Political Pistachio

Blog Home of the Writer and AM and FM Radio Host, Douglas V. Gibbs.
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Social Justice, and the Constitution


"The utopian schemes of leveling (re-distribution of the wealth) and a community of goods (socialism scheme of central ownership of production and distribution), are as visionary and impractical as those which vest all property in the crown. These ideas are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government unconstitutional. Now what property can the colonists be conceived to have, if their money may be granted away by others, without their consent?" -- Samuel Adams, Boston Gazette, April 4, 1768.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” -- Thomas Jefferson

By Douglas V. Gibbs

Barack Obama won the election of 2012 with a number of strategies in place, and the one that made the largest impact was his offer of the federal government as the giver of gifts from the treasury, at the expense of the producers in society. In other words, the redistribution of wealth. The liberal left calls this Social Justice. The Founding Fathers called it despotic and unconstitutional. Today's conservatives call it communism.

Enough voters, however, have bought into the lie that only government must be the guarantor of social justice.

The concept of Social Justice begins with the claim that the government is simply seeking to achieve "fairness." In this pursuit, the Democrats cry out that those with more must "pay their fair share" in order for the "less fortunate" to achieve equity in our unfair society. Equality and fairness. Sounds good to most. A tool used by the statists to achieve their big government aims, Social Justice is a myriad of entitlement programs we are told were designed to ensure those that are underprivileged are taken care of by government.

Social Justice is argued as being the responsibility of the government for reasons of morality. To not support social justice is to be immoral because that must mean you want the potential recipients of entitlement programs to suffer in their poverty. In reality, the statists are paying the poor to remain poor, not only to buy their votes, but to keep them under the control of the government.

Does the Constitution give the federal government the authority to create and fund programs designed to redistribute the wealth from the taxpayers to those seeking participation in entitlement programs?

The answer is "No," though folks that oppose a system of self-reliance and personal responsibility will argue otherwise. They will erroneously use all kinds of constitutional clauses to justify their slavery of the poor by the government, rejecting that such an authority needs to be expressly granted.

James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, said, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."

Social Justice is not a bad thing when not in the hands of government. Conservatives believe in the importance of social justice, but call it something very different. "Charity," is the social justice of conservatism, and the Founding Fathers. Charity is a voluntary choice by individuals to help those that are in need. The Salvation Army grew out of a yearning for social justice. As individuals it is important to be compassionate; feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, help the sick, and visit prisoners. There is absolutely nothing wrong with voluntarily giving to those who are in positions less fortunate than ourselves.

When it comes to the concept of social justice, the argument is not whether or not help should be given to those that are less fortunate, but rather whether or not government should be the caregiver of those folks through entitlement programs, and whether or not government should institute policies that use the redistribution of wealth through a system of progressive taxation.

If a neighbor is in need, some may find it to be their personal responsibility to help that neighbor, and that is commendable. We live in a culture that confuses "needs" with "desires," and both of those concepts with "rights." Entitlements have come to be defined as a right, and with that definition in place, it is no wonder that people consider government to be obligated to provide citizens with certain "necessities" of life. Government, however, does not provide entitlement programs out of the kindness of its heart, nor out of some moral obligation of responsibility.

Social Justice through government intervention is socially debilitating, and economically unsustainable. The founders did not give the federal government constitutional authority to provide programs designed to redistribute the wealth from one economic class to the other because such programs widen the gap between the different financial classes, makes it more difficult for those in poverty to reach a level of economic success, and because eventually the creation of such programs undermines the nation's economy, ultimately leading to economic collapse.

The Founding Fathers created our system through the Constitution with the intention that the Republic would stand the test of time because the citizens were good and moral, and was willing to take care of local issues locally.

The responsibility for taking care of our neighbors, should that need arise, belongs to each of us as individuals in a societal system where our relationships and overlapping communities demand that for the success of our communities, each part must be healthy and functional. Doing the same through government, eliminates choice (an important part of "liberty"), and teaches the recipient to expect more, and set aside their own individual responsibilities. Rather than a united community, the system becomes one of producers, and takers. As the number of takers increases, the producers must work harder to ensure that everyone is taken care of. Eventually, even the producers come to the conclusion that they've been swindled. They are doing all of the work, and the takers are doing none, so they might as well become takers as well. Eventually, the takers outnumber the producers, and the society is unable to continue on.

Social Justice is unsustainable.

Government, however, is not concerned with sustainability. For the "professional politicians" it is all about power and control. Through entitlements, the politicians are literally buying votes.

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." -- Margaret Thatcher

Ultimately, a governmental system that pursues Social Justice is unsustainable. Eventually the takers outnumber the producers, the expenses of government become larger than the system is capable of managing, and the politicians are left with no choice but to cut the spending drastically through austerity measures, and eventually allow the entire system to collapse.

Self-reliance, personal responsibility, and hard work becomes something the other guy can do. The attitude devolves into, "The rich people make more than enough, therefore, should share their wealth with me," or "pay their fair share." The sense of mutual responsibility for each other through government dominates over the sense of personal responsibility for oneself. In turn, these governmental programs even take away from the effectiveness of private charities, for people begin to conclude that with government providing all of the help for others, the ball is in somebody else's court, so a personal individual decision to help is no longer necessary.

We are individuals, and should not consign ourselves to some governmental experiment in collectivism. Our relationships with others demand that we, as individuals, share in our local communities, and as a result we do have a basic moral obligation towards other human beings. That responsibility is to help, not make the others dependent upon us, or the government. When a person is given by government their welfare, they become slaves to the system.

Give a man a fish, and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will be fed for a lifetime.

The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to provide "Social Justice," and that authority was not given to the federal government for a reason. The Founding Fathers understood that if the federal government became the provider of things the individuals and communities can provide for themselves, in the long run, the entire American System would collapse, and from the ashes would rise a tyrannical system.

"If the government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have." -- President Gerald Ford.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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