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Opine Needles

The Blog

The Social Contract

John Locke-1632-1704

On September 23rd, 2011, Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman wrote an OpEd in the New York Times (NYT) entitled “The Social Contract”. An economist by trade, he is obviously a very smart man. He calls himself friend to several other recent Nobel Prize winners, among them, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and Barack Obama.

Perhaps most importantly, he is a man of vision. He sees through things most of us don’t. For
instance, the day after our commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, he wrote,

“What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful… Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror.”

This is the problem with conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans. (We consider ourselves a hybrid of the three.) We just don’t get it. We look back on that horrific day and the weeks and months that followed as a time when real leaders provided real leadership. No one scripted George W. Bush’s remarks that day in NYC, while he stood on top of the smoldering pit of steel and human remains. He just did what came naturally. There was no teleprompter, nor was there a political agenda. Clearly, if we were as discerning and intelligent as the far left, we would have realized we were being duped by people like Giuliani and Bush. Shame on us.

We’d like to talk today about Mr. Krugman’s Social Contract. (We could start by simply asking why the NYT would even consider asking him to ever write for them again after suggesting that Messrs. Giuliani and Bush used 9/11 to “cash in”, but that would be a rhetorical question. So we move on, but not in a dot org kind of way.

For those of you who favored the liberal arts during your developmental years, the words “Social Contract” should ring a bell. During the enlightenment, several enlightened thinkers, (Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau among them) focused some of their energies on man in his “natural state” and how the socio-political regime should best be structured to deal with that natural state. We are nervous about diving into this topic because, as acknowledged above, the far left is much smarter than any of us, and this is their intellectual backyard. Just ask them; they’ll tell you.

All that notwithstanding, Mr. Krugman’s main point in his latest liberal rant is that Mr. Obama’s position regarding the rich paying their “fair share” is indeed fair, and it is the Republicans who are engaging in divisive class warfare. (If we were having a conversation right now, we would say that again, just in case it didn’t sink in.) That’s right, the lefties are taking the tack that the people who are already paying all the taxes are being disingenuous because they are objecting to paying a greater amount than the amount which presently is not sufficient to fund the left’s social redistributionist programs. There’s a mouthful.

Mr. Krugman points to the emerging senatorial campaign of one Elizabeth Warren, a democrat seeking to unseat Scott Brown in Taxachussetts. She was a Harvard Law School professor, who more recently has been an Obama appointee wreaking havoc and regulation on the private sector. It is she who has invoked the “social contract” in her campaign rhetoric. Says she, “Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

On paper, and on a pandering, populist campaign stump, those words would resonate with virtually everyone. The problems occur when one begins to dissect their meaning. Opine Needles also believes in leaving a “hunk of that” for “the next kid who comes along”. But in the Opine Needles world, the way that is done is left up to the wage earner. It is not the government’s right to take our hard won earnings and decide how to spend it. And this, folks, gets to the very heart of the difference between Republicans and democrats. Underlying the entire debate over taxes and government spending is a fundamental disagreement over what is meant by our implicit “social contract”.

The irony regarding the democrats’ reference to the social contract is as follows. Hobbes more of less believed that the way to harness and control man’s natural state was by way of an absolute monarchy. Rousseau, on the other hand, wrote of a “general will” (of the people) as a fundamental cornerstone of the social contract. The democrats love this one. They interpret Rousseau as opening the door (however unwittingly) for redistributionist polices.

Alas, here is the complete disconnect. None of the founding fathers relied upon Rousseau when they framed the Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers, or US Constitution. The writings most often referenced by our founding fathers were those of John Locke. And lo and behold, the reason for this is predicated largely on Locke’s belief in individual property rights and the appropriate use of labor to sustain those property rights in a capitalist system. 

We know some of this tome borders on the mundane, but it is important. We don’t know about you, but we’re plumb tuckered out by the lefties constantly lording their superior intellects over all of us bible-clingin’, gun-totin’ morons on the right. In the case of the Paul Krugman’s and Elizabeth Warren’s “Social Contract” platitudes, someone needs to call their bluffs.

We close with three points:

–Opine Needles does not suggest that there is no role for the Federal Government. Of course there are several very important roles. But our country’s future will be directed by who wins the battle over what is meant by the “Social Contract”. The democrats want to pursue an agenda that involves a total redistribution of wealth from the haves to the have-nots. You have to decide whether you think that is right for America.

–The “fair share” argument will not go away. The democrats will continue to try to pound that one into the subconscious mindset of all independent voters. While the Krugmans of the world continue to bang on about how unfair life is for today’s middle class, what they don’t mention is that Obama and his lefties do not propose to take from the rich and give to the middle class! The middle class is left out of the redistributionist plans, and will obviously be more squeezed than ever, because those who have historically had the money to give them jobs will no longer be in a position to give them jobs! This stuff is so simple it boggles the mind that the democrats can twist it like a pretzel and feed such rubbish to the electorate.

–One of the Republican candidates needs to debunk this whole Warren Buffett-Barack Obama “fair share” tax issue. Someone needs to look at the camera and say “This is a sham. Warren Buffett pays 15% capital gains on profits he has made on companies that have already paid a 35% corporate tax. That means that there is actually only $.55 cents left on the dollar that was made.  $.45 of that initial $1 has already gone to Uncle Sam! We are already the MOST overtaxed business sector in the western world. We need to simplify and flatten our tax code in order to restore competitiveness to the American workforce. If we want more jobs, we need to create an environment where the employer and the employee are more CONFIDENT. We do NOT create confidence by way of over-taxation!”

There are a number of recurring themes in the Opine Needles library. One of them is that government’s job is to help create conditions that lead to equality of opportunity. It is not the government’s role to mandate equality of outcome, and to use the fruits of its citizens’ labor to do so.

We’ll let you go now. We have trod where few Republicans dare to go; yikes, we’re not whackin’ ‘em with our guns and bibles! What will they say?

More to follow-