Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary Week 2815


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by Free Market Duck

Whose Collective Rights?

   As an Objectivist Libertarian, I thought about writing a story one day with all the characters as collective entities.  After all, that’s how the news media, pundits, and politicians describe the players in our culture, our society, and our economy today.  Congress and the news media frequently talk about the “public good” as if the “public good” was an individual with individual rights.  Laws are enacted for “society” or the “seniors” or the “children” or some other altruistic collective that, in fact, not only does not exist per se but also cannot have legal “rights.”  Why?  Because only individuals, not collectives, can logically have rights.  Bang, bang, Miss Public Good just shot Mr. Society.  Who do we prosecute?  Whose rights were violated?  And by whom?  The words who, whom, and whose applied to collectives in law, government, and economics become meaningless.  (Even corporations must eventually be reduced in law to an individual entity and its principals individually held liable.  Microsoft cannot be thrown in jail, but Bill Gates could.)

   Don’t get me wrong.  It’s OK and even necessary to refer to groups of people as a collective sometimes.  We have the San Francisco 49’ers and Manchester United, two different types of football teams.  We have Idahoans and Californians.  We have Africans and Indians.  We have the old ladies sewing club.  We have crippled children and old folks.  These collective descriptions are simply literary methods by which to categorize like-minded or similar-activity or same-condition individuals.

   The problem is:  what happens when we erroneously attempt to extrapolate our language for categorizing groups of individuals as collectives into the realm of individual rights and freedoms?  When we discuss the philosophical and practical basis for the establishment of government, law and economics, we should not make the mistake of transferring the parameters, or characteristics, of one paradigm (individual rights and liberties) to another (collective entities).  For the same reason that it would be a farce in a novel to claim that Miss Public Good shot Mr. Society, it is just as farcical in real life to claim that Mr. State should tax Miss Society for Ms. Public Education.  There are real individuals behind those collective names and, in many cases, they turn out to be the same people in all three groups.  The issue becomes confused when we illogically apply individual rights philosophy to collective entities that don’t really exist per se.  Logically reduced, the above sentence would read:  Joe Doe should tax himself for himself.

   Collective entities acting as if they were individuals would be a funny Broadway play, unless somebody tried to implement it in real life.  Welcome to Congress, both major political parties, the U.S. Supreme Court and essentially all of the professors at U.S. colleges and universities today.  Are we laughing yet?

   Collectivist philosophy is a big problem because we are already trying to implement it.  And it is, of course, failing.  So what’s the solution?  We must stop making the mistake of extrapolating individual rights philosophy to collective entities.  If we as Americans – or humans on Earth – want a peaceful, cooperative society with individual rights and freedoms as our basis, we must develop an individual rights philosophy and logically carry it through to our moral philosophy and its logical economic result:  true free market capitalism (not today’s fake free market), with a limited role for government, which is:  objective protection of individual rights to freely exchange or give.  On the other hand, if we want a continual warring society, run by democratic majority power groups (religious based or otherwise), with no individual rights except those granted by whichever power group happens to be in charge, then we should continue on our current path of collectivist politics, pretending that collectives can grant goodies from other collectives to special interest collectives – all in the name of some altruistic collective entity.

   As you can see, philosophy matters.  And the illogical attempt to implement illogical philosophy matters even more.  At our current rate of illogical implementation of collectivist statism, collectivist economics, and collectivist law, Mr. Economy should be bankrupt by Mr. Federal Reserve and Mrs. Congress in about 20 years, Miss Society should lose all of the rights to her own mind and body in about a year and a half, and Ms. Public Good will have been taxed to death BY herself and FOR herself incarnated as all those elusive collective concepts of Mr. Social Security, Miss Public Education, Mrs. Medicare, Ms. Medicaid, Miss Fannie Mae, Mr. Freddie Mac, Mr. Agricultural Price Supports, Miss Gross Domestic Product, and Big Brother’s closet full of government-subsidized blue suede shoes.

   Take your pick:  individual rights philosophy, or bang-bang, Miss Public Good shoots Mr. Society’s-Best-Interests in the Conservatory with The Revolver.

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