The First Refuge of a Scoundrel
"Idealism is the noble toga that political gentlemen drape over
their will to power." -- Aldous Huxley
If there is anything that gives believers in big government a de
facto edge in arguments, it's their conviction that their altruistic
intent gives them moral authority. So much so that they can seize
property from people without their permission and justify it via the
"good" it supposedly does. And if anyone dares question either the ends
or the means, the response is usually an angry litany of name-calling
and accusations: You're starving kids, denying the elderly their
medicine, wrecking the environment, and so forth ad nauseum. (Notice
that none of this addresses, much less refutes the substance of the
criticism, instead serving to re-direct attention away from their
actions and the efficacy thereof. It does tend to suggest that they know
their track record exposes their weak case, and they can only "defend"
it by going on offense as a diversion.)
In fact, if there is anyone inflicting injury, it is those who
would use the less fortunate as an excuse to trample on individual
liberty and accumulate power for themselves. No matter how much good may
be done (and I would argue that far less of it is done than is claimed)
it cannot be worth the loss of freedom it entails. Perhaps we do not
sufficiently value this priceless intangible over the basic materials
needed to sustain life, but we will live to regret the day we sold our
creator-endowed rights for a few consumable goods. And, in so doing,
gave those of a mind to do so the means by which to control us all.
Now then, let us for a moment entertain the postulate of the
do-gooders, and evaluate it at face value:
Does government "charity" work?
By any objective measure, the answer is no. We've spent going on $6
trillion dollars on "anti-poverty" programs, from Medicaid to the
amalgamation of programs that are categorized as welfare, since their
inception in the mid-1960's on the massive scale which we've come to
know them. That's more than $20,000 for every man, woman, and child in
America. Yet the poverty rate has not substantially changed. If
anything, it has increased.
Why? I believe it is because the money acted as a de facto reward
for the irresponsible behavior that causes people to be poor (making
illegitimate babies, most notably, as stats confirm) and not as help to
get out of that situation. To put it more simply, you're always going to
get more of any behavior you effectively pay people for having engaged
in. And that's what we've been doing. The whole exercise thus backfired,
in spectacularly expensive fashion.
There are only three things one needs to do to avoid poverty in
America: graduate high school, get married, and don't have children
until sometime thereafter. Government shoveling other people's money at
folks cannot force any of these behaviors from someone otherwise
determined not to learn, work, marry, or to have promiscuous sex. One
would think it would take less than $6 trillion dollars for us to figure
Even if it did work, is it right?
Again, the answer is no. No amount of good in the end can justify
stealing as the means. By that standard, I could rob a bank so long as I
drop the sacks of money off at a charity. In this hypothetical scenario,
I think we'd all conclude that my not keeping the money makes the
robbery no less a crime. And that I'm not the least bit "generous" for
having "donated" other people's money.
Well, the same is true of government and those who advocate its
taking of property for the sake of "compassion". In truth, they are
little more than glorified bank robbers using the needy to cloak their
crime. Worse yet, they go on to claim personal credit for having been
"generous," never mind that it's not even their money they're
"donating." The least they could do is leave that for the true owners of
the taxes they spend, but they even steal that too. (And when the victim
rightfully objects, they all but slander him with baseless accusations
of damage that shall surely befall us should they not be allowed to
continue. Talk about chutzpah.)
An inherently immoral act cannot produce a moral result. Since the
antecedent of government "charity" is stealing, it shouldn't be
surprising (and if anything, it's rather fitting) that its effects have
been more negative than positive.
So what is the real reason? In a word, ego. Do-gooders believe in nothing
so much as their own importance. Hence the belief in government as curer
of all ills; government is just a pseudonym for "me". To put it another
way, you don't really think they accumulated all that power in
Washington to hand over to someone else to administer, do you?
This can be seen in their two main tactics--elevating intent over
results and accusing their opponents. Both have the same
root--glorifying the self. The former, in that it obscures how wrong
they were and credits them for meaning well; the latter, in that if
their opponent is evil personified, then they themselves must be
I realize that this may sound a bit overstated, but what else can
you call people who think, for instance, that they can and should save
us all from imminent disaster by controlling the weather (global
warming)? How can one listen to that and not think that the speaker
pictures himself wearing a cape, fists on hips, chest puffed out, with a
trumpet fanfare? In a way, I almost hate to break the news that he's
just a mortal human being like the rest of us...and worse yet, that he's
inflicting harm rather than ameliorating it. But it must be done, as
amusing as the self-image otherwise is, because there is a grave danger
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of
its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under
live robber barons than under omnipotent moral busibodies. The robber
baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good, will torment us
without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C.S. Lewis
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