As we have entered into the contest for control of our government in earnest now that the participants in most races have been determined, the usual hollow and disingenuous arguments between the two parties that have led us down the road to ruin have begun. The Democrat party, populated primarily with communists and socialists who want nothing more than to convince us all that we cannot live without government controlling, regulating and providing for every activity under the sun will charge the Republicans, populated primarily with socialists, cowards and fools, with trying to remove the “safety net” from under everyone and thereby ensuring that children and old people die in the streets. Each side will accuse the other of trying to cut programs and entitlements that are dear to them, back and forth, back and forth, millions and dollars flying around to convince us that the lies are true.
The lies I talk about are not the usual told by politicians about each other. The big lie is that any politician in either party will cut any program, eliminate any regulation, or reduce any government expenditure. There may be occasional adjustments-Democrats will actually cut defense spending, one of the only expenditures that is actually constitutional, and the Republicans occasionally reform some program like welfare, but when power shifts the spending is reinstated and the programs expanded once again.
The fundamental problem is that the argument is about how government is to be involved and not whether government should be involved. Once our political discussion centers around the former and considering the latter is political suicide, liberty is lost and the road to financial ruin and totalitarianism is firmly established. Take that most sacred of sacred cows, the famous “third rail” of American politics, Social Security, for example. The whole program is a scheme, it is a lie, it is going broke, it is unable to fulfill the promises it has made. We hear some of that…occasionally. Yet even “conservatives” are quick to point out that no one on “our side”, meaning Republicans, is talking about reducing or eliminating Social Security. “We” simply want to reform the program, raise the retirement age sometime in the distant future or other such gimmicks. Both sides have accepted the premise that it is acceptable for the government to forcibly extract money (read steal) from one citizen and give it to another, that it is normal for the elderly to be dependent on government for their livelihood, that the role of government is to redistribute wealth to the irresponsible or unlucky By accepting that premise, the arguments for expanding government will always have more strength than those for its restriction.
Social Security is actually a great example of this principle at work. It was originally confined to poor, old widows. Once it was established, however, that it was moral, legal and socially acceptable for government to take money from some to give to others for one reason, no good argument can be made against others. If not poor widows, why not poor widowers? Why not poor couples? Why not supplement the incomes of all the elderly? Why shouldn’t we help them with their health care, how can you deny them that? What about the rest of the poor who can’t afford food, housing and health care? Shouldn’t a moral society meet those needs? What about health care for everyone? What about their education, shouldn’t we provide for that as well? And the list grows and the government takes more and more money from fewer and fewer people as the list of dependents grows and grows and programs encompass more areas of everyday life that weren’t even considered areas of government concern one hundred years ago.
Once the populace has been convinced that the role of government is to provide for them by plundering their fellows, once a nation has become populated primarily by moochers and looters, the trend is nearly impossible to reverse. Look what is happening in Europe with their total cradle to grave welfare states and massive public bureaucracies. Greece, the first state to go over the cliff into total collapse, made a feeble attempt at “austerity”. Facing the complete inability to pay for the myriad of goodies promised, the people demanded nothing be changed. They protested, they rioted, and they elected a government that would ensure the gravy train continued, an election that included a substantial percentage of communists and Nazis! France elected a communist leader for the same reason. With the short sightedness that comes from a mentality that cannot conceive of life detached from the government’s teat, people in a democracy will vote to stay nuzzled to the breast until it finally dries up in total collapse.
In the next few years we will see several European countries destroyed by the so called good intentions of the socialists who only wanted to meet the needs of the needy, provide health care for the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless. Noble goals all. A good society will seek to do all those things. A good government will not. It is immoral to force one individual to relinquish the sustenance he has earned through his hard work, the property he has acquired by exercising his faculties, and give it to another for any reason. If government uses its monopoly on force to steal from one and give to another it becomes immoral and illegitimate and a society that accepts such theft as normal will become progressively less virtuous. It happened in Europe, it has happened here. A nation that embraces legal plunder will follow the road to destruction-morally and fiscally. Can America beat the odds, can we reverse this seemingly irreversible trend? Not if we concede the argument for liberty, not if we accept the premise that any plunder is acceptable. Not if we keep electing people who merely fight over who will distribute the stolen goods and how they will be handed out.
Michael Calpino for Congress