Recently, I was engaged in spirited conversation with two other individuals of different political philosophies. One was libertarian and one was leftist. I, of course, am a right-wing extremist. All the participants were college-educated and tended to back up their views with facts, hence it was an excellent discussion and it helped reveal to me what my colleagues think about the world and politics. At first, the conversation was between myself and the libertarian essentially talking about how we both agreed on the reduction of the size and power of the state and essentially giving more power to the people, aka “freedom.” Eventually, I moved on to a serious point of disagreement that I have with libertarians, the foreign policy issue. While I do believe that the United States would do better to stay out of the affairs of other countries, the reality we are presented with does not allow this. In a globalized economy, with a network of necessary alliances, the United States faces threats that it must confront… dare I say, even preemptively. In my part of town, I am bold to say these things… but too many times have I seen children fall into drugs because of parents’ live and let live attitudes, too many times have I seen known criminal havens allowed to thrive because of this very same “tolerance.” All politics is local and these things I have come to know locally have made me realize that sometimes the adage “no man is an island” rings true and what happens in a faraway country reverberates across the world. My family witnessed the mobilization of troops and nuclear missiles, pointed at the United States while their dear dictator begged Nikita Krushchev to launch a first nuclear strike against America. Why was that dictator in power? Because the world stood back and watched, saying “oh, that’s just internal Cuban politics.” Also because a president was hesitant to do what was necessary to stop a madman… the thousands upon thousands of Latin Americans who died at the hands of the Communist guerrilla movement were done a great disservice back then. Sometimes regime change can mean the world.
Of course, the libertarian and I disagreed on this salient point and I respect that. I respect it moreover because the opinion of not entangling ourselves in foreign affairs is not a new idea, but one that came from the founding fathers. But even then, in our early years, America’s leaders (when real leaders existed) understood that whenever European powers flexed their muscle in the Western Hemisphere, our own backyard, we could not sit idly by. And history shows that we did not. I could go on, but the interesting part was yet to come. Eventually, the leftist would join our conversation and he said, in a nutshell, that all of society’s woes were the fault of big evil corporations. In fact, he used those very words: evil corporations. He cited examples of certain companies that were monopolistic or oligopolies and played that old class-warfare game with us. At one point he asks me, “do you like it that these corporations are making record profits while wages remain stagnant?” While bashing companies, he described a glorified version of government, that he admits does not exist, that essentially is a dispassionate servant of the people. On this point, we mostly agreed, except that I pointed out that the excessive concentration of power in any body, government especially, is A) corrupting, B) inefficient and C) against democracy. He disagreed of course. The corporate-bashing seemed to be common ground for the libertarian and the lefty, where they both agreed that they were behind some of the more insidious things in our society. The difference was that every time that the libertarian mentioned anything negative about corporations, he actually did not mention the corporations the liberal was interested in hearing about. The libertarian mentioned the corruption of unions, particularly the teacher’s union, and of ACORN. The liberal jumped up and said “see, yet another corporation that is hurting society.” The problem with the liberal’s arguments is the fact that he believes that free will must be tamed, compensation must be limited, and that once a person becomes rich they can no longer have any civic participation. Specifically, he grew outraged over the recent Supreme Court decision over corporate contributions to campaigns. I rebutted that corporations have been funneling money to politicians with or without that restriction and furthermore that taking away the right of an association of people from contributing to political campaigns or causes seems to run contrary to the first amendment. I remind my reader(s) that our founding fathers were not mere paupers. Rich does not equal evil.
The most enlightening part of the conversation was the full-blown absurd notion that contracts, especially complicated contracts, were in themselves evil. I said that made absolutely no sense… yet he continued. He said that it was the banks, the mortgage brokers, the credit card companies, and any other corporation that issues contracts with fine print, especially excessive fine print, that were the cause of so much misery in this country and the world. What would the solution to this be? To allow people who claim to not understand contracts to get out of them? To ban excessive fine print? Who decides what’s excessive and what’s necessary? He railed against phone plans, Apple, farming contracts, adjustable-rate mortgages, etc. Now that I think about it, I am surprised I was even listening to him. Of course, the solution to all this is to READ THE CONTRACT. I do it, why can’t other people? His response was that we were intelligent but most people aren’t. Indeed, no elitism there (note sarcasm). People need to take responsibility for their own lives, what sort of advanced society would have to dumb down contracts for its citizens? I rebutted by saying this and also that this shows the importance of education in general and that the state needs to get out of the education game and let in private education or at least have higher standards, something that the teachers unions absolutely oppose. The lefty’s comments should not have surprised me, they truly and firmly believe that the vast majority of people cannot and should not be responsible for themselves and that they absolutely NEED a big nanny-government to chew their food for them and wipe their butts. This was not a foaming at the mouth commie I was talking to, this was an intelligent person who embodies the sort of sheep, educated sheep, that follow the Mao Tse Tungs into the abyss. Absolutely shocking.
Ultimately, the lefty believes that the world was now under the control of multinational corporations that have reduced us all to slaves (indentured servants) and that freedom was endangered if not extinct. I cannot dispute that there are huge corporation out there, nor do I want to dispute that. As of yet, the McDonalds conglomerate has not infringed on my God-given rights as a human being, so why must I declare war on them? Or restrict their activities? If I have a problem with them, as the libertarian pointed out, we can simply boycott them… and in all truth, I don’t really like McDonalds. These corporations out there are not the bogeymen, the true enemy of freedom is an overgrown state. Only an overgrown government can issue edicts like the upcoming healthcare individual mandates that will only benefit corporations and the state alike. Only an overgrown government can subsidize one business or business practice and create market bubbles that ultimately burst and wreak havoc. Strictly speaking, would we be in this recession if the government and the Federal Reserve did not adopt a loose monetary policy for political reasons? Of course not. Would the housing market still be nearly frozen if the government would not have been so generous with the banks? Of course not. Would the cost of health insurance be so high if we allowed for competition across state lines? Probably not. At the end of the conversation, I pointed out that the solution to the problem, even the exaggerated “corporations are taking over the world” problem, is to limit the size and power of government and allow for an open free market that fosters competition and innovation. Without an ultra-powerful federal government, “evil corporations” could no longer be evil because they would be restricted to following laws, respecting contracts, and competing in the market. Most importantly, without an ultra-powerful federal government, we will finally unleash the power of American innovation and have a more free country. The libertarians seem to like the sound of what liberals say, but at least have a firm grasp of what being free means… I found it odd that the libertarian would take sides against corporations, but then again, he did see them as part of the big government nexus that is chipping away at our freedom. The libertarian ended up not being anti-business per se but did believe that special interests from all sides make the situation worse. He is right, but what this shows that in the larger national discourse, a lot of people who believe in freedom, responsibility, and limited government somehow are convinced by the Left that it’s the corporations that we need to destroy. For conservatives to win this battle for the hearts and minds of independents, we must emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for oneself and the centrality of American freedom… because what the Left offers as a solution is a complete government takeover of every aspect of society to ensure that their brand of “fairness” is the order of the day.
It was a fun discussion.