Column on Theft Facilitation

Elections Equal Theft Facilitation
Tibor R. Machan
Unless elections are confined to selecting administrators of a legal
system, they are mostly about mutual theft facilitation. You elect someone
to office so he or she will garner the resources of others and transfer
them to you or your favorites in the community. And since there is never
enough to go around and there is always more and more that people want,
the process amounts to a mad dash to be first in line at the government’s
treasury. And while there is never enough to go around, there is always
the ploy of borrowing against the wealth of future generations, who aren’t
around to protest much, needless to note. No taxation without
representation in your dreams!
A clear case in point is my neighbor down the street. She works in one the
local community district, I am told. For the last few weeks there has
appeared on her fence facing out toward the street a sign endorsing a
referendum that supports, you guessed right, added funds for community
colleges. No other measure is given support on this neighbor’s fence but
this one that serves a special interest, certainly not the public interest
that defenders of the welfare state constantly invoke when they condemn
those who are skeptical about their type of government.
This sign, that I see every time I leave my home or come back to it, is at
least implicitly honest. My neighbor makes no bones about wanting the
political process to advance her agenda. As to others, never mind that.
“Let them take care of theirs, I’ll look out for mine” seems to be the
operative motto here.
The underlying hope would seem to be that enough people will be fooled
into thinking that supporting her agenda is a matter of the public
interest, so she will come out on top and her institution will get the
support, not others that are also using the political process to seek it.
In a recent letter responding to one of my columns I was chided for
failing to consider the public interest, for being too much of an
individualist instead of a citizens promoting the public good. This
because I advocate that government ought to focus primarily if not
exclusively on protecting the rights of individuals and not on handing out
so called entitlements to members of various groups.
But what too many folks today consider the public interest really isn’t at
all to the benefit of the public but mostly to special groups or even
specific individuals. This war of innumerable groups of people against all
the others¾one reminiscent of the war of all against all discussed by the
English philosophy Thomas Hobbes as part of the state of nature (the state
prior to the establishment of civil society)¾is the norm for contemporary
politics. So when Barack Obama recently spoke in Kansas, he said outright
that he will do right by the citizens of Kansas¾at the expense, of course,
of all the rest of the citizens of America. Just like my neighbor hopes
from her local government, Senator Obama was promising to deliver the
bacon to those whose votes he was seeking at others’ expense.
The public interest my foot! The welfare state, which pretends to take
care of all, is but a mad dash to promise and seem eager to deliver to
everyone benefits for which others are going to pay. It is plainly
fraudulent¾it cannot be done. But sadly millions of people, when elections
roll around and when Congress and various state assemblies are in session,
get their hopes up that they will be the winners in the effort to get
others to pay for what they want.
Of course, the result is the tragedy of the commons: resources are
depleted good and hard and the country goes into greater and greater debt
and various groups of people are angry at the rest who prevented them from
getting what they believe they are entitled to.
The idea of a free society is that one must rely on one’s works and good
fortune and, now and then, on the kindness of friends and neighbors, in
order to get on with one’s life, not on theft-facilitators. The idea of
our society, in contrast, is for everyone to try, each election, to rip
off everyone else.

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