After my last article caused such a stir here on Opednews, I've decided to do a follow up to address the feedback I received. Not surprising for a liberal leaning site, I received quite a few e-mails and comments expressing emphatic dissent with my libertarian views. I'll do my best to make my case a little more matter-of-factly than in my previous piece.
The paradox that I find in all logic behind socialism and wealth distribution in this country comes down to what I believe is not from a lack of understanding of circumstances, but of principle. Of course on the surface, we all know in our hearts that it is not right to let a starving person go hungry, or a homeless person to go without shelter. We know it is not morally right to habitually deny help to someone who has chosen to reach out to you. I do not advocate, in any way, to leave the have not's with nothing, and to leave the poor out in the cold. Let me preface this by saying I made less than $20,000 last year, and unlike many of you, I actually was homeless at one point. Selling off every last possession I had just to afford a slice of pizza, some nights sneaking into apartment buildings in Philadelphia, sleeping in the hallway using someone's rolled up welcome mat as a pillow and just hoping no one would come out of their door and tell me to leave. Don't talk to me about not understanding what it's like to have nothing and to need help, because I lived it. I was a victim of a failing business that I had sunk all of my savings and credit into, which ultimately failed. I didn't go to anyone asking for a bailout, I took my lumps and let it send me where it sent me.
That being said, I seriously disagree with any form of government intervention being taken in the form of safety nets, welfare, or any other kind of government financial aid; regardless of circumstance or absolution of fault. The principle at work here is freedom. Freedom to live how you want, to not be weighed down with the problems of others, and to not be responsible for others' mistakes. My situation is a perfect example. All of my friends and relatives around me have their own problems, their own difficulties in life. As my business was failing, could I have chosen to pursue legal action against all of those that denied me help? My dad, for instance. He and his second wife are very fiscally responsible people. They have been working and saving their whole lives, never spending money frivolously and always working long hours to be as debt free as possible. They are 2 very respectable people. If I had chosen to ask them for help and been denied, would I have legal grounds to pursue civil action? I mean, let's face it, at the time I could have made the argument that if they didn't inject working capital into my business, it was going to go under. I had 2 employees who would have lost their jobs along with myself. I had a housemate that was dependent on me for half of our rent, a credit union dependent on me to pay back my loans. If they deny me, all of these people suffer. I can tell you right now had I chosen this route, you already know the laughs I would have received in court.
Imagine the judge's reaction after hearing my argument-
"Yep. But you don't understand Your Honor, I really REALLY need this, or I will be homeless! They will be fine!"
Civil courts are responsible for awarding any form of compensation or damages. They determine who takes responsibility for the cause of any financial circumstance, and they determine the appropriate amount the plaintiff is entitled to, so here is my question:
When did the Constitution anoint Congress with the power to also play the role of the civil courts? The courts rule that if a citizen has committed no act of aggression or negligence, that the plaintiff is not entitled to any form of compensation- financial or otherwise. So where is Congress getting their inspiration? Is this not what freedom literally means? To be free to live your life how you please, so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others' freedoms? Congress contradicts this entire notion through the avenue of social programs and "stimulus" packages. They have asserted that you may live your life as you please, but you are also financially responsible to pay for others' misfortunes or shortcomings.
Let's discuss the current health care social programs. While I am obviously not against children having health care, S-chip is a great example. In 2007, combined with medicare and medicaid, it accounted for $572 billion, which was 21% of the entire federal budget. That figure is literally half of the entire revenues collected by the income tax. In other words, thanks to these programs, the income tax is literally over double what it should be. Please understand that this is real money. The number sounds so ridiculous that it doesn't even seem real. These programs are for people that can't provide for themselves or their children. So why doesn't Congress pass a bill ordering the healthcare industry to work for free? (I know, stupid question). Well, honestly what difference does the current scenario make? You work 8 hours per day, you are paid for 6, and the last 2 hours's pay are given away to the governemnt, who then gives it to the doctor's, who give care to the patients. Okay, so forcing the doctors to work for free would obviously be wrong, so why is it okay to force joe office worker to do it?
