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The Conservative Contradiction

By Marc Roberts

“So are people still as riled up at Obama and the ‘Democrats” as they were a year ago?” my friend Paul asked me at a Christmas party. “Or has that ‘Tea Party’ sentiment died down?”

Have people returned to their lives again and left government to run itself like before?

“I don’t think it has to do with Obama or the ‘Democrats,’” I responded.

I went on to explain that most Republicans and the Bush administration weren’t much different from what we have now with Obama and the Democrats. You can follow that trend all the way back through the 1900s with few exceptions.

“Well,” said Paul, “then what do we do, have a revolution to take over the government and the elite? Because that is what my neighbors are saying.” 

My response was that we must return to and understand the Four Foundations of Freedom.

  1. Virtuous and more people;
  2. Widespread education;
  3. Virtuous and moral leaders;
  4. Auxiliary precautions.

Paul was a little surprised by my answer; I think he expected me to agree with the whole revolution idea. He did, however, absolutely agree with me. 

Although he did not understand the fourth foundation very well, foundations one and three really resonated with him.

He told me about an article by a Harvard professor about the need for people to be virtuous and moral. We discussed how the founding generation and particularly the framers understood this concept.

As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our conversation went from Obama to the stock market, health care, the economy and back again until we finally came to the estate tax.

Paul said he thought the estate tax was the best thing the government has done to maintain or freedoms and to prevent certain groups or families to become so wealthy over time that they begin to control everything we do.

And that is where the “Conservative Contradiction” began.

Limited Government, Most of the Time

At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Didn’t we just finish talking about the Four Foundations of Freedom, and didn’t we agree that government should be limited and that individuals should be left with their agency? 

I asked Paul what “right” he thought the government had to do that.

“The government got the right from our representatives that we elected,” he said. 

So I pointed to my father-in-law, who was sitting across from me. “Do you have the right to take away half of his entire wealth when he dies and to spread it out among the neighborhood?”

Can one man take the property of another man’s and then give it to a third?

If we don’t individually have the natural “right” to do something, then we can’t delegate that right to someone else, let alone the government. 

It is immoral and illegal to take the property involuntarily from one man and to give it to another. We do not have the natural right to do so; it would be called theft, or as Bastiat put it in The Law, “legal plunder.”

However, many people think we can give this power and authority to government and let them legally execute this “plunder” on our behalf.

Property rights do not exist because of the government; the government and the law exist because of property with the sole purpose to protect it, not to legalize it’s theft and distribution.

Paul never answered any of my questions. His only response was that it is for the good of society because if we let families pass their wealth down from generation to generation then we would have super-rich baron families and we would all be working for the Gateses and Buffetts in the future.

The government, he argued, should be able to control people and prohibit families from gaining to much wealth and power because it puts everyone else at a disadvantage.
He wasn’t saying those exact words but that is what he meant, whether he realized it or not.  And that is exactly the “Conservative Contradiction.”

On one hand the conservative will argue for limited government, balanced budget, and fiscal responsibility. But on the other hand he argues for security and control, is unwilling to give up his social security and Medicare, and fights for free education to all.

A Dash of Communism

The conversation reminded me of an article by Gary North titled “Communism for Conservatives.” He argues that three of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto are still widely accepted, by conservatives and liberals alike. 

Those three are:
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

And number three is not too far behind: Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

Gary North says “in these three areas of life, the vast majority of those voters who think of themselves as conservatives still cling to the tenets of Communism. They think nothing of this. They are 30 percent down the path to Communism, and they don’t know it, or just don’t care.”

The “conservative” movement appears to be ready to abolish plank number five. let’s hope they can, it is a good start to overcoming the contradiction.

The path to freedom is simple, though not easy. It starts with the Four Foundations of Freedom and the correct understanding of natural rights.


Marc Roberts is the Director of Operations and Technology for Platinum Payment Systems. Marc holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Civil Engineering from Brigham Young University and played basketball for the school while there.

He devotes his time to his family, Scouting, Polynesian dancing, entrepreneurial ventures that range from real estate to e-commerce websites, bee keeping and running a four-part lecture series on the Original Understanding of the Constitution with his brother Kyle.  

He resides in Santaquin, Utah with his wife and three children.

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