Friday, August 04, 2006

The Problem With "The Public Good"

There is a classic and ever-present illusion that seems to be pushed by many policitians. This illusion is the notion of "the public good", leading towards the notion that society as a whole has rights of its own the supercede the rights of the individual. But society is not an individual that chooses, acts and thinks on its own. Society is merely a term used for the cumulative result of the individuals that make it up. It is made up of independant individuals that choose, act and think on their own. Inherently, there is some level of diversity and conflict between the choices, actions and thoughts of varying individuals.

Each individual chooses, acts and thinks in a way in which they percieve is their own good. This is inherently based on subjective value judgements. Thus, one cannot realistically attribute a particular value judgement to every single individual in the entire world or everyone in a particular country. Unfortunately, politicians often make positive laws that conflict with the freedom of the individual to choose, act and think freely without the use of force. They impose a particular value judgement onto the multitude through uniformity. But no matter what the government does, human nature will continue to exist; people will always have their own individual thoughts, choices and actions.

By treating society as a whole as an individual in its own right, with a concience, choices and actions of its own, the reality of the individual and their cooperation with others dissapears from sight. This functions to obscure things. If 150,000 people voted to murder and enslave 100,000 other people, or 2 other people - it would not be legitimate. If 80% of the country was Muslim or Atheist, it would not be legitimate to make such things official and mandatory state edicts. If a majority of Americans are scared of fatty foods, it would not be legitimate to illegalize fatty foods. Neither "the whole" nor the majority can legitimately violate the rights of the individual. It is not "the public good" to ban smoking in all restraunts in an entire state, it is special priviledge to anti-smoking advocates to the deteriment of both buisinesses and smokers.

And thus, we see that "the public good" is often invoked to harm the individual. In reality, one group is being given special priviledge at the expense of others. "The public good" is so broad that it can be interpreted to mean whatever the individual wants it to. Some may think that going to war with Iraq is in "the public good", while in reality it is harmful to the individual's liberty at home and abroad. Others may think that it is "the public good" to illegalize or ban books with controversial political ideas and philosophies in it.

Others think that it is "the public good" to raise taxes on the middle class and rich. Some think that centralizing executive powers is for "the public good". Others think that trade barriers and outright gun ownership bans are for "the public good". In either case, there is an exploiter and an exploited, not a general good for everyone. One group of individuals benefits at the expense of others. The individual's liberty is violated. There can never objectively be a "public good" beyond the consistant application of rights of the individual.

When the government spends tax dollars to fund foreign elections, provides military-grade weapons to questionable foreign countries, sets crippling income taxes on the middle class, compulsorarily sends people off to die fighting a war in some desert or jungle, increases government control over the media and censorship, accumulates massive and unpayable deficits, avoids habeus corpus, invokes unilateral executive power, inflates the money supply, and arrests people for owning an ounce of marijuana - the "public good" is not being served in any way at all.

The individual is being drained of their well-being and economic prosperity to benefit special interests. All of those dollars have been taken AWAY from the good and interest of the individual and deflected towards the interest of the individuals that make up the state and those that ally with the state for special priviledges. The wealth of the individual is slowly sapped and transfered to the state and its allies, which is often big buisiness and establishment intellectuals. It is not "the public good", it is the violation of liberty that disguises itself in rhetoric about "democracy", "the general welfare", "the public good" and such absurdities.

Critics of freedom and capitalism often try to use the fact that individuals are fallable beings that act in their self-interest to "prove" that big government is necessary to attend to "the public good". But it should be obvious that the state is also made up of human beings. The individuals that make up the state are also fallable human beings that act in their own self-interest. They are no more wise, experienced or moral then any other human being. It is for this reason that "the public good" is a sham. Government will always be a seperate instution from society itself, and it will always persue its own self-interest. Its own self-interest is often in conflict with the rights and self-interest of the individual and of the multitude at large.

Of course, a state's most fundamental self-interest is to retain and expand its power. The notion of "the public good" functions as a perfect collective construct to obtain the trust and support of the masses. The politician dupes many people into thinking that they are going to reprsent them as individuals and as a group, but that trust is transfered into power. That power can still be used however its weilder pleases. Even when a politician "brings home the bacon", the bacon is at the expense of other individuals within society. In either case, it is against the individual's liberty and should be treated as such. The consequences of this illusory and collectivist ideal of "the public good" is some form of socialism.

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