Most Americans regard with some repugnance the Marxian doctrine of taking from those who have and giving it to those who have little. We like the notion that a person can get ahead without resorting to begging. We also resent being told what to do, or worse, being forced to do something against our will.
But some argue that even though the practice of forcibly extracting from some to give to others is unsettling, it is a necessary means to achieve a social good. No one should starve. No one should be without clothes or shelter. No one should be without health care. These are the moralistic claims that are daily spewed from the pulpits of politicians around the country. Few oppose. So why, Mrs. Politician, hammer the point?
I suppose we must distinguish between the various means that might be employed to achieve prosperity for all, and there is room for disagreement here. For example, if some inspired thinker proposes to solve the problem by issuing to the poor automatic weapons so they can be more effective negotiators along dark alleys and highways, I would have to disagree with such a solution.
But do we even have to be on the alert for such ridiculous proposals? Regrettably, yes. Suppose one of our presidential candidates was to address us as Hillary Rodham Clinton did May of last year. “It’s time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few … And to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity.”
Applying the politician bullshit filter, it appears Clinton is telling her audience that lately our government has been exploited by a few. This sounds bad. But wait until you hear the solution. To correct that problem, she proposes that government ought to be exploitable by all. And if there is any confusion as to what kind of exploitation she is talking about, her use of the word “prosperity” should dissolve all doubt.
So let’s make sure we have this right. According to Clinton, government has been making a few people rich. Shame on government. Government is not a productive enterprise; so to make a few rich, it must have stolen from the many. Naughty government. But Clinton is too much of a visionary pioneer to stand idly by. She surges to the pulpit with the crowd at her back screeching, “Government made a few rich, now it’ll make everyone rich!”
At first, this sounds too good to be true. That should be our first warning. Government has no ability to create wealth, so naturally whatever it gives has first been taken from someone. And who is the government? We’re told that we are. So the proposition is really quite silly. Let’s pillage ourselves? Where’s the sense in saying something like that? Even a witless American public could not fall for that one. So Clinton quickly makes a revision, “Let’s pillage the rich!”
Now we’re getting somewhere. But how long can this system last? Only until the wealth of the rich has been completely exhausted and then what? Well, let’s not allow reason to rob Clinton of her election. If robbing the rich to feed the poor is the extent of the solution, it’s plainly evident that this will be a very short venture. There’s only so much to rob. Theft is everywhere and always the destruction of wealth. It does not produce anything for future generations. Indeed, it will hardly suffice to support a single generation. So if the fun isn’t going to last, milking it for as much as we can seems to be the obvious course.
Here’s where I’m confused. Why are so many seriously considering appointing Clinton and her government to be the head robber? Middlemen are always expensive and government is no exception. Does it lighten the conscience to appoint a middleman? It shouldn’t. We’re still condoning robbing so we might as well do it properly and take as much as we can for ourselves. This election year, let us remember that our wise leaders have condoned robbing the rich for the sake of the poor. Of course, poverty is a term quite subject to personal interpretation. So this election year, let us all aspire to be the best damn thieves and Democrats we can be.
Jeremy Hicks is a political science senior, the president of the Libertarian Club and a guest columnist for the Mustang Daily.