Are there limits to institutions’ regulation of our actions?

Summary: Look at the growth of our institutions’ – government and corporate – ability to regulate increasingly intimate aspects of our lives. Personal autonomy is so over. What gives them this power? What are the limits? At what point will this erode away people’s support for our society?

It’s our future: happy authoritarianism for America!

Hands holding "Know the rules"
Photo 40431660 © Nelosa – Dreamstime.

Racism, sexism, age, inappropriate use of your eyes (e.g., staring for more than 5 seconds), inappropriate dating  – there are so many forms of interaction between people that the government regulates. These are forms of free association and use of one’s eyes. What level of bodily autonomy remains untouched by a government that allows institutions – including itself – to regulate these things? And more regulations are coming!

Liberals were the defenders of personal autonomy and liberty. Now people claiming to be liberals are the ones claiming the right to regulate – everything. At what point do these growing powers mock the Constitution and the concept of limited government?

Did the Founders want the
government to limit speech?

Most of the behaviors being regulated are ephemeral to the workings of the Republic. Regulating speech attacks a core right, putting us on the fast track to tyranny. This is more than forbidding saying “fire” in a crowded theater – which was a paraphrase of Justice Holmes’ justification in an odious 1919 Supreme Court ruling overturned in 1969 (description here; Wikipedia entry). Now liberals (or Leftists, or whatever) are going for the heart of the Republic. Free speech has been pretty well crushed on major university campuses. Now the Left seeks to extend that control across America.

This battle has just begun. If we lose, we will lose much.

How do we regard beauty? Lots to regulate!

“Lookism is discriminatory treatment toward people considered physically unattractive, mainly in the workplace but also in dating and other social settings.” {From Wikipedia.}

It is easy to mock the ambitions of the Left’s activists. But during the past they often become tomorrow’s government policy. Just as the almost instantaneous enactment of protecting the new rights of the transgendered became paramount government policy (without the tiresome bother of legislation) – with ever-broadening ripples across society.

Cutting-edge Leftists have even broader goals, which will give the government new and perhaps unimaginably intrusive policies. For example, both the ugly and the beautiful are discriminated against. As explained in many books and articles, such as this …

"The Beauty Bias" by Deborah L. Rhode
Available at Amazon.

The Beauty Bias:
The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law

By Deborah L. Rhode, law professor at Stanford,
(2010). See her faculty page and Wikipedia entry.
Author of 20 books; a leading scholar of law and gender.

“Congress and the courts recognized that the most effective way of combating prejudice was to deprive people of the option to indulge in it.”

The Beauty Bias explores the social, biological, market, and media forces that have contributed to appearance-related problems, as well as feminism’s difficulties in confronting them. …

“Appearance-related bias infringes fundamental rights, compromises merit principles, reinforces debilitating stereotypes, and compounds the disadvantages of race, class, and gender. Yet only one state and a half dozen localities explicitly prohibit such discrimination. The Beauty Bias provides the first systematic survey of how appearance laws work in practice, and a compelling argument for extending their reach. The book offers case histories of invidious discrimination and a plausible legal and political strategy for addressing them. Our prejudices run deep, but we can do far more to promote realistic and healthy images of attractiveness, and to reduce the price of their pursuit.” {From the publisher.}

Other feminists have made similar proposals, such as Bonnie Berry in Beauty Bias: Discrimination and Social Power (2007). More such proposals are coming.

What next?

And after that, there will be new frontiers of our behavior to regulate. The lust for power is not quenched by success, any more than fire is quenched by kerosene.

Burning Constitution

What can’t the government regulate?

Other than abortion (at least in the Left’s thinking). Where does the Constitution give the government the authority to do these things?

Many of these actions are taken by private entities. What are the limits on the power of America’s great institutions – corporations, schools, universities – to regulate the little people in them? Or are we powerless before them? We can hardly run away, since they act in concert.

The web of regulations grows deeper and more intrusive. Where will it end? At what point does this begin to erode people’s belief that the government – the political regime that governs America – has become illegitimate?

