Column on “Public” Abuse

"Public" Abuse

Tibor R. Machan

Run, don’t walk, for the exit whenever someone begins to carry on about
the public interest, the public good, the public welfare and similar
allusions to deed and policies that supposedly advance us all. There are
very, very few such matters. It was one of the most insightful aspects of
the American founding to have realized this fact–the sole public interest
is the securing of our individual rights.

This makes very good sense. First, it is honest–no other candidate
really helps everyone much but, instead, various special interests,
special agendas. The public–you, I and everyone else in the
country–cannot be benefited much together, only as members of special
groups, as individuals, and so on. The sole respect in which we can all be
benefited politically is to have our basic rights strictly respected and
protected. That is because we are first and foremost individuals and then
members of more or less sizable groups–clubs, corporations, universities,
unions, professions, families, churches, and so forth. We are, of course,
all human and by virtue of our humanity we possess certain unalienable
rights. Forget that this is disputed vigorously by people who want to have
the license of abridge, abrogate or violate our rights. That we have these
rights is indisputable on any rational grounds. But after that we have
only few things in common. Even our health is best served in highly varied
ways–some will gain from this, others from that program of nutrition,
exercise, diet, and so forth.

But if a politicians said openly that what he or she is after is to
benefit just this person or group, not the rest, there would be no
plausible basis for being funded from the U. S. Treasury. All that would
be recognized for what it is, a matter of private or special interest to
be served apart from public policy, policy pertaining to what benefits

A great case in point is that fraudulently named outfit, public
broadcasting, PBS, as well as national public radio, NPR. Neither of these
is even close to being a project that serves the public, all of us. Yes, I
do sometimes check out PBS and when in a particularly masochistic frame of
mind, even listen to NPR. But I am always appalled at these outfits claim
to have anything to do with the public. What public? PBS is watched by
just a fraction of television viewers, and NPR is similarly ignored by the
bulk of the American public. What about all those public beaches and
public forests and public parks? All fraudulently labeled! Not a one is a
bona fide public service. But, of course, it serve those who are providing
it to pretend that they are since that appears to justify raiding the
public treasure in small and large ways.

Sadly, I am pretty much shouting about this against the wind, which
blows, sadly, along the fraudulent ideas of collectivism, something that
is a plain disguise of some people’s interests at the expense of all.
Hardly any editorials point out that most of the political talk about "we"
and "us" is completely deceptive since the policies promoted for us, from
which we supposedly benefit really serve just some of us. And so the rest
of us are being hoodwinked by rhetoric that relentlessly and dishonestly
invokes the idea of the public. Editorial writers and pundits and
commentators of all sorts should point out, over and over again, that
political talk about "us," making use of "we," is most of the time either
very sloppy or out and out disingenuous, wrong.

Fortunately there is still the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution
that does not permit the extension of the policies of the welfare state,
the nanny state, to how we think and talk, although even this isn’t quite
true, what with all the political correctness at schools and government
related endeavors. If there were anything like a regulatory agency keeping
watch over how people talk, the first item on their agenda, assuming there
were not yet captured by some special interest group, would be to censor
nearly all uses of "public," "we," and "us" in our language.

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