"[T]here are, at bottom, basically two ways to order social affairs, Coercively, through the mechanisms of the state -- what we can call political society. And voluntarily, through the private interaction of individuals and associations -- what we can call civil society. ... In a civil society, you make the decision. In a political society, someone else does. ... Civil society is based on reason, eloquence, and persuasion, which is to say voluntarism. Political society, on the other hand, is based on force." ~ Ed Crane
Just Say No!
Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
It is interesting to read what St. Augustine had to say about what we now call government:
A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. If this villainy wins so many recruits from the ranks of the demoralized that it acquires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues peoples, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of kingdom, which is conferred on it in the eyes of the world, not by the renunciation of aggression, but by the attainment of impunity.
One is tempted to paraphrase the poet: When plunder doth succeed, none dare call it plunder.
Indeed, the plunder has become so common, and the plunderers so smug and self-confident, that their predations are taken for granted, and the thieves themselves treated with extraordinary deference! It is something akin to the Stockholm syndrome. You encounter the same mugger at the same spot every day, and eventually establish a sort of bizarre relationship with him----even, eventually, thanking him for not taking more. When you are given the opportunity to replace him with another mugger, you vote for the incumbent---sticking with the devil you know, unless his opponent offers to share more of his loot with you.
What brought these thoughts to mind involves the bailouts and other forms of stimuli now being inflicted upon us. I have not counted the times when some pundit on television has bemoaned these extravagances, saying something like, “And our children and their children will have to pay for all this,” or “pity the poor taxpayer, who must pay for all this,” but they must be legion. Wait a minute! What do they mean, “HAVE to pay for all this,” or “MUST pay for all this?” If productive Americans accept the idea that they must accept financial responsibility for government largess to its cronies, then what can be the objection to the bailouts?
How refreshing it would be to hear those same pundits who bemoan the absurdity of government bailouts bemoan with equal logic and passion the idea that we, the people who produce this country’s wealth, can be saddled with the debts of strangers! I assume they fail to notice the injustice of it because it has become so common that, as St. Augustine pointed out, the hapless victims have become subdued and demoralized, and the thieves, now well-established and empowered, have assumed the roles, if not the titles, of nobility.
When you think about it (and wouldn’t it be wonderful if people did!), you can only be struck numb with amazement. Can you go into a store, order thousands of dollars worth of goods, and then tell the clerk to send the bill to assorted strangers? Obviously, you cannot do such a thing, and, in fact, it would probably never even occur to you to attempt such a preposterous act. Yet your elected “representatives” do it regularly, with impunity, spending not thousands, but billions, based upon the power which, we are told, we have delegated to them, although in fact they somehow gave themselves the power they use.
But not to worry! Everything is entirely legal and above-board. Overlook, please, the fact that the plunderers themselves write the “laws” which enable them to plunder! While you’re at it, overlook as well the fact that when existing laws might hamper their activities, those laws are disregarded. Indignant victims could sue, of course, but the issue would be settled in a court owned and operated by your opponent, with one of his gang--with a vested interest in the outcome--on the bench. All entirely legal, of course!
So: what to do? One could learn a lesson from the experience of Prohibition. Massive civil disobedience overwhelmed the rulers, although in that instance, the massive disobedience involved the public doing something it wanted to do--drink alcohol. True, today’s public no doubt wants to hold onto its earnings, but merely being allowed to retain a portion of those earnings, by a government much more powerful than that of Prohibition, satisfies many. It’s that Stockholm syndrome, again.
Perhaps state legislators might be persuaded to question how the states (and the citizens thereof, of course) can be made parties to the debts of the federal government that is, after all, to be the servant of the people and the states. State government is closer to the people, and, perhaps, less intimidating than the federal government. If the states still consider themselves sovereign, how can they stand by while the residents of those states are impoverished by the federal government? Somebody call the sheriff!
Simplest of all, surely, would be the simple “I’ve had enough” uttered by the poor, beleaguered citizens. It wouldn’t take a majority of fed-up victims to put the fear of the voter (they don’t fear the Lord) into the houses of Congress.
A few days ago I saw a TV news program showing thousands of people lined up to get applications for federal housing assistance. What they wanted, of course, was to use the government to obtain your money for their benefit. They didn’t seem at all ashamed of their demands, and the reporters at the scene found nothing remarkable about it except the large numbers at the turnout, which reflected, they said, the sad state of the economy. Unfortunately, they didn’t equate the sad state of the economy with precisely the sort of activity being documented.
If the tax-feeders can congregate in the thousands to demand more benefits from the productive, surely the productive can do the same thing to demand that the plunder cease!