Column on Politicians’ Criminal Minds

Politicians’ Criminal Minds

Tibor R. Machan

It
may have been either Will Rogers or Mark Twain, I cannot now recall
which of the two great American humorists it was, who said all
politicians are criminals. But it makes no difference because when
something is true, its source is not the main issue.  Fact is,
politicians are extortionists at heart since their forte is that they
will allow you and me to live and work provided we fork out nearly half
of what we earn or otherwise obtain honestly so they can then dispose of
it as they see fit.

In
our time, not entirely unlike in others, the main appeal politicians
hold out for millions is that they join them in their resentful bashing
of the rich.  This is a successful ploy because in the past, of course,
most riches came from conquest, from governments and their favorite
minions sending out thugs to confiscate whatever they desired from those
who had some.  As the saying has it, behind every great fortune lies a
great crime, including extortion
via
taxation!  This is why Robin Hood became a hero to so many: he went out
and recovered what the tax takers took by force and returned it to the
rightful owners.  (No, Robin Hood didn’t steal from the rich and give to
the poor; he repossessed from the ruler and his vicious taxers!)

How
can politicians live with the knowledge that they are what they are,
confiscators, extortionists?  Because they tell themselves the story so
many tell themselves when they do the wrong thing–”The intended end
justifies the means!”  Nearly every criminal thinks this way and so do
nearly all who perpetrate evil upon others.  Some higher goal than what
the victim seems to be pursuing motivates them.  They are serving the
public interest or God or the common good or the environment or science
or culture–you name it, there are hundreds of candidates that make the
politician feel at ease.  

Criminals
also have great goals that will be served by their loot and since their
victims are well enough off, they have nothing to complain about.
 After all, isn’t it selfish to insist on trying to hold on to your own
resources, your own time, indeed your own life?  Prominent university
professors spell this out for us–we are all selfish bastards if we hold
on to our own and allocate it was we judge fit.  No, they will
determine to what end my and your life should be devoted and if we
disagree, they will send the politician into the arena who will make
laws that compel us all to comply with their noble vision.  As Professor
Peter Unger wrote in one of his “ethics” books, “On pain of living a
life that’s seriously immoral, a typical well-off person, like you and
me, must give away most of her financially valuable  assets, and much of
her income, directing the funds to lessen efficiently the serious
suffering of others.”

I
personally know numerous such apologists for actions and politics that
involve taking from people what is theirs so as to devote it to
objectives the takers have failed to convince their victims to
contribute to voluntarily.  Never mind that–just like criminals, who
cares about the rights of these victims when my noble goals are at
stake?! And because there are at least some whose wealth was acquired
through some shady dealings, one can rest easy in one’s conscience by
telling oneself, well they are all guilty of graft and theft, why
shouldn’t we then go after them in the same vein?  With the likes of the
famous French poet Charles Baudelair, who said that "Commerce is
satanic, because it is the basest and vilest form of egoism. The spirit
of every businessman is completely depraved" providing them the clear
conscience they crave as they rob and steal and extort from us, why
would politicians think any differently from criminals?  In our day the
leader of the citizenry has no hesitation about bashing the wealthy,
insisting that robbing them of their lives and resources and liberty to
dispose of these as they judge proper is perfectly honorable.

Until
this attitude about people and their wealth–reminiscent of the days of
serfdom and involuntary servitude–seriously abates, the dream of a
genuine free country will remain, well, but a dream. The idea that when
one is successful, or even simply lucky so far as amassing resources is
concerned, others become authorized to forcibly remove one’s wealth and
use it without one’s permission for their however desirable ends, is
plainly barbaric.  It amounts to subjugating others, actually enslaving
them.  And that has no place in civilized societies.

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