Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Three Commentaires of the Day

All are worth reading in full. Here’s a sample. Robert Reich on the GM Bailout:

The only practical purpose I can imagine for the bail-out is to slow the decline of GM to create enough time for its workers, suppliers, dealers and communities to adjust to its eventual demise. Yet if this is the goal, surely there are better ways to allocate $60bn than to buy GM? The funds would be better spent helping the Midwest diversify away from cars. Cash could be used to retrain car workers, giving them extended unemployment insurance as they retrain.

But US politicians dare not talk openly about industrial adjustment because the public does not want to hear about it. A strong constituency wants to preserve jobs and communities as they are, regardless of the public cost. Another equally powerful group wants to let markets work their will, regardless of the short-term social costs. Polls show most Americans are against bailing out GM, but if their own jobs were at stake I am sure they would have a different view.

Megan McArdle writes a couple of very provocative posts on anti-abortion extremism and what to do about it. I hesitate to select from the, because I will take away the nuance, but I will do so, in order, I hope, to spur people to read them in full:

I think the analogy to slavery is important, for two reasons. First of all, it was the last time we had an extended, society-wide debate about personhood. And second of all, as now, there were structural political reasons that it was much harder--nearly impossible--to change slavery through the existing political process. . . . .

And if I look at my own reasoning, well, frankly, it’s not even reasoning. I’ve never sat down and thought, "how do I know that Africans are human beings?" I know. And I’m enough of a Chestertonian to be okay with that way of knowing. But presumably if I’d been raised in 1840 Alabama, I’d know just as certainly that they weren’t.

That post builds upon

this post:

We accept that when the law is powerless, people are entitled to kill in order to prevent other murders--had Tiller whipped out a gun at an elementary school, we would now be applauding his murderer’s actions. In this case, the law was powerless because the law supported late-term abortions. Moreover, that law had been ruled outside the normal political process by the Supreme Court. If you think that someone is committing hundreds of gruesome murders a year, and that the law cannot touch him, what is the moral action? To shrug? Is that what you think of ordinary Germans who ignored Nazi crimes? Is it really much of an excuse to say that, well, most of your neighbors didn’t seem to mind, so you concluded it must be all right? We are not morally required to obey an unjust law. In fact, when the death of innocents is involved, we are required to defy it.

As I say, I think their moral intuition is incorrect. The fact that conception and birth are the easiest bright lines to draw does not make either of them the correct one. Tiller’s killer is a murderer, and whether or not he deserves the lengthy jail sentence he will get, society needs him in jail for its own protection.

And John Hasnas on the seen, the unseen and emphathy:

One can have compassion for workers who lose their jobs when a plant closes. They can be seen. One cannot have compassion for unknown persons in other industries who do not receive job offers when a compassionate government subsidizes an unprofitable plant. The potential employees not hired are unseen.

One can empathize with innocent children born with birth defects. Such children and the adversity they face can be seen. One cannot empathize with as-yet-unborn children in rural communities who may not have access to pediatricians if a judicial decision based on compassion raises the cost of medical malpractice insurance. These children are unseen.

Discussions - 1 Comment

I for one don't feel badly for the workers...it was the unions (in collusion with stupid short-sighted management) that destroyed GM. In the end, GM had a kind of disease whereby it couldn't possibly take in enough profit to cover its commitments in pensions and wages. Even in quasi-socialist environments, there is no escaping the marketplace. This new arrangement will not fix a thing because the paradigm hasn't changed. Whenever a company is seen primarily as a welfare engine (rather than a profit-making device), you can bet on being "selected against" over time.

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