Jewish World Review Oct. 14, 2005 / 11 Tishrei,
Spoiled brat politics: Part II
The idea that what I want overrides what you want has
increasingly become part of our thinking, our policies and even our laws.
There is literally a federal case before the Supreme Court over the fact
that many colleges and universities refuse to allow military recruiters on
Why? Because, as the academics will tell you, they are opposed
to the military, either in general or because they think the military are
discriminating against homosexuals or for whatever other reasons they have.
These academics have every right to be against the military, for
any reason or for no reason.
If they don't like the military, they can stay away from the
military, since there is no draft. But what they want is to keep other
people away from the military, by preventing students from hearing what the
military recruiters have to say, as students hear what recruiters from all
sorts of other institutions and movements have to say on campus.
The reason there is a legal issue is that a federal law has been
passed, saying that colleges and universities that forbid military
recruiters from coming on campus are no longer eligible to receive federal
Academics are outraged. They see this law as a violation of
their freedom including their right to violate their students' freedom.
It is classic spoiled brat politics, based on the idea that what I want
overrides what you want.
The same principle underlies growing legal restrictions on
building anything that existing residents in a community don't want built.
A young "planning consultant" to a local politician in New York
says: "These neighborhoods substantially have not changed in 40 years. What
we are trying to do is make sure they are recognizable 40 years from now. I
don't think there is anything wrong with that. In fact, in many other places
in the country, that is celebrated. So why shouldn't we celebrate it here?"
That young man probably has a bright future in politics, where
the ability to confuse the issues is a highly rewarded talent. "Everybody is
doing it" is a very effective political argument, requiring neither facts
nor logic, and widely accepted in this era of dumbed-down education.
Focusing on the benefits to some and ignoring the costs to others is another
tried-and-true political tactic.
Since people who are already in a community are the ones who
vote, making what they want override what other people want is a winner in
spoiled brat politics.
At one time, courts took seriously the 14th Amendment's
guarantee of equal rights for all, regardless of where they lived and voted.
Courts even enforced the 5th Amendment's guarantee of property rights.
In other words, local voters and local politicians could not
arbitrarily deprive other people of the right to come in and buy and use
property as they saw fit, simply because some planning consultants or
planning commissions preferred that they do otherwise. But Constitutional
protection of property rights is no longer "in the mainstream" of
fashionable legal thinking.
Let's go back to square one. The people who bought homes in a
neighborhood 40 years ago did not buy the neighborhood, nor did they pay for
a guarantee that the neighborhood would stay the same for 40 years, much
less in perpetuity.
The only way the government can give current residents such a
guarantee is to take away other people's property rights, which exist
precisely in order to keep politicians at bay.
Buying a chance and asking the government to turn that chance
into a guarantee has become a common occurrence under spoiled brat politics.
When you buy a home with a great view of the ocean, you do not
pay for a guarantee that nothing will ever be built between you and the
ocean. You ask politicians to give that to you, at someone else's expense.
Some people even call that idealism because you are "preserving"
something good. But preserving it from whom? And why is what you want more
important than what they want?
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