Thursday, November 6, 2008

When the Umpire is Biased

Ideally, the government would act as an impartial arbiter in human affairs. This is government's proper purpose, and its proper functions are limited to the police, the courts, and the military. Because America is so far removed from that ideal, many have a difficult time grasping how such a society would function.

In America today, the umpire--that is, the government-- is biased. Through scheme after scheme, the government favors some while penalizing others. Whether it is paying farmers to let land sit idle, or bailing out Wall Street, or encouraging home ownership through the Community Reinvestment Act, or imposing tariffs on steel imports, or subsidizing peanut farmers, the government makes rules that favor some individuals at the expense of others. Imagine watching a sporting event in which this occurred at regular intervals.

Brian Shelley, at Freedom is the Solution, alludes to this. While he is writing specifically about the officiating at sporting events, the same principle applies to our government:

For several years now, the Longhorns have consistently benefited from poor refereeing. However, I do not believe that there is any kind of conspiracy; I simply believe that all schools that have a recent history of being very good or happen to be media darlings receive better treatment by referees. Were I to watch a large number of games by USC or some other powerhouse I would expect to feel the same way. Furthermore, I do not believe that referees during the game are aware that they have a bias. There is simply a cognitive difficulty in seeing the game as it truly is when there is a preconceived notion of who is “supposed to win” the game.

Government officials, through subsidies, tariffs, tax breaks, and more, try to determine who "wins". And more and more, they try to make sure that nobody "loses". More and more frequently they attempt to shield individuals from the consequences of their actions, such as bailing out Wall Street or protecting irresponsible home buyers. And while the referees in a football game may be unaware of their bias, government officials do it openly and knowingly.

For a long time I simply attributed this to pandering to voters and power lust. While I think that this is true, a recent article in The Objective Standard shed a more illuminating light on the subject.

In an article titled "The Menace of Pragmatism", Tara Smith writes:

In short, for the pragmatists, we find no ready-made reality. Instead, we create reality. Correlatively, there are no absolutes—no facts, no fixed laws of logic, no certainty. . .

So, government can "create" winners and prevent losers. Government can bypass the laws of nature-- there are no such laws. Government can make anything and everything happen, with never an ill consequence. The fact is, as has been amply demonstrated, government can't do these things. Yet, the American public keeps demanding that government "do something".

While life is not a game, the American public truly has "a cognitive difficulty in seeing the game as it truly is", as Brian Shelley put it. The American public cannot see that government is not capable of transforming reality, or making wishes come true, or suspending the laws of economics.

If a crowd at a sporting event witnessed the type of incompetent, biased, and dishonest officiating we get from our political leaders, they would pelt the field with debris. But when it comes to our lives and our future, the American people simply demand more of the same. There truly is a cognitive problem. And that problem is Pragmatism.

Republicans demonstrated this in the aftermath of the election. Prior to the election, they labeled Obama a Marxist, they decried the destructive nature of his policies, and they warned that the future of America would be at risk if Obama were elected. And when Obama's victory was secure, Republicans were conciliatory and pledged their support to get beyond bi-partisan bickering. In other words, forget what they said prior to the election, they didn't really mean it. After all, according to Pragmatism, there are no principles, there is no certainty.

I submit that this is the reason for the Republican's pathetic showing in Tuesday's election. In 1994 the Republicans made a contract with America-- a principled statement regarding their views on government. American voters responded by sweeping Republicans into office. American voters responded approvingly to clearly stated principles. But the Republicans turned their back on those voters, broke their contract, and began spending like drunken sailors on shore leave.

The Republicans tried to play the game by the Democrat's rules-- buying votes by pandering to special interest groups, by "creating" winners and preventing losers. Rather than fighting for individual rights, including property rights, they became eager participants in an orgy of rights violations. The Republicans got exactly what they deserve. And I fear that the American public will as well in the coming years. After all, according to Pragmatism there are no principles, there is no certainty.

If America is to return to greatness true change is needed. We don't need more controls and regulations, which Obama calls change. We need more freedom. We need principled defenders of individual rights. We need umpires who are not biased.

1 comment:

Brian Shelley said...

I am always pleased to be quotes, but I found the quotes on pragmatism to be profoundly insightful. I've been debating a friend at work who is very inteligent, but tends to believe that whatever concensus society comes to is correct. He brushes off my criticisms of the recent bailout as simply out of step of the mainstream without ever relying on any contrary evidence. He seems to take pride in being in the pragmatic middle.