Americans like heroes and to many people Senator Kennedy was one. It is not the place to judge the deep motives for his actions, I leave that to others. The reaction to his death is telling, however, of the situation in which the country stands – I mean as far as the battle of ideas is concerned. For a country that was founded on the precept that political power is dangerous as it can lead to corruption and totalitarianism, it is strange that its politicians are often revered as gods. I do not know if Senator Kennedy was ignorant of the teachings of economics, but his lifelong fight in favor of universal health care and various other socialistic legislations paved the way to impoverishment and social disaster. Like many in politics, he stood for ideas that seemed noble and beautiful to the ignorant mind, but were truly destructive of the social order.
Instead of worshiping politicians, we should wake up to the current situation. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, nations and civilizations have fallen because of two things: fiscal recklessness and inflation. This is because bad policies are rarely reversed. Instead, politicians attempt to mitigate the consequences of their stupidity through fiscal expansion and inflation. The U.S. was born under the “Old Time Fiscal Religion,” as Richard Wagner and James Buchanan put it. For decades, fiscal prudence and low inflation were the mantra. Not anymore. So let’s be honest, while Senator Kennedy may have been well-intentioned (and I leave that to God to judge), he has promoted the expansion of government and the establishment of socialist policies in the United States. With others, he has pushed ideas that have made fiscal and individual irresponsibility acceptable. Is this what being a true American hero is about?
This goes to show that it is nearly impossible to be a libertarian politician. Few would praise someone who fought all his life for small (or no) government and opposed all laws that favored the poor (or any body else for that matter). There is no glory in opposing the silent tyranny of socialism. But this is the road the true saints have to follow. “Being in this world but not of this world” is not an easy thing to do, but it is, in my view, our calling. Austrian economists do precisely this: speaking truth to power and seeking glory not in this life but in the next.
And for those of you who are catholic and are revolted by the praise Senator Kennedy has received from the Church, read Fr Thomas Euteneuer’s article (thanks Eileen for the pointer). With all this said, I pray that Senator Kennedy’s soul may rest in peace.