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Statists Hate Free Will


Sometimes the cashier at the grocery store asks people whether they would like to donate one dollar to some charity. Most of the people I’ve seen say no.  Whenever that happens, I think to myself how statists must be grinding their teeth in anger and rage when they hear that. If it were up to them, the state would enact a law requiring everyone to donate that one dollar.

How can I be so sure about that? Because that’s the entire foundation of the welfare state that statists have foisted upon our nation. Statists hate the idea of people being free to say “no” when it comes to charity. So, they’ve erected an enormous system that coerces people into making charitable contributions.

Consider Social Security. That’s a mandatory charity program in which younger people are compelled to donate their money to seniors. It’s the same with Medicare. Medicaid forces people to donate to the poor. Foreign aid forces Americans to donate money to brutal foreign dictators.

Whenever libertarians say that all welfare-state programs should be dismantled and repealed, what is the inevitable response of statists? They say that people can’t be trusted to make those donations. When given a choice to support their parents, the poor, brutal foreign dictators, and everyone else who receives federal welfare, they will refuse to do so. Therefore, the statists argue, it is right and just to force them to do so.

But let’s assume that  the statists are right — that if people weren’t forced to help others, they would refuse to do so voluntarily. Isn’t that what genuine freedom is all about? Isn’t that what freedom of choice is all about? Isn’t that what free will is all about? If people are forced to donate to someone when they would otherwise choose not to, then isn’t the state being used to denigrate and destroy free will and freedom of choice?

What’s fascinating to me is how a Christian can endorse this type of compulsion. On the one hand, Christians acknowledge that God endowed man with free will, which necessarily entails the right to make choices as to whether to donate to someone or not. When God did that, he knew that that would necessarily entail the freedom to make whatever choice a person wants to make, including the possibility that the person might say “no.” Nonetheless, God proceeded to trust people with that large ambit of freedom by vesting them with the great gift of free will.

Thus, while God might want people to donate to a particular charity, he doesn’t force anyone to do so. Having vested people with free will, God lets people freely make their choices.

But Christians statists hate that. Deep down, they believe that people can’t be trusted with that much freedom. They’ll point to all those people at the grocery store who refuse to donate just one dollar to some charity and declare, “You see, you libertarians are all wrong about people. People can’t be trusted to voluntarily help others. We obviously need a law to force everyone to care for others.”

But what they’re really saying is that God was wrong to entrust people with such freedom. The only way to correct the error of having granted them free will, the Christian statist reasons, is to force people to care for others. That’s where the IRS and other welfare-state tax-collecting agencies come into play, along with the threat of liens, foreclosures, fines, and imprisonment for refusing  to participate.

I wonder how statists would react if Congress enacted a law requiring every American to donate $100 a year to a libertarian non-profit educational foundation. My hunch is that they would immediately abandon their statist inclination to force people to donate to others and scream like banshees.

They need not worry. We libertarians would never support such a law or accept the money if such a law was enacted. Unlike statists, libertarians believe in freedom, freedom of choice, and free will. That’s why we favor a total separation of charity and the state, in much the same way our ancestors separated church and state.





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.