Pat Tillman and the Nihilistic Myths of the State

Just when we libertarians and market-anarchists thought that the fallacy and folly of government and statism was once and for all clearly exposing itself for all Americans to see'a hapless military quagmire in Iraq, numerous reports of Social Security nearing bankruptcy, electronic voting machines mysteriously favoring one presidential candidate over another'along comes Mother Nature to show us that, gosh darn it, it may not be perfect, but perhaps we really do need government after all.

I mean, just look at the natural disaster that recently befell Indonesia in the form of an overwhelming earthquake and tsunami that was responsible for the destruction of millions of dollars' worth of property and as of this writing an estimated 105,000 deaths. Why, the governments of this world and their vast, intricate bureaucratic networks were right there, Johnny-on-the-spot with their generous assistance and benevolent charity. Thank God for governments, or else the rest of the world would surely have callously ignored Indonesia's tragic plight and turned a blind eye to their suffering. Am I right?

Of course, I'm perfectly aware that purely voluntary charitable donations to disaster relief by individuals in the U.S. alone have reached a cumulative $200 million and counting as of January 4th, with some organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam America, Save the Children and Catholic Relief Services, among many others, reporting that they had received anywhere between $10 million and $20 million apiece. Doctors Without Borders even advised donors to stop sending in money after receiving more than enough funds to meet tsunami-related needs. Imagine . . . a charity actually telling people to cease and desist from pledging any more donations because they say they have more than enough already. What are those people thinking? Don't they know that in the event of such a massive tragedy as this, there can never be too much charity? What kind of Dickensian, Scrooge-like characters do they have over there at Doctors Without Borders, anyway? (Of course, spokeswoman Kris Torgeson encouraged donors to continue giving money 'to meet needs in Southeast Asia and elsewhere that are not in the immediate spotlight.")

Then while perusing Strike The Root Monday morning, I came across a link to an interview with former foreign aid worker Michael Maren, and you can just imagine my shock'utter shock I tell you!'when I read his first-hand testimony of how the Third World relief and reconstruction projects of many charities'including the very entities mentioned in the above paragraph, yea, even Save The Children (es tu, Save The Children, es tu???)'more often than not devolve into free-for-all grab-bags for the politically well-connected while the truly needy are completely shut out and just get needier.

But that's where governments and nation-states come in to save the day, my anti-state friends, which is why I really think I'm starting to see the errors of my anarcho-capitalist ways. How could I have been so blind as to not see how wonderful and generous is the gracious, benevolent Big Hand of Big Government?

For lo, President George W. Bush called upon his father, the former president George ('Poppy') Bush, as well as former president Bill ('Bubba') Clinton, to go on tour to exhort their fellow Americans to give even more than the $200 million plus that was already pouring into the coffers of the international help-the-poor-and-downtrodden-and-afflicted industry. Perhaps there were some people in this country who had still not yet got off their fat, lazy duffs to write a check or charge the credit card'you insensitive, heartless bastards know who you are. Thank heavens Poppy and Bubba were around to shame you deadbeats into kicking in your fair share.

Furthermore, you anti-government types might do well to take note of the fact that waves and waves of U.S. Air Force transport planes had delivered some 430,000 pounds of supplies to the afflicted areas as of the morning of January 3rd, with 25 U.S. ships speeding to the rescue. The USS Abraham Lincoln raced to Sumatra to deliver much-needed relief even as the USS Bonhomme Richard sped to Sri Lanka 's aid. See? The Big Hand of Big Government can give away free food and medicine to the poor and downtrodden Muslims of the world just as easily as it can drop bombs on them.

Now, having spent a fair amount of time talking and corresponding with you liberty-loving characters, I think I have a pretty good hunch as to what you're going to say to me. Some of you are going to say, 'Well Bob, the food and medicine that the U.S. government is 'giving' to those people isn't exactly 'free' . . . one way or another, we're going to have to pay for it'we the taxpayers'how else is Uncle Sam going to get the $350 million that he's 'donating' while there's a total Federal debt of around $7 trillion?'

Oh, sigh . . . you unsophisticated individual freedom types with your quaint and charming notions of 'economic reality' . . . .

Don't you get it??? It doesn't matter. $350 million, $350 bazillion gazillion googillian . . . you say tomato, I say tomahto . . . who cares? I don't know if you've figured it out yet, but President Bush and the U.S. Congress are monetary wizards--fiscal magicians, if you will. That's how they're able to actually 'give' us more government services'such as 'homeland security,' for example'even as they continue to reduce our tax burden. They just create the money out of thin air. Isn't that amazing? Golly, those politicians are geniuses!

And don't forget, the delegation that Dubya sent to Sri Lanka and Thailand included his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and thank goodness for that because we all know that good ol' Jeb has had quite a bit of experience dealing with this sort of thing in Florida. Of course, I'm sure a lot of you cold-hearted cynics will be very quick to point out to me the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's recent reports of massive fraud and abuse of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds relating to their relief efforts following the hurricanes in the Sunshine State last year. Yes, yes, I know, I know . . . thousands of Miami-Dade County residents who weren't the least bit impacted by Hurricane Frances last Labor Day were paid tens of millions of dollars by FEMA for 'damages' caused not by the storm itself, but by folks throwing rocks through their own windows and hosing down their own furniture so that they could qualify for the aid. The U.S. taxpayer ended up paying for new cars, television sets, dental bills, appliances, spiffy new wardrobes and all sorts of goodies in spite of the fact that the county medical examiner didn't report a single storm-related death.

Yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah . . . yes, yes, yes . . . I know all of that. And I suppose that next you're going to tell me that those sorts of things are naturally to be expected when a central government authority redistributes wealth for the 'social good' of 'disaster relief''inefficiency, waste and abuse are always the inevitable consequences of such socialist schemes, and for the most part the intended beneficiaries don't even get any assistance.

And yes, of course you're going to remind me of so-called economic 'natural laws' that dictate that whenever government or any other entity suddenly purchases anything in massive quantities'such as hundreds of thousands of pounds of such supplies as foodstuffs, medicines, building materials, etc.'prices of such commodities are naturally bid up, thus having a much more negative economic impact in the long run on the very people such relief efforts are intended to help.

Man . . . You anti-state people and your stubborn insistence on living in reality . . . .

You cold, heartless sons-of-bitches.

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Robert Kaercher's picture
Columns on STR: 20

Robert Kaercher is a stage actor and freelance writer residing in Chicago, Illinois.  He has been known to bless the reading public with his opinions and analysis at Strike The Root's blog and his own Postmodern Tribune.