Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How do we beat the secular religious thugs?

The defenestration of Brendan Eich last week electrified the conservative world.  Imagine!  A guy contributes money to an initiative campaign in 2008 and that disqualifies him from running Mozilla, the non-profit foundation that makes Firefox.

So the gay rights movement has progressed from hiding in the shadows to forcing its opponents into the shadows.  That is what you call progress.

But we conservatives ask: what can we do about this?  How can we stop the lefty bullies from bullying everyone in America to kow-tow to their household gods?

The answer, of course, is Michael Novak and his Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.  In that book Novak develops what I call the Greater Separation of Powers.  It is the idea that the public square in modern society amounts to three sectors: political, economic, and moral/cultural.

When the power of the political and the economic and the moral/cultural sectors are united, you get what is called "totalitarianism."  Not good, eh Vlad?  I mean Lenin, not Putin.

In the United States our founders built a constitution based on the concept of the separation of powers that Baron Montesquieu had formulated in his Spirit of the Laws.  The three branches of government, legislative, executive, and judicial, should be separate and should fight each other for power.

The founders also pushed the idea of the separation of the political and the moral/cultural in the notion of the separation of church and state.  They didn't want an "established" church, where the government picked winners and losers on the moral/cultural front.

You can see why.  When people on a moral crusade -- such as women's rights, or climate change, or gay rights -- get the bit between their teeth, they tend to get a little carried away.  They start to recreate the Holy Office of the Inquisition, or, if you like, the OGPU, the Gestapo, the KGB.  They start by showing people with the wrong opinions the instruments of torture, and they go on from there.

So it's a good thing to separate government power from religious power, including secular religious power.  Everyone agrees about that except liberals, because liberals cannot see that their politics is in fact a religion.  There are none so blind as those who will not see.

The Brendan Eich business was not an exercise of government power, but a moral/cultural attack on a private foundation.  So it points to the next frontier in the separation of powers.

What power should moral/cultural activists have over the economic sector?  And that reminds us of the other separation of powers issues that has been boiling over for the last century and a half.  What power should the political sector have over the economic sector?

The problem of political power over the economic sector has been a contentious one forever.  Most people fear that economic power is a monster that must be held in check by the strongest political chains, or else.  The whole point of Marxism is that economic power is to the worker what the landed warrior class of the feudal era was to the peasant.

But classical political economy starting not later than the late 18th century has argued that economic power is only powerful if it responds to the market, if it makes and sells things that people want to buy. History has proved the theory correct.  There is nothing worse for prosperity than subordinating the economic sector to the whims of the political sector.

And the late Great Recession proves the rule.  Here we had government subsidizing home mortgages for a generation and forcing the credit system to loan money to sub-prime borrowers.

Now the credit system runs on two articles of faith (i.e., credere, to believe).  First, it must believe that people will make their payments.  Second, it must believe that when people can't make payments then their loan can be liquidated by the collateral pledged to guarantee the loan.

Earth to liberals:  when you force the borrowers to lend to sub-prime borrowers and you also force lenders to make low down-payment loans, you are setting up a double-whammy of a financial panic!  Because when the downturn comes not only will subprime borrowers not be able to make their payments but their under-collaterized loans can't be properly liquidated.

So that's why Michael Novak recommends a Greater Separation of Powers.  The political sector should have limited power to lord it over the economic sector and that goes for the moral/cultural sector too.

As for the economic sector, it seems that most corporate honchos couldn't care much about political and moral/cultural matters.  Except when they go to government for crony capitalist special favors.  And when they retire and decide to spend all their money on charitable giving.

Yeah.  It's not too difficult to figure out how to get out of the mess we are in.  Just reduce the power of the politicians and the moralists.  And let the economy take care of itself.

It will, you know.  Nobody knows nothing about the economy, and the political activists and moral activists least of all.  The best thing to do it just to look on the economy with wonder.  And then cash your dividend checks.

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