Friday, June 11, 2021

Reality vs. Subjectivism

 I have found "Objectivism" by Ayn Rand to be a cold, selfish philosophy.  And it is.  But that was because I was looking at it as a personal philosophy.  But I now realize that she was expounding not a personal philosophy but a philosophy of government.  As such, it is a profoundly libertarian philosophy.  And as a philosophy of how to run a government, it very wisely creates a bright line between the public things and the private things.  As Warren Beatty writes in In defense (against lefists) of an objective view of reality:

A student once asked Barbara Branden: "What will happen to the poor in an Objectivist society?" Her response was, "If you want to help them, you will not be stopped."
Why did I cite that? Because it is a perfect example of a response that refuses to accept the left's premise, its view of reality, as the basis of discussion. Only individuals have the right to decide when or whether they wish to help others. Society, as an organized political system, has no right of decision.
And while Rand was an atheist, the point here is essentially Christian, and moral. A citizen is free to use his own resources to help an another. But he is not free to use other peoples money to help a third party, no matter his motives. And while not specifically in the Constitution, we know from James Madison that redistributive welfare was not what was meant by the "General Welfare" clause:
The words of the Founders make it clear that, by “welfare,” they meant the second definition, i.e., “applied to states.” According to Article III of the Articles of Confederation, “The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.” Note the similarities between the words used in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and Article III of the Articles of Confederation. In fact, in a January 21, 1792 letter to Edmund Pendleton, James Madison, considered the father of the Constitution, noted that the general welfare clause in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution was copied from Article III of the Articles of Confederation. In that same letter, Madison wrote, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”
The enumerated powers of Congress are listed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Note that nothing resembling Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, farm subsidies, No Child Left Behind, or Obamacare can be found amongst those powers. There is also nothing in there about the federal government spending money on roads (with the exclusion of “post roads”) and bridges. In fact, the Constitutional Convention rejected an explicit attempt to authorize spending by the federal government for internal improvements. As president, Madison vetoed a bill that authorized funding “for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses
Please go read all of Beatty's article. Fans of Ayn Rand will especially enjoy the article. While the Founders clearly were not Objectivists, as a way to understand the Constitution, Objectivism seems a good start.

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