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L. Neil Smith's
Number 658, February 19, 2012

Freedom, Immortality, and the Stars. For me, that's
what the current rEVOLution is all about.

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Wealth Redistribution, By Any Other Name, Is Still Slavery
by C. Jeffery Small

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Recently, Florida's Republican Representative, Allen West, gave a speech in Congress where he stated:

Our party firmly believes in the safety net. We reject the idea of the safety net becoming a hammock.

[T]he Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today, and it does not promote economic freedom.

Michael J. Hurd has written an excellent piece on West's statements titled, The Self-Imposed Slavery of the Redistribution State, and I highly recommend that everyone first listen to West's short speech and then read Hurd's article in full. Rather than duplicate his analysis, I will just quote a few passages:

Becoming a hammock? Rep. West, that ship has sailed.

A majority of Americans now depend on some form of government handouts. This includes rich whites as much as anyone else. These handouts include mortgage subsidies, farm subsidies, essentially permanent unemployment benefits, corporate bailouts, union favors, medical care, Medicare, Social Security, ObamaCare and a host of other goodies as far as the eye can see.

West is fatally wrong when he makes a distinction between the government "safety net" rather than a hammock. Whether government provides a "safety net" or a "hammock," in either case it's at the expense of people who are forced to provide it.

America, once the land of the free and the home of the ruggedly individualistic, is now a middle class, government-benefit entitlement society. America is the land of Big Babies.

Unfortunately, Republicans like Allen West enable the problem by engaging in the pretense that there's any difference between a government "safety net" or "hammock."

Government can force us to make hammocks or nets for others deemed deserving. But either way, it's still slavery.

In fact, West gets his analogy completely wrong. Redistributive entitlements are neither a safety net, protecting us in times of emergency, nor are they a hammock, affording us with a life of leisure. They are more akin to a fishing net, which indiscriminately sweep us all into its trap, robbing every person of their freedom and independence. Those on the receiving end of the distribution become dependent beggars (Hurd's "Big Babies") whose survival rests in the hands of a government that supports them in exchange for their compliance and their vote. Those on the supply end of the chain are forcibly relieved of the product of their efforts while their actions are severely restricted through regulations. The concept of the autonomous individual with the liberty to pursue their own definition of happiness, while accepting responsibility for their own life, is nowhere to be found. The American dream is dead.

On January 22, 2010, Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute informed us that the Federal government's "Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance" (CFDA) had reached the milestone of 2,000 different subsidy programs for individuals, businesses, or state and local governments. I have previously reported on this a number of time, here, here, and here. However, taking another look today reveals that the number of programs now stands at 2,199. This means that during the past two years, 100 new programs continued to be added each year—more than eight new programs every month!

This is the means by which your wealth is being redistributed to others. And remember, we elected a Republican majority in the House in 2010—the place where all spending bills originate. Yet, there has been no decrease in government spending, no reduction in taxes, and no slowdown in the creation of these programs. Because, as Hurd points out in his article, the GOP is every bit as committed to the philosophy of the welfare state as are the Democrats—which means that Republicans are every bit as committed to our subjugation.

We know all too well where President ("I do think at a certain point you've made enough money") Obama stands on wealth redistribution and entitlements. Now listen to the other GOP candidates. With the exception of Ron Paul who advocates the phase-out and eventual elimination of these programs, Romney, Gingrich and Santorum are all staunch advocates of entitlements. They may pay lip service during their campaigning to "restructuring" or "reducing" these programs, but they are in no way advocating that they are wrong in principle. And this means that they do not believe, in principle, that your life is your own, to do with as you see fit.

So every time you hear a politician speak about welfare, or entitlements, or bailouts, or financial assistance, or the needs of others, just stop and substitute in the word "slavery". Because that is the unstated implication that they hope you will never recognize. And freeing yourself from this slavery is the most important reason for engaging in today's battle for serious government reform.

Posted at Mr. Small's Small Thoughts for a Complex World™ blog at Copyright © C. Jeffery Small 2012

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