December 17, 2011
The method behind the madness
[This article is 20 years old. It appeared in the March 1991 issue of New Dimensions magazine. The specific figures quoted in the article, and government programs and expenditures discussed, relate to that time. The chart referring to a Call for a New Tea Party was also produced in 1991, well before the modern Tea Party movement got started.]
Amazingly, many politicians continue to insist that the government needs more money. How much is enough? Seventy-five percent of Americans’ wages? One Hundred percent? The truth is, no amount can satisfy the needs of an ambitious politician whose real agenda is the acquisition and enlargement of power.
On a foggy London night not too long ago, a middle-aged grocer, while walking towards Paddington Station to catch his train home, was mugged at knifepoint. The assailant, pressing his blade against the hapless victim’s throat, bent him over backwards and issued a strange ultimatum: “Give me taxes!”
“Taxes”? That’s right, today’s thief operating in the UK does not say “Your money or your life” or similar clichés. He robs you by demanding “taxes.” This author always thought that was the prerogative of the government. And yet, as many taxpayers have long claimed, politicians and thieves do have a lot in common, each group holding to a basic core belief: “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.”
Thieves and politicians
Did you ever wonder how criminals could justify—to themselves—stealing the hard-earned property of other people? Upon being interviewed, many convicts have revealed their bizarre world view that what belongs to others is really theirs (the “Saddam Hussein syndrome”). One particularly ruthless Los Angeles gang member, now in prison for murdering a teenage girl, offered this justification for robbing others: “It’s like I’m coming up in the world, you know. I’m trying to make it, and I need your wallet. That’s how I see it.”
Politicians, also trying to “make it” in the world, need our wallets too. In both instances—with the thief, and with the congressman who takes your money and spends it on a study of the sex lives of Siamese fighting fish—a huge ego is at work. An inordinately egotistical person actually thinks that your money and your possessions are there to serve his needs. In his mind, everyone and everything exists solely for the gratification of his selfish desires.
Just for a moment, let’s look at government without any rose-colored glasses. All governments throughout the world justify everything they do as being in the best interests of “the people.” Communism, now thoroughly discredited throughout the world (except in Cuba and some American college campuses), for decades justified the most terrible oppression of entire populations as being for “the people.” Let us therefore dispense with all pretenses of good intentions, and review exactly what government, and particularly its power to tax, actually does.
The government literally comes to each citizen with a gun (the force of law) and demands his money (taxes)—about 45 percent of it if you live in the U.S., more in other countries. The government then turns around and gives that money to people who have not earned it, and most often do not deserve it. This pattern of legislated legal plunder has had the unfortunate but undeniable effect of imprinting many members of society—not just thieves—with the justification for stealing, in one form or another.
They say the fish stinks from the head down. When people perceive themselves as victims of an annual government-sanctioned stickup, many begin to feel justified in taking from one another. After all, if stealing is the name of the game, you’ve got to play just to break even. Government sets the tone and gives us permission by example to plunder one another. In sly little ways many people constantly steal—whether by insurance fraud, shoplifting, embezzlement, inflated work estimates, or tax cheating (which, however, many regard as more like crime prevention).
Making friends and influencing people
What gives politicians their chutzpah? What turns an idealistic, all-American type into an arrogant, free-spending, power-hungry official who seems to have disdain for the very people who elected him? Let’s examine the process that transforms our congressional Dr. Jekyll into money-hungry Mr. Hyde.
First, consider how a taste of power affects the average person. A man strolls into the neighborhood bar, swaggers up to the bartender and bellows, “Drinks for everyone!” He’s an instant hero; the patrons love him. Women who never looked his way now snuggle up to him. He’s a celebrity.
Now what if our bountiful barfly unearths unlimited wealth, and can buy drinks for the house every night? Before long he develops an addiction to the “love” and adulation of the patrons, while the crowd begins to expect, even demand, his generosity as their due, having become accustomed to it. In time, drinks are not enough. The people require more perks to re-ignite their waning affections. Our good ole boy responds with bigger gifts—jewelry, appliances, vacation holidays, automobiles, whatever it takes to prime the pump of approval. It’s called buying friends. Among politicians it’s called buying votes. Either way, it’s an addiction.
The politician, however, buys his “friends” with taxpayers’ money. One taste of this potent elixir (one part public dough, one part adulation, stir in the hallucinogen of power) and the public servant loses his common sense. The ability to open doors and influence others (through public funds) creates an illusion of power that few can resist. A hardcore addict will do anything, spend anything, and promise anything, to secure uninterrupted access to this heady potion.
Wasting money can actually become a “religious ritual” that reaffirms an egotist’s overblown image of himself. Like the man in a restaurant who orders the most expensive item on the menu to impress his date, then eats only half his meal, some politicians can feel like bigwigs only when “money is no object.”’
