Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thomas Sowell: America at the Crossroads

The great Thomas Sowell, one of the best writers and clearest thinkers in America today, thinks that Nov. 2 is a crossroads election for America and that nothing less than freedom itself is at stake. He gives specific examples of what he means. First, on health care:

For all its sweeping and scary provisions, ObamaCare is not nearly as important as the way it was passed. If legislation can become laws passed without either the public or the Congress knowing what is in those laws, then the fundamental principle of a free, self-governing people is completely undermined.

Some members of Congress who voted for ObamaCare, and who are now telling us that they realize this legislation has flaws which they intend to correct, are missing the point.

The very reason for holding hearings on pending legislation, listening to witnesses on all sides of the issue, and having Congressional debates that will be reported and commented on in the media, is so that problems can be explored and alternatives considered before the legislation is voted into law.

Rushing ObamaCare into law too fast for anyone to have read it served no other purpose than to prevent this very process from taking place. The rush to pass this law that would not take effect until after the next two elections simply cut the voters out of the loop-- and that is painfully close to ruling by decree.

Did you catch that? "Ruling by decree" - yes, that is what he said and he is not kidding. A vote for the Democrats in this election is literally a vote against democracy.

A second example is the Obama administration's attack on free speech. There are many examples Sowell could have pointed to such as the administration's attack on Fox News or its attempt to regulate the Internet. But he uses this one:

Other actions and proposals by this administration likewise represent moves in the direction of arbitrary rule, worthy of a banana republic, with only a mocking facade of freedom.

These include threats against people who simply choose to express opinions counter to administration policy, such as a warning to an insurance company that there would be "zero tolerance" for "misinformation" when the insurance company said that ObamaCare would create costs that force up premiums.

Zero tolerance for the right of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution?

A third example is the way the Obama administration has tried to muzzle business opposition to its policies:

Those who are constantly telling us that our economic problems are caused by not enough "regulation" never distinguish between regulation which simply enforces known rules, as contrasted with regulation that gives arbitrary powers to the government to force others to knuckle under to demands that have nothing to do with the ostensible purposes of the regulation.

As more businesses reveal that they are considering no longer buying health insurance for their employees, as a result of higher costs resulting from ObamaCare legislation, the administration has announced that it can grant waivers that reduce these costs.

But the power to grant waivers is the power to withhold waivers-- an arbitrary power that can impose millions of dollars in costs on businesses that the administration doesn't like.

Recent proposals from the Obama administration to force disclosure of the names of people who sponsor election ads would likewise open all who disagree with Obama to retaliation by the government itself, as well as by community activists and others.

Regulation which seeks to hold businesses accountable to general rules that are known in advance and applicable to all are fine. But regulations that are open-ended, impossible to predict and flexible enough to enable bureaucrats to act arbitrarily violate the rule of law.

Read it all here. There is a time and place for hyperbole and exaggeration. If only Sowell were engaging in such things today. The problem is that he is not.


Dan said...

Were you this upset with politicians being ignorant of the actual text of legislation when Michael Moore pointed this out in regards to Bush's agenda?

Craig Carter said...

I don't know what planet you are living on but George Bush was never as dangerous to liberty as Obama is. Can you specify exactly what Moore justly accused Bush of doing that even faintly resembles governing by decree, attacking free speech and eliminating the rule of law? If so, please do.

(But you know, citing the hard core Leftist Michael Moore on liberty is like citing Jeremiah Wright on patriotism - just saying.)

As I recall, even the Patriot Act was passed by Congress and voted for by most Democrats.

You know, the thoughtless Bush-bashing by liberals is really getting old. A recent poll in Ohio (that quintessential bell weather state) recently showed that Ohioans would prefer to have Bush back instead of Obama by 50-42.

See here:

If your man Obama is so great how is it that even moderates and independents now prefer Bush by a 44-37 margin?

Yes, I'd rather have Bush back as president if the only choices were him or Obama. Ideally, I'd rather have a real conservative instead of a big-government Republican like Bush. But given a choice between Bush and Obama it is not even close. One is less than perfect; the other is a threat to the Republic.

Peter W. Dunn said...

I agree with Sowell. I've been astonished by the capricious and illegal nature of so much that this administration has done. We could start by the destruction of wealth by reneging on the rights of bondholders of GM and handing the company to the union, firing the CEO, arbitrarily closing down dealerships across the country. Since when can the president do this? Now they're making stupid little politically correct cars that nobody will ever want. I had never seen anything like this in my life. I remember during the campaign Michelle my belle saying, "Barack won't let you ..." The president's job isn't to decide what you eat, what you drive, or what health care you're supposed to get, but to defend the Constitution and the country from enemies foreign and domestic. But he, along with his fellow democrats, IS the enemy of freedom and the constitution, and many Americans have come to realize this. But then he has always been a marxist, spawned and trained by marxists, who has somehow lied his way into the Whitehouse; and he has always been a marxist since his discipleship under Frank Marshal Davis, and since his undergraduate days as a member of the marxist clubs at Occidental College (see ).

Dan: What the heck are you talking about??? Are you even capable of a single critical thought anymore?

Peter said...

Dr. Carter,

Thanks for your insightful posts. While not disagreeing with you at all, I have a quick comment and a question.

When a government rushes legislation, it is often because that government doesn't want to face the highest court in the land - that is, the court of public opinion. If the main people behind Obamacare really felt that this was what was best for the country while knowing that it will be so unpopular, why not push it forward quickly? (Or, do they not really believe in Obamacare?)

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't feel comfortable reducing democratic government to public opinion (which is often emotive anyways), though I feel just as uneasy on allowing it to be a rule of the elected elites.

Or is it really just that the government should have, in this case, taken time to find a consensus with enough Americans before acting on what they already believed to be the best way forward?

Any light you can shed on these questions would be much appreciated! (I'm just learning...!)

Craig Carter said...

If the public cannot be trusted to come to a consensus on health care and even the elected representatives can't be trusted so that a cabal of unelected staffers have to write it in secret and then a rushed vote must be held to pass it "so that we can find out what is in it" as Nancy Pelosi said, then what has happened to democracy? This is rule by "experts" and a few left-wing politicians like Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

Look, representative democracy is far from perfect. But it is much better than all the alternatives that have been tried so far (W. Churchill).

I believe that the Democrats actually believed that they know better than the American people what is best for America. Having come to power under false pretenses (Obama campaigned from the center as a new Bill Clinton), they saw a chance to fundamentally transform America in the brief window before the next election. They believed they could pass health care reform and that once passed it could never be undone. But they underestimated the resolve of the American people.