July 4, 2011

"[N]ew Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Most likely!

Seems most likely...

That's almost devil-may-care! Are we playing the odds here?

What if some big project today, something much less momentous than an all-new government — let's say Obamacare — were presented on the theory that it seems most likely to make us safe and happy.

You'd scream no, wouldn't you? You'd blog/comment with derision and contempt at the dangerousness of radical change. Wouldn't you?

34 comments:

timmaguire42 said...

No, we'd disagree with their assessment of what is most likely to make us safe and happy.

Triangle Man said...

This simply describes rational decision-making in the face of uncertainty. One makes the best choice with the available information. As timmaguire42 pointed out, there is plenty of room for debate.

Ann Althouse said...

As we figure out the odds -- counting likelihood -- the majority wins.

Accept the calculation of future happiness that is Obamacare!

PJ said...

Are you seeing tension between the "light and transient causes" passage previously quoted and the "preponderance" test invoked here? It seems to me that the other passage was an observation about human nature -- we're risk-averse -- and this one acknowledges the way in which decisions are necessarily arrived at in a democracy (especially a pre-Constitutional democracy). In the example of Obamacare, like any other proposal, this sets up an argument between "This doesn't seem very likely to effect Safety and Happiness" and "You only say that because you're biased against change." But nothing subject to democratic process can be decided by any standard other than "seems most likely."

Skyler said...

"You'd scream no, wouldn't you? You'd blog/comment with derision and contempt at the dangerousness of radical change. Wouldn't you?"

If it meant more government intrusion, you're darn right I would.

If it meant less intrusion, I would cheer. It's not the idea of change that matters, it's the type of change.

PJ said...

As we figure out the odds -- counting likelihood -- the majority wins

As I recall it, the polls were against Obamacare when the pols enacted it. And I'm skeptical about whether calculations concerning the general Safety and Happiness drove that vote.

rhhardin said...

I always just assumed the Declaration of Independence was boilerplate to annoy the king.

The Crack Emcee said...

I agree with the other commentors. My favorite line from the Declaration, BTW, is "let facts be submitted to a candid world," which I used for the title of an album back in the '90s - proving my conservative bonafides, again, long before I understood that's what they were. That's such a stunningly powerful line, capturing the epic - and international - nature of what they were doing.

I just may use it again for the second leg of my journey.

Saint Croix said...

I think Jefferson was inspired by God when he wrote the Declaration. Not kidding. For a political document it's almost artistic.

And humble.

Contrast that humility with somebody saying, "Elect me and I will stop the oceans from rising."

There are many people who are corrupted by power, and they talk and act as if they are above us, god-like. We see it over and over. Dictators who kill innocent people. Supreme Courts who define human beings as non-persons.

I think the Framers were people who understood how dangerous power is, and how unequipped we are to handle it.

Thomas Jefferson on slavery: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

Saint Croix said...

Putting up statues and monuments to politicians (even good ones) is very close to idolatry, I think.

It's a great sin to worship the state.

Lucien said...

Yes, there is a lot of risk & uncertainty to be encountered in such an endeavor, which is why, in part, "all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

Saint Croix said...

If we named an airport after Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, liberals would freak out.

In Savannah there are a few monuments to doctors and people like that. But most of the monuments you see are promotions for the state. Presidents, generals, warriors.

It's almost as if the people who put up these monuments think that the state is all-important.

And of course we put our leaders on our money. Again, just like the Romans.

What really freaks liberals out? "In God We Trust."

Just a little reminder that there is a God. And that the state is not it. Ooooo, liberals hate that.

I think liberals hate corporations and churches because they are competition to an all-powerful state.

You want to hear an atheist liberal slogan? "Government is my church."

Yikes.

Saint Croix said...

You think Obama is offended by the term "Obamacare"? Or do you think he secretly likes it?

Hagar said...

Thomas jefferson raised slaves to sell, so he had good reason to tremble.

Hagar said...

or he would have, if he actually believed in a "just and vengeful God," which many of his contemporary peers believed he did not.

chr1 said...

I get that Obama worked on Chicago's South Side, and dealt with babies having babies, people getting over on other people...the struggle.

