A LITTLE CANDY FOR LITTLE COMMUNISM
By Dr. Patrick Jonston
October 5, 2008
I am amazed at the liberty Americans are willing to give up for a little treat. Americans were overwhelmingly against the bailout of Wall Street executives and high-rolling bankers. Investors who took big risks to earn big profits must also bear the losses. According to many experts, the government bailout only postpones the inevitable, making it much more painful and expensive over the long run. It also devalues the dollar through the Federal Reserve’s inflationary printing of money to meet Congress’ deficit demands. Over 400 economists – some renown - have signed a petition to strongly oppose the bailout. It failed in the House the first time, in part, because of the strong disapproval of most of Congress’ constituents.
The Senate responded by attaching a hundred billion dollars of hand-outs and “targeted” tax breaks to the bill and it passed in the Senate 74-25 on October 2. The goodies in the bill have quieted the opposition. We saw the same thing in the House on October 3rd: so much pork for constituents back home had been attached to the bill that it easily passed in the House 263-171. Our children and grandchildren are already facing tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities with Social Security and Medicare, and yet we enslave them with even more intolerable debt.
James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” said, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” Unconstitutional spending is unlawful spending, its popularity notwithstanding.
Read political mailings and the letters to the editor and you will realize how so many want the state to pay for things that they do not want to pay for themselves. We demand the state to provide for cheaper health insurance, better educational institutions, free mental health services, better homes for less money, and cheaper fuel. Businessmen want the politicians to help their particular business with handouts from the treasury (in exchange for campaign donations for their re-election, of course.) We want more free milk from the governments teats, financed at the expense of everybody else. And if the taxpayers cannot afford the handouts we demand, then we borrow it and make our posterity pay it back with interest.
As with most of the unconstitutional duties with which government bureaucracies encumber themselves, the free market can do it better and with less expense. Private education, for example, costs half as much as public education. Yet the bureaucrats still want more money “for the kids.” The Muskingum County Home is another example. It costs $68,208 per year per resident at the County Home, $56,508 of which is subsidized by the taxpayer. It would be far cheaper to pay any of the established homes in the region to care for our indigent seniors. We are already taxed for Medicaid, but the County Home is not even eligible for Medicaid funding. Imagine what the county could do to serve all Muskingum County residents with an extra $3 million per year, rather than spending those funds on just sixty residents whose care is already provided by Medicare and Medicaid.
Charity should be personal and voluntary, not coerced by the government. Compassion should provoke the politicians to give their own money, not give yours without your permission upon pain of fine or prison. That’s not compassion, that’s what the philosopher Bastiat, in his famous treatise called The Law, called legal plunder. What you as an individual have no right to do, your representatives have no right to do on your behalf. You have no right to break into your neighbor’s home, steal their wealth and give it to worthy causes such as cancer research, alternative fuel technology, or nature conservation. That is theft, regardless of your “compassionate” motive. Neither do your representatives have the right to do it on your behalf, or on behalf of their other campaign contributors. They should be limited to the obligations outlined in the federal and/or state constitutions, to which they took an oath.
Pork in the state budget destroys your right to do what you want with your own money. For example, if you’d rather spend your money on your own child’s private education or your parent’s private mental health services rather than the state’s options, you should be free to do so – it’s your money! When the state forces you to pay for the state-controlled services (whether or not you use them), upon pain of fine, prison, or property confiscation, they deprive you of your liberty. If you want to give to your child’s public school, you are free to do so, but it’s wrong to use the prosecutorial power of the state to force others to do so who would not do so voluntarily.
A 1770 Scottish professor named Alexander Tytler amazed me with his insight into this phenomenon: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [money] from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over lousy fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.”
In the timeline of nations to which Tytler refers, the U.S.A. is presently in the period of apathy and state dependency. Americans are apathetic about our freedoms that are whittled away with our Patriot Acts, our deficit spending, our judicial activism, and our centralization of power in Washington, D.C. If history is any indication of the future, we will soon be entering into the era Tytler referred to as the bondage era - like North Korea, Cuba, and China are presently. That will be the cost of our free candy. Communism is always presented as the lesser of two evils, but like the serpent’s promise to Eve at the foot of the forbidden tree, all its promises are costly lies. Do not sacrifice liberty for a government handout. Let no ill be remedied by sacrificing our freedoms on the altar of comfort and security.
The words of Benjamin Franklin affixed to the base of the Statue of Liberty are applicable: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
I have a better idea. Let’s be free.
© 2008 Patrick Johnston - All Rights Reserved