People may either cooperate for mutual benefit or feed off one another. In the 18th century, our founders prudently established the former and its practice provided unmatched prosperity, peace and contentment. In the 20th century we chose political and economic strategies that flirted with the latter. We embraced the fallacy of the “mixed economy” – that zone between liberty and dictatorship – that is akin to avoiding pregnancy by having unprotected sex. The acceptance of such lunacy requires that we willfully omit a number of observable facts. In the 21st century, we face the critical point where we must again choose whether to return to the system proven to support prosperity, happiness and dignity, or to continue our decline into cannibalism and the oblivion of fallen civilizations.
The use of the term “cannibalism” may seem extreme. But when we examine the natural consequences of wealth redistribution, the outrage of such a label does not seem exaggerated. Rather it harmonizes with the spirit and fact of tax and entitlement policies. To eat the flesh of another person is the literal definition of cannibalism. But to consume the products of that person’s life energies, time and intelligence is even more barbaric.
Literally eating someone ends their life and any need to sustain it. To feed on their labor locks them in a perpetual struggle to sustain themselves while supporting their masters. There is no point at which such practice is more or less reprehensible. The mere acceptance of such a scheme even in the slightest degree automatically validates its merit and establishes the basis for further abuse. Acceptance of a small amount of slavery gives the state legal power to escalate the process to any level it can rationalize.
Benjamin Franklin observed, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch.”
A number of labels have been conjured to help make cannibalism seem civilized, but the basic socio-economic-political model that underlies them all is Collectivism: the theory that the collective (mob, tribe or society) has rights separate from and superior to the individual. And as a presumptive necessity, government must facilitate the exercise of those rights.
The popularity of Collectivism relies on several incredible omissions:
• First, the most popular label for Collectivism is “Socialism.” One of the most reviled is “Communism.” Even though socialism is based on the same core values as communism; its advocates assume it can somehow be toned down into “Communism-lite.” For the American audience, a kinder-gentler image of Socialism has been repackaged in more palatable names like, Progressivism, Populism, Liberalism and Democracy, but the core principles are lifted directly from the Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Whatever label is adopted by collectivists, they rely on same principles, grant the same level of state power, facilitate the same degree of corruption and tyranny; and ultimately rely on the same potential for bloody ruthlessness employed by Stalin, Hitler and Mao.
• The other cognitive break required by Collectivism allows for the myth that people, once conditioned to live in a society where “need” is superior to ability that they will continue to be productive. When merit is measured in one’s willingness to be a slave or worse, in one’s ability to curry favor with the redistributive bureaucracy. This willful ignorance allows one to assume that the honest, productive members of society will voluntarily sacrifice themselves for the sake of “brother-love,” “social justice” or the other deceptive labels for blatant looting.
• The greatest fantasy required to accept Socialism is the idea of “collective rights.” Rights, by definition, can only be possessed by individuals. The only valid collective rights are those that voluntarily empower the group or state to act as the agent on behalf of its members or citizens. The state has no rights. Since all government power is based upon its role as the agent of individual rights, the state’s “rights” are restricted to those owned by individuals.
The individual has the right of self defense – so the state may with citizens’ consent to act as the protector of public safety. The individual does not have the right to steal from, trespass on, assault or kill his neighbor. As a result, the state has no power to take lawfully acquired property or to commit acts of violence or vengeance against any harmless individual or group.
The rationalization of Collectivist social and economic schemes requires the denial of two axioms of human nature: The first blank-out being the fact of human nature that people excel in direct proportion to their desire, aptitude and the potential for personal reward. The second fact is that power is likely to be misused in proportion to the amount one has.
When a social or economic system demands more from those of greater ability and gives to those with less, it turns the natural hierarchy of ability and effort on its head. When “need” is made morally superior to production; then greed, envy and laziness are promoted while thrift, inventiveness and honest labor are penalized. Such a system can only lead ultimately to economic collapse and moral degradation.
The traits of people who seek power – ambition, tenacity and persuasive skills (and a goodly measure of narcissism) – are equally suited to the righteous or immoral use of power. The distinctions that assure righteous governance are the personal possession of moral clarity and devotion on the part of public servants; and a vigilant public equipped with same. There is no historical justification to expect that any government, once loosed from its moral bounds will freely restrain itself again to integrity.
The cost of living must be paid. It will either be paid by the individual for their own life; or it will be paid by others. The natural order provides feedback on the intelligence and efficacy of one’s actions. In this way, nature is our teacher – leading us towards wisdom and success if we attend to its lessons; and toward ignorant despair if we do not. The “tuition” for this education will be paid. It can be paid after the fact as one repairs the damage caused by ignorance; or in advance through attentiveness and adaptability. The result of the former is want and misery. The result of the latter is abundance and fulfillment.
The skills that provide positive results; wisdom and prudence; are not inborn but must be learned. When the mob, tribe or state attempts to mitigate the consequences of foolishness, it denies the people the opportunity to learn from natural consequences and attain the wisdom such experience offers. When the mechanism employed to “protect” the inept usurps the rightfully acquired benefits of wisdom and prudence, it penalizes the wise. The results of such a system have been demonstrated with devastating clarity by Collectivist regimes: poverty, starvation, false imprisonment, torture, political corruption, economic stagnation and human degradation. There is no valid reason to assume that the same methods, justified by the same flawed assumptions, implemented by people of equal virtue here in America will have any different results.
We are currently experiencing the predictable, documented results of our experiments with Collectivism – even the mild forms enacted so far. While there is a surplus of arguments against such scams – moral, economic, constitutional – we need not rely on them entirely. Rather, the simplest way to deduce the validity of any law is this:
• Does it infringe to even the slightest degree on the free exercise of rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for even one citizen?
• Does it impose upon even one person to any extent, the unfair legal duty of supporting even one other without their voluntary agreement?
• Does it deny to a single person in even the smallest degree, the value of learning from the natural consequences of their actions – thereby denying them the opportunity to attain wisdom through unmitigated results?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes; then the law is impractical. When tested by the criteria of morality, justice or constitutionality, it will prove unwarranted as well.
Based upon the example set by the founders in the 18th century; the results of our misguided flirtations with Collectivism in the 19th and 20th centuries; and the confirmed results of our own and other more severely decimated nations; we must ask whether or not we wish to live as a free, prosperous, righteous people, or if we intend to prove yet again the unavoidable consequences of such schemes. We must decide whether to act as voluntary partners, enjoying the mutual benefits of cooperation or as barbaric cannibals. The claim that there is a middle way; that a little barbarism is beneficial to a civil society is a lie of such proportions that its acceptance invalidates the authority to make such decisions.
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