Theories are dueling

To the Journal editor:

We are in a spirited national debate between proponents of limited government and supporters of the modern administrative state.

The notion of collective rights is wholly the invention of the Progressive founders of the nanny state, who are supplanting the principles of limited government. They regard, what the Founding Fathers called the rights of human nature, is an enemy of collective welfare, which should always take precedence over individual rights.

For Progressives, then and now, the welfare of the people, not liberty, is the primary purpose of government. One example is today’s gun control hysteria – the idea that professional police forces make the armed citizen unnecessary; that no individuals should be responsible for the defense of themselves and their families, but should leave it to the experts. The concept of individual rights and responsibilities, is in fact, incompatible with the Progressive vision of the common good.

That way of thinking was alien to America’s founding generation, for whom government existed to secure individual rights. Madison stated that all “just and free government” is derived from a social compact – the idea embodied in the Declaration of Independence, which notes that the “just powers” of government come from the “consent of the governed.’

The modern administrative state began with the New Deal under FDR. Since then, the politics of patronage corrupted the Democratic Party, which reflects the statism and paternalism embodied in Progressive politics.

Clientism: The process of purchasing cohorts of voters with federal handouts. Under FDR, liberalism became the politics of creating an electoral majority from a mosaic of client groups through quantitative liberalism – (favors measured in quantities of money.)

In democratic politics, government goes beyond equal protection of law and undertakes to allocate wealth and opportunity. That is what redistribution of income and crony capitalism is all about.

Quantitative easing: Printing of money to pay for the borrowing that supports deficit spending. Increasing the supply of money contributes to inflation – a huge hidden tax on consumers that makes the things we buy more expensive.

Regulatory capture: Protection of favored interests with government laws and regulations. Also called rent seeking, this is part of the struggle between constitutional order and utopian statism. Examples include the law that mandates the use of ethanol in gasoline – the government picking winners and losers – and the 6,500-plus waivers from burdensome and expensive requirements of Obamacare granted to politically connected supporters of the Obama administration.