The leftist mindset that brought America our welfare-state way of life never ceases to amaze me. Of course, we have become so accustomed to this way of life that hardly anyone pauses and gives thought to the reasoning on which the welfare state is based.
Let’s first imagine a federal government whose functions are limited to what libertarians consider the essential functions of government: protecting people from those who commit violent crimes or fraud, defending the country from foreign invaders, and providing for a judicial system in which crimes are prosecuted and in which people can resolve disputes through lawsuits.
Virtually all crime should be and can be handled at the state and local level.
Moreover, there is no possibility of some foreign regime invading the United States. That’s because no nation-state has the money, manpower, resources, or interest in doing so.
Most civil disputes can be handled in courts at the state and local level.
That means that if the federal government were limited to its essential functions, there would be no welfare state (including Social Security and Medicare), no drug war, no managed or regulated economy, no welfare or regulatory agencies and departments, no Federal Reserve, no Homeland Security, no Border Patrol, and no Pentagon, CIA, NSA, or FBI. There would be a Treasury Department, a relatively small, basic military force, and the federal court system.
In other words, the federal government would be a limited-government republic that characterized our nation for its first 100 or so years of existence.
The question arises: How would such a small, limited government be funded? Our ancestors’ answer was: through “indirect” taxes. They didn’t want a direct tax, like an income tax, because of the potential for tyranny, especially with a tyrannical agency like the IRS. With indirect taxes, like a sales tax or import tax, the potential for tyranny is much less.
As a libertarian, I hold that no one should ever be forced to pay for anything he doesn’t want. I hold that people can be counted on to voluntarily support a small, limited government whose expenses would be fairly minimal.
But I realize that that is a difficult concept for many people to embrace. They feel comfortable in forcing people, through taxation, to provide the funds that are necessary to fund the essential functions of government.
That is not what we are talking about, however, with respect to the welfare-state way of life that leftists brought into existence in the 1930s and that conservatives (and, alas, many conservative, reform-oriented libertarians) now support.
The welfare-state mindset is based on taking money from a person to whom it belongs and giving it to a person to whom it does not belong. That concept is obviously totally different from taking money from people to fund what are the essential functions of government.
Leftists justify this process by claiming that it is based on charity — on helping others who are in need by giving them free money, goods, or services. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s because the process is based on force and coercion. Charity comes from the willing heart of an individual, not through force and coercion.
Suppose I accost you in a dark alley and force you to hand over $100. I need the money because I’m hungry. Or I need it to pay for my mother’s medicine. Regardless of my reasoning, the fact is that I am stealing your money. I think most everyone can recognize that I am thief. I would be arrested, prosecuted, and punished for stealing, which is a crime.
Suppose I go the City Council and get a law enacted that taxes everyone $100. The city then uses all that tax revenue to give $100 to me and lots of other similarly situated people.
Leftists would say that this shows how good, caring, and compassionate the City Council is. They would say the same thing about the citizenry within the city.
But that claim is false. The situation is no different, in a moral sense, than when I accost you in that dark alley and take your money by force. I’m a thief. So is the City Council. So are people who support what the City Council has done.
Care and compassion can only come from people voluntarily. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, taxation is not voluntary. It is based on force, even when it is enacted by a majority, or even unanimously, by the City Council or any other governmental unit.
Thus, the entire welfare-state way of life that leftists have foisted upon our land, including Social Security and Medicare, are based on political stealing. If American Christians were ever able to understand that fundamental truth — that the American welfare state is based on a grave violation of God’s Ten Commandments — we might be very close to finally eradicating it from American life and restoring the moral principle of economic liberty and freedom of choice.
What drives leftist support of the welfare-state way of life? Envy and covetousness, which Christians should recognize as two other grave sins. Leftists just hate the fact that some people have more when others have less. They honestly think that the reason that people are poorer is because others are richer. They are convinced that if they can just use the government to take from the rich and give the money to the poor, everything will be fine.
But it won’t be fine. We live in a consistent universe, one in which evil means cannot accomplish good ends. By enshrining envy, covetousness, and stealing into our governmental system, we have produced an immoral and dysfunctional system that leads to perpetual crisis, chaos, conflict, discord, violence, suicides, alcoholism, drug addiction, and economic and spiritual impoverishment.