And just because I disagree with him on some things doesn’t mean that I can’t agree with him on others. He says that his thoughts on politics flow from the same insistence on certainty as do his thoughts on religion; but his demand for certainty, which fails him in the sacred, serves him much better with regard to the secular. Take, for example, his thoughts on government programs:
It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government giveOddly enough, he might find himself in agreement with the great Catholic humanitarian Dorothy Day, who felt that government welfare programs tended to abrogate the individual’s moral responsibility to provide charity themselves. When you can have the government do your charitable work for you, why bother to get your own hands dirty?
poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.
People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.
Needless to say, there are many liberals, dedicated to taking your tax money from you to do good, who also contribute their own personal time, talent and money. I’m not saying that all they do is steal from the rich and give to the poor from the comfort of their own homes. But Penn’s comment that “There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint” is a profound one. Make no mistake, he says – “When they come to get you for not paying your taxes, try not going to court. Guns will be drawn. Government is force -- literally, not figuratively.” Which leads to this conclusion:
I don't believe the majority always knows what's best for everyone. The fact that the majority thinks they have a way to get something good does not give them the right to use force on the minority that don't want to pay for it. If you have to use a gun, I don't believe you really know jack. Democracy without respect for individual rights sucks. It's just ganging up against the weird kid, and I'm always the weird kid.There’s a great deal of truth in that statement. It’s classic libertarianism, and while that’s another –ism that I don’t completely agree with, there’s no doubt that it’s a vital and necessary part of contemporary conservative thought.
And proof, once again, that food for thought can come from surprising places.
(By the way, in the midst of this heavy discussion don’t overlook the hilarious story he tells about a Nobel-winning physicist, a community college teacher, and a talk show host. And no, they don’t walk into a bar together.) ◙