(This article is dedicated to the former Libertarian in our software development team who just retired and has provided the seed for other postings.)
To what extent should the government protect its citizens?
Conservatives without Conscience (CWCs), including Libertarians, want citizen protection by the government limited to national defense. CWCs even start wars on false pretenses and empower their enemies – anyone not like them – by exaggerating their capabilities and intensions. They also can’t say “9/11,” weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or “war on terror” enough times in any given discussion about national security.
Beyond protection from foreign invaders, CWCs leave protection up to each individual citizen – “you’re on your own” and you deserve the consequences of ‘your’ failures not to get protection.
To give them some credit, however, the CWCs are very willing to provide a free enterprise solution for many forms of self protection. Insurance is one example. In fact, once in a while they even allow a government form of insurance. This is only for special situations where free enterprise can’t charge enough to make a profit – like flood insurance.
However, even here CWCs are more interesting in protecting free enterprise over the best interests of the citizen. They have allowed limited government-backed flood insurance. However, it’s a unanimous “NO” to limited government backed health insurance.
Leaving protection up to the individual also explains why CWCs are against gun control. Individuals must provide for their own defense. Remember, “you’re on your own.” Combine gun ownership with their desire to protect citizens from international terrorists and you get: Weapons are great but WMD’s are not. (This reminds me of a quote from comedian George Carlin back when ‘the enemy’ was communism, “Gabby Hayes had whiskers! Lenin had a beard!” Whiskers are good, a beard is bad.)
Progressives, on the other hand, know that there are factors in every individuals life that are beyond their control. Because progressives understand systemic causation, they realize that citizen protection by the government is much broader than national defense. Citizens not only need protection from actual – not imaginary – enemies of the state, they need protection from other forms of abuse that can grow out of concentrated power.
These abuses can exist in any manmade institution where no checks and balances exist to prevent them. Checks and balances are necessary to protect citizens from: any of our three branches of government, an abusive spouse, an abusive employer, an abusive preacher, an abusive producer or manufacturer that puts profit before the health and safety of citizens, banks too big to fail, or health insurance companies that deny coverage and drop citizens to maintain profit.
Despite popular dogma, progressives know that profit is necessary and vital to the success of the nation. That’s why the government must protect that ability by providing a court system. Combine the protection of profit with profit that abuses citizens and you get: Profits are great but PMDs, profits of mass destruction, are not.
And now with the recent decision by our activist United States Supreme Court and its five CWCs to eliminate the checks and balances on corporate political contributions, we also need protection from laws of mass destruction (LMDs). Add this decision to the actions of the GWB’s unitary presidency like wire tapping citizens, excessive signing statements that ignored Congressional law and the torture memos of John Yoo, and citizens have lost many of their hard won progressive protections.
Because of this broader view of protection of the citizenry, progressives not only want to protect citizens from WMDs, they want to protect citizens from PMDs, LMDs and many other elements of mass destruction.