In other words, much in modern America depends on where you draw boundaries, and who’s inside and who’s outside. Who is included in the social contract? If “Detroit” is defined as the larger metropolitan area that includes its suburbs, “Detroit” has enough money to provide all its residents with adequate if not good public services, without falling into bankruptcy. Politically, it would come down to a question of whether the more affluent areas of this “Detroit” were willing to subsidize the poor inner-city through their tax dollars, and help it rebound. That’s an awkward question that the more affluent areas would probably rather not have to face.
In drawing the relevant boundary to include just the poor inner city, and requiring those within that boundary to take care of their compounded problems by themselves, the whiter and more affluent suburbs are off the hook. “Their” city isn’t in trouble. It’s that other one — called “Detroit.”
I want you to think about this quote for a minute:
“…requiring those within that boundary to take care of their compounded problems by themselves…”
What an awful thing to do, right? Making people who make the decisions actually live with the decisions they make. Why in the hell should someone who lives in Birmingham or Bloomfield Hills pay for decisions made by the government of Detroit to give public sector workers lavish pensions? How did the folks in the suburbs make the Detroit city government do that?
What about the people in Detroit who made the decisions to start with…decisions that they couldn’t afford? What is their responsibility in all of this?
Reich simply says “none”. Government is infallible, it is the people who don’t fall in line and support it without question who are at fault. He says that the reason you aren’t enjoying getting raped is that the rapist just isn’t doing it hard enough and you are fighting back too much. “Just lay there and like it”, says Tyrion Reich.
Reich’s column is actually arguing for the end to private property – or at least the control of it.
As Joe pointed out here, there is a move from the federal government to racially and economically profile every community in America to create new “fair housing” rules. As I have said about socialism, it is not necessary for the government to actually own the means of production as long as they can control it through laws, regulations or funding – same here – they won’t abolish private ownership but they will tell you that you can’t live there or you have to rent your property to a certain demographic to comply with “fair housing”.
Not coincidentally, this is also the reason that liberals have their granny panties in a bunch over “stand your ground” laws. How dare people be allowed to use deadly force defend their persons or property without being stabbed or shot first… Private property? Antiquated idea – that criminal has as much right to your stuff as you do. Chances are that he is less affluent than you are – so it’s not stealing – he is just trying to redistribute the wealth.
Reich stops just short of demanding that the Detroit boundaries be redrawn to include the people who fled the crime, the filth and the idiotic government – but he knows at whose feet to lay the problem:
And the upcoming fire sale will likely result in even worse municipal services, lousier schools, and more crime for those left behind in the city of Detroit. In an era of widening inequality, this is how wealthier Americans are quietly writing off the poor.
Those darn rich. It can’t possibly be failure of the progressive Utopian government policies that depend on the productivity of others to maintain. Damn those people who choose move to areas more in keeping with their ideas of community, culture and governance – it is their fault, not the government.
As long as people have the freedom to leave areas that provide negative stimuli – such as high taxes, crime, overcrowding, bad schools and bad government, they will…and little Bobby Reich wants that to stop unless you get government approval.
The lesson I see is quite different to that the Tyrion Lannister wanna be sees. What I see is this:
Live by big government, die by big government.
Both the Detroit bankruptcy and the liberal furor over “stand your ground” remind me of John Locke’s writing in his Second Treatise of Civil Government – original post here in Locke – Unlocked:
I’ve asked the question before about what the moral responsibility of the recipient of government largess has to those who fund it. I and others have made the case that the welfare state is inherently immoral for what it does to the human condition…
Following are selected sections from Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government:
First, Locke stated that it is a natural right of man to own property, to take command by God given right of the means necessary to provide for his sustenance.
Sec. 25. Whether we consider natural reason, which tells us, that men, being once born, have a right to their preservation, and consequently to meat and drink, and such other things as nature affords for their subsistence: or revelation, which gives us an account of those grants God made of the world to Adam, and to Noah, and his sons, it is very clear, that God, as king David says, Psal. cxv. 16. has given the earth to the children of men; given it to mankind in common. But this being supposed, it seems to some a very great difficulty, how any one should ever come to have a property in any thing: I will not content myself to answer, that if it be difficult to make out property, upon a supposition that God gave the world to Adam, and his posterity in common, it is impossible that any man, but one universal monarch, should have any property upon a supposition, that God gave the world to Adam, and his heirs in succession, exclusive of all the rest of his posterity. But I shall endeavour to shew, how men might come to have a property in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common, and that without any express compact of all the commoners.