Having been seduced by power, the politician is now ripe for manipulation. Enter a highly-influential special interest group that politely demands support for a $50 million bill to fund a useless project of no benefit to anyone except that special interest group. On the one hand, voting for it would be a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. On the other hand, voting it down could cost the support of a group capable of tipping the balance in the next election. He votes for it. It’s that simple. Staying in power is the most important item on his agenda.
He can’t “just say no.” Like the man in the bar, the politician addicted to power is compelled to raise the stakes and increase spending—not to solve problems, but to enlarge his sphere of influence.
The growth of government
For bureaucrats on all levels, problems represent a never-ending opportunity to expand power. We have all seen how one wrong government solution leads to five more problems requiring even more government intervention. It is not a coincidence. It is by design.
For example, tax money for social welfare programs has grown to outrageous proportions, from a “modest” $25 billion in 1950 to over thirty times that amount 40 years later. But has all this money helped the poor? No.
The unwieldy welfare system, fraught with corruptions and duplication of efforts, has succeeded in creating a tangle of government agencies, without making a dent in poverty. Often the strings attached to receiving benefits make the transition to self-sufficiency too great a leap for those on the edge, leaving many locked into a system of dependency.
Two classes of people are thus debilitated: The “have-nots” who, now dependent on government, are progressively robbed of the incentive to work. And the “haves,” who, seeing huge chunks of their paycheck going to support a growing army of have-nots, are also robbed of incentive.
But where government expansion is the goal, social welfare is a phenomenal success. These programs have helped create a new permanent underclass of Americans whose mentality is so debilitated, and who are so addicted to federal aid, that they will always be compelled to vote for liberals who “created” them. Some legislators create such a voting block unconsciously, thinking they are helping people; but others know exactly what they are doing. These are society’s sociopaths—the kind of people who, in the world of crime, kill for personal gain; who, in the corporate world, knowingly endanger employee’s lives for the sake of greater profits; and who, in the world of politics, ruin people’s lives and self-respect for the sake of power.
Of course, welfare is only one of an endless list of “good” programs that create a constituency loyal to the providers. Example: In 1971, $6 million was appropriated for “family planning” programs under Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Today, the amount is over $135 million. Government promotes immorality and sexual promiscuity through tax dollars given to Planned Parenthood and other agencies that promote teenage contraception, abortion, and “safe sex” in schools and communities—without parental consent. Most people who are seduced into an immoral lifestyle can be counted on to vote for those who did the seducing.
To the average person, throwing huge sums of money around for various causes without considering the consequences is unreasonable, yet it represents power to those in office. The cunning rationale behind the relentless increase in federal spending convinces some of the people all of the time. “We must raise taxes to provide essential social programs.” “More taxes are necessary to stem the flow of deficit spending.” Who can argue with helping others, or rescuing the economy from bankruptcy? Only a cold-hearted conservative could object to such noble goals…
We are almost sold, until we hear the punch line: $6 million to the National Seafood Council to teach people how to prepare fish, $100,000 for research into the public’s taste aversion to beets and liver, $3.1 million to convert a ferry boat into a crab restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. The absurdity of politicians spending $170,000 to fund a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Lawton, Oklahoma, leaves the public with a good laugh—followed immediately by a sober realization. It’s our money that’s being wasted. It’s crazy, yes. But crazy like a fox.
Love and power
To better understand how the taxpayer is bamboozled into supporting the madness of government, we need to understand ourselves. Have you ever noticed that the person wielding the greatest power in a family is often the one who exhibits the greatest love? And that the favored child who is coddled the most is often the weakest?
Something as innocent as a helping hand, a batch of fresh-baked cookies, or a supportive shoulder to cry on can, under certain circumstances, spell danger for the recipient. How can this be? It is a truism that attaining maturity means successfully facing ever-increasing stress, learning to overcome obstacles, and developing the “muscles” that make up character. Anyone who makes the road too easy for us threatens to derail the process, and leave us weak, dispirited, and dissatisfied with life.
In exactly the same manner, supposedly well-intentioned government giveaway programs can debilitate and destroy a nation. Even wild animals forget how to fend for themselves in the comfort of captivity. They often starve when set free in the wild, having been robbed of their natural ability to cope. But people, once separated from normal stresses—through the crippling, overprotective love of a parent or a government—lose much more than the ability to survive on their own. They become dehumanized, degraded, and eventually enslaved—like the dog who must wait on his master for food unable to hunt down his own meal.
