Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kant and Gambling

The Chronicle's political blog informs us that three mayoral candidates recently taped a program for the local public television channel. Apparently, gambling was a hot topic, as the Texas legislature is considering a bill that would allow local jurisdictions to decide whether to allow gambling. The candidates are quoted as saying:
Councilman Peter Brown: "I think we ought to look at term limits (instead)."

City Controller Annise Parker: "I don't know about gambling necessarily in Houston . . . I have long thought since Ike that it would be of great benefit to Galveston to be the first city in Texas to have casino gambling."

Lawyer Gene Locke: "To me the operative word is that we should have a local referendum . . . I'm a big proponent of letting the people decide."

I am uncertain how term limits and gambling connect, but then I have found a number of things that spew from Peter Brown's mouth to be rather incoherent. At least Parker and Locke seemed to understand the question, but their answers show their continued rejection of individual rights.
An individual has a moral right to gamble, and he should not require the state's permission to do so. While I personally regard gambling as a waste of money, neither I nor the state nor anyone else has a right to impose his views on others.

Locke's position is not unusual. So long as the people can vote on an issue, virtually anything goes. This after all, is the democratic way--the "will of the people" shall reign supreme. Democracy--unlimited majority rule--is nothing more than a tyranny of the masses. Under democracy, the rights of individuals are continually threatened and may be violated whenever the majority deems it necessary.

Our Founders warned against the passions of the mob, and the threat posed to individual liberty. They recognized the fact that the majority could unite against an unpopular minority, and impose their views and values upon the recalcitrant. It was for this reason that they sought to protect the rights of individuals, for the individual is the smallest minority.

Morally, democracy holds that the individual is subservient to the majority. The individual must put aside his own selfish interests for the sake of the "public welfare" or the "common good".

Epistemologically, democracy holds that the "will of the people" determines truth and falsehood, right and wrong. What the majority decrees is the true and good, and the individual must cast aside his own independent judgment in deference to the majority.

Metaphysically, democracy holds that reality is a creation of the collective consciousness. If enough people believe it, it must be so.

I seriously doubt that Locke--or most proponents of democracy--have studied Immanuel Kant. Yet it is Kant who provides them with their intellectual ammunition. It is Kant who has taught them "the people" are the ultimate arbiters of truth, morality, and justice.

In truth, "the people" have no right to decide who may gamble, where they may do so, or the types of games they play. "The people" have no right to dispose of the lives of individuals, whether the issue is gambling, or land-use, or the operation of a business. Each individual has a moral right to live his life as he chooses without interference from others, so long as he respects their mutual rights. The rights of individuals are sacrosanct.

Under the pretense of freedom, democracy erodes individual liberty. Democracy is a cancer. Fortunately, we have a cure for this virulent philosophical disease--Ayn Rand.

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