Saturday, August 15, 2009

Extort thy neighbor, or how to ruin a nation

The code words used for so-called "health care reform," single-payer, universal coverage, etc. bring images into the minds of many of "free" health care, something for nothing.

When I was a boy, I was often puzzled why Dad didn't go for the special deals, discounts, etc. when we shopped for something. Now I understand that these were tricks crafted for the consumer looking for something for nothing. Dad knew that if you went after "something for nothing," you would be hooked and reeled in like a fish who took the bait. In the real world there is no "something for nothing." Those promising "something for nothing" have something else in mind. In the case of health care the "something else" is frightening. What would Dad have said about this?

Something for nothing is a trap for suckers.

How many voters in the last election thought they would get something for nothing with the "tax cut for 95%", or, worse, knew they would be mooching off the other 5%? How many votes were cast thinking more "goodies" would be coming from the government?

It didn't used to be like this. My great grandfather John C. was a teenager when his father, John M. died during the Civil War. As the only son, he undoubtedly had to carry the responsibility for the family. John C. later married and raised three sons and a daughter, and then two grandsons after the daughter died in childbirth. He and his wife Ida provided for the family by their own efforts on their small farm in Kentucky. They raised their own food or sold or traded what they produced for what they needed. They never asked the government or their neighbors to give them anything. John didn't go to some government office crying that he now had two orphans to take care of. They were self-reliant. They lived in a time when it was considered less than honorable not to be.

The moral code they lived by, which continued all the way down to my father, was "I refuse to accept what I have not earned." My father and mother held to that code, and would have considered accepting a hand-out (much less asking for one) profoundly immoral and lower than low. If some government agent had come to John C.'s farm demanding he give money to be used to support another or else, he would have been met with a few choice words unsuitable for this article, and probably a shotgun. John C. would have never have voted for a candidate promising to "spread the wealth around."

The Founders never intended to create a Constitution allowing the taking from one to give to another.

James Madison said:

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort.... This being the end of government, that alone is not a just government, ....nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.

And John Adams:

Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.

And Thomas Jefferson:

[A] wise and frugal government... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

Samuel Adams believed the Constitution prohibited spreading the wealth around:

The Utopian schemes of leveling and a community of goods are as visionary and impractical as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court agreed with Samuel Adams in a 1795 decision:

The legislature, therefore, had no authority to make an act divesting one citizen of his freehold, and vest in it in another, without just compensation. ..... It is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

Later courts strayed from the Constitution, as in the 1936 Butler case, saying that transfer of wealth from one citizen to another was allowed by virtue of the "General Welfare" statement in the Constitution. The judgment in the Butler case contains the remarkable statement:

It results that the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution.

This is a blank check and indeed a curious stretch of logic, since harming one citizen to benefit another cannot by definition promote the general welfare. President Obama's statement is equally self-contradictory:

..and I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody

Spreading the wealth will not be voluntary but forced by the power of the federal government. Suppose a fictitious individual (I'll call him Jack) decides he needs some extra funds. After living a life of excess, he finds himself in need of some medical procedures, and, by the way, some Viagra would be nice too. So Jack comes to my door and asks me to help. I tell him no. In a rational, civilized society, that would be the end of it. But Jack is more persistent. The next time he comes to my door there are a couple of burly-looking guys waiting in his car. He points to his "friends" and warns of serious consequences if I don't hand over the dough. Now in my little dictionary, this is called "extortion"

to get (money, etc.) from someone by force or threats

Extortion is, of course, illegal. Not easily intimidated, I refuse again. But Jack tries again, this time sending one of his burly-looking friends. Since I answered the door with a mean looking hammer in my hand, he goes away.

Jack really wants that Viagra, so he calls his Congressman. Later an IRS agent appears at my door. The IRS is not deterred by a hammer. The IRS agent carries the threat of incarceration in his briefcase. If I resist, I may find myself sharing a cell with one of Jack's burly friends. The conversation might go like this:

Me, "What are you in for?"

The burly guy, "Extortion, what about you?"

Me, "Resisting extortion."

Who can tell me why when Jack's friend visits, it is extortion, and when the government agent visits it isn't? No one can, because logically there is no difference. Ayn Rand in fact gives a slight moral edge to Jack's friend (from Collectivized Ethics in The Virtue of Selfishness):

In fact, the private hoodlum has a slight edge of moral superiority: he has no power to devastate an entire nation and his victims are not legally disarmed.

Who are the villains here?

Number one are the voters who choose politicians who will extort money for them from their neighbors. "Fair share of the rich" to these voters means they will be getting some of that money, with visions of free stuff dancing in their heads. As Will Rogers observed:

We say the way the government is run now is all nutty and that it's throwing money away. But anytime any is thrown our way, why we've never dodged it.

"Free" government money is not free, but has been extorted from your neighbors.

The other villain and the master at this extortion game is the modern Democratic Party, which might as well rename itself the Parasite Party. The road to power for the Democratic Party is by creating parasites of different groups, in essence, buying votes from the parasites by extorting from the hosts. By doing so, they pit one group of citizens against another. They manipulate the human emotions of compassion, greed, and envy for political gain. They make the claim to be compassionate, but never to anyone who has worked hard to produce wealth for themselves, instead promote hatred and envy of them.

People are tiring of being forced to pay for someone else. Anger is growing against politicians who have become elitist and tyrannical, with nothing but disdain for us "common folks." The time is rapidly approaching when too many parasites kill the host. As the wise Benjamin Franklin observed about the new Constitution,

Once the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the Republic.

America has not been free, prosperous, and economically strong by magic. No other-worldly force guarantees us a high standard of living. We are economically strong only because our people have been free to pursue their own wealth. This year there are numerous examples of businesses not expanding or hiring because of an anti-business administration. History is full of examples of the failure of collectivized schemes, including the miserable failure of the initial communal structure at Jamestown.

We are well down the road to ruining the nation. We the People need to remember the lesson of Jamestown, and reconsider the values of John C. and our ancestors.

by Gary Horne, The American Thinker

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