We lay the Soap Opera of a Year 2020 to rest and prepare to launch America into an uncharted 2021. Yet "the fundamental things apply as time goes by." So … pause with me momentarily to consider how the secret recipe for the pursuit of happiness is "hidden in plain sight" in a pledge we all have taken but now honor only in part.
We all (me included), conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats, tend to be in violation of a crucial piece of the Pledge of Allegiance, our national oath. We have all taken it so many times it has become rote. Pity. It's not empty rhetoric. It's an exceptional credo: "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
America's presenting social ills are largely caused by the conservatives' under-emphasis of justice and the progressives' under-emphasis of liberty. Both are crucial. They're complementary, not contradictory.
A word to conservatives.
I have written elsewhere how conservatives' abdication of a commitment for justice is morally and politically indefensible. Justice is the foundation of the conservative worldview. I cringe when I hear a politician talking "law and order." The right formulation is "law and justice."
The great legal sage William Blackstone, in his Commentaries, observes:
"As, therefore, the Creator is a Being, not only of infinite power, and wisdom, but also of infinite goodness. … For He has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. … This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God Himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original."
Justice is a moral imperative. It also is politically inane to allow progressives to monopolize a claim to the commitment to justice.
Now a word to progressives.
Giving short shrift to liberty in preference to justice is morally and tactically wrong. Both are requisite. Obsessing over inequality is a perversion of the legitimate critique of inequity.
When I was born, in 1952, the American economy per person, adjusted for inflation, averaged $23,000 (nominally $2,349). In 2019, it's $65,000. During my lifetime Americans have grown, on average, almost three times wealthier. Inequities exist. It is morally and politically imperative to address these, especially those based on the enslavement of ancestors.
Yet, the vast majority of us really are much better off.
No "trickle down" about it!
Prosperity helps people flourish. Yo, progressives! It is morally and politically wrong to impose penury by strangling free markets in the name of achieving "equality." Nobody aspires to equality of poverty.
One can legitimately introduce and expand social insurance programs in matters such as healthcare and education without infringing liberty. Hayek himself, a socially conscious free marketer, propounded exactly that. Government produces misery by meddling in the markets. Yet it's fine for the state to create social insurance programs funded by taxation. That's "social democracy," not "democratic socialism." From The Road to Serfdom:
Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance — where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks — the case the for the state's helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. … [T]here is no incompatibility in principle between the state's providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom.
Americans aspire to equitable prosperity. Not to equal austerity.
Progressives trademarked "equitable." Conservatives patented "prosperity." (I myself founded the Prosperity Caucus around 30 years ago.) Both virtues are essential.
As Sen. Barry Goldwater said in his ringing 1964 presidential acceptance speech: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
Let's both defenders of liberty and pursuers of justice unite to honor Goldwater's credo. Let's rededicate ourselves to both. The secret recipe for that very American commitment to the pursuit of happiness is hidden in plain sight. We are all pledged to it.
So, in 2021 let's honor, in full rather than only partially, our pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Happy New Year!
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as co-founder of and senior counselor to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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