The corrupting influence of the state

[T]he Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. -1 Cor 9:14-15a

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. -Romans 12:18

Liberals and progressives like to talk about harmony and peace and unity, and yet their philosophy is by its nature divisive because it involves spending other people’s money. It involves the use of involuntarily-provided funds. If I have a bad experience at a restaurant, I can avoid it. However, I have to continue supporting government-funded schools. I have to continue paying for other people’s abortions. I resent this greatly. If you talk to people, they resent their money being used against their will, too. They resent having to bail out GM. They resent bailing out banks. They resent lazy state workers in their plush offices. It wouldn’t bother them if they didn’t have to pay for it. Harmony is the fruit of emulating the Apostle Paul. Resentment is the fruit of liberalism.

If it were only that easy to just blame liberals, though. Alas, we have seen the enemy… Let me explain.

The state of Ohio has a $3.2B deficit. The majority of Ohio’s budget is for Medicaid and Education. Revenues are declining and the bills for all the big spending are coming due now that the bubble has popped. Half of the people I know have jobs that are either directly or indirectly funded by the government. My own family is included. One sister works in health care and says “Help Medicaid!” Another, a former teacher, is averse to education cuts. Another works at a library: “Don’t cut library funding!” I responded that the state is deeply in the red, and cuts around the edges won’t get it done. Deep cuts are needed. They listen, but they still don’t want their favorite program cut.

This is why I have resolved, as much as possible, to never again work for the government or in a heavily-regulated industry (i.e. one that will get bailed out when it gets in trouble). It is corrupting. Those who support limited government make exceptions for their pet area. It’s usually an area that benefits their own wallet or one where they have emotional attachment. Their defenses always stumble over the same rock: they want funds that many people, in some cases most people, would never voluntarily supply. This will always create disharmony and resentment. Everyone is ripping everyone else off, and no one is happy about it. The guy who wants his car company bailed out doesn’t agree that farmers should be subsidized. The farmer doesn’t agree that bankers should get a bailout. The banker doesn’t agree that college professors should live high on the hog at the expense of others. And so on.

They’re all correct. They just need to apply it to themselves. Until this is done by enough people, the budget problems will continue. It’s easy to blame “liberals” — they fully deserve it — but budgetary problems and resentments will never cease until “conservatives” and “libertarians” stop being part of the problem by desiring to protect their own state-funded filthy lucre. This is what really props up big government.

The late libertarian, Harry Browne, ran a memorable campaign for president in 1996. I didn’t agree with Mr. Browne on everything, but among his keen insights was a question: “Would you give up your favorite program if it meant you never had to pay income tax again?” It’s a question more people need to ask themselves.

Beware the corrupting influence of the state.

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