Monday, January 16, 2006

One Step At A Time

Gus Van Horn analyzes threats to our freedom of speech as detailed in an essay by Brian C. Anderson. If one freedom can be more important than others, then I would say freedom of speech is most important. Spreading the ideas of Objectivism and changing minds depends on this freedom.

If the liberals try anything drastic to curtail talk radio and the internet, the outcry will be so great that they will have to back down. When the American people are outraged to a great extent, even Republicans grow a spine and stand up to the Democrats. But the liberals know this. The last century of encroaching statism has taught them that incrementalism succeeds in American politics.

Incrementalism is a very real threat to American freedom. Ben Franklin said "It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part." When the income tax started it was something like 1%. The politicians who suggested putting a cap of 10% in the law were laughed at; no one seriously thought the income tax would grow to such an outrageous burden as 10%! Today the top rate is, I believe, 39.6%. What would have sparked a revolution in the 18th century is accepted today.

That’s why it matters to oppose laws such as McCain-Feingold. Once we learn to live with them, then the statists push for the next incremental intrusion on our rights. And then the next and the next…

Right now it is conservatives who prosper from free speech and liberals who suffer. But what happens if, say 30 or 40 years from now conservatives are the establishment and they are threatened by the spread of philosophical ideas supporting reality, reason, rational egoism and capitalism? What do they do? The existence of campaign finance laws and agencies such as the FCC make it that much easier for them to begin their incremental pushback.

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