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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another Reader’s Insightful Views

Still more reactions regarding two recent postings.

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Before getting to the analysis by another reader, let me welcome such responses, pro or con, to postings on this website.  The traditions upon which our nation was founded necessitated open debate.  It is what the late Alan Bloom called “The Closing of the American Mind” that liberal-socialism stands for.

Reader Kartik B. Ariyur brings a somewhat broader perspective than most readers, as he grew up and was educated in India.  He is familiar with Eastern philosophy and religion, as well as the classical Greek and Western European traditions.

A recent posting (Readers Exchange Views) prompted him to record the following comments.

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Response to your definition of libertarianism and comments thereupon:

I do not believe social and economic liberty to be independent of each other, i.e., I think that you cannot have one without the other. Secondly, I do not think that the maintenance of social and economic liberty requires universal benevolence of character and intention.

I think the following arguments prove my assertions. I begin with the second. I will address the first proposition in another response. To this end, I first define two classes of lifestyles.

Sustainable lifestyles or habits or modes of living are those that lead to greater practical knowledge, and therefore to greater security of existence (through greater control of one?s daily circumstances because of the greater knowledge) or happiness. This essentially means a life of self-discipline and self-control. Great saints are unaffected by the material conditions of life because of the tremendous knowledge (far beyond that of modern scientists?who haven?t learned to live without physical nutrition) and concomitant power that they can exercise.

Unsustainable lifestyles are those that lead to greater ignorance and thence suffering. The violent criminal (dying by the gun because he lives by it), the sex/drug/alcohol addict (who risks disease, debility and death), and the greedy man (who destroys his health through overeating), all provide examples of unsustainable lifestyles. Individuals who kill their unborn babies through contraception or abortion also risk reducing their fertility and ability to conceive a baby when they want to.

The lifestyles of most individuals are largely sustainable because the prod of suffering continually corrects unwise actions. In sum, most people in society are good because it is easier to be good than to be evil.

In a society where the government performs its intended duty of securing individual rights to life, liberty and property (these rights are all closely linked), the minority with unsustainable lifestyles will either have to self-correct or they will self-destruct. This is because they have to pay for the consequences of their actions (how they use their life, liberty and property)?disease, debility, poverty, destitution, and death. Most of them will self correct quickly under the prod of suffering, and many will self-correct under the influence of family, neighbors, friends, church and charities. Moreover, if there are few or no legal prohibitions on different lifestyles, knowledge of the consequences of those lifestyles will be documentable, and therefore instructive to the rest of society. Thus, even those who self-destruct will benefit society through reinforcing the knowledge of the consequences of their lifestyles.

Since the majority will have largely sustainable lifestyles, they will be able to augment their store of knowledge, and make their lifestyles even more sustainable. Those that use the wisdom of the ages (such as tested religious practices) to guide their lives will be the most prosperous (e.g., the Mormons in America, the Chinese Taoists in Southeast Asia?). This will also ensure that the policies of government are guided by the wisdom of the ages?as over time, those who make the most use of the wisdom of the ages and guide their lives by the highest principles will prosper and multiply more than those that don?t (think of San Francisco or all the centers of socialism in the USA or Western Europe). This concludes the discussion of the second proposition. I next discuss the first proposition.
Posted by Kartik ?on? 04/09 ?at? 08:42 PM

Now on the other hand, if the state chooses to impose moral precepts or prohibitions, it will need both the money and the men to do so. This assumes there are enough individuals with benevolence of character and intention to enforce these laws and that the government will be able to hire them. But, as the government imposes more prohibitions (alcohol, drugs, prostitution?), it will need more money through taxes than for just securing life, liberty and property. Firstly, this will reduce economic efficiency because there will be fewer individuals contributing to the creation of wealth, and those fewer individuals will have to support a whole army of law enforcement personnel and compliance personnel. A second effect will result in a need for even greater enforcement: several businesses will go underground and come under the control of organized crime as they are rendered illegal (as it did in the 20s and 30s under prohibition). A lot of people with little ability will find significant benefits to entering a life of crime. As the government hires more policemen, there will be fewer in the forces with the integrity required?both because of their inherent paucity and also because the government will not be able to pay enough to attract all of the best. As this continues to make government expensive, ordinary citizens will have to work a lot more to maintain a standard of living and therefore will have less time to pass on the wisdom of the ages to their children, and therefore, you will have a more ignorant and therefore less moral next generation. A less moral people will obviously want the government to insulate them from the consequences of their actions?so you will move toward socialism. There is no pleasant end to this vicious cycle.

Other comments:

To restrict religion and moral precepts strictly to individual life is a direct violation of the individual right to liberty (how someone uses the fruits of their own labor). Any private organization, such as a company, or a church or a school is at liberty to impose any moral or ethical rules on those who choose to join it. Since government is composed of individuals, they will be guided in their policy making by their religious precepts, and this cannot be prevented except by large scale coercion.

Since it is the duty of the government to secure the life, liberty and property of the individual, it must, logically, prosecute those who seek to subvert these liberties through indoctrination (as some do in the name of humanity or religion) and direct mobilization.

To conclude, God does not use coercion to get men to love Him?that would contradict His bestowal of free choice. He has given free will that perchance man would use it to choose the Giver instead of his gifts. However those individuals, societies, or civilizations that violate His Laws invite retribution from them?they either learn from the results or perish.
Posted by Kartik ?on? 04/09 ?at? 08:45 PM

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