Gault's Gulch

December 23, 2009

Utopia

Filed under: Politics — John Gault @ 2:17 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

People often debate the great questions of life.  They argue about politics.  They argue about religion.  They argue about the Beatles vs. Elvis.  The problem is that people seldom consider what would happen if they won the argument.  What would the world look like if your personal philosophies of life, love, and death were suddenly the philosophies of the world at large?  What would your personal Utopia consist of?  Gault’s Gulch is a forum for me to share my personal philosophies with those who are interested enough (or bored enough) to read them.  It is also a forum for those who disagree with me to challenge those philosophies.  I feel, however, that those goals can be more effectively met if I provide a broad-stroke overview of “The World According to Gault”. 

The Government:

The government should have an extremely limited role in the life of the average human being.  It’s power should be limited to enforcing the explicit rights of individuals against the infringement or encroachment of others and providing those very few goods and services which are communal in their consumption and must, therefore, be communal in their production.  This means that beyond a police force and a court system, the government should, essentially, be limited to the role of providing for the common defense and building things–like roads–which would be impossible through the private sector.  The government should have absolutely no role whatsoever in “protecting us from ourselves” “giving people a hand up” “providing a safety net” or any other such nonsense.  This means no social security, no welfare, no income tax, no drug laws, no public education, and no I.R.S.  Fortunately for those of us who live in the United States, this was the government envisioned by our forefathers and provided for in the Constitution.  We need only to stop corrupting its content and ignoring its wisdom and we will have taken back that which we once had.

Economics:

I believe in pure, unadulterated, laissez-faire capitalism.  This is not the economic model of the Democratic or Republican party.  The former is quasi-socialist authoritarianism while the latter is quasi-authoritarian corporatism.  No, I believe that the free market should be allowed to function without the hand of government upon it and that individuals should be free to buy, sell, trade, save, gift, invest, or destroy the products of their own efforts without interference from anyone and in any manner they see fit.  The Federal Reserve should be abolished, the gold standard returned, and the Interstate Commerce Clause refined back to its original, constitutional power.  In Gault’s Utopia, money is a good thing as it is the universal representation of that which we have produced–and therefore contributed to society as a whole. 

Charity:

Charity is a personal choice.  In the perfect world, individuals would have the choice to donate the product of their efforts–money, time, goods, services, etc.–to whomever or whatever causes they saw fit.  One might believe that this is the case in today’s world, but one would be very, very wrong.  The government has, through its taxation policies and budget allocations, forced every American to give substantial percentages of their income to charities that were not chosen by them, but by the legislators who approved government funding for their cause.  Charity should be valued and encouraged as a gesture of caring and love for a cause that one deems valuable–but it should never be forced upon anyone for any reason.

Religion:

This is a tricky one at first because it is a topic where my feelings and my principles come into direct conflict with one another.  I am an atheist.  I do not believe in God, Heaven, Hell, angels, demons, spirits, ghosts, or miracles.  I further believe that while these superstitions have provided a great deal of comfort for a great number of people throughout the ages, they have also served as the basis for more suffering than any other causes throughout human history.  How many people have died unnecessarily in the name of God?  I further believe that God is an evolutionary security blanket that keeps humanity from “growing up” and facing the universe in all its beautiful, but frightening, glory.  Religion inhibits reason, logic, and critical thinking.  It retards scientific progress and it delays the advancement of the human race on every front from biology to politics.  On those grounds, I would love nothing more than to ban religions, superstition, and mysticism from my Utopia.  Unfortunately, this conflicts with my absolute dedication to personal liberty.  No one–not even me–has the right to tell another individual that they can not believe in anything they want or worship anything they see fit.  In my Utopia, there would be absolute religious freedom.  Religion, however, would receive absolutely no special status or protection in the world of Gault.  That means no tax exempt status on the operations or property of the church beyond that which is extended to any other legal entity.  The Catholic Church would be no different, legally, from Microsoft.  I would hope, however, that in my Utopia, the value placed upon logic and rationality would render religion obsolete pretty quickly–one can hope.

Individual Liberty:

As mentioned in the Religion section, Gault’s world would be zealously devoted to the guarding of individual rights and liberty.  No government in Gault’s Utopia would have the right to tell an individual citizen how to live their life in any way unless their actions were a direct infringement upon the rights of another citizen.  That seems self-explanatory, but modern government–including our American one–has so trampled the idea of civil liberty that people have been conditioned to not recognize what they actually are.  So here are some examples.  Theft, murder, assault, rape–these are easy.  They directly infringe upon the rights of others and so they are illegal.  Drugs of any kind–legal unless you force others to take them against their will.  Gay marriage–definitely legal.  Abortion–legal.  Drinking–legal.  Drunk driving-illegal.  Seat belts–wear ’em or not, your choice.  Simple, common-sense stuff. 

