I want to get back to the basics this week. I thought I would take the opportunity of a slow news week to go over some of the basic principles that drive me, and a lot of people when it comes to politics. By the end of this hopefully you will be able to ask some basic questions when trying to sift your way through political speak. I written about this before, but it couldn’t hurt to cover it again.
I’m sure everyone has heard a politician make promises to provide a good or service, like healthcare or jobs. It sounds really good. “I’ll pass laws that will create jobs!” “I’ll make sure you get the healthcare you deserve!” “Your children should be able to go to college without being saddled with debt for the rest of their lives!” The never ending list of things our political leaders promise us to keep electing them is almost endless. It sounds great right? I mean, healthcare is expensive and so is college, who couldn’t use a little help with that? I know I could! It would be very easy to answer these things directly. I could tell you what is wrong with that, but I’m going to try to go a little deeper and tell you why it is wrong. I have always felt that if you know the “why”, then the “what” doesn’t matter as much, because you can apply a deeper thought process to most any situation and come out on top. So let’s jump right in.
Every human being is born with the right of self-ownership. Depending on the culture you are born into, that right may be cultivated or hampered, but that does not change the underlying fact of self-ownership. The most valuable thing we own is our time. There are only a finite number of hours that we will be alive on this planet. Each of our hours is precious and each belongs exclusively to us as individuals. We also own the intangible things about ourselves, our talents. If you are a good singer, you decide to show off that talent or keep it hidden for yourself. Hopefully, at this point I haven’t said anything outrageous. This is important because the next step involves a logical leap.
If you believe that you own your time and talent, and decide to trade your time and talent for things you need, like groceries, a car or a house, then by extension you own those things too. If you trade your time for the money to buy those things, for instance, by getting a job that pays X dollars per hour, then you also own those dollars. Those dollars become a physical representation of your time. Hopefully this makes sense. Let’s call these physical things “treasures”. These are called the 3 T’s, time, talent and treasure. This is not my original thought but I don’t know who to give proper credit to, sorry. I can tell you I first heard about the 3 T’s from Dr. Walter Williams.
I don’t think most people would say it is ok to take something that another person has earned without the permission of the person who earned it. Generally we call that stealing and it’s frowned upon. If someone takes something that does not belong to them and gives it to someone else, it is also wrong, even if that person really needed it. I think most of us would agree that if I have traded my time and talent for some treasure, I should be the one who decides how and if that treasure is consumed, or not, and by whom. I own it after all. This should not be too controversial an idea. If you do find it controversial I would ask how much of my stuff should you be able to take? And Why? Let’s put a pin in this idea. We’ll come back to it later.
Let’s look at the government for a second. The government is made up of us, the people. As an entity, the government does not earn money. It does not have any redeemable talent. Most of the money that the government gets comes directly from the people who live in the country. The rest of the money is borrowed against the future labor of those same people, and their children and grandchildren, etc… As a general rule, most people don’t have a problem with a certain portion of their treasure going toward things like a court system, police or the military. What has happened, in the last 100 years or so, though, is more than that. The government commits acts that would get you or I put in jail. They take from one person and give it to another, not for the security of the nation, but because they think it’s fair. I have news for you, it is just as wrong when the government does it as it would be if I did it to you. When the government prints money, they are not printing what they earned. They are printing what you earned and will earn in the future. They are printing your debt.
As the campaign trail starts to heat up this year, and you hear all these promises made by all these different politicians, ask yourself, would I steal from my neighbor to gain the benefit promised by the politician if he was not here to give it to me? If the answer is no, then do not support that politician. Free college? Would you steal from your neighbor to pay to send some other family’s child to college? No? That is what you are doing if you support legislation for free college. Legislation to help create jobs? Is it ok if I take a bunch of your money so a stranger can get a job? Don’t have any to spare in your checking account? No problem, just give me a few of your credit cards, you can pay it back later. Remember, that stranger is just as important as your own kids.
I truly believe that the person who owns the stuff should be the one who decides what happens to their stuff. If they want to give it away, more power to them. If they want to keep it, so be it. It’s their stuff. Their money. The government should not have more rights than the people. When you consume this “all you can eat” buffet of government goods and services, remember that someone out there worked really hard for that and it was stolen from them so that it could be given to you. That doesn’t make you a bad person for taking it, it’s coming from the government after all. We’ve been conditioned from an early age to not think of the government as a group of people, but as a benevolent entity that is there to take care of us. It is not. The government is there to ensure our natural rights are preserved, not to take care of us.
Hopefully I was able to convey why government spending is wrong. Even if what they are spending money on sounds good, they aren’t spending their money, they are spending yours. They are taking money that you would have used to feed your family and giving it to someone else. If you like the safety net, please sponsor a family and feed them. I’m sure you could do a better job than the government. Just don’t take money out of my kids’ mouths to feed other kids. True social justice is when everyone gets to keep what they earn and spend it any way they wish.