A Couple of Thoughts Upon Watching Sowell
A lunch break from Saturday activities is an excellent time to watch Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge interview with Thomas Sowell, not the least for Sowell’s one word of advice were the Obama administration to seek his counsel. Two individual points, though, sparked scribblings on my notepad.
In segment 2, Robinson reads from U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling on same-sex marriage, as follows:
The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for the belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples.
Put aside the naked absurdity of the statement, which it is only possible to believe if one has either closed one’s mind to the obvious or simply not interacted to a significant degree with people of both genders. Even granting the assertion (in a qualified and tentative way for argumentation purposes only), the appropriate response, from a legal point of view, is, “so what?” That is what democracy and elaborate structures of government are meant to accomplish: To allow people to vote and form the governments under which they live according to whatever principles they determine to be relevant, whether moral, religious, intellectual, economic, or whatever. It is not possible to devise a structure of rules that does not, at some level, conform with a particular moral or religious viewpoint except along a narrow scope determining how those with differing viewpoints can work to change the rules — and that requires prior agreement that opposing viewpoints shouldn’t be forbidden.
In segment 4, Robinson poses this question, paraphrasing a viewer:
It has been the case since the Constitution was enacted that special interests are concentrated while the general interest is diffuse, or that politicians could in effect purchase votes. Why do we have the problem now; what has happened in recent decades?
Sowell answers the question by citing the erosion of the values of the public, and while that is surely a broad, big-picture cause, I’d suggest that the more immediate cause — and the more remediable — is the crisis-point growth of the simple size and reach of government. The larger and more broadly powerful the governing body, the more incentive special interests have to concentrate their influence, including incentive to implicate broad groups of the public in the governing scheme by giving them handouts that they would be loathe to lose.