Posted by: inforodeo | October 22, 2008

Parts of a post from the other day

i’d written a ‘personal’post about my family  non-relevant stuff & accidentally posted it here …

but the last part fit the intended content here … and though it’s largely a repeat of things i’ve said previously, i’m going to paste it in anyway:

i read an interesting thing on government the other day.  the author (who’d served in the u.s. government for awhile) was talking about how government should have no more power than the individuals who created it. 

to quote directly from the book:
Governments Should have Limited Powers.

The final principle that is basic to our understanding of the Constitution is that governments should have only limited powers.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.  So the question boils down to this: What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized form of government?

In a primitive state, there is no doubt that every individual would be justified in using force, if necessary, for defense against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his labor, and against enslavement by another.
Indeed, the early pioneers found that a great deal of their time and energy was spent defending all three – defending themselves, their property, and their liberty – in what properly was called the ‘lawless West.’ In order for the people to prosper, they cannot afford to spend their time constantly guarding family, fields, and property against attack and theft, so they join together with their neighbors and hire a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born.
The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves – nothing more. Quoting from Bastiat:

“If every person has the right to defend – even by force – his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right -its reason for existing, its lawfulness – is based on individual right.”

The proper function of government, then, is limited to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by the people. No individual possesses the power to take another’s wealth or to force others to do good, so no government has the right to do such things either. The creature cannot exceed the creator.

My attitude toward government is succinctly expressed by the following provision taken from the Alabama Constitution:

“The sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.”
– Article 1, Section 35
i think the point that was most fascinating to me is that taxing people and pouring the money into social programs designed to help the poor is a violation of the taxed person’s right to property … and, i suppose if you want to call ‘charity’ a religious ‘moral’ or ‘ideal’, you’re forcing that person to follow a religious or moralistic statute.  (not that i think we shouldn’t help the poor, but i don’t think people should be forced to help the poor or other ‘groups’ they may not personally feel a need to support).  i think i would like to have my freedom to distribute my property to people i want to distribute it to … like my in laws. both are disabled, but because of an ill-made choice they made awhile back “out of the goodness of their hearts”, they gave their trailerhouse to a mexican lady who couldn’t get a home loan, and told her to just pay them and they’d give the money to the bank. 
on a simple and trusting level, they were doing a nice thing, and it ‘worked out for everyone’. 

unfortunately, the woman rarely paid the full amount, causing them to have to pay the amounts she shorted them, and eventually she quit paying.  they live in another state, and when they’ve called, the woman pretends she doesn’t speak english.  they want to evict her, but can’t … yet, because the trailer is in their name, they can’t get their social security and medicare benefits (it makes it look like they are ‘worth more’ than they are … to the government, anyway). to remedy this, we have them watch our kids during the day, and we pay ’em a few hundred dollars a month in return. 

unfortunately we recently hired an accountant … and now we’re in a worse spot.  if we put grandma and grandpa on the payroll, we’re paying them far less than minimum wage, and would have to give them a raise, which we can’t afford, meaning we’d have to fire them. on their end, they will have to claim the amounts, further reducing their aid (the government helps pay the cost of their apartment, the money we give them pays for their groceries, doctor’s visits, gas and clothing.)
The more government steps in, the worse off they are, we no longer can afford a sitter, and the money we give the government out of our paychecks is going to pay for a lot of people who may or may not deserve the money as much. (personally, of the people i knew making a living off the government, i knew 3 people besides grandma and grandpa who ‘need’ it, and ten or twelve ‘families’ who don’t need it anymore than i do … people who skilfully milk the system, refusing to marry the father of their 5 kids (because it would screw their qualifications), misusing handicap placards, etc …


ok. i’m calming down. 

social programs, no matter how well-intentioned, just can’t make up for the lack of responsibility and honesty in our society.  i think churches and ‘private’ social programs do a lot better at addressing these needs (because volunteerism doesn’t generally set up as much of a ‘i need my job, so i hope our clients stay bad enough off to still need me’ mindset that paid businesses do).  when the government steps in, you end up with too many people making policy, things getting rushed through, and more often than not, bad decisions that lead to more and more burdens on society.  take, for example, the housing law passed by carter in the 1970’s.  there were a lot of poor and lower-middle class people who couldn’t afford housing.   someone came up with the socialistic idea of requiring housing lenders to lend to people who were too poor to make payments – an affirmative action program to equalize the ‘poor’ with the ‘wealthy’.  banks were freaking out about being required to lend to people who clearly couldn’t pay, but the laws pressured them into accepting. 
later on, in the 1990s, the system was starting to have problems, so Clinton signed a new law that further extended the reach of the government, and allowed additional pressure to be placed on lenders.  both laws seemed like great laws at the time, because they helped eliminate discrimination (economic) from the housing equation …
kind of like the discrimination that says a college student working part time at a video store for minimum wage can’t afford a luxury car … but fixed, so the government can say “well, if you aren’t gonna sell that car to the college kid on credit, we’re gonna quit helping you here and here. …”
it was sort of like food stamps for houses …