Sec. 26. God, who hath given the world to men in common, hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life, and convenience. The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being. And tho’ all the fruits it naturally produces, and beasts it feeds, belong to mankind in common, as they are produced by the spontaneous hand of nature; and no body has originally a private dominion, exclusive of the rest of mankind, in any of them, as they are thus in their natural state: yet being given for the use of men, there must of necessity be a means to appropriate them some way or other, before they can be of any use, or at all beneficial to any particular man. The fruit, or venison, which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no enclosure, and is still a tenant in common, must be his, and so his, i.e. a part of him, that another can no longer have any right to it, before it can do him any good for the support of his life.
A man has the sole rights to the fruits of his labor:
Sec. 27. Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.
And note that the covetous and quarrelsome have no right to claim any product of that labor, nor do they have a right to claim that the industrious are required to provide for those who are not productive in the use of the skills and faculties that God has given them.
Sec. 34. God gave the world to men in common; but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest conveniencies of life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational, (and labour was to be his title to it;) not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious. He that had as good left for his improvement, as was already taken up, needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another’s labour: if he did, it is plain he desired the benefit of another’s pains, which he had no right to, and not the ground which God had given him in common with others to labour on, and whereof there was as good left, as that already possessed, and more than he knew what to do with, or his industry could reach to.
So suffice it to say, Locke would not have been down with the Occupy Wall Street “movement”, Obama’s administration or any of the “progressives” for that matter. Ole John was not a big fan of redistributin’.
Locke is saying that the only reason that man needs government is to protect these very rights to the fruits of his own labor… to be an impartial arbiter with the power to apply laws equally and impartially to every citizen – but even he recognizes that governments are naturally self-perpetuating and because of that self-interest, are dangerous to liberty.
So what about a government that fosters redistribution, strips individual rights and sets itself up as a tyrannical overlord?
It should be dissolved – by revolution if necessary:
Sec. 222 (Chapter 19). The reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a legislative, is, that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society, to limit the power, and moderate the dominion, of every part and member of the society: for since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society, that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure, by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making; whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence. Whensoever therefore the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society; and either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who. have a right to resume their original liberty, and, by the establishment of a new legislative, (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society. What I have said here, concerning the legislative in general, holds true also concerning the supreme executor, who having a double trust put in him, both to have a part in the legislative, and the supreme execution of the law, acts against both, when he goes about to set up his own arbitrary will as the law of the society. He acts also contrary to his trust, when he either employs the force, treasure, and offices of the society, to corrupt the representatives, and gain them to his purposes; or openly preengages the electors, and prescribes to their choice, such, whom he has, by sollicitations, threats, promises, or otherwise, won to his designs; and employs them to bring in such, who have promised before-hand what to vote, and what to enact. Thus to regulate candidates and electors, and new-model the ways of election, what is it but to cut up the government by the roots, and poison the very fountain of public security? for the people having reserved to themselves the choice of their representatives, as the fence to their properties, could do it for no other end, but that they might always be freely chosen, and so chosen, freely act, and advise, as the necessity of the common-wealth, and the public good should, upon examination, and mature debate, be judged to require. This, those who give their votes before they hear the debate, and have weighed the reasons on all sides, are not capable of doing. To prepare such an assembly as this, and endeavour to set up the declared abettors of his own will, for the true representatives of the people, and the law-makers of the society, is certainly as great a breach of trust, and as perfect a declaration of a design to subvert the government, as is possible to be met with. To which, if one shall add rewards and punishments visibly employed to the same end, and all the arts of perverted law made use of, to take off and destroy all that stand in the way of such a design, and will not comply and consent to betray the liberties of their country, it will be past doubt what is doing. What power they ought to have in the society, who thus employ it contrary to the trust went along with it in its first institution, is easy to determine; and one cannot but see, that he, who has once attempted any such thing as this, cannot any longer be trusted.
Isn’t this where we are?
Isn’t it a bit disheartening (and embarrassing) that our rhetoric about things like Obamacare, religious freedom and tax policies aren’t put forward at this intellectual level? Compared to this, our current political debates have the philosophical heft of a Doritos or a GoDaddy commercial during the Super Bowl.
Keep in mind that Locke wrote these words in 1690, 322 years ago. Locke was a scholar but also a keen observer of human nature and social currents. In 1690, the majority of the world was governed by undemocratic and authoritarian governmental systems and Locke was observing the birth of multiple avenues of thoughts on liberty, freedom and how governance could be structured to preserve them.
322 years has done nothing to change the nature of man, his interaction with his fellow man or the nature of those who seek to govern. It is remarkable and tragic at the same time that we still commit the same errors as in Locke’s time. Understanding these facts alone should be a complete and perfect vindication and approbation of Locke’s observations and postulates.