Lawrence Lindsey writes in the Wall Street Journal:
Last week Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said that the “most fortunate Americans” should pay more in taxes for the “privilege of being an American.” One can debate different ways of balancing the budget. But Mr. Geithner’s argument highlights an unfortunate and very destructive instinct that seems to permeate the Obama administration about the respective roles of citizens and their government. His position has three problems: one philosophical, one empirical, and one logical.
Philosophically, the concept that being an American is a “privilege” upends the whole basis on which America was founded. Privileges are things granted to one individual by another, higher-ranking, individual. For example, in my house my children’s use of the family car is a privilege. One presumes Mr. Geithner believes that the “privilege” of being an American is granted by the presumably higher-ranking, governing powers that be.
This is an age-old view that our Founding Fathers rejected. First, they argued that the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (i.e., economic liberty) were natural rights, endowed by our Creator, not by government. Second, the governing powers do not out-rank the citizens. Rather it is the citizens who grant government officials their “just powers.” As Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, governments are instituted among men based on their consent in order to secure the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The notion that a governing authority grants privileges to those it governs directly contradicts Jefferson’s declaration.
But it is this same notion that recently allowed the Health and Human Services Department to order religious institutions to pay for things they find abhorrent. Religious freedom is presumably a “privilege” that can be revoked for some transient and novel public-policy reason.
The Obama Justice Department felt the same about religious institutions being able to give preference in hiring to those who shared their faith, and was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court last month in the Hosanna-Tabor case.
Last year, the Obama National Labor Relations Board also seemed to believe that it was a privilege for an American company, in this case Boeing, to open a new plant in a right-to work state of its choosing, thus upending even the most rudimentary notion of economic liberty.
And of course the whole idea of ObamaCare is that we must buy a product from a private business that our betters in government have deemed necessary for our well-being.
Read the whole thing, as they say.
Lindsey gets it exactly right: The very basis of the American Revolution was that Americans were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among them were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In simple English, this means that our rights were given to us by God, and that these rights cannot at all be separated from us. It is not possible for an individual to give up his rights–these rights are inherent in the nature of being a member of the human race. We are born with them, and will always have them. Since our rights legally cannot be surrendered by us to the government or taken away by the government, there is nothing in the way of rights that our government could ever give us–a government can only recognize and protect what we already have. Further, when a government usurps our rights, according to the Declaration of Independence, it is within our rights to dissolve our contract with that government, and form a new government which will respect what God has given us.
In this sense then, the American government does not at all give Americans privileges. Rather, the American government very much serves under the privilege of the American people.
What is it about the Obama administration that makes this simple truth so hard for them to understand?
There are valid reasons on both sides as to whether taxes should be raised or lowered. However, the reason Geithner gives is not at all valid, and as a public servant he should know this. To my knowledge, God did not die and make him, or Obama, our king.
- Geithner: Wealthy Need to Bear Higher Burden for Privilege of Being American (lonelyconservative.com)
- Rule of Man vs. Rule of Law – President Obama is a free man’s worst nightmare [Reader Post] (floppingaces.net)
- Tim Geithner: Higher taxes on wealthy for the “privilege of being an American” (motorcitytimes.com)
- The Rising Fever of Despotism (americanthinker.com)