On Sunday, February 1st the Cato Institute published a full page advertisement in five of the most widely circulated newspapers in the country. The advertisement begins with this quote from president Obama:
“There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will jumpstart the economy”
The advertisement then proceeds to give a brief rebuttal citing the futility of Hoover and Roosevelt’s “stimulus package” to pull the United States out of the Great Depression, and of the failure of the Japanese government’s massive spending to lift its economy out of the doldrums of stagnation. Finally, after a line or two about what policies the government should actually implement and why, it goes on to list the names of some 250 faculty members from various colleges across the country who agree with what the rebuttal says.
Briefly, it should be evident that Cato took out the advertisement to do more than just refute Obama’s claim that there was zero opposition to the passing of the stimulus bill he supports. Obama knew his claim was a lie when he said it, and I trust you did, too. Just witness the Republican vote in the House (all opposed).
The point of contention that Cato really has with Obama’s blanket statement, in fact, is that the bill itself is not going to help the government “jumpstart the economy”, but would rather further impede the type of economic growth it so desperately wants to foster. While I certainly accept the validity of the argument Cato is making regarding the consequences of governmental intervention in the economy, they completely– and consciously- omit the sole concept that can blast away Obama’s claim that he can take your wealth without your consent: rights.
Individual rights (a necessary redundancy in today’s intellectual climate) exist and are absolute. Unfortunately, Cato does not understand the nature of rights and as a consequence cannot userights to oppose this bill which will violate them in no uncertain terms. This shameful advertisement is a prime example. Cato merely calls for the lowering of taxes and a reduction in the burden of government. In other words, Cato doesn’t mind the violation of rights Obama’s calling for per se, it’s the extent to which he is violating them that is the problem.
These types of responses to Obama’s rights-violating legislation will be ineffective because they are pragmatic in nature. They inevitably lead to half-way concessions that puts one on a dangerous and slippery slope. The reason that a defense based on rights is effective is because it is one of principle. There can be no compromise in respect to rights; they are either respected or violated.
Cato is absolutely correct about the fact that to the extent our rights our violated, we will be worse off. However, until Cato and their brethren learn to defend our rights not on the utilitarian grounds of what’s best for the economy like this advertisement does but rather on the principle of rights- the very thing this country was founded on- these pieces of legislation will inevitably continue and the citizenry of this country will fall further and further down the slope.