Judging King’s legacy

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

THE ONLY JUDGE SHOW worth watching, in my opinion, is Judge Andrew Napolitano’sFreedom Watch.”

It being MLK Day, I’ll venture that the libertarian Judge Nap understands the real issues in the black community better than most of the black politicians, black pundits and black blabbers who fill the media stage on days like today, proferring oratory, sanctimony and slogans but rarely solutions.

The judge invited a panel of two conservatives, one libertarian, and one token liberal — all black — for a penetrating, politically incorrect discussion of what’s holding back such a large segment of our community.

Contrary to cherished belief and wishful thinking, most of the factors have to do with interventions by government, and dependency thereon.

* Example: the ridiculous and lost “War on Drugs” that only creates a government-sponsored oligopoly for crime organizations. This gives them a huge mark-up on their product and fuels the violence, corruption, and disrespect for law that plagues cities today. It provides most of the human fodder for the prison-industrial complexwhich has reinstituted slavery, and has ruined tens of millions of lives of nonviolent offenders who simply ingested, smoked, or provided to others (wisely or not)  the substance of their choice.

* As Star Parker (former self-described “welfare brat”) points out, part of the problem also is the black middle class’ heavy dependence on another government gravy train: government employment. It can be tough to criticize — or even clearly see — the problem with bloated, corrupt, wealth-sucking bureaucracies when you work for one.* Like a real libertarian, Judge Nap even calls out the Founding Fathers on their hypocrisy (often vastly overstated and decontextualized by the left, but still real) in failing to eliminate slavery. But the judge points out a subtlety most folks miss: it was desire for bigger, more centralized government (or as the Federalists called it, “a more perfect union”) that enshrined slavery and the slave trade (for a time) in the national Constitution, and made future conflict much more likely.

Of course, Nap goes after the deified Abraham Lincoln as well, who actually wanted to ship blacks back to Africa. Judge pointed out that Lincoln’s war unleashed a wave of unnecessary carnage and paved the way for top-down slavery of everyone by a centralized government. He reminds us that “it is oppressive governments … that have killed and enslaved” throughout history.

Kudos, Judge, for calling it right down the middle and putting principle – not politics – first.

I think the judge and his guests (except for the token liberal, who predictably, blamed all problems on racism) were right, except for one missing element — one that completes the freedom that Judge upholds, and makes it truly available to everyone. The piece that’s missing from Austrian-style libertarianism is genuine equal opportunity.

While every fairly consistent libertarian opposes all the obvious government waste, fraud, subsidies and privileges, and while slashing government (starting in Washington) would go a long way toward instituting justice, it’s not enough. There are invisible, unacknowledged privileges that are created and are enforced by the state, yet masquerade as “private enterprise.” This class of privilege is so subtle in nature, and so commonplace and entrenched in our way of life, that most well-meaning liberty-minded folk miss it. The leading authorities of the Austrian school, I’m afraid, have consciously obscured this issue, as did Ayn Rand and her Objectivist followers. And that’s a shame, because earlier libertarians recognized it; and in her famed work Atlas Shrugged, Rand herself hints at having understood the principle that separates real libertarianism from royal libertarianism. Sadly, however, she never followed up on it.

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