Skip to main content

Referendum C & D -- Compassion, True and False

For some that may wonder why it is I am against Colorado's referendum C & D, despite support by many Republicans and businesses, I would like to suggest you read this article. Matt Kaufman at Boundless.org articulates with great insight the dangers of government-forced "compassion". Referendum C & D supporters may have great compassionate motivations for forcing the rest of us CO residents to fork over our hard-earned money, but it does our State no good.

My argument is that while the motives may be great, the methods are not the best or the right ones. If you want to argue that there are problems with TABOR, thats fine, but weakening it is not the solution, and giving more money to our State politicians to spend is not going to improve anything.

You can argue for some government programs on the grounds that they're necessary, and that no other alternatives will do: The argument may be wrong in many cases, but it's not inherently dishonest. You can't, however, seriously claim that any government programs are driven by compassion. Compassion, as I'm wont to point out, is voluntary by definition; coerced compassion is a contradiction in terms. And there's nothing voluntary about government. Government, by nature, is all about coercion: You pay up, or else. That brute fact doesn't change whether a state is popular or unpopular, a democracy or a dictatorship; it's still forcing some people to pay into programs they didn't choose to fund on their own. Those who run the state know this full well. They don't settle for inviting folks to contribute to even the most (allegedly) popular programs. They'd never consider setting the precedent.

Again, you can argue over whether force is necessary in a given case. You can argue over whether it's wise or just. But you can't get away with the Orwellian claim that force is choice. Force can at best restrain vice, but it cannot create any virtue — not compassion, not charity, not love. And to pretend otherwise is likely to end up making a mockery of those very virtues.

I got firsthand experience of this reality 20 years ago, when I lived for a time in Washington, D.C. I quickly learned that the city was overwhelmingly cynical, run by politicians and bureaucrats who felt perfectly free to squander millions and billions of dollars, unencumbered by any sense of obligation to the folk back home. Not only were they famously profligate with other people's money, they gave nothing in return. They were consistently and famously unresponsive to the general public: If you needed help, you were out of luck, unless you happened to be (or work for) a Big Shot.

The whole experience was summed up for me one day while riding the subway. The car was mostly empty until it stopped near the largest domestic government agency, what's now known as Health and Human Services around 5:00. A wave of people packed every seat, and from their age and dress as well as the location, it was obvious most were welfare-state employees on the way home from the office — people whose supposed profession was "caring" for "human needs."

At the next stop, a man on crutches got on; now here was a man with human needs. Yet I watched him make his way slowly, with difficulty, from the far end of the car, while not one of the healthy, well-dressed Caring Professionals got up to give him a seat. Finally he reached the back of the car, where I gave him mine. Though I didn't make a show of it, several people gave me dirty looks. It was as if such a minor act of decency had broken the unspoken social rule — Every Man for Himself — and held each of them up to shame. Only instead of hanging their heads guiltily, they were glaring resentfully.

This is what you get when government officially assumes the role of caregiver to the nation: You get not a more caring government, but a more callous "caregiver." To make matters worse, you get a more callous population. Among the evils of the welfare state is that it encourages people to think of caring for the needy as someone else's problem — to think "I pay my taxes, so I've done my part." The result is an attitude less like the Good Samaritan's than the Pharisee who imagines he's attained righteousness by living up to man-made rules.

Tags: , Education, Politics, News, Economy, Finances, TABOR, Economics, Policy,

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hispanic Trending: Leave your name at the border

Most people miss the fact that Hispanics do not consist of a single ethnic group. Besides that, the heritage that each one of the many nationalities represented in our immigrant population is diverse in itself. As I read Manuel Muñoz's post on his assimilation experience, I can tell you mine was nothing like his. But I can relate to this paragraph. My niece's name is Katie Belle (Sierra). It's intriguing to watch "American" names begin to dominate among my nieces and nephews and second cousins, as well as with the children of my hometown friends. I am not surprised to meet 5-year-old Brandon or Kaitlyn. Hardly anyone questions the incongruity of matching these names with last names like Trujillo or Zepeda. The English-only way of life partly explains the quiet erasure of cultural difference that assimilation has attempted to accomplish. A name like Kaitlyn Zepeda doesn't completely obscure her ethnicity, but the half-step of her nam…

RealClearPolitics: The Democrats Dither on Trade

The backtracking on free trade in South America has been among the frustrating news for me coming out of the beltway. Considering how the economic downturns in Latin America affect us through the increase in illegal immigration, I would think more Americans would be fighting for this one as loudly as they fought for the failed Immigration legislation. Democratic presidential candidates like to talk about "turning a page" in America's relations with the rest of the world. But what does that mean, in practical terms, on bread-and-butter issues such as trade? Are today's Democrats a party of open markets and economic development, or of market restrictions and job protection?The answer is that leading Democrats seem to want both -- they favor economic development overseas but not at the cost of U.S. jobs. That sounds like a coherent position until you begin to look carefully at the political choices in Latin America, a part of the world where …

The Importance of English for Immigrants

With all the attention to the border security problem, and the challenges the nation is facing in regards to immigration, here are some thoughts on why learning English is of such importance to immigrants. More importantly, America would benefit greatly if we put a higher priority on getting immigrants to learn English. We are talking about improvements for the economy, reductions in crime, and much more.

Learning English allows an immigrant to:
1. Spread their wings beyond the urban Spanish-speaking enclaves. This, of course, leads to better integration, and a better understanding of what our country really looks like--nothing like "el barrio" in LA. But it also has implications as far as housing, jobs, and more. If an immigrant feels compelled to only live in certain areas to be close to other immigrants, this will place serious limitations on housing and jobs available. God knows housing prices are bad enough in LA and in Miami.

2. Improve on the job opportunities available.…