Socialism vs. Capitalism: Part IV
In any free society, socialism begins when government is given the power and authority arbitrarily to redistribute wealth.
“But Weaver,” you may retort, “Have you not read the first paragraph of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution?: ‘The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;…’ Congress has the specific power to tax, and one of only three purposes named for laying and collecting taxes is to provide for the ‘general Welfare!’”
True; but first, please read the rest of that paragraph: “…but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” The graduated (or “progressive”) income tax violates both the letter and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution! It has given Congress, all-but carte blanche, the ability to spend unimaginable sums of the people’s money – at least until it all runs out. [I would argue that it has already run out. We are now borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend at the federal level from foreign countries. Is this “sustainable?!”]
Then, much more importantly, please see what the American Framers had to say about “general Welfare” and arbitrary redistribution of wealth! Begin here and here with James Madison, who has been called “the Chief Architect of the Constitution.” But, please, do not stop there! Further study Madison; study Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin! (See here, for starters.) Look at later great American statesmen such as David Crockett and Abraham Lincoln. [Be careful here. There are quotes on wealth redistribution that have been widely attributed to Lincoln that are almost certainly not his.]
“[C]ongress ‘shall have Power…’” Yes; necessary and specific power – not absolute, or arbitrary power!
The objective – the purpose of the American Ideal was (is) religious, political, economic and scientific Liberty. Liberty means (demands) absolute independence from any and all forms of tyranny!
[I must apologize to my faithful readers. I realize that, to you, I sound like a broken record. I know from experience (emails) that most people stumble upon an article of mine and seldom read many others. I find myself almost obligated to define “Liberty” in virtually every article that I write. For the umpteenth time, here is the definition of Essential Liberty: Essential Liberty is the near absolute right of any and every human being to think, to say and to do anything and everything he wants as long as he does not violate the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. Bonus in this article; the definition of True Justice: True Justice is what happens when anyone and everyone is held equally accountable under the Law for each and every violation of the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. This is the essence of Rule of Law and of the American Ideal!]
A powerful sense of “capitalism” (economic Liberty) has been ingrained in the hearts and minds of most Americans since the experience of the Pilgrims during those dreadful winters of 1620-1622, and the experiment in economic Liberty that turned it all around for the good in 1623.
Modern “conventional wisdom” declares that Squanto, Massasoit and the Wampanoag (Indian) tribe turned everything around for the Pilgrims by teaching them how and where to hunt and fish and how to plant and cultivate corn and other vital crops. It also claims that the “First Thanksgiving” (in 1621) was in honor of the Native Americans, for the purpose of giving thanks to them by sharing in the bounty that they had enabled. Modern conventional wisdom always latches on to a handful of facts and expands it into a narrative. The narrative invariably assumes that “God is dead” – or, that He never existed; that “capitalism” is unfair if not totally evil; and that white men (especially those who believe in God and Absolute Truth) are inherently racist (bigoted and “judgmental”) above all other “people groups.” They can only survive by cunningly exploiting the knowledge and the resources of others. (Please see my 10-part series on “The Big Lie,” beginning here.)
The truth is this: Squanto, Samoset, Hobbamock and Massasoit were Godsends – literally, they were sent by God! – for the Pilgrims. They were indispensable. However, things did not truly begin to turn around (economically) for the Pilgrims until Governor Bradford abandoned (in 1623) the part of his sponsor’s (the London Company; later – after 1620 – the Plymouth Council for New England) charter that required the communal ownership of property and the “equal” sharing of the fruits of labor. In other words, things began very significantly to improve the very moment that the Pilgrims renounced socialism and embraced economic Liberty/private property.
