“Compassion is the use of public funds to buy votes.”
— Thomas Sowell
The warnings go back generations – even centuries!
“The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.”
— Alexis de Tocqueville
And of course, we continue to get them:
There are, of course, thousands of these cartoons. And jokes.
“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things bought and sold are legislators.” — P. J. O’Rourke
It is, of course, the taxpayers that are left “holding the bag,” as the unmasked, readily-identifiable highwaymen and white-collar crooks (all in their proper “authority” as employees of government) take our money.
There is no doubt that government, as a whole, is one of the most successful and long-lived confidence games ever suffered by mankind. From Nimrod and his schemes for his own personal empire in the Mesopotamian heartland, right down to Nicolas Maduro, the current Castro, and right to DC and Brussels and Beijing, the lives of billions and fortunes in the thousands of trillions have been consumed and exploited.
Harry Harrison’s character, the Stainless Steel Rat (James Bolivar diGriz), recognized this, and exploited it, just as many grifters and con artists do today. (We usually distinguish them from bureaucrats and politicians, but there is really very little difference.) Indeed, it is the schemes and scams of government that make life as a stainless steel rat possible, and give opportunity for more shady dealing with innocent and naive people.
Or does it? It has been said, you can’t con an honest man. Is that so? You likely cannot con an honest man while he is honest, especially while he is honest to himself. Cons (especially those from government) operate largely on the principle of corruption (as does government in general). So, either the mark IS morally corrupt or they can BE corrupted and made susceptible to the pitch; typically by offers of opportunity and advantage or some shortcut.
To put it another way, people let government con them because we want to be conned. We want to believe that “we’re from the government and we’re here to help you.” And the bigger government grows, the more cons and scams they come up with. Whether it is higher-higher education or more gun control, or single-payer health care (even if just for seniors or the poor already on welfare or the military).
What is the solution? Honesty, first with ourselves. Do we REALLY need the come-on, the loss-leader deals (“too good to be true!”), that suck us into the scam? Or can we find a better, easier, cheaper, and above all, honest way to do the same thing? And when we cannot, are we honest enough to admit to ourselves that we are taking the easy way out?
Part of that honesty IS recognizing when we are being conned, and calling the perpetrators on their little (or not so little) games. Making it clear that although we may not have an alternative RIGHT NOW, that we know that they are playing us and that we are going to find a way to do with their “services.” Regardless of what those services are.
There are many other matters we can go into, but first and foremost, we have to reject the propaganda that government, the powers-that-be, have always thrown in our faces. Government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” does exist: “abuse of the people, obedience and submission by the people, and as a master for the people.”
(AFTERWORD: This is the 1,500th Commentary posted on The Price of Liberty, since Mama Liberty moved to WordPress back in 2012. Please share this webzine with others!)