation, Restored to Life by Rand Paul yesterday, has great applicability to the health-care-reform debate. It is the same kind of situation:

Within the United States, millions and millions of American citizens want some kind of universal health-insurance coverage. And millions and millions of American citizens want their rights against government imposition to remain at or below its current level.

The Two Opposing Groups Are in Direct Conflict.

Now, Those on the Limited-government Side will argue that nothing stops the pro-reform side from setting up their own system. And in law, this is true.

But in Practice, it Is a Lie. Because the only entity that the pro-reform side can use for such a person is their shared entity. The United States government.

If You Look at Both of These Issue—universal civil rights and universal health care—what you see is that both sides of both arguments have equal standing before the law.

Both Sides Involve the Rights of Some Citizens, which rights are unattainable over the impedance  of the rights of some other citizens.

The Adolescent View or the Adult’s?

The Adolescent View, of course, is to argue relentlessly for your own view. But the adult view has to be, must be, that some sort of compromise or yielding must occur.

In the Ongoing Health-Care Debate, the pro-coverage side has consistently demonstrated its willingness to yield and to yield and to yield. If one looks at the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, one sees a hodgepodge of a bill, filled with all sorts of different kinds of provisions, designed to move the Nation as much as possible toward that universal coverage that millions of Americans desire, while resisting as much as possible the imposition of Government powers on those millions and millions of Americans who desire their personal liberties.

What Makes it Seem So Despicable is that in any head-to-head controversy, it is always possible for one or both sides to dig in their heels and never give an inch. But that decision in itself makes a statement about the inclusive attitudes of those who will not yield.

“Those Who Would Deny Freedom to Others”

And Thus (ironically enough in the health-care debate), it is those who—by their obstinacy, “would deny freedom to others”—will lose out in the end. When it comes to obtaining rights versus denying rights, eminent domain dictates which side ultimately wins.

Just as Those “States Rights” and “White Supremacists” advocates, by the enactment of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, both lost out in the end.

The Rights of the Many versus the Rights of the Few

So Those Who Oppose the Government imposition of health-care coverage and the taking away of their constitutional rights to die in the gutter will also lose out eventually. And maybe we will end up having another Civil War to enforce it.

Will the American Tea Party Movement end up destroying the country they claim to love, in order to save the resolution of its values in conflict? It’s hard to imagine things getting to that extreme point. But when rights are in direct conflict with one another, and one or neither side will budge, eventually the issue will be resolved.

According to Pauli’s Exclusion Principle, two competing objects—even when the objects are merely the philosophical constructs of “individual rights”—cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Unless that law, too, is subject to disputation and to obstruction and to repeal.


†Pauli’s exclusion principle, modified.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What the European Union Teaches America About “States’ Rights”

In the Development of the European Union, we can see the issue of “states’ rights” versus “large, central government” play out in real time, in the modern world, before our eyes. One great example of how these two approaches interact occurs between Sweden and Spain.

Swedish Citizens May Spend Their Entire Working Years
contributing to the Swedish healthcare system, and then retire to Spain to draw down their late-life healthcare. What they will have paid for in Sweden will be more than they would have paid into the Spanish system, but they are free to move around the continent and retire in Spain, where things cost less. There, they can draw on health-care benefits for which they have not paid, while the Swedish system stays flush with their unclaimed payments.

And the Spanish Health-care System
is going bust, at least partly as a result.

If We Had States-Run Medicare or Social Security Systems, we would experience the same issues here. Such as all those New Yorkers who retire in Florida, if they had only paid into a New York state system during all those cold winters, before heading south.

The States’ Rights Argument of the Republican Party and the Tea Party protesters can be powerful and compelling. But that does not make it viable nor realistic in our twenty-first century world.

In Today’s Edition of The Washington Post, Utah Republican candidate for the United States Senate Tim Bridgewater argues for just such a system, however. Mr. Bridgewater writes:
“In 1787, the Founding Fathers crafted a free system of government built on the principle that individuals have God-given rights. The Founders protected those a vertical separation of powers between the federal government and the states. The national government would manage external affairs and keep the states on a level playing field; state governments were to do the rest.

“Over time, that vertical separation of powers has almost disappeared. Today, the federal government feels it can manage even the details of personal health care and education. States have been relegated to administrative units of a central leviathan, in a system of plunder in which each state tries to live at the expense of the others.”
Candidate Bridgewater Offers Telecommunications as an example argument for states’ rights. But how could the individual states possibly regulate such a national, and even international, structure? How could we possibly have the Internet, with every aspect of regulation negotiated among “the several states,” if not for the coordinating power of our Federal government?

What the EU Demonstrates,
even more than our 200-plus-year history shows, are the challenges of the state/Federal hybrid.

Candidate Bridgewater Also Writes:
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but Washington’s track record stinks. Congress has given us more than $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare. Lawmakers encouraged a housing bubble and then took hundreds of billions of dollars from taxpayers when it burst. There is no reason to think Congress can do a better job this time than when it tried to manage energy in the 1970s and ’80s.”
One Might Insert the Word “Republican” in front of each Bridgewater assertion about Washington, Congress and lawmakers, and get a better understanding of the failure of this thirty-year adventure with ideology. Despite that Mr. Bridgewater and the ground-swell of Conservative protesters seem oblivious to this fact, too, regardless of the inconvenience of actual reality.

What the Last 30 Years——and particularly the years 2001-2008——show is the limitations on the “states’ rights” policies, combined with an underfunded Federal government. The answer is not to excise the Federal government. The answer is to use that of it which works well, and to improve that of which works poorly.

Or Does Candidate Bridgewater Truly Believe
that the state of Utah can individually put a floor under the price and costs of carbon, and let Utah take on the Chinese, the Germans, the Scandinavians, and the Spanish in developing the world’s new growth industries, the new technologies?

Naivety Such as We Saw Under
President George W. Bush is a powerful force. But what America and all its 50 states need now, is to put away the “childish things” of failed ideology, and roll up our sleeves, and get to work.

Find Mr. Bridgewater’s essay at: