Archive for the ‘The Road To Serfdom’ Category

It’s a little break from blogging the relentless assault on Second Amendment rights.  It’s worth noting the same people who hate the free market are typically the same ones who hate firearms rights, or any citizen freedoms.

Except it’s not the bankers of the 1980s (the origins of which could be a series of posts on its own)… it’s the GOVERNMENT that’s going to be taking lands and homes away.

Via FOX:

Rancher Kevin Kester works dawn to dusk, drives a 12-year-old pick-up truck and earns less than a typical bureaucrat in Washington D.C., yet the federal government considers him rich enough to pay the estate tax — also known as the “death tax.”

And with that tax set to soar at the beginning of 2013 without some kind of intervention from Congress, farmers and ranchers like Kester are waiting anxiously.

“There is no way financially my kids can pay what the IRS is going to demand from them nine months after death and keep this ranch intact for their generation and future generations,” said Kester, of the Bear Valley Ranch in Central California.

Two decades ago, Kester paid the IRS $2 million when he inherited a 22,000-acre cattle ranch from his grandfather. Come January, the tax burden on his children will be more than $13 million.

For supporters of a high estate tax, which is imposed on somebody’s estate after death, Kester is the kind of person they rarely mention. He doesn’t own a mansion. He’s not the CEO of a multi-national. But because of his line of work, he owns a lot of property that would be subject to a lot of tax.

“Our number one goal is to repeal the estate tax, to get rid of it, not have it for every generation, when I die and my kids die and so on,” he told Fox News. “For everyone to have to re-purchase the ranch or farm over and over for each generation, that’s inherently unjust. So what we’re doing is asking our politicians to understand that and repeal the estate tax.”

Not going to happen, Kevin.  Your land is going away.  This is part of the plan to equalize wealth by destroying you.  It is unfair that you worked hard and earned something.

From a couple paragraphs later:

“The idea behind the estate tax is to prevent the very wealthy among us from accumulating vast fortunes that they can pass along to the next generation,” said Patrick Lester, director of Federal Fiscal Policy with the progressive think tank — OMB Watch.
Many Democrats argue the tax promotes equality among classes, especially in capital gains — or stocks passed from one generation to another. Since stocks are only taxed when they are sold, the government can’t profit from long-term investments without the estate tax.
“Very large portions of very wealthy estates are tied up in stocks and they have never been taxed,” said Lester. “The estate tax is one of the ways we make sure the wealthy pay a little bit more as an overall share of their wealth and income compared to low-income individuals.”

For those unfamiliar with how this idea works, I go to the first three planks of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx:

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

That’s what the Death Tax/Estate Tax is.  It’s the most critical part of communism – destroying wealth and destroying Jefferson’s ideal American, the yeoman farmer.  This is just calling for the liquidation of the kulaks.

Worth noting is who imported this communist drivel:

The estate tax dates back to 1916 when then-President Woodrow Wilson imposed the tax of 1 to 10 percent on the wealthy because World War I reduced federal government revenues. Under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the tax rose to 77 percent, as Congress tried to prevent wealth from becoming concentrated among a few powerful and super-rich families.

One used it to fund a war we didn’t belong in, the other to crush prosperous American citizens… in order to defend the existing rich from the new rich.  The Ruling Class kept the Country Class down, using the best tools of oppression – communist ideas.

From MSNBC:

German police officers fired a total of 85 bullets in 2011, 49 of which were warning shots, the German publication Der Spiegel reported. Officers fired 36 times at people, killing six and injuring 15. This is a slight decline from 2010, when seven people were killed and 17 injured. Ninety-six shots were fired in 2010.

Meanwhile, in the United States, The Atlantic reported that in April, 84 shots were fired at one murder suspect in Harlem, and another 90 at an unarmed man in Los Angeles.

I love these kinds of stories because they’re so simple in what they’re trying to imply, yet how quickly they fall apart as a narrative.  The clear objective of them is to show how wonderfully marvelous Europe, European government control, and enlightened Europe is, and how backwards and gun-oriented we are in the US.

People are free to make bad decisions in the US.  And once deadly force is used it’s deadly force, whether it’s one round fired or one hundred.

“Our police officers are no thugs in uniform,” Lorenz Caffier, interior minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said at a press conference Tuesday.

“It is gratifying that the use of firearms by police officers against people is declining,” Caffier added.

It’s gratifying only if there is a lack of crime that necessitates fewer violent encounters.  Otherwise the police could be running away or ignoring crime, especially in Gastarbeiter neighborhoods.

There’s a joke about the difference between heaven and hell.  They’re the same, except different nationalities have different professions.  In heaven, the English are the cops, the Germans are the engineers, the Italians are the cooks, the French are the lovers, and the Swiss run everything.  In hell, the Germans are the cops, the English are the cooks, the Italians are the engineers, the Swiss are the lovers, and the French run everything.

Thing is, there’s little comparison in those statistics.  The German police deal with a mostly homogenous, aging society that for the most part doesn’t have that much crime.  There’s also the argument that they lost a lot of alpha males and their genes in WWI and then WWII, so they don’t even have the risk-taking types who end up skirting the line and becoming criminals anyway.   The US has a naturally more volatile society, but we have a more free society.  We have multiple ethnic groups (and as posted recently, we even have illegal criminal invaders), we have a vast, free country that leaves people to their own ends to a greater degree than Germany.

Ultimately, a few criminals and the regrettable, tragic losses of life that come from conflicts with the law that aren’t resolved well are a small price to pay.  See, there’s a reason the “Germans are the cops” line applies to hell.

F.A. Hayek dedicated entire chapters in The Road To Serfdom explaining why the worst get on top in a socialist system (slightly less so in other systems) – because ultimately, such a system is totalitarian, and desires control.  A system which makes for a pacified society ultimately leads to the violence at the hands of government authorities and police as per in Germany’s not-too-distant past.  Otto von Bismarck’s socialist state that began offering government benefits set the stage for a government with more and more and more control.

Ultimately, many of the instruments of government control were already in place by the time things got far worse.

American law enforcement, where some 150+ officers were killed in 2011, and a greater number of criminals were killed, even when spread out over 300 million people, looks like a large number.  Assuming that American cops kill ten times the number of officers killed, we could guess there are some 1500 people killed by law enforcement each year (a few internet searches couldn’t pull up a real number, so I’m just making that up based on a 10:1 ratio).

Just because I’m making numbers up, let’s assume it’s more like 5,000 per year.  Totally made up number.  It will still take 1200 years of 5,000 per year to equal Germany just from their famous years, and that’s with Germany’s lowest estimate.  More than likely it’d take some 2400 years, and that’s not including East Germany’s actions for 40 years, the actions of the Kaiser or Bismarck before a decidedly anti-freedom Austrian made Germany’s police famous.

Mark Steyn writes about Obama’s budget fairytale and the “Buffet Rule”:

If the alleged Sage of Omaha is as exercised about this as his public effusions would suggest, I’d be in favor of repealing the prohibition on Bills of Attainder, and the old boy could sleep easy at night. But instead every other American “millionaire” will be subject to the new rule — because, as President Obama said this week, it “will help us close our deficit.”

Wow! Who knew it was that easy?

A-hem. According to the Congressional Budget Office (the same nonpartisan bean-counters who project that on Obama’s current spending proposals the entire U.S. economy will cease to exist in 2027) Obama’s Buffett Rule will raise — stand well back — $3.2 billion per year. Or what the United States government currently borrows every 17 hours. So in 514 years it will have raised enough additional revenue to pay off the 2011 federal budget deficit. If you want to mark it on your calendar, 514 years is the year 2526. There’s a sporting chance Joe Biden will have retired from public life by then, but other than that I’m not making any bets.

Let’s go back to that presidential sound bite:

“It will help us close our deficit.”

I’m beginning to suspect that the Oval Office teleprompter may be malfunctioning, or that perhaps that NBC News producer who “accidentally” edited George Zimmerman into sounding like a racist has now edited the smartest president of all time into sounding like an idiot. Either way, it appears the last seven words fell off the end of the sentence. What the president meant to say was:

“It will help us close our deficit . . . for 2011 . . . within a mere half millennium!”

It’s those fancy budget tricks again.  It’s forecasting savings on things not spent and on income that won’t materialize when businesses move elsewhere.

Well, who cares about corporations? Only out of touch dilettante playboys like Mitt Romney who — hmm, let’s see what I can produce from the bottom of the top hat — put his dog on the roof of his car as recently as 1984! That’s where your gran’ma will be under the Republicans’ plan, while your contraceptiveless teenage daughter is giving birth on the hood. “Corporations are people, my friend,” said Mitt, in what’s generally regarded as a damaging sound bite by all the smart people who think Obama’s plan to use the Buffett Rule to “close the deficit” this side of the fourth millennium is a stroke of genius.

But Mitt’s not wrong. In the end, a corporation doesn’t pay tax. The marble atrium of Global MegaCorp’s corporate HQ is indifferent to the tax rate; the Articles of Incorporation in the bottom drawer of the chairman’s desk couldn’t care less. Every dollar of “corporate” tax has to be fished out the pocket of a real flesh-and-blood human being, whether shareholder, employee, or customer.

Remember this?

That’s a “tax on the manufacture” of the vehicle.  It’s a business tax.

But you see that?  That’s the window sticker.  That tax is passed onto the consumer.

Taxing individuals who make $250,000 as robber baron slaveowner millionaires is just going to mean those small business owners and businessmen will simply increase the costs of their goods and services.  If the Fantasy Maid Service of Lubbock ends up having to pay a millionaire bill of attainder tax, then they’ll simply pass it on to their customers.  Ultimately, the increased prices hurt the business and crush them because they can’t expand if they can’t sell their goods and services to more people.

Sadly, they don't look like that. But they might someday... and then they'll be taxed into oblivion.

It’s a cheap cry for votes.  It’s pushing class warfare, with useful (though incredibly wealthy) idiots like Buffet supporting it.  While he may be wise in the ways of businesses he understands – note that he doesn’t invest in things he doesn’t understand – he’s unwise in government.  Or else he’s chosen to create barriers to entry for his competition, making sure that no one little can make it – it’s the “pulling up the ladder” phenomenon.

If you’re an employee making $30,000/year, you’re working along, and you need your job.  If you’re a business that grosses $500,000 and has ten employees to pay, you’re now a “millionaire” and the people who are going to hurt are going to be your $30K employees as well as the business as a whole.  If you’re a $44,000,000,000 investor that owns a hedge fund that is 88,000 times larger than that small business, you won’t feel that tax at all.  You buy and sell those ants for breakfast.  Your personal wealth is larger than the GDP of most African nations, and your life will never be changed by another tax.  You’ve got your money and it’s time to make sure no one else does.  You can regulate and tax everyone out of existence because you have an army of litigators and lawyers to protect you.

But the small business owner will be destroyed.

Either Buffet is insulated, short-sighted, and foolishly believes, as have the tyrannical dictators of socialist hellholes around the world and throughout history, that he is smart enough to run everyone’s life and knows what’s best for you – or – he’s intentionally creating further barriers to entry, ensuring that the world he has created will be maintained, calcified in a web of regulations and taxes that enshrines the old businesses that can never be harmed as government will protect and save them for pull.  He’s part of the Ruling Class, and has decided that he’ll run things from now on with his rich and powerful cronies… and the less rich and powerful will be demonized as “the real enemy”.  There will be the masters and the serfs, and the citizen burghers and kulaks will have to be destroyed as we are driven down this Road To Serfdom.

Milton Friedman discussing Friedrich Hayek’s the Road To Serfdom back in 1994.  As relevant again today as ever.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 2 is perhaps the more interesting of the two, especially around the 12 minute mark on.  Friedman points out that experience may be more important than the influences of books or television; and how people have seen the failures in the former Soviet Union and the successes in Asia and the Pacific where unfettered economies succeeded.  Arguably the internet and the 24 hour news cycle has become even more important, because it shortens the memory and lessens experience, but as he mentions, it’s a sophisticated question not easily answered.

Some important quotes:

If an experiment in private enterprise is unsuccessful people lose money and they have to close it down.  If an experiment in government is unsuccessful, it’s always expanded.

Particularly relevant to the health care debate:

The founders of our country believed in individual freedom, believed in leaving people be, letting them be alone to do… whatever they wanted to do.  But our government has been increasingly departing from those Constitutional principles.  You know there’s a provision in the Constitution that congress shall not interfere with interstate commerce.  That provision had some meaning at one time.  But it has no meaning now at all.  Our courts have ruled that anything you can think of is interstate commerce and so the government exercises extensive control over things that it has no business interfering with.

Around the 17 minute mark, Friedman begins dissecting the Federal Reserve.

At the 19 minute mark, Friedman discusses the collapse of the nation under debt.  His belief was that the changes in public perception were going to allow the people to halt the expansion of government.

In response to why socialists would be happier about the history of the last 50 years (before 1994, though it works the same today) at the 21 minute mark:

Because the story they tell is a very simple story – easy to sell.  If there’s something bad, it must be an evil person who’s done it.  If you want something done, you’ve got to do it – you’ve got to have government step in and do it.

The story Hayek and I want to tell is a much more sophisticated and complicated story.  That somehow or other there exists this subtle system in which without any individual trying to control it there is a system in which people in seeking to promote their own interests will also promote the well being of the country – Adam Smith’s invisible hand.  Now that’s a very sophisticated story.  It’s hard to understand how you can get a complex interrelated system without anybody controlling it.  Moreover the benefits from government tend to be concentrated.  The costs tend to be dispersed.  To each farmer the subsidy he gets from the government means a great deal.  To each of a much larger number of consumers it costs very little.  And consequently those who feed at the trough of government tend to be politically much more powerful than those who provided the wherewithal.

Eloquently stated and encapsulating the relationship between people and government very succintly.

Afterwards he breaks down what parties mean what – bringing up liberalism as classical liberalism, and states he’s libertarian in philosophy, though not party.  He mentions Hillarycare in passing as incredibly socialist.  The EIC that he mentions at the end he supported as a replacement for all welfare programs with the EIC, a “negative income tax”, that helps to establish a baseline income.  He ended up fighting against it, because as we all know, the EIC just became another welfare program, not a replacement for the patchwork of welfare that was already in place.

Well worth watching.

And as a reminder:

No, the other Hayek.

Milton Friedman on free markets, economics, and freedom.

The last in the series, with some advice on how to avoid the road to serfdom.

Though reading The Road To Serfdom might be a good way to learn how to avoid it.

From Chapter 11: The End of Truth

The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends.  To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the same ends. It is essential that hte people should come to regard them as their own ends.  Although the beliefs must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants.  If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.

This is, of course, brought about by the various forms of propaganda.  Its technique is now so familiar that we need say little about it.

Choice architectureNudge.  A velvet glove on the iron fist.

Hayek elaborates on pg 174:

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they, or at least the best among them, have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before.  The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen.  And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.  Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of the meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regime are expressed.

The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word “liberty.”  It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere.  Indeed, it could almost be said – and it should serve as a warning to us to be on our guard against all the tempters who promise us New Liberties for Old – that wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people.  Even among us we have “planners for freedom” who promise us a “collective freedom for the group,” the nature of which may be gathered from the fact that its advocate finds it necessary to assure us that “naturally the advent of all planned freedom does not mean that all [sic] earlier forms of freedom must be abolished.”  Dr. Karl Mannheim, from whose work these sentences are taken, at least warns us that “a conception of freedom modelled on the preceding age is an obstacle to any real understanding of the problem.”  But his use of the word “freedom” is as misleading as it is in the mouth of totalitarian politicians.  Like their freedom, the “collective freedom” he offers us is not the freedom of the members of society but the unlimited freedom of the planner to do with society what he pleases.  It is the confusion of freedom with power carried to the extreme.

A simple example is universal single-payer health care.  It’s to provide freedom from the evil insurance companies.  It provides “freedoms” as quoted here in remarks by a speaker at a press conference by Nancy Pelosi:

The new law has not only given me the freedom to stay covered, but has also freed me and my family from the fear that an insurer could drop me at any moment or limit me to go without treatment.

The “freedom to stay covered” is at the expense of someone else – at the expense of the individuals who make up an insurance company, or at the expense of the individual taxpayer.  Their freedom is traded for this patient’s priviledge.  Being “free” from “fear” that he could be dropped means that the insurer, or taxpayer, is now enslaved to his treatment.  He is now a guaranteed recipient of the labor of individuals, whether those individuals who also purchase insurance from a company, and now face increased premiums because of this government-protected claimant, or he is dependant on the taxpayer to cover his bill.  Ultimately, he is “free” only insomuch as he takes from someone else.

He is not free to choose a less expensive company, or free to go to a non-profit charity that would look out for his special case and would desire to help him – he is “free” by shackling others to his needs.  That is not freedom – that is parasitism enforced by the state.  Person A now must pay for Person B’s medical needs because Person B is “free” from the costs.

Hayek continues on pg 175:

In this particular case the perversion of the meaning of the word has, of course, been well prepared by a long line of German philosophers and, not least, by many of the theoreticians of socialism.  But “freedom” or “liberty” are by no means the only words whose meaning has been changed into their opposites to make them serve as instruments of totalitarian propaganda.  We have already seen how the same happens to “justice” and “law,” “right” and “equality.”  The list could be extended until it includes almost all moral and political terms in general use.

This is a major, major point.  This is why “liberals” today are intolerant, closed-minded people.  Virtually every aspect of who they are is the exact opposite of what they are.  They fight for “social justice” which is just redistribution, they fight for “human rights” that include health care, and even food – which cannot be rights – as they come at the expense of others.  They call themselves progressives, but they don’t progress towards greater liberty for the individual, they progress towards greater power for what the state “must do on your behalf“.  This is regressive, towards the totalitarianism of dictatorships and kings, not towards the greater well-being of the individual.  Liberal in Hayek’s day meant closer to what libertarian or even conservative means today.  Not what libertarian or conservative is demonized as by the political left/progressives, but what they actually are.

It is for this reason that conservative author/radio host Mark Levin refers almost exclusively to the left as statists, as their main function is to expand government to their own ends.  Also note that there are right-wing, or socially traditionalist/conservative statists, who are often simply a different brand of moralist from the leftist statist.  The leftist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking for your health and because it’s good for you, the rightist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking because it’s “fiend intemperance”.  The leftist statist will force you to drive a hybrid car because of his Gaia-worship, the rightist statist will force businesses to close on Sunday to keep the Sabbath holy.

A major difference is that a rightward traditionalist in America, a mindset which often goes hand in hand with the moralist, can still be reminded that a reason the country was founded, and indeed the 1st Amendment was written, was to escape state-mandated religion.  The leftist, by contrast, believes that history started last week, and will reject the past as outmoded and obsolete in their own quest for power and The Greater Good.  As Thomas Sowell writes in his book “The Vision of the Anointed”:

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

Returning to Hayek, pg 175:

If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion which it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates.  It has to be seen to be understood how, if one of two brothers embraces the new faith, after a short while he appears to speak a different language which makes any real communication between them impossible.  And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of the words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed conciously or unconciously to direct the people.  Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.

To sidetrack a while from the explicitly political, using a pop culture reference as an example, you can see how freedom has changed.  Most of the readers of this blog will know who this is.  On the off chance we have some very young readers or very old readers, this is Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots – the good guy Transformers.

His motto: “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”

Now consider this online discussion amongst a group of Transformers fans.  Here are a few lines from the discussion, starting off with forum member “Octavius Prime” (hereafter OP) citing a movie review that had this line:

(Movie Review): And when Optimus Prime, the chief good Transformer, declares that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” we know we’re in a Bush-era universe.

(OP): if the reviewers had done maybe 10 minutes of online research (say, on the Teletraan-1 wikia), they’d know that Prime has been spouting his line since before Bush’s dad was president. Moreover, what is so bad about freedom being a basic right? Isn’t that in the hugging Declaration of Independence? What is so quintessentially “Bush” about it?

(SD): Pretty much a case of people shooting words off before doing proper research, and an annoyingly over-liberal mindset. I mean, I don’t care for Bush, to put it lightly, but I also don’t wedge my political views into whatever I type/write.

(S): I can see how that line might be used by the likes of Bush to justify a war like Iraq (the lie that the war is all about human freedom rather than oil).

(PTP): Technically we were in a Regan-era universe when it was written, which isn’t all that much better…

(OP): Maybe, but I still don’t see how the motto that encapsulates democracy would be reduced to represent someone’s biased view of the Bush administration.

(D): I’d be hard pressed to vote for a president who didn’t believe in the basic right of freedom.  I mean there’s liberal, and then there’s blindedly liberal. Gah.

(TNG): I don’t really get why anyone would think that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” is a particularly conservative viewpoint. Definitions of exactly what freedom means may differ within the political spectrum but I don’t think you’d find many democrats arguing against freedom as a basic human right.

Liberals=progressives=statists, specifically here, anti-Bush statists, who are competing for the same space as state controllers.  Thus Freedom=Bush talking point.  Freedom=bad, to liberals, who are really progressives, who are really leftist-statists.  Also thus the word liberal, which is supposed to mean accepting of others, is now explicitly anti-freedom (even just in this discussion).  Liberal has gone so far as to also include Reagan and all non-leftist statists, thus even the original quote by Optimus Prime waaay back in about 1984 is rejected as being related to Reagan, Republicans, and therefore to a Liberal is a Bad Thing.

According to the leftist-statist, when Bush says freedom, it means ruthless oppression, even if it is freeing a nation from an actual ruthless oppressor.  Don’t bother them with the facts.  Criticism of a poor operational plan and shoddy intelligence (that leftist-statists agreed on) turned into a rejection of freedom in its entirety.  Leftist rejection of Bush-era domestic policies (that pretty much only targeted terrorists, but that should definitely be questioned in Constitutional interests) including the Patriot Act turned into Bush hates freedom.  This year when the Patriot Act was renewed by Barack Obama, without any of the reforms that were complained about during the Bush-era… well, Obama is still a good-guy to the leftist-statist, because he’s their guy there for The Greater Good.

Liberal is anti-freedom, freedom is oppression, progressive is statist.

Even the notions of left and right are reversed.  In France in 1789, at the French Assembly, the rebels who resisted the state sat on the left, while the supporters of the state sat on the right.  Except the French state was a monarchical state that didn’t represent the people, and had subjects, not citizens.  A rebel to the French state would be resisting tyranny.

The United States, by contrast, were formed by the people, for the people, and of the people.  The government was explicity designed to respond to the citizenry, and to be accountable to the citizenry.  The Constitution itself was a charter document designed to constrain any government to the initial agreement that the citizens had made when they settled on a government.  Consider first that the Declaration of Independence was a rejection of tyranny that called for the people to institute a government from the people, then consider that a government, instituted by the citizenry who choose their government, is how the democratic republic set up by the Constitution was designed.

Thomas Paine explains in concrete terms what a Constitution is:

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

The Constitution is static.  It is what the government is based on, and the laws that the government, in order to remain legitimate and existing upon the consent of the people, must adhere to.  Being on the left in the US and rejecting the established Constitutional order is rejecting a truly classically radical liberal document that enshines the rights and liberties of all citizens.  Being on the left is pushing for statism.  Being a conservative who wishes to conserve Constitutional principles is being a classical liberal, a radical libertarian – one who is opposed to the idea of a controlling state.

Religious liberalism and conservatism became injected into political liberalism and conservatism, as well as social liberalism and conservatism – but there is a wide gulf between what one preaches in one’s private or even public life, and what one inflicts through force of government.  Conservative has come to mean statist-religious, liberal to mean statist-humanist/statist-Gaia-or-Science-worshipper.

In this, the leftist-progressive-statist has changed the entire discussion by changing the meaning of words.  For another example: the religious-statist who would use force of government rather than persuasion has changed the word conservative to also mean moralist authoritarian – a term the leftist-statist is very much willing to embrace, as it drives people into their camp – to accept the “freedom from religion” that then turns into trying to destroy the religions of others – which is explicitly illiberal.  Another example: fascism was a brand of statist totalitarianism wherein the economic means of production were controlled by the state, but not always wholly owned.  Communists attacked fascists, with whom they were competing for the same leftist anti-capitalist statist-totalitarian space on the political spectrum, and accused fascists of being capitalist.  Fascism, descended from national socialism as opposed to communist international socialism, suddenly became its opposite, when the two are nary a hair’s breadth apart.  Yet the modern leftist-statist who favors socialism as an economic means to his Greater Good, will accuse someone who opposes them of being a national socialist.

Paine set up concretely what a Constitution is.  Those who support it, must support it for what it is.  It is a compact between we the citizen and those citizens we choose to serve us.  Words do mean something.  Our Constitution was established as a document that can change through the amendment process, but it is not to be manipulated until freedom means slavery.  But that is precisely what the leftist-statist has embraced (as well as the rightist-statist to a lesser degree).  George Orwell summed much of this up with his coining of the term “Newspeak” in his book “1984″ several years after The Road to Serfdom had been published.  As Orwell says in “1984″:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

Sadly, Orwell himself was a democratic socialist, basically a theory of benevolent socialism, but that can be the subject for another tl;dr post.

Lest I forget, the other Hayek:

Eventually I’ll just end up with pictures of chicks from Vienna to represent the Austrian School.