The false narrative of modern conventional wisdom concerning the “First Thanksgiving” only begins to unravel when these facts become known: The “First Thanksgiving” came from a long-established English (Judeo-Christian) tradition of giving thanks to God for a bountiful autumn harvest. The Pilgrims were thanking – and giving glory to – God, not the Indians! Of course, the Pilgrims were very spiritually aware. They knew that these natives were sent by God to help them. They glorified God and showed their profound appreciation for these outstanding native people by including them in the traditional ceremonial festivities. Yet, the harvest of 1621 – not to mention 1622 – was far from bountiful. In fact, it was less than “sustainable.” Many perished during each of those two harsh winters. The Pilgrims were expressing their thanks to God; but much more, they were proving their faith in Him! Their faith was rewarded in 1623 and far beyond.
From the very beginning of “recorded history,” economic Liberty was seldom if ever allowed even to approach its full potential. Kings, emperors, dictators and aristocrats ruled over men. Tyrants “owned” all property. Only via his “benevolent grace” did the tyrant “allow” his subjects to use “his” land. The first fruits of the land (and of the subjects’ hard labor) belonged not to the subject, but to the tyrant. Any degree of progress was the result of two things: 1) the tyrant found favor with a certain promising individual and granted him a great degree of economic and scientific freedom. The individual would be richly rewarded for any discovery that aided the tyrant and his realm. 2) Some person discovered a law or principle of Nature and of Nature’s God and practically applied that discovery toward a new invention or idea. Perhaps that new invention (or idea) was appreciated and accepted by so many people before the tyrant got wind of it, that the tyrant had no chance to suppress it and no choice other than to accept it. If he did accept it, the tyrant probably claimed the invention (or idea) as his own. He then either had the inventor executed, or he placed the inventor in a high office – with promises of wealth and property for any future accomplishments for the realm, and/or threats to life and liberty for any future failures.
Life always was, is and forever will be a miserable existence for man – especially the so-called “common man” – under tyranny. For some 5000 years of “recorded history,” the tyranny of man over man was the rule. Advancements in the human condition – “new” ideas in religious theology, political structure, economic philosophy and scientific/technological discoveries – were always very sporadic exceptions to the rule. They were by-and-large, accomplishments of men who dared to defy the tyrant.
Enter the Spirit of 1776. This spirit had been building in Europe – especially in Great Britain – since at least 15 June 1215. It was embodied, first, in the U.S. Declaration of Independence and ultimately in the U.S. Constitution. It was the idea of comprehensive (religious, political, economic and scientific) human Liberty. It looked forward to a time when every human being would be free from the shackles, chains and whips of the will and the rule of man. For the very first time in recorded history, even the “common man (and woman)” would be all but absolutely free to pursue and to attain his/her desires, dreams, ambitions and aspirations – provided those desires, dreams, etc., did not infringe upon the life, liberty, property, safety, dignity and morality of a fellow human being.
The Spirit of 1776 – the American Ideal – is essential Liberty. Consider the unfathomable advance in human progress since about 1800. Today, even the poorest Americans live more comfortably than most kings and aristocrats did just 250 years ago. Again, I ask, is this mere coincidence, or is there something to this Liberty thing?
“But, Weaver, why can’t you understand that the poorest Americans live in relative comfort today for one reason and one reason only: the ‘progressive’ social contract – the framework of which was established by FDR some 75 years ago and enhanced by LBJ in the mid 1960’s; i.e., the federal ‘safety net?’”
I could write a book answering that one question. In the interest of time and space, please allow me just 3 points, and forgive me for omitting so many others.
First, the poorest Americans today live more comfortably than kings of yesterday because of things like air-conditioning & heating, supermarkets, advances in medical procedures & technologies, advances in transportation & communication and the availability of jobs/careers. “Progressive” social policy cannot produce these things; in fact, it hinders them. Government at any level had very little, if anything to do with any of this. These things came about via entrepreneurs exercising economic Liberty (“capitalism”).
Second, the Spirit of 1776 – the American Ideal; American Liberty – demands that every individual should and must be “his brother’s keeper.” (Genesis 4:9) Liberty requires responsibility. An immediate responsibility – perhaps the primary civic duty – of every American is to help his brother and his neighbor in every way that he is able. Often, this responsibility – this duty – cannot be achieved alone (i.e., on a purely individual basis). It may very well require help from family, church, charitable/social organizations, or the community at large.
