Thursday, August 22, 2013
When a government acts unjustly and fails to protect its most vulnerable constituents, everyone loses. This dynamic is sadly, tragically, visible in North Carolina. If allowed to continue uninterrupted, unjust governments lead to rebellion or tyranny.
In North Carolina, the last two statewide elections have brought the Republican Party a majority in legislature and then the governorship. Republican candidates campaigned on a platform that called for restoring free markets by reducing government regulations, job creation, and tax reduction. North Carolina now has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation and has cut unemployment benefits for 170,000 residents. In these policies, I hear echoes of the British government's refusal to aid the Irish during the potato famine.
Also in North Carolina, spending on education is now the 47th lowest in the nation; the state bow spends less on education than it spent in 2007. A fifth year teacher earns less in North Carolina than a beginning teacher earns in several states. Poorly educated people have difficulty in finding a job, much less a well-paying job, and then getting promoted. Meanwhile, the state is cutting the both the individual and corporate income tax rates and broadening the sales tax. Analyses of projected tax law changes consistently predict that the poor will pay more and the rich will receive the largest reductions. In these policies, I hear echoes of the British government's refusal to aid the Irish during the potato famine.
North Carolina, like some other states, has new laws requiring voters to show a government issued ID before voting, reducing the hours for early voting and Sunday voting, authorizing more observers of the voting process, and eliminating checking a single box on the ballot to vote a straight party ticket. Yet less than a dozen alleged cases of people voting fraudulently were reported in the last election cycle. The changes, which to a casual observer may prima facie appear innocuous or even reasonable, are actually partisan efforts to keep the Republicans in power, banning voting practices Democratic voters disproportionately favor. In these policies, I hear echoes of the British government's refusal to aid the Irish during the potato famine.
The fundamental issue here is not Republican vs. Democrat. Some policies pushed by Democrats in Raleigh are no more just than those enacted by Republicans are, e.g., both parties gerrymander districts attempting to obtain as favorable an election result as possible rather than creating districts defined by geographic, political, and other linkages. Democratic Congresses subvert the tax code to suit special interests as much as Republicans do. Excessive government aid, sometimes advocated by well-meaning Democrats, can create a moral hazard, accustoming people and business to government aid in lieu of effectual efforts in a properly regulated market. Democrats, at times have also sought to imposed cumbersome, excessive regulation on markets, e.g., mandating how to abate pollution instead of simply stipulating acceptable levels of pollutants.
No, the fundamental issue is one of justice: a just government consistently strives, in the language of John Rawls, to protect the most vulnerable, assuring equal opportunity and equal liberties for all.