Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote of hard-core pornography: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…” The position that policy and law should not be based on reason, fact and/or moral certainty, but on the infallible conclusions of judges or political leaders was later rejected by Stewart as untenable; no surprise, then, that it has been adopted as a cornerstone of progressive politics.
It is the ambition of the left to establish a whole new set of rights – rights not found in nature or revealed by natures God. Rather they are the product of the anointed and all too ambiguous progressive vision.
In addition to affordable health coverage they passionately claim that all have the right to a decent home, a good education, and a useful job. It all sounds quite noble until one begins to inquire as to the specifics. What is the definition of a decent home? Affordable medical care? A good education? Like Stewart, progressives could never succeed in intelligibly defining the material embraced within such shorthand descriptions, but they no doubt know them when they see them.
Residents of California have an intimate knowledge of the progressive definition of “good schools.” According to the National Center for Education Statistics, California, once the home of the best public elementary and secondary schools in the country, now ranks near the bottom nationally in reading and math proficiency. The good news is that the state ranks first in average teachers salaries. The definition of “good” schools in California apparently means paying teachers to prepare 8th graders not to read and write but to put condoms on a banana with one hand. And, as if to prove the maxim that new liberals have no shame, the leftists in the state assembly continue to ask for ever increasing amounts of taxpayer dollars so that they might further improve the schools. Gay pride day anyone?
I am reminded of conversations I used to have with friends in college. We would sit around dreaming of our future lives and describe the lifestyles we aspired to. Lest we appear too materialistic we all agreed that we didn’t want to be rich; we just wanted to be comfortable. Yes we were naïve but we were earnest. Of course upon fleshing out exactly what each of us meant by “comfortable” we realized our comfortable lifestyles virtually demanded that we either become rich or come within an arms length.
And just like eager, post-adolescent progressive notions of what is affordable, of sufficient quality or decent are completely divorced from the reality of the cost- either in dollars, actual freedoms or both.
In California the cost of “good” schools is a full 30% of the state’s budget and according to the New York Times school children must make do with old textbooks. Open space laws, exotic mortgage instruments and rent control have made housing considerably less affordable and offended private property rights. And the cost of “affordable” (free) healthcare for all will be two trillion dollars in national debt, higher taxes, rationing of services, restrictions and/or taxes on personal freedoms (smoking, cheeseburgers etc.), and a host of other costs never considered by those seeking the comfort of righteousness.
Certainly there is nothing obscene about the desire to educate children, aid the poor or ensure that the sick receive care. But to devise laws and policy based on ambitious, ambiguous and often arbitrary descriptives is, well, downright pornographic.