Now, do I like the idea of people with healthcare? No, because hello- I'm one of them! But just like with the right to free speech, I do not like the idea of the KKK occupying a city square and broadcasting hate speech at their rallies, as most of us don't. So why then do we allow them to obtain permits for these events? Because they have the right as Americans to speak as they wish, regardless of the popularity. Does that sound like freedom? In that same vein, I do not agree with forcefully garnishing the wages of every working American in this country by $572 billion, just so that it can be spread back around to others who, while needing it, have no legal right or entitlement to it. I AM NOT AGAINST HEALTHCARE FOR CHILDREN OR SENIORS, but I am against forceful wage garnishment (or a higher income tax rate if you feel better calling it that, it's the same thing) regardless of what it is going to, just as I don't endorse mugging people on the street, regardless if the proceeds are going to charity, Remember my personal story of being in dire need, and I had no legal entitlement even from my own parents! So how are these people somehow more entitled to compensation from complete strangers?? It makes no sense!
Let's try the "greater good" angle. Is there anyone in America more needy than the most impoverished people on the planet- Africans? One could make the case that the children of Ethiopia are far more in need of help than nearly any American children, so is it that Africans are less entitled because they are not Americans? I can see already the argument would be "yeah well, they're not in my country, we need to take care of America first, that's the difference." Is it? That's the best you can do? Why could the same argument not be made against chldren from other states? Other towns? Other households?? Why could an American not say "The difference is, those kids are in New York, and I live in Arizona, so I should take care of Arizona first." or "Those kids live in Tucson and I live in Phoenix, so we should take care of Phoenix first." Or even better yet, "Those kids are from a different household, and I should be taking care of kids in my own household first." I think we have a winner. The fact that those needy children are in foreign lands does not somehow make them less needy, and according to a socialist's very own reasoning, should not all of our money be sent to the most needy first? The slippery slope we have come across here is who gets to make this decision with your money? Many democrats complain that the real problem is not government spending, but corrupt government. Yes, I will agree. This is true in it's entirety. However, here is where reality does not sink in for those on the left (and I know, because I was once a very left leaning super liberal) that it is a practice that will never, ever end, ever. Period. Ever. For a very simple reason- as long as this one entity that controls nearly 1 out of every 4 dollars spent in this country ($3.2T budget out of a $13.9 GDP) you will always have a corrupt government. Always. Even if by some miracle we managed to elect an honest Congress, it would be short lived, because the corporations, staring down at all the profits lost from a stand up against corruption, would work tirelessly and spend incredibly to fund their future candidates in the next election cycle and overthrow the do-gooder incumbents and install their pupperts. You know this, and I know this. Money will always buy elections, always. The only way to end this cycle is to make it useless to win these elections by shrinking the budget dramatically, so that the payoff is not even worth it. Why would corporations spend endlessly to corrupt a government in charge of less than a trillion dollars? It would be better spent advertising in the market place at that point, or improving the product. Isn't that exactly what we want? Money going to R&D instead of DC?
That entire argument aside, the real underlying principle here is the issue of property rights and ownership. Social programs undermine this very core foundation of our society, that individuals have a right to their person and property and it is not to be violated. You cannot legally go out and buy a gun, mug people in the street because you intendeed to give it to charity. It is still theft, regardless of what the money is used for, yet this is ultimately what socialism is on a grand scale. It is not random vigilantes, but an organized government offensive that has gone rogue against the very rights of property ownership. If you don't pay the taxes they have mandated, they will come and find you with guns and they will kill you if you resist. This is not justified simply because it is "going to a good thing" such as s-chip. As I stated in earlier, the civil courts already exist specifically to play this role! To decide justly who is entitled to what, and to rightfully protect the property of those who have done no wrong. How then can we say we believe in the Constitution and allow Congress to not only assume this role, but override the current branch that is to be the sole authority on this role? The courts have ruled this is an unjust and immoral practice, so how is it justified when it is performed by legislators who do it through a proxy of armed IRS agents? All I am asking is for everyone to contemplate the notion that as Americans we are to be free from this heavy hand. Under socialism you are not seen as an individual, but as a resource. You are born into the slavery of being forced to work to pay not only for your debts, but for the debts of others as well, even if the fault rests solely on their shoulders (drugs, gambling, :AHEM: bad business decisions)
Explain to me how this can be called a cornerstone of a free society.