Much of what has been advocated for in this utopian vision may seem cruel to those who have been indoctrinated to believe that we each have an obligation to help those who have less than we do.  I would argue, however, that this long-held belief is the cruelest of all.  In my world, the individual is prized as the most powerful, resilient, innovative, intelligent force on Earth.  As such, he or she should be respected to make the best decisions for their own lives.  Those who succeed will do so with the knowledge that it was on their own merits that they did so.  Those who fail will do so with the same knowledge.  What more could one possibly want from life than the freedom to succeed or fail based on one’s own effort and ability?  What better world could we, as a people, ask for than one which rewards excellence rather than deficiency?

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6 Comments »

  1. Hey Gault!

    I wish I’d thought of this. I like it. Maybe someday I’ll do “Sirrahc’s World” or “The Nation of Sirrahc”….

    I resonate with a lot of what you say, particularly regarding The Government, Economics, Charity, Religion, and Individual Liberty. Oh, wait, that’s all of them. As a political conservative, of course, I echo much of what you propose for limited government, strong free-market, charity-at-will, personal responsibility, etc., though you seem to have a stronger libertarian streak than I do. As a conservative Christian, I naturally disagree with you on most theological and some philosophical issues, and I’m ambivalent on the tax-exempt thing, but as long as there is religious freedom….

    Nicely done.

    Sirrahc
    AViewFromTheRight.wordpress.com

    Comment by sirrahc — January 12, 2010 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  2. Thank you, Sirrahc.

    I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to find someone who doesn’t let their religious views stand in the way of agreeing with parts of another person’s ideology. Naturally, with my views on economics and government, I find myself leaning toward the company of conservatives far more often than their liberal counterparts. Unfortunately, as soon as the term “atheist” is brought to the table, I quickly find myself alone at the dance. Liberals love to court the atheist, but again, I’m left out in the cold the minute I start advocating the abolition of the fed or the privatization of social security. I have found that many people will reject, in total, the views another once they have found one area that they don’t see eye to eye on. That is a shame because it prevents the sharing of ideas and support among generally like-minded people and it promotes the idea that all conservatives are “X” and all liberals are “Y”, when, in fact, we all inhabit our own little personal address on the ideological spectrum. I shall enjoy reading your thoughts–whether here or on your own tiny corner of the blogosphere.

    Comment by John Gault — January 13, 2010 @ 10:45 pm | Reply

  3. I share your frustrations when some people can’t see past a particular issue to recognize that they can still agree on others and benefit from that agreement. I will work with anyone in common cause to, for example, fight legislation that pushes this nation further into socialism or twists/weakens the Constitution. On the other hand, I would part company with some of those people when it came to matters of a “secular vs. traditional” flavor. For example, you and I could work together to get Roe v. Wade overturned, then go our separate ways when it came to follow-up rulings and legislation about abortion rights. Not a problem.

    And, you’re right about political positions not being as simple as we often act as if. (Odd wording, there.) Rather than a two-dimensional spectrum, I think a foursquare grid or matrix would help visualize it better, since there is an array of economic/financial, socio-cultural, military/defense, and governmental (i.e., involving the powers & behaviors of the 3 branches) issues that are all part of the mix.

    See ya in the ether…

    Sirrahc
    AViewFromTheRight.wordpress.com

    Comment by Sirrahc — January 14, 2010 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  4. you guys are indeed lucky over there, with your constitution bill of rights… All you have to do is convince your countrymen to regain what you already had. We Brits did have a time when our state was small and limited, but it was never codified, there’s no piece of paper everyone swears to uphold. It’s going to be much harder to convince our people and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the only way We will ever get our freedom is through a bloody revolution like yours in 1776.

    Comment by wh00ps — January 21, 2010 @ 1:57 am | Reply

  5. First of all, thank you for your comment on the post Who Am I? — I Am a Humanist!

    When I wrote, “Who would not favor that kind of freedom, a society of no government, taxes, law, or regulation?” it was intentional. Of course, if it were to be considered seriously, it is a ridiculous, and meant to be cynical or sarcastic, statement, or perhaps tongue-in-cheek.

    The problem comes down to how we should define the role of government. To what extent should the government govern, especially in the control and administration of public policy as applied to matters of education, public health, safety, and welfare? Does the federal government even have a role? When education, public health, safety, and welfare needs are not or cannot be met with philanthropy or by the free market, I then say the individual state of federal government do have a role.

    Taxes not legislated by the federal government for education, public health, safety, and welfare will instead be legislated by the individual states – it amounts to six of one and half dozen of the other. Albeit, perhaps, the individual states may do a better job because they have a better handle on their education, public health, safety, and welfare needs than the federal government.

    I have read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I simply don’t believe in the philosophy of objectivism. Nor do I fully support her or your contention that somehow a capitalistic laissez-faire market is that utopian solution to all our problems; that markets can regulate themselves. I do not believe money is a good thing; it is instead a behemoth of an obstacle to human potential.

    But, to the extent we have a money-base economic system – that’s the reality — I don’t believe, however, Keynesian economics is a viable system. I do believe the Austrian school of economic thought, the philosophy of Adam Smith and that of Mises, Rothbard, and others, are viable. Mises’s Human Action is an outstanding praxiological treatise on economics. I believe we should return to the gold standard.

    I don’t consider myself to be an atheist, however, I don’t believe in a personal god. Beyond any economic, political, or social beliefs, I am first, and foremost, a humanist.

    So, in many respects, I am on the same page as you. But, what is missing in libertarianism and conservatism is empathic/compassionate concern for the plight of others. I don’t believe the needs of the indigent or infirmed would be satisfactorily met without modification of these ideologies/systems to address them. You are right, charity is a personal choice, and for that reason, private charity will never completely meet the needs of the indigent and infirmed in today’s world. For that matter, if defense came down to a personal choice to contribute or not, just what do you think would be the outcome.

    Comment by Rach — April 12, 2010 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

  6. There are a number of points here that I would like to address, so please bear with me…

    First, you stated that whether the federal government taxes the individual for education, health care, etc. or whether the states levee those taxes is “six of one, half a dozen of the other”. I couldn’t possibly disagree more strongly. One of those scenarios is sanctioned and approved by the constitution, the other is specifically prohibited by it. The governing document of our republic specifically enumerates the powers that are granted to the FEDERAL government and then, to underscore the point, goes out of its way to specify that all other powers belong to the states or to the people. So, what you call “six of one or half a dozen of the other”, I call “a legal tax or a crime by theft”. If I live in Illinois and they want to tax me for education or health care that I do not agree with, I should have the freedom to move to Missouri–where such a tax might not exist. Instead, the federal government has decided to circumvent the constitution and wield authority over issues it has absolutely no business being involved in. My choices, as a free American, are then greatly reduced.

    Second, I have to admit, I am extremely confused by your comments regarding economics. You decry objectivism and laissez-faire economics–even going so far as to villify money itself as an obstacle to human potential. Then, in the very next breath, you endorse Von Mises, Smith, and Rothbard. I think that if you visited the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, you would find a copy of Atlas Shrugged on every bookshelf. I simply don’t understand how one can make these two contradictory statements. Follow me for a second…I’m paraphrasing, but basically you said that you deplore money and would PREFER a society which did not use it. Surrendering to pragmatism, however, you realize that we do use money, and that is unlikely to change, so given that reality, you endorse Austrian economics, Mises, etc. Here’s the problem though. Your PREFERRED worldview has already been endorsed by an economic philosopher–Karl Marx. Even if you capitulate to the fact that his ideology is impractical, how does one justify the embrace of Austrian economics (which is as diametrically opposed to socialism as a philosophy could possibly be) as a “second choice”? That would be like saying that one would “prefer” to be Jewish–but since the little hat doesn’t flatter your head, you’ll settle for the Church of Satan as a “practical second choice”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a staunch advocate of Austrian economics and the ideas of those free-market economists that you mentioned–I just find the inconsistencies of your ideology curious.

    Lastly, I would simply argue that by “helping” the indigent and infirmed, you are simply perpetuating their circumstances. The only reason we have a government and a society that is wealthy enough (for now, at least) to consider helping the less fortunate is because we have subscribed to capitalistic, free-market policies for the majority of our existence as a nation. The culture of entitlements and forced charity that has existed since FDR, however, has only served to do two things: create a multi-generational class of government-dependant people without the skills it takes to make it on their own, and drive the country so deep into debt that, regardless of your ideology, it will not be able to fund this “assistance” much longer.

    Comment by John Gault — April 14, 2010 @ 8:21 am | Reply


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