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Feeding at the Federal Trough


For an excellent summary of what is wrong with America, both morally and politically, all you have to do is read an editorial in the February 22 issue of the Galveston County Daily News. The newspaper’s reasoning reflects the horrible damage that both the welfare state and warfare state have done to the American people.

The purpose of the editorial was to endorse a congressional candidate named Chris Peden, who is Ron Paul’s opponent in the Republican primary. What’s revealing about the editorial is not the endorsement itself but rather the reason for the endorsement.

First, consider what the paper says about Ron Paul:

“There is much to admire about Paul. Whether you agree with him or not, it took enormous courage to oppose the war in Iraq. His stands on civil liberties are equally courageous and timely. His voting is scrupulously in line with smaller government. His views are consistent with those of the Libertarian Party. He was once that party’s presidential candidate. We can say without reservation that he is courageous and principled.”

Now, those are some rather nice things to say about a candidate that the newspaper is not endorsing, right?

So, why is the paper endorsing Paul’s opponent instead of Paul?

Because, the paper points out, Paul “makes it a point to cast no votes on government spending, even if those funds are going to be spent in his own district or in a neighboring district. In the next two years, leaders in Galveston County will join those from other counties in District 14 in asking for a lot of federal funding. They’ll ask for help on projects such as research at the Galveston National Laboratory and on NASA’s mission to Mars.”

Peden, according to the paper, will be a “more effective representative of the district” than Paul because he will be more likely to bring home the bacon and the pork to those who wish to feed at the federal trough.

So, there you have it. Here’s how this evil and corrupt system works. Everyone sends his tax monies to Washington, thanks to the IRS and the income tax, where they become available as a great big pool of “free federal money.” Then, each Congressman fights to get his share of this loot in order to bring home the bacon to “political leaders” in his community. Those who are more “effective” succeed in bringing home more bacon than the IRS collects from the people of that district. Those who are “less effective” are those who bring home less of the bacon.

Frederic Bastiat best described this corrupt and immoral system: “The state is the great fiction by which everyone is trying to live at the expense of everyone else.”

As long as the state has the power to confiscate wealth from those who own it for the purpose of sending the booty to those who don’t, the temptation to participate in this evil and immoral game will continue to skew people’s moral compass, as the Galveston Daily News editorial shows so well.

One thing is for sure: If a major economic or monetary collapse hits America as a result of ever-expanding government spending, no one will be able to deny that Americans will bear moral responsibility for it, given their steadfast allegiance to both the welfare-state and warfare-state way of life, a way of life in which “effective” is defined by whose congressional representative is the best feeder at the public trough. The upside of such a collapse is that at least it will once again confirm that God has created a consistent universe — one in which immoral means produce very bad consequences.

P.S. In today’s FFF Email Update, we have excellent articles by three speakers at our upcoming June 6-8 conference “Restoring the Republic 2008: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties”: Joseph Margulies in the Washington Post, Andrew Bacevich in the Boston Globe, and Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com. To register for the conference, go to: www.fff.org/conference2008/index.htm.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.