That is a trick question. Of course we have already passed that point.

For more information

This post changed everything: A new, dark picture of America’s future.

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see all posts about the Democratic Party, about the left wing of US politics, about ways to reform America’s politics, and especially these …

  1. Part 1: An anthropologist announces the death of liberalism.
  2. Part 2: An anthropologist explains the causes of liberalism’s death.
  3. Visions of America if the Left wins.
  4. The Left can win in 2020 and dominate US politics.
  5. The middle in American politics has died. Now extremists rule.
  6. Election 2020 will be about open borders & America’s future – Fascinating quotes from the first debate.
  7. Campaign 2020 shows who will mold America’s future.
  8. Two levers to bring the Democrats victory in 2020.
  9. The Left becomes revolutionary. Few realize it yet.

Books about our growing government

The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court’s Assault on the Constitution by David A. Kaplan (2018).

The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic by Eric A. Posner and Adrian Vermeule (2011).

The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court's Assault on the Constitution
Available at Amazon.
The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic
Available at Amazon.

6 thoughts on “Are there limits to institutions’ regulation of our actions?”

  1. Governments will take whatever power we give them then some more when we’re not looking. I’m reminded of the debates over devolution in the UK, particularly that of Scotland.

    It went thus: After devolution there will Inevitably be a nationalist government in Scotland. If things go well it will lead to calls for more devolution because they’re doing a good job. If things go badly it will lead to calls for more devolution because the government cannot do its job without additional powers.

    It’s the same with governments in general. Not going well? It’s because they don’t control enough. Going well? It’s because they control stuff, and imagine how much better it will be if they control more…

    I’ve always thought that many (left wing/socialists) secretly harbour desires for state control like the GDR. It was almost self sustaining 50 years ago. Now, there’s the technology to exercise complete control should anyone care to, all they need to do is stoke the right amount of fear.

  2. Shelley Ashfield

    So much hand-wringing in this direction masks how lack of regulation on the local level can erode quality of life. I want to see some of this intellect and brain-space directed towards shaping the actual, 3-D, real-live landscape of our lives.

    Programmable automatons don’t seem to be showing up to zoning board meetings these days. They don’t seem to be very interested in participating in the community focus groups that are allowed to squeak a little before the ground is broken on big projects that will change the landscape.

    I understand you may disregard what I have to say as off-topic, but on my side of the fence, I have experienced “government” a little differently. I notice when there’s a worn-out, tattered, dirty flag on a public flagpole. I talk to my councilwoman about my concerns, and I see that not only the flag has been replaced, but the public shrubbery has been clipped in that little memorial park. I notice when the back entrance of the school next to the music rooms is worn out and dangerous. I write a nice, succinct letter to my ward commissioner, who tells me it’s not his job, but he forwards my letter over to the school board, and I find…an appropriate new door has been installed. I notice when neglect has set in next to the creek. Mother Nature is a bitch, and a major flood can overwhelm a local government, years after the incident. That’s how your local creeks turn into garbage dumps. I spend hours in zoning board meetings, writing newspaper columns, and I reverse the process, on that one creek running next to my house.

    Let Scotland be Scotland. Let me see the whites of your eyeballs at the next Shade Tree Commission meeting. Those trees didn’t magically plant themselves.

    1. I suppose then that it’s also OK if a Scot who teaches his dog to give a Nazi salute is imprisoned too. Is that what “Let Scotland be Scotland” means to you?

  3. This is really really disturbing.

    One of the most messed up things about today’s politics is that the government excercises extreme control is areas where is should not, and shirks its responsibilities in the areas where it should excercise control.

    For example

    Also, the Infamous anonymous trump official of the NYT fame is apparently writing a book. I imagine it will be a sober and fair account. (Sarcasm)

    Also, anything to be made of with bill Taylor’s testimony today?

  4. Wait–it gets worse yet! Can’t find the link, but read a complaint a while back that straight men were refusing to date transgender women, and that “this has to change.” The only way out is violence

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