Truly helping another person requires great discretion. What the “helper” often doesn’t recognize is that a cry for help can be answered by one of two kinds of compassion (offered by parents and governments): 1) the liberal type of compassion that coddles and nurtures weakness; and 2) the more moderate, no-nonsense, fatherly kind of compassion that corrects and provides just enough help to lead one to independence. The second type throws a person back on his own resourcefulness, and marks the difference between giving someone a fish, or providing him with a fishing rod and teaching him how to provide for himself. The compassion of liberals, with rare exceptions, feeds their own secret agenda for power.
Of course, not all politicians caught in this give-to-get-power cycle are dyed-in-the-wool manipulators. On one side stands the patriotic politician who believes in God, country, and family; on the other stands the demagogue posing as a statesman while hiding behind the flag for his own secret benefit. Between these two extremes some well-meaning politicians get caught up in the whirlpool and find themselves going along merely to survive. Without having the know-how or the backbone to back the system, they find themselves trapped.
Strength through adversity
In the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash, nearly 25 percent of all working Americans were suddenly unemployed. In proportion to the population, the number of homeless, disenfranchised men and women wandering the streets at the time was for greater than the number today.
Seeking a better life, whole families wandered across the dusty Midwest plains on their way to California. Camping out under the stars in the cold and the rain, they eked out a bare existence by doing whatever odd jobs they could find. Yet most were not humiliated as are many of today’s poor. From their tribulations, they grew in character.
Today things are different. Large numbers of people in economic distress have come to believe it is their due, their constitutional and human right, to have the government guarantee them food, housing, and employment. The stark fact is that all available evidence proves that government giveaway programs promote the very problems they supposedly attempt to cure. Yet this fact never quite convinces the government to change its philosophy of helping people.
It is easy to cripple people by “helping” them, and difficult to promote their independence by helping them. Why?
Let’s take a look at the classic “welfare queen” syndrome—the mother with 11 kids by four different fathers. The more children she has out of wedlock, the more she is rewarded by government largesse. Exactly what happens when such a person accepts this kind of “help?” The human ego is a strange creature. If it gets too big, the ego typically feels like a “king” or “queen”—i.e. an object of adulation, receiver of tribute, and a judge of the wicked (in other words, angry at everyone). Unfortunately, this “king” side of the ego loves to be “honored” by “offerings,” which is precisely how the “welfare queen” secretly regards the money she gets from government.
Sadly, something vital is lost in the process. When she receives her “tribute” from government, she is seduced into perpetuating her untenable and miserable lifestyle by having even more kids out of wedlock; at the same tine, she moves farther and farther away from the ability to get her life together.
Often, a person in trouble needs to be left alone. If he is “rescued” he may never discover and tap into an inner well of strength, but may instead find himself, out of habit, relying on others to save him all the time. It is a rare individual who knows intuitively that the “glory” of receiving help can leave him even more helpless. He senses the strings attached and either accepts the offering without feeling “honored,” or chooses to refuse a gift rather than be obligated or weakened.
Have you ever experienced being given something, and afterwards feeling a strange pull in your solar plexus—a feeling of obligation towards the giver? For example, the Hare Krishnas offer you a flower at the airport. If you are “honored” by such a gift, you may well find yourself obligated to buy their wares. Think about it; it happens all the time. In the same way, government gives—apparently for a noble purpose—but secretly obligates the voter to continue to give support.
A look at Sweden, which is ahead of America in the cradle-to-grave socialist security business, shows where we are headed. Teenage suicide and alcoholism in that country are epidemic. The Swedish government, long admired by American liberals as having the best of both worlds—democratic government with its attendant freedoms, as well as socialist cradle-to-grave security—has sapped the life and hope out of its citizens. Remember the pitfalls of being “helped” in the wrong way. Once the pleasurable warmth of being “loved” (through massive welfare schemes) wears off, feeling of betrayal, futility, fear, and depression are left behind as the price of a too-secure life. As psychological and emotional “muscles” atrophy from lack of use, a person loses his zest for life. Where are the challenges that catalyze the evolution of character? Without some risks, life is a dead-end existence without hope or meaning.
Anger over a wasted life when turned inward may result in suicide. Turned outward, the secret rage welling up towards the sly do-gooders seeks an outlet. Yet how can that rage be expressed when blocked by a friendly face? So the rage is suppressed and may come out in unfocused acts of violence. Missing the healthy, natural problems that come out of making progress in life, the spoiled victim goes out looking for trouble to give himself a challenge. Bullying and picking fights offer a “cheap thrill” that feels like growing, but simply provides an illusion of strength and evolves the animal rather than the man.
In the same way, if a parent gives his child everything (perhaps hoping to save the child from the suffering the parent had to endure), the child loses the incentive to mow a few lawns and deliver newspapers. An overly generous parent, seeing his child’s lack of initiative, may complicate matters further by pressuring and nagging the youngster to go to work.
