"These socialist writers look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees. Just as the gardener capriciously shapes the trees into pyramids, parasols, cubes, vases, fans, and other forms, just so does the socialist writer whimsically shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers, honeycombs, labor-corps, and other variations. And just as the gardener needs axes, pruning hooks, saws, and shears to shape his trees, just so does the socialist writer need the force that he can find only in law to shape human beings. For this purpose, he devises tariff laws, relief laws, and school laws." — Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1848
Bastiat explains the call for laws that restrict peaceable, voluntary exchange and punish the desire to be left alone by saying that socialists1 want to play God. Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. To them — the elite—“the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.” And for people who have this vision, Bastiat displays the only anger I find in The Law when he lashes out at do-gooders and would-be progressive rulers of mankind, “Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”
1. In 1848 Bastiat referred to socialist. If writing today he would no doubt change that reference to liberal/progressive. When reading The Law keep this change in mind and Bastiat’s words will ring current.
Bastiat was an optimist who thought that eloquent arguments in defense of liberty might save the day; but history is not on his side. Mankind’s history is one of systematic, arbitrary abuse and control by the elite acting privately, through the church, but mostly through government. It is a tragic history where hundreds of millions of unfortunate souls have been slaughtered, mostly by their own government. A historian writing 200 or 300 years from now might view the liberties that existed for a tiny portion of mankind’s population, mostly in the Western world, for only a tiny portion of its history, the last century or two, as a historical curiosity that defies explanation. That historian might also observe that the curiosity was only a temporary phenomenon and mankind reverted back to the traditional state of affairs—arbitrary control and abuse.
I came upon the writings of Frederick Bastiat about 10 years ago and they clarified many of my long held beliefs regarding progressives. Bastiat’s writing show how the liberal progressive mend works. It firmly believes that they are superior in the thinking and believe themselves to be members of an elite cadre that should be our rulers. This is a far cry from what our Founders believed and expressed in the Declaration of Independence and codified in our Constitution.
Last week this condition was demonstrated in spades when the media exposed the statements of Jonathan Gruber regarding his involvement in constructing and selling ObamaCare and was paid handsomely for it — $400,000 to be “a paid consultant to the Obama.
Much has been made of Jonathan Gruber insulting American voters by calling them stupid. Though worthy of contempt, that comment is one of the least interesting aspects of this short statement, which is otherwise chock-full of revelations with respect to the modern liberal mindset. Insulting the American voter is bad. Demonstrating altogether one's disregard for democratic principles is far worse.
First, Gruber says that the bill was written in a tortured way to make sure that the Congressional Budget Office did not score the mandate as a tax because, had it been scored as a tax, the bill would have died. The fact that the bill was written “in a tortured way” implies more than mere difficulty or complexity in the drafting process. When Gruber said “the bill was written in a tortured way,” he was saying that the drafters intentionally distorted or perverted the bill’s real meaning in order to fool the Congressional Budget Office.
Modern liberalism operates on expediency exclusively. Nothing matters but winning. The democratic process can be – must be – sacrificed to win. Gruber willingly proclaimed his disregard for the democratic process when he declared that “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” He demonstrated with perfect clarity that modern liberalism is indeed an “ends justifies the means” ideology driven by expediency when he said, “I wish that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.” This is a perfect example of the elitist progressive view of the world. We know better and you, the people are stupid sheeple.
For one brief moment, videotaped for posterity, Jonathan Gruber personified the modern liberal mindset. In an instance of perfect irony, he pontificated on the political advantages of avoiding transparency while simultaneously shining the bright light of day on the black heart of modern liberalism in the most transparent way possible. His perspective would be no clearer had he said, it would be nice if we could tell the public the truth, but only if we get our way. If the only way we can get the bill passed is by perpetrating a fraud on the CBO and on the American people, so be it. Transparency and the democratic process be damned.
Because modern liberalism as reflected by the actions of its establishment flag bearers is entirely policy driven and has no regard for our constitutional rule of law, the democratic process, or the truth, it is bankrupt of any guiding principle other than expediency. It is the pure reflection of the tyranny of the administrative state. Its approach to governance and the acquisition of power is ultimately tyrannical because it seeks to impose its policies and obtain the political power necessary to do so by whatever means possible, without regard for any of the fundamental principles of our founding; principles which they no doubt deem outdated the democratic process, limited government constrained by a constitution created by a sovereign people, and the unalienable rights of free individuals.
Since the Wilson administration this administrate state has grown. Experts now replace the peoples representatives, something our Founders were fearful of. There have been a few curbs on this growth such as the Coolidge administration where Silent Cal was criticized for not being an active president. It should be noted that during his administration the United States experienced phenomenal growth, prosperity, and personal liberty.
Since Coolidge’s tenure the U.S. has seen a gradual growth of a government by bureaucrats and experts. Liberal progressives love to claim that government by the “best and the brightest” is the way to rule the American people. All that is required is for them to use any means, including deception and lies, to retain their power.
Our Founders wanted three branches of government beset with checks and balances on each. They wanted an executive to enforce laws passed by Congress and a Congress to pass laws that the people who elected them wanted. They wanted a Supreme Court to settles disputes between states and make sure laws passed by Congress were in step with the Constitution — not to make new laws. Our Founders wanted a bicameral Congress consisting of a lower house responsible for the nation’s purse strings and an upper house (Senate) to take a longer view and be responsible for treaties and government appointments. As Madison stated the lower house with its two year terms would be subject to the passions of the day and the Senate would take a longer view and curb the passions of the lower house.
Jonathan Gruber certainly never intended to expose modern liberalism’s tyrannical approach so completely – but expose it he did. The revelations he provided should be often remembered and never forgotten. He has now added a new word to our lexicon — “Grubered” to be deceived by someone.