Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A letter to a Democrat

No greater wrong, no grosser insult on humanity can well be conceived [than slavery]; nor can it be softened by the customary plea of the slave-holder's kindness. The first and most essential exercise of love towards a human being is, to respect his rights. It is idle to talk of kindness to a human being whose rights we habitually trample under foot. 'Be just before you are generous.' A human being is not to be loved as a horse or a dog, but as a being having rights; and his first grand right is that of free action; the right to use and expand his powers; to improve and obey his higher faculties; to seek his own and others' good; to better his lot; to make himself a home; to enjoy inviolate the relations of husband and parent; to live the life of a man.... Because a number of men invade the rights of a fellow-creature, and pronounce him des[t]itute of rights, his claims are not a whit touched by this. He is as much a man as before. Not a single gift of God on which his rights rest is taken away.
William Ellery Channing - The Duty of the Free States, 1842

... "Be just before you are generous." ...

I used to be a staunch Democrat. I understood liberalism to include the use of tax money to do good, provided that individual rights be not sacrificed at the altar of 'good' and that taxation and the government action taxation affords be constitutionally limited.

The line between liberalism and something quite different lies precisely where rights begin to be violated, and I mean the equal rights described in the Declaration of Independence.

There are countless infringements of these rights in MinnesotaCare, placing obstacles in the way of the pursuit of happiness in exchange for a politician's promise of happiness itself.

Of particular concern to me is the principle of medical privacy.

Permit me to quote from the official summary of Senate File 845 which passed at the end of this session:
Industry participants (group purchasers, employees, providers, state agencies and political subdivisions) are able to provide patient identifying data required by state law with or without patient consent, and may not be held liable for doing so.

Let us not go down the path of hubris and disaster, however clothed with parental benefaction.

Note: I wrote this and submitted it to e-Democracy's MinnesotaPolitics mailing list in the mid-1990s. Recently this issue has come to the fore in Senate File 3138 regarding government data warehousing of DNA fingerprints taken from the flailing feet of all babies born in Minnesota without parental consent. Both houses and both parties voted overwhelmingly to do this (3 voted against it total, I understand). Governor Pawlenty vetoed it, stopping the warehousing, but not the data collection, as I understand it.

Are there similar bi-partisan efforts brewing at the federal level?

Please consider Bob Barr and his veto pen.

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