Every time two politicians begin to duke it out over an issue, you can generally tell which one has it wrong because they won’t appeal to the facts or rely on the principle issues of liberty, but rather descend into the emotional realm by tugging at the heartstrings of the bystander.
In the recent back and forth between Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Christie tossed an emotional hand grenade into the ring. Christie proclaiming the absolute necessity of federal funds for the victims of hurricane Sandy was life or death for those involved. His broader point was that those who wish to promote libertarian principles of smaller, limited government will make esoteric arguments and toss red meat sound bites to their constituents, but would refuse to sit across the table from the victims of a natural disaster and tell them face to face that their government not only has no obligation to help them, it would be better for everyone if they didn’t.
This is exactly the kind of conversation we do need in America today. But beyond telling the widows and orphans that their government has no obligation to help them, we should also tell them that our government is broke and it is because the feds have been trying to do what they were never given authority to do — take from some and give to others. And for some honest emotion, we could tell them the money they’re getting to rebuild that first floor townhouse is actually from their great grand children’s yet to be earned income, which is being borrowed from the Chinese on their behalf, without their knowledge or approval. The conversation could continue with an explanation of why it is better to suffer a bit more now for the benefits of a stronger, solvent tomorrow. This is a principle that our great grandparents believed in. Most important of all, it’s because we choose the hard work and harvest of freedom over the crumbs of socialism.
Christie amazingly calls those who speak in defense of liberty, exposing the myth of government as a philanthropic charity giver, as not only callous and uncaring, but as dangerous. What is truly dangerous is Christie’s ignorance and the results of his ideology which can be seen in a $17 trillion dollar national debt.
Where does this ignorance come from? Certainly not the Founding Fathers or their Constitution, whose principles are mute these days, except for a few like Rand Paul.
James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45 regarding the distinction between the federal government’s “few and defined” powers and those numerous and indefinite held by the states and the people:
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
Well Governor Christie, yes, let us have that debate; let us have that conversation with the widows and the orphans. I think they, in all their pain, misery and loss will come to a very different conclusion than the Chris Christie’s of the world, who care more about power and prestige than they do about those in which they feign to defend.
Let us start with this question, across the table from the widow and the orphan.
Question 1. Does your neighbor have a right to your wallet?
Question 2. Does your neighbor have a right to your wallet if his car is stolen?
Question 3. Does your neighbor have a right to your wallet if his house burns down?
Question 4. Does your neighbor have a right to your wallet if he gets cancer?
If the answer in every case isn’t no, then we must ask another question. Why?
Why does the neighbor have a right to your wallet? Once we come to the conclusion that at some point one person has the right to another person’s wallet, we have crossed over into a world with no foundations, no reference points, no principles from which to argue right and wrong.
Charity is a personal obligation not a collective one. Once charity becomes collective then it becomes compulsory, at which time theft becomes a lawful enterprise.
Congressman Davy Crockett understood this principle. In The Life of Colonel David Crockett (Member of Congress 1827-35), as compiled by Edward S. Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884) Crockett shares a story about standing in opposition to a bill that was taken up in the House of Representatives appropriating money for the benefit of the widow of a distinguished naval officer. Crockett addressed the chamber; “I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as charity.”
The words of Crockett were true then and they are just as true today. But this doesn’t leave the state, hit by disaster, without hope. Just the opposite. It gives the states hope, like the disaster in Haiti which brought in $1 billion in donations from the people of the United States (dwarfing the $100 million given by the feds). Wouldn’t the good people of America do all the more for their own?
The states could loan money to their suffering neighbor state(s), and the people of the many states could continue to send charity as they purpose in their hearts.
Nothing stands in the taxpayers way of doing good, more than the clouded thinking of why bother, when uncle Sam will do it for them. Just as giving entitlements to those who do not work leaches from them the desire to work, taking the obligation of charity from the people leaches from them the mindset that charity is their obligation.
The villain who wears the mask and steals under cover of darkness is far more honest as to the morality of his actions than the one who steals in broad day light, claiming it’s done for superior moral motives, and makes the high claim that they have a greater right to your money than even you, who labored for it.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com