Skip to comments.Why government stealing can't be stopped
Posted on 10/17/2003 2:11:10 PM PDT by hsmomx3
In 1850, Frederic Bastiat published his book, The Law, in which he said: "The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else." It is time to resurrect Bastiat and have a national debate on whether citizens have a constitutional and moral right to steal from each other.
According to Bastiat, there are three types of government:
1. A government in which "the few plunder the many."
2. A government in which "everybody plunders everybody."
3. A government in which "nobody plunders anybody."
With the exception of morons, liars and Ted Kennedy, no adult can deny that the United States government has morphed into No. 2. Since the passage of the 16th Amendment, the New Deal and the Great Society, we have become a nation that engages in widespread legal theft, a nation that believes that stealing is a moral and legitimate role of government.
In that sense, we are no different from Cuba. Thankfully, unlike Cuba, we have a Bill of Rights and civil liberties. But like Cuba, we no longer have a right to the fruits of our labor. In Cuba, money is stolen from citizens by Fidel Castro and the Communist Party. In the United States, money is stolen by elected politicians from some citizens for the benefit of other citizens.
Sometimes the theft takes place by means of a majority vote, which is a fancy way of saying that if 51 percent of voters want to steal money from 49 percent of voters, they can vote to do so. But in most cases the theft is sanctioned by a minority of citizens, since many citizens do not vote and many others are not eligible to vote yet have their money stolen.
I fail to see the moral distinction between the Cuban form of theft and the American version. Sure, the amount that is stolen and the process by which it is stolen are markedly different between the two countries, but the state has the power to take your money under both systems and give it to people who have no moral right to the fruits of your labor. And if you refuse to hand over your money under both systems, you end up in jail.
In Bastiat's day, less than two percent of government spending went to transfer payments, er, theft. Almost all spending was for the true general welfare -- for those government services that benefited all citizens as equally as practical, such as national defense, a court system and police protection. Today, transfer payments comprise over 40 percent of government spending.
Unfortunately, theft occurs in more ways than transfer payments. As Bastiat said, it also occurs in the form of "tariffs, subsidies, progressive taxation, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on."
Let's look at the biggest theft of them all, Social Security and Medicare.
Virtually no one would disagree that it would be wrong for a retiree to steal money from a kid's piggy bank for his retirement expenses. But through a leap in logic, many people believe that it is not wrong for a retiree to receive retirement benefits from the government and to send the bill to children.
And what a bill it is! According to a recent report by the Cato Institute, based on Congressional Budget Office numbers, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid now account for 41.3 percent of total federal spending. By 2020, the entitlements will consume 56.5 percent of federal spending, and by 2040, 78 percent.
Medicare alone has a $37 trillion -- yes, trillion -- imbalance between future tax revenues and current entitlement promises. The difference will be made up by future generations -- by today's children.
Granted, retirees do not see the theft as theft, because the government, public schools, AARP and the establishment media have led them to believe that the theft is something other than theft -- something other than the taking of other people's money for themselves. But it is unquestionably and undeniably theft. The following fictional exchange between a retiree and his neighbor illustrates the point:
Retiree: I need to buy some medicine and would like you to start giving me your kid's allowance.
Neighbor: Are you nuts? What right do you have to ask for my kid's money? Why don't you sell your fully loaded Buick, buy a Corolla, and use the savings to purchase your medicine?
Retiree: Where is your social conscience and sense of justice? The younger generation has a moral responsibility to support the elderly. It's for the common good.
Neighbor: Don't give me that common good crap. It's for your own selfish, greedy good. Besides, you've got three adult kids with good jobs. Why don't you ask them to support you or ask your church for help?
Retiree: Look, I'm entitled to your kid's money and am not going to take no for an answer, even if it means that I have to go home and get my pistol.
Neighbor: Yeah, do that and make my day. I'll call the police and have you arrested.
Retiree: Try it. I'll just ask my fellow AARP members to persuade Congress to vote for a prescription drug benefit, which will cost your kid and other kids about $7 trillion dollars over their working lives. If they refuse to pay when they start working, the police will arrest them. You'll save everybody a lot of time and trouble if you just hand over the money now.
Neighbor: You are a goddamn thief. Go to hell!
Theft has become so commonplace, so accepted by the American public and so endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats, that the following exchange never takes place on Meet the Press between host Tim Russert and a politician:
Politician: We need to spend x dollars on x program for the xyz group.
Russert: Why doesn't the xyz group spend its own money instead of taking money from the public treasury?
Politician: Well, uh ... you see, uh ... it's for the common good.
Russert: Not according to my understanding of the U.S. Constitution and its general welfare clause.
Politician: The Constitution is a living document.
Russert: Oh, so the supreme law of the land is malleable enough to allow one special-interest group to take money from the national treasury for itself? Based on your understanding of the law, then, there is no constitutional or moral limit to what the government can take and to whom it can give the money.
Politician: That's not what I said.
Russert: Well, what did you say? What is the limit?
Politician: (Fidgeting, coughing, sweating) I say that Americans are a generous people and want to help their fellow Americans. Only a mean-spirited person would not want to help the xyz group.
Russert: You didn't answer my question. Is there any constitutional or moral limit to what the government can take?
Politician: I don't think this is the time or place to debate constitutional and moral issues. I came here to talk about the x program.
Russert: We are talking about the x program, but you refuse to explain why the xyz group thinks it has a right to take other people's money. You've left me no choice but to end the interview here.
