I have found the outrage among conservatives over the looting of private businesses during the anti-police brutality protests to be amusing because it is so riddled with hypocrisy.
Conservatives indignantly say that the looters were acting immorally because they trespassed onto privately owned businesses and stole merchandise that belonged to the owners. The essence of this conservative moral outrage is that it’s wrong to trespass, burglarize, and steal.
Okay, fair enough. Conservatives are absolutely right with respect to such moral principles.
Where the hypocrisy enters the picture is with respect to conservative support of what is commonly referred to as “the welfare state,” especially with respect to its two crown jewels, Social Security and Medicare, which conservatives absolutely adore. On top of those two socialist programs are a multitude of others that conservatives support, such as farm subsidies, education grants, public schooling, corporate bailouts, and SBA loans.
The welfare state is based on the concept of using the government to forcibly take money from whom it rightly belongs and give it to people to whom it does not belong. In a moral sense, it’s no different from what the looters are doing. It just looks like that way because it is the IRS that is forcibly seizing the loot in the form of income taxes and then handing it over to welfare-state bureaucracies to distribute to others.
Conservatives claim that their looting is different because it’s done “democratically.” Since we live in a representative democracy, they say, it is the “right” of the majority to enact laws in society. Since welfare-state laws have been enacted through majority vote of Congress, conservatives assert that that is what makes the confiscation and redistribution of income of the welfare state different from what the private looters do.
But that ignores the concept of fundamental, natural, God-given rights. Such rights preexist government. They are inalienable. They are not subject to majority vote. Would a law that forces everyone to go to church, even if 95 percent of Americans supported it, be moral? Of course not.
Well, the same holds true for the fundamental, natural, God-given right of private property. People have the right to keep 100 percent of their income and no one, including private looters and government looters, has the legitimate authority to take it from them, either to feather his own nest or to give the loot to others.
Ironically, the private looters are actually acting more efficiently than conservatives do with their welfare state. That’s because the private looters eliminate the middle man — that is, the government, which charges an enormous fee for carrying out its confiscate-and-redistribute “service.”
One of the distinguishing characteristics of us libertarians, as compared to both private looters and conservatives, is that we oppose all looting, both private and government. We say: Freedom necessarily entails the right to keep everything you earn — i.e., no income tax and no IRS — and decide for yourself what to do with it — i.e., no mandatory socialist “charity” programs, including Social Security and Medicare. Unlike conservatives, we libertarians understand that a private immoral action cannot be made moral by having the government do it.