Friday, September 19, 2008
At first, it astounded me, although it should not have, that Barack Obama selected as his running mate Joe Biden, whose own 1988 presidential campaign was ended by a plagiarism scandal. Furthermore, by all appearances, this is one dog that, like "a thousand generations" of dogs before it, can't learn new tricks, as Joe Biden himself -- I mean Neil Kinnock -- might put it.
One of the many flaws of John McCain, who heads the Democratic Vice President's opposing ticket, is that he confuses national servitude with individual voluntarism. Alex Epstein put this well last year:
The logical end road of the belief that you have a duty to serve the nation is legislation that forces you to do so--i.e., compulsory national service. Like Time magazine, Senators John McCain and Evan Bayh, who introduced the Call to Service Act in 2003, think that "national service should one day be a rite of passage for young Americans." But there is only one way to make national service a "rite of passage": by government coercion. McCain has long favored compulsory national service, but laments that it "is not currently politically practical." Robert Litan of the Brookings Institution has proposed that every 18-year-old be forced to perform one year of compulsory service. This is nothing less than involuntary servitude of the youth in the land of the free. [minor format edits, bold added]McCain never tells us how it is that a period of servitude will prepare the young to live lives as free men.
And add Joe Biden to the list of politicians who wish to tread on the last embers of freedom in America while whistling "Yankee Doodle":
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Thursday that paying more in taxes is the patriotic thing to do for wealthier Americans. In a new TV ad that repeats widely debunked claims about the Democratic tax plan, the Republican campaign calls Obama's tax increases "painful." [bold added]It is bad enough that essentially the entire body politic takes government confiscation of property for granted as acceptable, which it is not. What is worse is that Biden is, like McCain, (1) selling a government coerced act as a virtue of altruistic morality -- while (2) ignoring the fact that coerced acts have no moral import whatsoever, (3) evading the demonstrable fact that acting in one's own self-interest (as the Founding Fathers did when they volunteered to fight the British at great personal expense and risk) is demonstrably the moral thing to do, and (3) helping to further set in stone the pernicious, anti-American notion that the government is the guardian of public morality. What is scandalous beyond belief is that none of this so much as raises a brow of the average voter.
Joe Biden is, obviously, not actually guilty of my rhetorical charge of plagiarism, although I wish that were his only sin. But if he and all the other major candidates in the upcoming presidential race seem as if they might as well be, it is because they all subscribe to the same, wrong, moral code. That is, they attach nobility to human sacrifice. Worse still, they all threaten to force America -- the land of the free! -- to endure the consequences of living by this idea by means of a collectivistic, anti-freedom political agenda, that differs between the two major tickets only in the details of its implementation.
What is supremely ironic about all these flag-wrapped calls to self-immolation is that it would be patriotic, and in the proper sense, for Americans to donate money, time, and effort to America -- but only if America consistently protected individual rights, meaning that she never forced anyone to do so! Just look at how the Founding Fathers acted as they rebelled from the tyranny of the British, and why they did so.
As Joe Biden -- I mean Neil Kinnock -- might put it, I wish I were among the first of a "thousand generations" of Americans to see freedom wax rather than wane in my lifetime. I will continue to work to see that happen, but I do not labor under the illusion that either Obama-Biden or McCain-Palin will help this happen. Appearances to the contrary, these tickets are carbon copies of each other.