By Arnold Kling
What do the Kelo decision and eugenics have in common? In this essay, I argue that both involve a faith in government to manage social good while overturning individual rights.
we are entitled to hope that our legislators and appointed officials mean well. We hope that they act in the public interest. However, our attitudes as voters, and the interpretation of the Constitution by our judges, should not give government officials the benefit of the doubt. They should be presumed corrupt. While we can always desire that government will make the best use of powers, we should still prepare for the worst.
Before any power is given to government, we should question what would happen if someone with whom we disagreed were able to exercise that power. What if the public school curriculum were controlled by your ideological adversaries? What if health care regulation were dominated by the interests of suppliers rather than consumers? What if “public” lands were allocated for the benefit of political campaign contributors? What if broadcast regulation were used to favor political allies? Such concerns are far from purely hypothetical.
The trend over much of the past century is toward more socienics. This is documented in a new Index of Dependency from the Heritage Foundation.
Using a benchmark index of 100 for 1980, the Dependency Index for 2004 stands at 212, a 1 percent increase over its 2003 score of 210. This increase marks the first year since 2001 that the Dependency Index has risen by less than 5 percent. Since 1980, the Index has doubled, increasing by 112 percent.