Of course, Russert would never ask such important and relevant questions. But he does invite John McCain and other politicians on Meet the Press to rail against money in politics and to justify restricting free speech in the name of campaign finance reform. It never seems to dawn on Russert and his dimwitted guests that over half of American politics is about theft -- about which group is going to receive stolen property that is fenced through the political system. If the government were to stop stealing, politicians would lose a substantial amount of campaign contributions and power, and campaign finance reform would be a non-issue.
And that's why government stealing cannot be stopped and why we have an immoral government.
Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (HAALT). He can be reached at email@example.com.
Achieving reform simply requires voters unhappy enough to insist on reforms. Nothing more. The War on Drugs simply isn't a burning issue for most voters, nor are many of the other issues that Freepers care about. You may not like it. I may not like it. But the answer isn't to resort to non-democratic means to force our will on others. If you want to talk about a dangerous slippery slope, let's talk about government without consent.
No. If it's done by free and fair elections where we all have an equal vote and by due process of law, then it is not stealing. You may not like it. But it is not stealing.
We agreed to the process. And we retain the power and right to change the process. You cannot call it stealing.
No. They don't vote because their "dissatisfaction" is not sufficient for them to care enough to get off their back sides, find out about the candidates, and leave their house two or three times a year to vote. If watching the Simpsons is more important to you than the taxes you pay, then you can't be very unhappy about the taxes you pay.
Have you ever seen a couch potato that doesn't like what they are watching but can't find the remote? If they really don't like what they are watching, they will eventually get up off their back side and either find the remote or change the channel manually. If they aren't that unhappy with it, they will sit there and watch something that they don't really want to watch.
I saw a survey once that showed that people who get upset about a certain issue and vote because of it are as likely as not to vote for someone who holds the opposite position than them on that issue.
It doesn't help that they don't vote in primaries and then complain about the major candidtates when the main election rolls around, either. But what does it say for how "upset" a person is if they are willing to vote for someone who will support the thing that upsets them?
These folks are more than happy to talk about this stuff for hours with another person, perhaps drinking a beer or two. It's not that they don't care. It's just that there's no way they're going to listen to boring politicians make boring speeches about House Resolutions and so on and so forth on television.
If I start telling you how to create a solar still so you can extract water from the sand if stranded in the desert, are you going to pay much attention to me? If you are stranded in the desert and I start telling you how to make a solar still, are you going to pay attention? What's the difference? The urgency. Voting is not urgent for people. What does that say about how much they care about what politicians are doing to them?
One big problem, IMO, is that the parties are so concerned with appearing centrist to woo swing voters that the people who think that taxes should be cut and gov't programs should be ended don't hear these messages from the politicians. They hear talk of reducing the rate of increase, blah blah blah. No wonder they don't pay attention.
People pay attention when it matters. Apparently taxes don't matter enough for most people to pay attention. The Simpsons or watching trailer trash duke it out on a daytime soap opera is clearly more important to them. If entertainment is more important than taxes, it suggests to me that people don't care very much about their taxes. They seem to care more about saving 20% on their next television set.
When you get a true conservative who comes right out and says what he thinks, like Reagan, he wins by a landslide.
Reagan won in 1980 because things were bad enough for most people that they revolted against the incumbant. George W./s father lost in 1992 for the same reason. Reagan won by a landslide in 1984 for the same reason Clinton won pretty handily in 1996 -- things were good and people didn't want things to change. Is this really that difficult for you to see?
Theft via democracy is still theft. The Constitutional Republic has decayed into a Socialist Democracy where only the will of the mob is required to violate property rights.
Every human has a right to life, liberty and property. The mob has no right to strip a person of his natural rights.
Please show me the contract with my signature on it.
Free and fair elections gave us Milosevic, Chavez,Hitler,Mussolini,etc.,etc.
I'll take a free society over a democracy any day.
It's called the U.S. Constitution. And the odds are pretty high that one of your forefathers, voted for the people who signed it. Or they came to this country after it was already in place. Either way. It's your process.
The 16th, the primary source of legal theft, was never properly ratified. Furthermore, The Constitution contains many loopholes deliberately placed there by the Founding Lawyers. Many of the Revolutionaries, such as Patrick Henry, despised the Constitution.
If you take my property without my consent, it IS stealing. Just because you and the neighbors got together and decided, as a group, to seize my new car does NOT eliminate the fact you took my car without my permission.
I do not give my implied consent, just by living in America, to a majority vote to steal things I own. If a vote can take away my property, it was NEVER my property.
I'm aware that there is some controversy about that. I'm not sure if the claim is true or not. It seems to me that if it wasn't true, that it would have been disputed before now. It also seems to me that the controversy hangs by one vote. So almost two thirds of the states were in fact for the Income Tax. Nevertheless, that doesn't excuse failure to follow due process, if in fact that is what happened.
But they would have simply raised the money in some other way or the Income Tax would have continued to try to get the Income Tax properly ratified, and it probably would have happened anyway. I'm not fond of the income tax but if it was only one state that is in dispute and that state didn't cry foul at the time, I think the case is dubious.
You want everything America has to offer and don't want to foot any of the bill. Without taxes we wouldn't have roads and we would be a third world economy. Without taxes we wouldn't have defense and we would be speaking German or Russian or Chinese or who knows what. Without taxes we wouldn't have a lot of things.
So if your position is all taxes are stealiing, then I suggest you move to somewhere where there are no taxes.
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