The child then conforms or rebels, becoming either a hardworking conformist (having responded to his parents’ pressure, not to his own inner motivation) or a lazy bum. If he rebels and therefore refuses to work, he may end up addicted to welfare.
Quite a few middle-aged parents, having destroyed their children in this way, go on to pick up street people, not so much to help them, but to perpetuate the feeling of being generous humanitarians. Such “sweetness and light” people yearn to be in control through their degrading, spoiling love. This “need to give” evolves into the same kind of addiction as the need to receive and feel honored. The cry of helplessness—like a clarion call to heaven—ushers in the kind of “salvation” that created the problem in the first place.
But look what happens: When you seduce an able-bodied person into unnecessarily going on welfare, you are humiliating him—and he feels it. Sooner or later, to overcome the unbearable humiliation of receiving, he may start to take from others. He thereby becomes the one doing the humiliating; it is the only way he sees to rise above the humiliation he feels at the hands of government. This syndrome is a common cause of crime.
Doesn’t all this describe liberal politics to a “tee”—and the method of a falsely compassionate government? Men and women craving power while thinking of themselves as humanitarians appeal to people’s base instincts and nurture those instincts for the sake of creating a dependency that cries out for “services” endlessly. What is worse, these “servants” do not use their own wealth (as do the middle aged parents). They have access to the treasury, to the pork barrel in the sky—unlimited wealth.
The power-hungry liberals in the halls of power only pretend to have our best interests at heart. They throw money at anything that even remotely resembles a problem, but for them every problem can be solved only with a new program that succeeds in making the problem worse. For politicians in love with power, that is the grand design. If they stumbled across a right answer, they’d bury it deep, for right answers create independence and threaten their power and false sense of worth. Ambitious demagogues despise self-reliant, independent people—they have no use for them. Thomas Paine said it well: “The palaces of kings are built on the ruins of paradise.”
A jealous god
When America faces the threat of a foreign power (such as the USSR during the height of the Cold War) more money has to be poured into the military. At that point, the “compassionate” liberals become alarmed. Wanting as much of your money as possible for power-base building, and seeing that power diverted away from themselves, they try to minimize the dangers, and may even sympathize with the enemy.
They cry for peace—not necessarily because it’s good for the nation, but because peace means more money for social programs. Yet, for all the spending of the last 40 years, has more money made better schools? Of course not. Has more money helped the poor? No—we have more poverty. Has more money cured any social ills? No—because those in power extend a helping hand to all the wrong people, in all the wrong ways, and for all the wrong reasons.
We are truly funding our own destruction with our tax dollars. The solution? Put the sweet deceivers—those power-hungry politicians—out of work by seeing liberal generosity for what it is. No matter what form it takes, we must all eventually discover that often it’s better to “eat dirt” than to accept a handout.
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If we as a nation can realize that handouts on the personal, state, and federal level come with an unacceptable price tag, if we all refrain from dipping into public funds unnecessarily, and if we can take to heart the words of John F. Kennedy, who counseled, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”—then we can return to the rugged individualism that made this country great. We will have overcome our own addiction to government, and “throwing the rascals out” will then be as easy, enjoyable, and exhilarating as the Boston Tea Party of our forefathers. So the next time the government throws money your way, be sure to duck.
Listen to Roy Masters LIVE call in radio show Monday to Friday from 9 PM to 11 PM Pacific on KDWN Radio in Las Vegas, NV.
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Roy Masters—who in his 80s continues to broadcast the longest-running counseling show in talk radio history, his internationally syndicated daily radio program Advice Line, grew up in pre-WWII England. He started his journey toward understanding human nature when as a teen he saw a stage hypnotist at a vaudeville show in Brighton. The hypnotist easily put volunteer subjects in a spell and made them do outlandish things, like dancing with a broom and forgetting their own names.
Puzzled by the hypnotist’s mysterious power, Roy distinctly remembers pondering the question: “Why can’t hypnotism be used to make people act sensibly, rather than foolishly?” Inspired by the idea of harnessing this baffling force for good, he later pursued the art of hypnotism and established a successful hypnotherapy practice.
After several years of practice, Masters made his central and pivotal discovery about the root of people’s emotional problems, addictions and complexes. He realized that people did not need hypnosis, because their core problem was that they are already hypnotized—not by a clever stage performer, but by the stresses, pressures and seductions of daily life.
He used his knowledge to discover a way to help us become de-hypnotized, and discovered that the root of the power of negative suggestion lay in our wrong emotional response, that of resentment. Masters’ remarkably effective exercise, a simple observation technique called Be Still and Know—is at the core of his unmatched track record in helping people overcome even the most serious mental-emotional problems, and is the centerpiece of a successful program within the U.S. military community (“Patriot Outreach”) that is helping thousands of military personnel and their families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).