However, responsibility/accountability works both ways. If there is ever a moment that your brother/neighbor begins to take advantage of your good will/charity, that is the moment that his accountability takes over and your responsibility ends. It is the very moment that one of you becomes a slave. Either he is a slave to your good will, or you are a slave to his material desires. You would be wise to cut him off at that point. He has proven himself wily enough to make it on his own. You would be irresponsible if you were to fail to cut him off and to “force” (or to allow) him to make it on his own at that point.
[NOTE: Barack Hussein Obama has used the phrase from Genesis 4:9 concerning (his/your/my/our) brother’s keeper on countless occasions. He has several relatives – including a step-brother – in Kenya who are living in abject poverty. Is there any evidence that he has ever lifted a finger to help (or to keep) any of them? No, not at all! The biblical principles of which BHO is aware are few and far between and are not directed toward individuals. No, they are for the collective. Just more evidence, if you are wise and informed, that Obama is indeed a socialist!]
Third, it has been said wisely and repeated often that the federal “safety net” has become a hammock. The vast bureaucracies of the federal government have been given the authority to administer this “safety net.” Bureaucrats at the federal level do not know – cannot possibly know – the individuals they are attempting to help (or to “keep”). Any “help” for people is not – cannot be – based upon individual need. Rather, it is based upon numbers, surveys and statistics, which are in turn interpreted through the perspective of assumptions; ideology (i.e., “conventional wisdom”). In other words, bureaucrats get to pick winners and losers.
A great number of individuals working in the various cabinets/departments and agencies of the federal government are Liberty-loving American patriots. Many of them have served responsibly and honorably for years – in some cases, for decades. Sadly, they are vastly outnumbered by “progressives” – socialists; modern “liberals,” adherents of contemporary “conventional wisdom.”
Very few federal bureaucrats know personally even one of the individuals that his department/agency is trying to help. Not one bureaucrat could possibly ascertain the point at which a single individual – much less every single recipient of his department/agency’s “charity” – chooses to exploit the “benevolent will” of the department/agency.
Worse, most bureaucrats want the recipients to reach that point! Who is the master and who becomes the slave?
Worse yet, the federal “safety net” was purposefully erected to create wards of the state – selected and targeted “victims” and groups/“classes” who would become both dependent upon (slaves to) these collectivist programs and loyal voters for those politicians who would preserve and enhance these programs.
Socialism both creates and demands dependence upon government. “Capitalism” (economic Liberty), on the other hand, unleashes the human potential. Capitalism is driven by competition and by the natural (selfish) desire of every man to be (or to do) better than everyone else.
Socialism is political and economic tyranny. It allows politicians, bureaucrats, powerful union bosses and super-wealthy industrialists/financiers to pick winners and losers. The “losers” (namely, small- and medium-sized business owners—the wealth-creators of this country) are tyrannized when their wealth is confiscated to “help” the “winners.” Sadly, the “winners” (the “poor,” the “disenfranchised,” the “victims of a ‘racist,’ ‘sexist,’ ‘bigoted’ and ‘homophobic’ society”) are far from helped. Rather, they are exploited. Far too often, they become permanently dependent upon federal largesse and permanently beholden to those “masters” who keep that largesse coming. [NOTE: This is in no way a racist statement. There are more whites in the USA who are dependent upon some form of federal largesse than all other ethnic groups combined. Neither is it “classist.” Many are quite wealthy.]
Capitalism, on the other hand, is economic Liberty. It allows winners and losers to pick themselves. Those who follow the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, who work hard and develop the talent(s) that their Creator has given them and who overcome hardships and failures (with help from family, friends, church, community, etc.) are winners. Those who do not do these things are losers. Virtually any attempt at the state level of government – and, I dare say, every attempt at the federal level – to create a so-called “level playing field” is socialism pure and simple. These futile attempts place faith in man – or, the collective. They deny, or at least restrict, the Liberty of the individual.