Stephanie asked me and a number of others to pick a post that demonstrates why each of us like Mike Haubrich’s writing style, and why we’re regular readers of his, by way of a birthday present. Apparently he likes to be remembered and praised on his birthday. I personally just prefer a slab of cake and a quiet evening at home with my beloved, possibly splitting a bottle of wine between us, but to each their own.
So I undertook to dig through Mike’s archives to find just one post that’s indicative of everything I like about the man’s writing ability. I didn’t even make it past the front page before I found one that hit all the high points, and I have no doubt that I could find dozens more in his older posts.
Mike is capable of taking disparate and esoteric concepts and tie them together such that you have no doubt as to his argument’s veracity. In the post I linked, he took the social contracts humans create, and how we as a species evolved as social animals, and extends it to explain exactly why we as humans are so prone to creating rules and regulations and systems of government and are so willing to rewrite these rules to be as amenable as possible to the needs of all its participants.
Government in this sense is also available to non-human animals, such as wolves, chimps, bonobos, lions, ants, gorillas, wasps, herring. It’s any form of social gathering that provides protection, or shared goals. It is not unique to humans, although we are rather unique in spending a fair bit of time thinking about how to best form and maintain social contracts. We are also unique in that we have a tendency to formalize our forms of government in writing, so that those who agree to the contract know the rules.
It is a form of distribution of labor, something that enables societies to grow, prosper and produce. Yes, there are great battles, bloodshed and civil wars fought over the wording and meaning of documents that lay foundation for government, and yes even after the documents have been agreed upon they are often subject to change. Good foundational documents contain procedural instructions for how these changes should take place.
He takes those things that everyone on both sides of an argument take for granted — the universality of social structure and the necessity of external support in extraordinary circumstances, and the role of or lack of role of government in such a situation, for instance — and he strips away the superfluous and asks the questions that lay bare the core of the problem itself.
So, when Senator Tom Coburn says that the “government is a solution to our problems is inaccurate” so shortly after saying “What’s missing here is neighbors. Helping people that need our help.”
(Closed circuit to government:)
Just exactly how is that done, and by whom, Senator? This woman will get some help, now, because you are going to use the power of your government office to make sure that it gets done. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, although I am rightly cynical that you may be just saying that because you are a politician with a microphone and have been put on the spot.
He holds no cows sacred, and he’s willing to go after the other side’s core tenets, such as the “free market” principle:
Do you trust people to have power over your health decisions when you have no influence over their selection, as in a corporate insurance board whose goal is stockholder return? Is that the sort of government you prefer over one which you can help choose?
I love Mike’s writings because they are unabashed, they are raw, they are emotional, and they are vastly, by and large, absolutely correct. He has an insightful and keen mind, and an easy eloquence I hope to emulate.
Keep fighting the good fight, Mike Haubrich. You’re a credit to the side of reason, and I hope you fight on through many, many more birthdays to come.