American exceptionalism has a broader meaning than “we rock!” It has come to mean “except for.”
We, the community of humans on earth, really are God’s creation, right? You won’t convince me that He made a special race within a compartment shaped like the United States. I think the term American exceptionalism should be used to describe how we are the first nation to make an agreement defining the rights of each person as inherent upon our existence, as opposed to rights being granted by an institution or person.
This rule is what I use to anchor every opinion in The Alternative. The fact that it has become so easy to make exceptions to the rule of individual rights has gotten us in a lot of trouble. The word “individual” is the key to understanding the deviations from the rules that cause trouble.
Whether a group is villain or victim, there should never be a cause that sacrifices the rights of individuals to benefit any group.
There was a story in the Los Angeles Times last week that quoted labor leader (and leader of the fight for the minimum wage increase), Rusty Hicks, as saying:
“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them…”
But they don’t need no stinking collective bargaining agreement. The employer wants an employee and the employee wants a job. Both parties have a choice.
What the union wants is a piece of the pie (dues to pay unnecessary bureaucrats). They know that workers can negotiate with employers on an individual basis. They even know the business will be improved with such an arrangement, making jobs more secure.
This is one small instance where the benefits of individual rights trump the rights of groups.
A much bigger deal is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The details of this pact are secret. But our politicians have received over a million dollars from the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP. If you expect these companies not to anticipate a return on their donations to this secret agreement, then let’s see what is so secret and why.
The most important consideration with so-called free trade pacts is the necessity for any agreement in the first place. The agreements, by definition, violate individual rights because they require individuals to act within rules that govern us as groups. We can trade as individuals unless we think we need to force people in other countries to trade with us on our terms instead of their own.
Free trade agreements and union contracts, in violating individual rights, limit our ability to find the most efficient use of any resource. It is easy to see how this reduces our standard of living. But without an example of a truly free economy it is impossible to see how much. So we are complacent and accepting of the exceptions to our liberty while the schemers who know how to manipulate the law get rich and undeservedly get credit for their good work.
With a system of law only designed to protect individual rights at the point those rights are in danger, instead of a complex mess of social engineering, the justice system would be able to do what it was originally intended to do.