I think extending moral concern to these areas and these people is an overall good (though using politics to expiate our moral sins is dangerous). City politics is almost always corrupt.

It seems Obama as president is a guy who probably sees help as extending from agencies, and resources to be diverted from the pie (the most common Lefty redistributionist logic) to alleviate the suffering of individuals. Some vague universalist principals seem to be bouncing around inside his head.

After all the hope and change election confetti sprinkles to the ground though, you're left with politics, and power politics, and Obamacare, and terrible economy and an inexperienced leader with political mouths to feed (unions, activist groups, greens, blacks, la Raza, gays, NY Times true believers...the party machine).

And he seems to still be preparing grand oratory for yet another group of virgin ears who ought to be "transformed" by this great symbol....

Saint Croix said...

Thomas jefferson raised slaves to sell, so he had good reason to tremble.

Yeah, I know. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Everybody knows that. It's the one thing we want everybody to know about Jefferson. What a hypocrite. Why listen to Jefferson, he owned slaves.

Our grandchildren will call us the baby-killing society. So have a little sympathy for Jefferson.

Jefferson probably thought his own slaves were treated well. "I feed them and care for them and they all like me." I imagine he was thinking about the slaves of other people. That's why he was trembling for his country, and not himself.

It's so much easier to see the sins of your fellow man.

And it's really, really easy to feel superior to a man in the 18th century. "Ha ha, we know more than you, Jefferson. You slaveowner. We've progressed! You're so backwards."

Meanwhile, up in the advanced 21st century, we inject poison in the neck of any baby with Down's.

somefeller said...

It's so much easier to see the sins of your fellow man.

It's funny seeing this comment come from you, Saint Croix, given that your comment @8:50 was basically one stream of strawmen and a listing of sins of your fellow men that only exist inside your head.

Saint Croix said...

It's funny seeing this comment come from you, Saint Croix, given that your comment @8:50 was basically one stream of strawmen and a listing of sins of your fellow men that only exist inside your head.

"Government is my church" was a slogan in the lefty movie, The Contender. That's so over-the-top I could never invent it.

somefeller said...

"Government is my church" was a slogan in the lefty movie, The Contender. That's so over-the-top I could never invent it.

Wow, it was in a fictional movie that few people have seen. (That film wasn't exactly Titanic or even Pulp Fiction in terms of fame or box office.) It therefore must be part of the Democratic Party platform and the secret liberal lexicon.

gregq said...

If someone told me they knew what form of government would, always and everywhere, be guaranteed to best effect people's "safety and happiness", I'd laugh in his / her face. For one thing, safety and happiness are often polar opposites, so the question as to where one should place the balance point is always going to be a point of contention.

All anyone can ever do with politics is make choices that seem like the best choices at the time. My problem with ObamaCare is that it's a bad choice, driven by values that are antithetical to the values that have made America the great country that it is.

edutcher said...

The odds were a lot longer in them thar days. Life really was nasty, violent, brutish, and short.

If you lived away from the coast, there were marauding Indians. No police departments in the cities; that John Nock pistol might be the only law you had.

No antibiotics, so infection was often a death sentence.

The very old were rare and the very young were almost expected to die.

They seem to have felt they had little to lost. Of course, about a sixth of the population - the Loyalists - disagreed.

somefeller said...

It's so much easier to see the sins of your fellow man.

It's funny seeing this comment come from you, Saint Croix, given that your comment @8:50 was basically one stream of strawmen and a listing of sins of your fellow men that only exist inside your head.


Hardly. No strawmen, just his thoughts, and most of them the opinion of better than 40 percent of this country.

"Government is my church" was a slogan in the lefty movie, The Contender. That's so over-the-top I could never invent it.

Wow, it was in a fictional movie that few people have seen.


Doesn't matter who saw it. It's the way the Democrats think.

Saint Croix said...

It would be kinda weird for the Democratic party to officially say, "Government is our church." I wouldn't expect that. I was shocked that Hollywood would put out a movie that says it.

