How do we balance freedom with our need to "look after one another"? - President Barack Obama
Way back in March, I wrote a post called "Rejecting the Premise" based on my concern that, too often, conservatives would allow the liberals to define the terms of the debate, limiting it to agreeing on basic (and usually liberal) principles, then being unable to differentiate their plan due to accepting a philosophically false premise.
The above quote from the above video is based on a premise I cannot accept, for a very specific philosophical reason. It's also why most issues (in the case of this quote, it probably refers to health insurance, but relates to most every contested issue) cannot be reconciled between conservatives and liberals in Congress and the White House.
First the premise of the above is that the role of the government is to balance freedom with the "common good."
The purpose of the federal government is to secure the freedom of individuals from infringement by other individuals, and from foreign enemies, and to unify the states (thus the name United States of America). Now within this narrow framework, the role of the fed is very limited in its control over individuals. The states, on the other hand have a more direct impact on the lives of the individual, with the most direct impact (and control) resting with the local governments (county, municipal), as long as they don't violate those things which the federal government does control (mostly, the securing of rights to the states and individuals.
In a truly free society (the way we were designed, even if we didn't live up to it initially), the individual has the full and equal right to determine how he, along with others will rather than being forced at gunpoint (the government) to give up freedom for the benefit of another. It's on this point that there is no reconciliation with a collectivist mentality.
Clarification for those who are screaming "Malthusian!" because they are just as collectivist and/or assume the worst from humanity: It all comes down to the moral responsibility of the individual rather then legal compulsion by the government to "look after one another" to take care of those who can't. And in societies from the earliest time, the responsibility fell to the families of the young, old, and chronically ill. Even today, families bear the burden of taking care of children when the parents are worthless (unless the whole family is (trust me on this one)). Fewer people care for their elderly (been there, done that). The chronically ill are the hardest of these burdens, yet there are still those today who rise to the challenge (love and faith manage).
So those of us who reject the premise of command compassion and gunpoint community do so in favor of the goodness of Man to solve these problems at home and in their community.