On Private and Public Virtue

by Robert Williams and Michael Dennin

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders make mention of “one people” and a “good people” – a people who are wise and virtuous enough to make their own decisions concerning their lives and their country. In response to the despotism, injuries and caprices of the ruling elite in Great Britain, who had placed themselves above accountability and the will of the American people, our Forefathers exercised their inalienable right to renounce and abolish that regime and replace it with a limited form of consensual republican government where power and sovereignty was invested in the individual and bound by the rule of written law.

What is happening now in America is that a slim majority of “the people” have decided to abandon the principles of limited government and the rule of law in favor of rule by the machinations and arbitrary fiat of a political “elite” who are selected purely on their ability to deliver entitlement funding and services, not on their ability to govern in an effective and fiscally responsible manner. This corrosive and corrupt arrangement, where too many lazy and irresponsible people survive by preying on hardworking taxpayers, is a product of the declining state of personal and public virtue in our country. In the not too distant past, Americans valued the freedom and dignity that self-sufficiency and personal independence brought them. Dependency was considered a shameful thing – a consequence of personal weakness and failure. Today, Socialist elites, such as Barack Obama, cater outrageously to people who look to government to do what those people themselves are able but unwilling to do for their own welfare. Politicians entrusted with wise representatiion have instead made a conscious effort to de-stigmatize unnatural dependency. They do this by propagating the phony narrative that the people who use our social safety nets as a hammock are the victims of Capitalism and the “greedy” rich. Never mind that the rich pay approximately 70 percent of the total quantity of revenue taken in.

What we see here is the mutually reinforcing collapse of private and public virtue, where public officials and private individuals conspire to steal and redistribute the wealth of productive Americans not just for the benefit of people who genuinely can’t help their own need, but also for the benefit of numerous lazy freeloaders. Worse yet, this conspiracy is motivated primarly to buy votes while at the same time it is purposely cloaked in a false claim of “compassion for the poor” while trumpeting the “harsh lack of compassion” in anyone who objects to this subterfuge. To compound that abuse and try to strengthen their case, both of these classes of thieves, having convinced each other of the righteousness of their larceny, have turned to the media for propagandizing their “redistributionist” racket as an honorable and noble form of altruism, while viciously and dishonestly vilifying the victims who dare to protest it. Once you can convince people that crime is a virtue, you have corrupted and debased them to the point where you can convince them of anything, including the “need” for everyone to surrender their freedom and the fruits of their honest labor.

One might think that such a thing could never happen in this country, but consider what happened during and and after the enactment of the ObamaCare individual mandate, when the government elite in Washington ignored the Constitution and rule of written law in this country and overturned the Founding Principle that rights and responsibilities are derived from the Individual, not the State. It all began when a majority of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate violated their solemn oaths to uphold the Constitution,  and in true Orwellian fashion attempted to classify inaction as action in order to force Americans to purchase health insurance so that the government could fund its latest multi-trillion dollar entitlement program. Unable to pass the individual mandate’s exaction as a tax, Congress passed it as a regulatory penalty and then sent it on to President Obama for signature. At this point, the President violated his own oath of office to uphold the Constitution and signed the bill with its illegal penalty in place. From there, things went from bad to worse.

After this illegal penalty was rightly challenged in court, the Obama Administration, in yet another Orwellian sleight of hand, arbitrarily decided to ignore the language in the statute and dishonestly declared that the unconstitutional penalty it had signed into law was now a tax, in spite of the fact that the exaction was repeatedly and explicitly defined as a penalty. This completely arbitrary ex post facto alteration of the language in the statute was finally argued before the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice John Roberts violated his oath to uphold the Constitution and arbitrarily decided to ignore and alter the language in the statute that Congress and the President signed into law. By arbitrarily alterating the language in the law and judging the constitutionality of the mandate based on this alteration, not only did the Chief Justice violate the Constitution by engaging in what his fellow justices described as an unconstitutional act of “judicial tax writing”, but the Chief Justice, following in the footsteps of President Obama, also trampled on the rule of law by declaring that the language in a statute meant nothing – that it could be arbitrarily altered after it was written and signed into law.

Clearly, this is an argument against the rule of written law and in favor of the rule of arbitrary fiat. This outrage permitted Congress to get away with passing a tax it never enacted and enabled all three branches of government to violate the Constitution and rule of law with impunity. When the Founders and Framers established our tricameral system of government, they did so with the intent that all three branches would serve to prevent each other from committing unconstitutional expansions of power that undermined the rule of law and freedom of American citizens. Instead, as we find that with the passage of the ObamaCare individual mandate, all three branches become a mutually reinforcing vehicle that serves the unchecked expansion of government power and arbitrary rule.

These are not the actions of a virtuous government that could legitimately command our lawful compliance and respect. Instead, these are the actions of an arrogant political establishment that serves itself at the expense of the freedom and prosperity of the American people. This is a troubling matter in itself, but what is even more disconcerting is what this despicable political establishment reveals about the character of the people who are responsible for its existence. A virtuous people would never tolerate a political establishment that eagerly violates the Constitutional compact between the people and the state. In the decade preceding the American Revolution, the violation of the social compact between the British Colonists in America and their capricious and unaccountable government in London constituted grounds for revolution. Today, a venal segment of our populace not only tolerates the violation of our social compact and the rule of law by a similarly arrogant political elite, it actually demands these violations and rewards the traitors who commit them.

For all the talk of reforming and restraining our government, this can never be achieved unless we address the corrupted state of private and public virtue in America. For its part, the GOP has spent a lot of time talking about values but it hasn’t spent much time talking about virtues, probably because so many Republicans have compromised their own public virtue. Democrats, on the other hand, aren’t even remotely interested in restoring the virtues that made our country great – they’re too busy trying to de-stigmatize both their own lack of public virtue and their entitlement constituency’s lack of private virtue. The only people who have made a determined effort to restore these values are the grassroots conservative movements in this country, and they have struggled mightily in the face of fierce opposition from the Left and its slander artists in the mainstream media. However, the Left’s efforts to prevent the restoration of private and public virtue in this country does not excuse the Right’s own failure to convince the American people of the imperative and genuine practical benefits of re-embracing the virtues that made America the freest, strongest and most prosperous nation on earth. Republicans, Libertarians, and grassroots conservatives must make a sincere commitment to uphold and promote those virtues, and they must impart the fact that these are universal, common sense virtues that have enabled human beings regardless of their race, sex or creed to live both free and prosperous. We must also make clear that when we talk about these private and public virtues, we are also talking about civic duty. Contrary to President Obama’s delusional propaganda, our primary and essential civic duty is to provide for ourselves, not rob others by decree. If a citizen refuses to do what is possible to do in fulfilling the fundamental personal and civic responsibility of self-support, then that citizen is a selfish burden rather than a productive member of society who contributes the resources that provide for the common good. Individuals and businesses – not the government, and not the unproductive members of the entitlement class – pay the taxes that build our military, our infrastructure, our educational system, our social safety nets, etc..

Yes, we the People who believe in private and public virtue built our country. We built ALL of it! The government does fulfill some of the legitimate functions enumerated above, but where do the funds come from?  The funds come from taxes paid by self-sufficient hard-working Americans and those funds are far too often squandered on the vote-buying redistribution schemes of corrupt politicians. The American people must be reminded of the importance of private and public virtue and its correlation to civic duty if we are to retain our freedom, strength and prosperity not only for ourselves, but for future generations of Americans.


Posted February 10, 2013 by Candidus in America, Culture

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