Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dangers of a Compassionate Government

     I was recently driving around my neighborhood and saw a billboard advertising the re-election effort for a local judge. On the billboard was printed three words to describe the qualities, which the campaign felt, best qualified this person for the position. The three words were experience, dedication and compassion. The first two I consider to be characteristics that are essential to the task of administering the law of the land. The last one, compassion, has no place in the the resume for any U.S. judge.
     I am sure that many of you are thinking, "Why make such a big deal about a local judge's campaign sign?"  I think the sign is illustrative of a bigger problem in our country, which is the ease with which people are willing to allow the government to expand its Constitutional mandate into areas that the founders never envisioned. Who can be against compassion? Well certainly not me. However, there is no place in the law for compassion, that is why lady justice is blindfolded. It's tandem to what James Madison said about the Constitution, which is that there is no charity to be found within it.
     The bitter pill of tyranny becomes more palatable by the coupling of the law and government with compassion and charity. Compassion and charity are traditionally the domain of private charities and community organizations, such as churches. As the government becomes a larger part of these private functions, it depletes the private sector of the resources necessary to perform these functions. Thus leaving the government the sole provider of compassion and charity. Government has no money of its own, so it must tax or borrow money in the name of what bureaucrats deem is compassionate. The government defining what compassion is and who is deserving of it is one of the biggest dangers to liberty and personal freedom. A phrase which best exemplifies this concept is, "The deserving poor." It is not the Constitutional role of government to decide who is deserving and who is not?
     The last 50 years is replete with examples of the Federal government engaging in extra-constitutional functions, culminating with Obamacare. The danger with Obamacare is not so much the astronomical cost, which in itself is a huge drag on the economy and therefore individual freedom, but the shredding of Constitutional rights that is part-and-parcel to any intrusion of government into the private sector. This could not have been more aptly illustrated than it was recently with the edict from the Obama administration forcing the Catholic church to violate its core religious values. This is the landscape we will be forced to traverse as the government is allowed to be the arbiter of rights, in this case the right of women to free contraception. It is the fundamental difference between modern Liberals and Conservatives. Liberals believe that rights are bestowed upon the people by the government and that government can create new rights out of whole cloth. This is dangerous because a government that can give rights can also take them away. Conservatives believe that the rights of free people come from God and government is there to simply protect those rights. That is what makes the U.S. Constitution special, it acknowledges that God and not government is the source of human rights. Madison said that if men were angles, there would be no need for government. And that if men were governed by angels there would be no need to limit the power of government. The modern day Liberal believes the former but rejects the latter as antiquated. They feel there is no need to impose any limits on government at all.    

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