Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who are those guys?” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

I have been trying to figure out “who are those guys” (and gals)? What happened to the Wyoming legislature? Wyoming’s 2011 legislature has given us the biggest, most intrusive government in our state’s history.
  On the surface, it is a one-party affair. All but 14 of the 90 members call themselves “Republicans.” Below the surface of that label is a rather complicated and inherently contradictory set of beliefs.
These legislators claim to be “conservatives” and, in many cases, “libertarians.” Yet the way they vote and the things they say aloud leave me shaking my head, confused. It’s hard to find the core values you might expect from true conservative libertarians.  Conservatives have generally advocated a political philosophy that does not allow religious beliefs to get in the way of allowing all people the promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and one authoritative web site,, defines “libertarian” as:
  1. One who advocates liberty either generally or on a specific issue, e.g. "civil libertarian" (in favour (sic) of civil liberties).
  2. A believer in a political doctrine that emphasises (sic) individual liberty and a lack of governmental regulation and oversight both in matters of the economy ('free market') and in personal behavior where no one's rights are being violated or threatened.
A libertarian label doesn’t fit elected officials who impose their social views growing government big enough to deny individual liberties. Yet the label might stick to those who argue the federal government cannot require people to purchase health insurance. Even then I get confused knowing these same folks have enacted laws requiring, under penalty of incarceration, we all buy auto insurance.
They have passed a bill now to amend the state constitution to permit everyone to make their own decision about whether to have health insurance. I can see “personal freedom” in that choice, but no countervailing “personal responsibility.” The legislation allows those who don’t obtain health insurance to shift responsibility for paying for their health care to you and me either by higher taxes or cost shifting to our premiums. That doesn’t coincide with a “conservative” understanding of individual accountability.
Passing a law is one thing, but amending a constitution is another. Amending the constitution on a whim having more to do with contemporary politics than long term thinking is neither conservative nor libertarian. What we have here are “libertarians” who have delinked concepts of freedom from personal responsibility and “conservatives” who opportunistically grow government to impose their religious and moral views.
And that, Butch, is who those guys are!

1 comment:

  1. James Madison said, "In a free government, the security for civil rights must be the same as for religious rights."

    He also warned that "In Republics, the great danger is that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority."

    "It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure."

    Alexander Hamilton

    The Tea Party and conservatives have called for a return to the values that drafted our Constitution. It think those values are clearly addressed in the writings of Madison and Alexander Hamilton.

    Unfortunately, when these groups call for a return to those values, they are referring to the financial values, and they tend to forget about the ideal that true peace (inner peace as well as social peace), requires the acceptance that al people deserve liberty.

    Sadly, the answer I've heard when I raise this issue -- "They are free to leave if they don't like it."