December 09, 2010

Why is it that...

Why do we Americans demand money, cars, food, bonuses, health care, jobs, or whatever from our government? Why is it that a vast portion (41.71% source) of our national expenditure is devoted to taking money from some people and giving it to others, for whatever purpose (social security, medicare, medicaid...). The government has taken upon itself to take our money from us and distribute it wherever it sees fit - to national parks, to health care, to job security and promotion, to all of the things it spends on. Why exactly is that the government's job? Who decided that, if someone was going to give, it had to be the government? Why should the government be the solution? Besides violating the principle of subsidiarity (under which the smallest, most local authority possible handles the problem), it takes away from our free will. How? Let me show you.

First, I would like to make it clear that whatever money the government spends comes from one of two places. Either it is tax money, or it is interest on foreign loans (trade tariffs, for the sake of this argument, can be regarded as taxes, since the price of the tariff is tacked on top of the price we pay for the goods...). Now, since our nation is so far in debt, I don't think interest on foreign loans is going to get us much revenue. Therefore, any money that the government spends (really) comes out of our own pockets. Thus, any money that the government spends to benefit our lives is our own money! In other words, all of the social security, medicare, and projects that Uncle Sam funds is, by its nature, someone else deciding what is best to do with the profit you worked hard to earn. This clearly showcases one of the core principles of small-government philosophy: whenever a government acts, it necessarily performs this action instead of and at the expense of the people.

Let's elaborate on this idea. First, consider that first part - the government acts instead of the individual. Suppose, for the hypothetical sake of argument, that the government pays for medical care for the elderly (What's that? They already do?). If the government pays for their health care, then no one else can supply that portion of helping their elderly parents. If Grandma is in the hospital at the government's expense, you don't personally have the capacity to give her the gift of paying for it yourself. Health care, living expenses, and public property restoration are all a finite pie. If the government takes all the slices, the individual's opportunity for charity and generosity gets eaten up. And, if we can believe Plato and his Republic, and the purpose of a government is to help foster a virtuous public, then the less opportunity a citizen has to act charity the less the government fulfills its purpose. In terms of true, habituated virtue, "Let me do it for you" is completely opposed to personal growth.

Second, consider the fact that the government acts at the expense of the individual. The government is not some magical sorcerer who gives from an inexhaustible store of enchanted goodies. The government consists of the ruling body, in its laws, elected officials, and available capital. The government is only so rich as its people, and can give nothing of its own. Like I posited above, the government's only income is our tax. Whatever the government gives to the community, it first takes from the community. The government doesn't give, it necessarily, by its nature redistributes. Any government plan that puts money into development or care takes whatever funds it needs from the people. Why would you elect someone who would promise to pay for your education with government money? Government money is a contradiction in terms - that money is and always has been owned by the people. Why would you elect a candidate who promises to give more money to the schools? That money is coming from your pocket, anyway. And, since you know your own, personal needs better than the government does, why do you let them do it for you?

Having established this principle, lets return to our discussion. How does government spending take away from our free will? Let us, for the sake of this argument, assume that "free will" means the ability to say yes or no internally (as differentiated from "freedom," which, according to this discussion might have some qualifications). Now, as stated above, more government spending means less American citizen spending on two counts - one, the government already pays for stuff so we can't, and two, it uses our money to do it so we have less. One of those options clearly takes away from our freedom - if the government spends, then we can't do that spending. That option is no longer there. The way is shut. However, the second, taking our money, removes freedom in a subtler way. Whether for good or ill, we live in a capitalist society, where your abilities as an individual depend upon your affluence and wealth. I am not free to take my children to Disney World if I can't pay for it. This is just a fact. So, if the government takes a good chunk of my paycheck, it is not at my disposal, and my kids will have to hope I can come up with a low-budget vacation plan.

Most importantly, as the government takes our money, they also take the decisions we make with that money. If I decided to spend my money on the health care of my children, then I am virtuous. But if Big Brother decides that I, in my ignorance and lack of virtue, am not capable of making those decisions, and makes them himself, then we have a problem. The fact that the American who earns a modest $40,000 a year pays 15% of that to the government means that the government deigns to revoke that American's right to decide where his hard-earned $6,000 goes. What if he wants to support a local business and stimulate the economy by eating out? He can't with that $6,000. What if he wants to make a charitable donation to a soup kitchen or Boy Scout troop? He can't with that $6,000. What if he wants to pay for his mother's quadruple bypass in gratitude for his upbringing? He can't with that $6,000. And if a man can't do with his own work what he pleases, what can he do? Well, I guess he can scrape by on a tight budget and scrap the charity he would have done otherwise.

This is the crux of the matter: if the government steals from me my ability to do good, and to fail to do good is to lose part of my humanity, then the government is taking from me my humanity. Plain and simple. In days of old, man was constantly in danger of becoming bestial and giving in to his base desires. That is no longer the case. Under the government nanny-state, where no good OR ill action is possible, we become machines working for the cause of whichever president stands behind the control panel. If we are lucky, he will be benevolent in his rule, and seek to at least help us lead contented lives of drudgery. But why should he? He doesn't owe any responsibility to robots deprived of their free will and human dignity.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home