Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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With the Dole Comes Control


Those who are complaining that government officials shouldn’t be controlling what companies pay their executives need to be reminded of an important point: He who pays the piper calls the tune. Or to put it another way, those who go on the dole are inevitably going to be controlled by the government. With the dole comes control.

Sure, it’s theoretically possible for government to just dole out money to people or companies, with no strings attached. But how likely is that? With few exceptions (Ron Paul being one of them), government attracts people who have a thirst for power, a thirst for controlling the lives of other people. And offering people a dole, especially when they’re desperate, is a perfect way to impose control on the recipients. Take our money and accept our conditions.

What does such control over the citizenry mean? It means a loss of liberty. The more a person is controlled by government, the less liberty he has. That’s why socialism — which ultimately involves total control over economic activity — entails a loss of liberty. More control equals less freedom.

Moreover, the principle applies not only to the recipient but also to everyone else. The reason is because in order to get the money to provide the dole, the government must tax people. With the income tax, the government wields the power to take whatever percentage of people’s income it wants to fund whatever amount of dole it wishes to provide.

This lesson of dole-control, unfortunately, is one that Americans are forgetting in the health-care debate. The government is promising to provide people with free or subsidized health care. But with that “benefit” comes massively greater control over the lives of the people. Government-provided health care equals significantly less individual freedom.

The irony is that oftentimes it’s the government that produces the conditions that cause people to surrender their freedom in return for the welfare dole. This is especially true in the health-care arena, where such socialist and interventionist programs as Medicare, Medicaid, licensure, and regulation have produced the health-care crisis.

Yet, rather than pull those things out by their root through repeal, government officials use the adverse consequences of those things to induce people to surrender more freedom in return for more government “benefits.” As things get worse, which they will because that’s what socialism and interventionism do, the “benefits” will grow, along with the control. At the end of this road lies total control, that is, a total loss of freedom.

I can’t help but think of the slaves in the Old South. Consider the benefits they were provided. They received free housing, food, clothing, health care, and education (i.e., on the job vocational training.) Moreover, they were provided with guaranteed employment.

What could be better than all that? Ironically, when a master wished to reward his slave for some extraordinary act, he would grant him his freedom, which meant that the former slave was now entirely on his own — i.e., no more free benefits and no more guaranteed job. How cruel!

In principle, people living under a welfare state are no different from those slaves on the plantations. As the federal government continues to expand its benefits, its control over the people expands as well. That dole and control increasingly produce a dependent, frightened, weak citizenry that looks to the government to take care of them and provide for them, especially as conditions continue to get worse. The road begins with socialistic and interventionist programs. It ends with complete socialism, complete control, and complete loss of freedom.

What is so badly needed in America is a moral revolution, a spiritual revolution, and an economic revolution, one in which people reject socialism and interventionism in all their forms and manifestations and restore their faith in God, freedom, free markets, and themselves.

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.