when you’ve got the government stepping in there and helping further the idea that all americans are entitled to whatever they want, because we’re ‘all created equal’ …
it’s no wonder the credit/debt thing … both individually and as a nation … has gotten so out of hand.  it’s no wonder some people expect a handout from the government.

doesn’t it seem weird that a ‘good credit score’ is based off of how much **debt** you have?  that’s like getting a better insurance premium based on having more disease than the other guy …

i live in an incredibly ‘rural’ area now … one of those places Obama said are ‘bitter and cling to religion and guns’ …
but having spent the 15 years prior in urban areas, i see some huge differences in ‘character’.  i see farmers and feed-shop owners with a kid overseas who easily qualify for government money, but who are too ‘proud’ (i used to think too ‘ignorant’) to apply.  i see empty houses owned by the local WIC … because though we have to have the same resources available here as they do elsewhere, and though we probably have a lot more poor here than elsewhere, their families, neighbors and churches are taking care of them providing the food, clothing, yardwork, rides to the doctor and other things they need …
i still haven’t figured out the difference … i know it’s not race … i suspect some of it has to do with ‘culture’ (moreso with crime than using government resources) …
but something i remember from ‘the city’ was a lot more attention paid to material things … new xbox, a d/s, a cellphone, a nicer car, brand-name clothing, cool glasses …
and here … not as much. there are a few ‘clothing conscious’ people i know … but they’re still buying their ‘name brand’ stuff at goodwill or through online discount stores.  not because they’re poor … but because they just don’t care if the style is a couple years behind or whatever.  there are still people who play video games, there are still some nice cars … but most people drive a fully-paid-off used car they got down the road for under $3000, and it’s not an issue … people don’t turn their heads and snicker.  i think this less-materialistic way of life probably helps the dollars people do have stretch out a little further. 
i remember in seattle … the first ‘flat screen tv’ i ever saw outside a showroom was at someone’s low-income housing place.  down the street from where i first lived (west seattle), the front porches of the low-income apartments were great community centers, and customized hondas would be double parked in the front, stereos would be blaring, little boys were inside playing video games on the big screen, while their barely older sisters were out sneaking off with the neighbor guy.  ‘white trash’ was waddling down to the 7-11 for a $3 vat of chilled sugar water and a $1.50 hot dog …

i think if government really cared about the ‘poor’ … instead of about filling more jobs for middle-class government workers …
they’d nix the financial support.  they’d find some way to reduce the materialism.  they’d educate people on finances.  they’d fine people for having more babies with no steady ‘daddy’ in the picture.
they’d tax all people equally … so the poor wouldn’t have additional reasons to wrongly believe that the un-poor are ‘bad guys’ who deserve to be robbed or hated or taxed or burdened any way possible with lifting lazies off their butts.  so what if bill gates makes more money than everyone combined?  you could too, if you quit ditching school, stayed away from drugs, didn’t spend 12 hours a day playing video games or didn’t get pregnant when you were 12! 

there is a culture of laziness, of blaming others, of resorting to crime instead of lawful activity …
and that culture is coddled and nurtured by a government that seeks to equalize the playing field by penalizing hard working americans to reward those who aren’t.  yeah, there is a severely uneven distribution of money … but it has little to do with race, gender, or “opportunity”, and a lot to do with hard work, focus, perseverance, and values (ethic) …
we can sit on our butts and try to cleverly define ‘morals’ and speculate on what political rhetoric is going to change the world …
but the fact of the matter(s) is that “we the people” are lazy, selfish, irresponsible, greedy pigs, and NO person we elect to the ‘highest office in the land’ is going to be able to turn around ANY of the key reasons why our society is failing, unless you grant them the full power to kick your lazy a** out of bed in the morning …

u-hem.  i got a little carried away.   


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