Sunday, April 19, 2015

America: 1776-????

After a very, very long dearth of posting (possibly the longest since I began this blog in 2005), I return today with some thoughts sparked by the usual cesspool of politics now that we're getting ready for another presidential year.

I'm getting very tired of hearing that conservatives/traditionalists "don't care" because of our skepticism and/or opposition to new government programs to accomplish some sort of "good" for society. It gets nauseating after a while. If you oppose some new "entitlement," you'd rather see people starve to death, go without health care, be homeless on the street, etc. The utopian left is very, very good at shrill ad hominem and the guilt trip. As a rule, the media helps them convey this message and serves as an amen corner, and—also as a rule—conservatives are not very good at slapping back at this nonsense. One of the difficulties we face is that we tend to view things long term and philosophically rather than the immediate. Now, philosophy matters. It matters a lot. Remember, ideas have consequences and words mean things. But people in general aren't thinking long term and down the road. Because the supposed "need" is in their faces, it's easy to whipsaw them into supporting some kind of government action or program to deal with the "need."

I was just watching Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He was interviewing Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders, who, although he is identified as an independent, is actually an admitted socialist. He is thinking of challenging Hillary Clinton, who supposedly isn't left enough for him. He talked about health care being a "right." Not long ago, actress Eva Longoria was on a commercial championing a hunger-battling campaign. Nothing wrong with that, but she said that nutritious food should be a basic "right." You see, people of that philosophy have a very, very different view of "rights" than that of our Founding Fathers. They saw certain rights as granted by God, inherent and unalienable.

The left believes that rights come from government. And believe me, there is an enormous difference in consequence of that belief. Under our Founders' view, rights cannot be lawfully taken away. They are inherent. Under the left's view, rights and privileges are pretty much the same thing. The government giveth, and the government can take away.

I used the photo of the American frontiersman for a reason. This country was founded by individualists, not collectivists. We were founded on freedom, and freedom as they saw it meant exactly that - freedom. You make it by your own hard work, ingenuity, diligence, etc. You don't need the government telling what to do, or what you can and cannot do. You don't need (or expect) the government to guarantee your success in life. You don't need the government to give you every goodie in the world (and they're only able to give goodies away by picking everyone else's hard-earned living through confiscatory taxation). Free men take care of themselves. Enslaved men depend on the nanny state.

What about the needy? What about those who can't help themselves? At one time, this area was the province of the churches, local communities and charitable groups until government began elbowing itself into the picture. The problem with the government solution is that it doesn't stop. Government worshippers will never run out of "good causes" that require funding, and to get the funding, they have to raise your taxes and take more of your freedom away. Money that comes through the government comes with strings. And there will never be enough money to satisfy them.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he introduced the idea of Social Security in the 1930s, knew full well what he was doing and even admitted it. I won't use the language he did in commenting on government checks, but he knew that once people began getting the checks in the mail, woe to any politician that suggested doing away with the program or even reforming it to be more effective. Money talks, and when people get benefits, they want to keep getting benefits. But someone pays.

I don't want anyone reading this to think that I don't believe in helping the needy. My philosophy first and foremost is filtered through Scripture, and God commands us to help the poor. But that command is not carte blanche for unlimited government. It's a command to individual believers to help the poor. I'm not even opposed to temporary welfare programs for hard cases. But when welfare becomes generational, it's a problem.

In the same Bible where we are told to care for the sick and needy, the Apostle Paul said, with good reason, "If one will not work, neither let them eat." That was inspired by the same Holy Spirit that inspired the command to help the poor and sick. But if you turn the notion of "rights" on its head and make food a "right," someone could in theory just lay on their can and do nothing, and you would still have to feed their laziness because it's their "right" and "entitlement." Government programs eventually become filled with waste, fraud, and abuse, and bloated beyond measure. Social Security was, in its origin, only intended to be a SUPPLEMENTAL income for the elderly. But look at what all has gotten tacked on to these benefits in subsequent years.

Same thing for health care. If you turn health care from a service into a "right," then the fallen human nature kicks in and before long, you're wasting billions of dollars taking care of people whose illnesses are lifestyle-related and they refuse to alter their lifestyles. Where is the balance between compassion and enabling behavior that (again, LONG TERM) only worsens over time because there is no incentive to stop it.

In the end, there is no easy answer. Jesus Himself said the poor would always be with us. And they need help. But to oppose utopian, freedom-robbing, paycheck-robbing, bottomless pit government solutions is not a lack of compassion. If the solution ends up eventually killing the patient, I wouldn't call that compassionate.

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