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Monday, November 29, 2004

Values Clarification

Carol Platt Liebau has an interesting article and a blogpost (actually, a series of posts) on the "values vs. issues" argument about the outcome of the last national election. One of the key arguments is over the effect of loosely-defined "values" vs. the national security issue. She asks whether nationalk security might actually be seen as a moral value. Consider: "...It is not without purpose that the ruler carries the sword; he is God's servant, to inflict his wrath upon the wrongdoer..." Romans 13: 4 And Romans 13 is not the only passage that makes clear that civil government has a primary role: creating fear in outlaws by means of the sword. Did the campaigns in Afganistan and Iraq improve our national security by means of punishing outlaws and creating fear of wrongdoing in other outlaws? Ask Qadaffi. But this is not solely applicable to so-called national security issues. We have outlaws a-plenty here at home, as well. The political class as a whole is talking about extending amnesty to one whole class of outlaws: illegal aliens (while disingenuously calling them illegal immigrants). Martha Stewart was sent to prison NOT for illegal insider trading but for asserting to investigators and the public that she did not engage insider trading. They say she lied, and so they sent her to prison for "lying" to them about something they did not even charge her with. Meanwhile, large numbers of U.S. Senators engage in insider trading on a regular basis and are given a bye. Jerry Pournelle has famously said (well, if it's not yet a famous saying, it ought to be), "We don't have a rule of law, we have so many laws that if all were enforced impartially we would every one of us be ruined by fines, or in jail, or both. And we know this." And this is one major reason why respect for lawful behavior is so low. When you can follow a speeding highway patrolman to his coffee break, you know that not even the law enforcement officers take traffic laws seriously--unless they want to write a ticket. And I doubt that there are many citizens who have not--probably unintentionally!--broken tax laws simply because the laws on what the government takes from our pockets to put in others' pockets are so arcane as to need a voodoo magister to keep them straight. With laws designed to make outlaws of everyone and civil government determinbed to NOT make horrible examples of violent outlaws who rape and steal and murder, is it any wonder respect for thr rule of law is a laughable concept today? A civil government determined to NOT horribly punish ("pour encourager les autres" [heh]) violent criminals and equally determined to have a big stick wherewith to beat citizens into submission, just in case they ever want to (as if that were a remote possibility--ask Martha) is an immoral government. The primary justification for civil government is to get the outlaws--those who would steal and kill and destroy--off the backs of common citizens. And there's not much else that is justifiable in our national government functions either biblically or constitutionally. Yep. Security is a moral values issue.