Here is Obama, redesigning the American flag so that it is part of a giant O.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c7vmt2ENpak/TXcnjh5pQbI/AAAAAAAAAIM/CSynWIEt3EA/s1600/obama_08_icon.jpg

"I am the state." I think it was King Louis XIV who said that.

If they started putting giants posters of Obama on walls of buildings, would you object?

http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sfgate/nov05election/2008/08/28/barack-is-hope274x412.jpg

somefeller said...

Here is Obama, redesigning the American flag so that it is part of a giant O.

Wow, a campaign logo that utilizes American flag iconography. Shocking. Never seen that before.

If they started putting giants posters of Obama on walls of buildings, would you object?

If it's on private property and the owner wants it there, I wouldn't. Free speech and all.

And on your first points, there's nothing statist about honoring victorious generals and great statesmen. It's called patriotism and is as much a part of our national DNA as fireworks on the Fourth of July. Also, I suspect most liberals wouldn't care much about renaming airports (a la Reagan National or Bush Intercontinental?) after Steve Jobs or Bill Gates one way or another, and while both men probably want their taxes to be low, both are also known for their social liberalism (Steve Jobs nixed having anti-gay marriage apps on Apple technology and Gates is a big Planned Parenthood supporter). So they probably would feel more comfortable around liberals and libertarians/moderate Republicans (the political stuff of Silicon Valley) than Palinites or social conservatives, to the extent those two categories aren't synonymous.

Saint Croix said...

If it's on private property and the owner wants it there, I wouldn't. Free speech and all.

So if they throw up a Nazi swastika on the side of a building, you wouldn't object? You got a bizarre interpretation of free speech.

Free speech means you can't censor it. But you can certainly object to it, and use more speech to say what's wrong with it.

I think giant Obama posters are kinda creepy. Like living in North Korea is kinda creepy. And the artist (Shepard Fairey) is going for a very specific Lenin/Stalin iconography that I find so bizarre, I don't know what to say.

Saint Croix said...

There's nothing statist about honoring victorious generals and great statesmen. It's called patriotism and is as much a part of our national DNA as fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Patriotism is love of country, not love of the state. Liberals have trouble distinguishing the two. That was my point. You've proven it, thanks.

somefeller said...

So if they throw up a Nazi swastika on the side of a building, you wouldn't object? You got a bizarre interpretation of free speech.

Objection is part of free speech also. And if you think a picture of Obama or any President or Presidential candidate is similar to showing a Nazi Swastika in the post-WWII world, you're the one with the problem. One of many, I'm sure.

Patriotism is love of country, not love of the state. Liberals have trouble distinguishing the two. That was my point. You've proven it, thanks.

Putting up statues memorializing people like Sam Houston, Ulysses Grant, Dwight Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan isn't showing love of the state, it's showing love of country. If you have an issue with that, that's one another of your problems that you have to deal with and patriotism isn't showing hatred of the state and any of its manifestations. But nice try at declaring victory. Golf clap for that one.

Saint Croix said...

patriotism isn't showing hatred of the state and any of its manifestations.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Unless of course it's showing hatred of the state. That's a no-no.

Thanks for the clarification.

I'm sure you'll remember the patriotic rules when we're talking about President Palin.

Saint Croix said...

Or will you be in Canada?

Saint Croix said...

Putting up statues memorializing people like Sam Houston, Ulysses Grant, Dwight Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan isn't showing love of the state, it's showing love of country.

Again, liberal, a country is far more than its political class. When you throw up statues and monuments and Mount Frickin' Rushmore, you are celebrating your leaders. Which is to say, the state.

All nations do this. It's Caesar 101.

Of course we are celebrating our government when we throw up a monument of our governor. Hello.

Saint Croix said...

And I'm not saying, "Never do it."

All I'm saying is, "Be aware of what they are doing and suspicious of why they are doing it."

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mariner said...

Hagar,
or he would have, if he actually believed in a "just and vengeful God," which many of his contemporary peers believed he did not.

Really?

Who were they?

What did they believe Jefferson's belief was?

Hagar said...

The more charitable considered him a deist, which he would have in common with a good many of the "Founding Fathers."