Political power derives from taking money or property from those who earned it and giving it to those who haven't. This is the history of government since the first Pharaoh, Imperator, King and Czar.
Bush lied, people died! Ted Kennedy is a drunken, human dirigible! The Republicans are immoral, corruptrunning a criminal enterprise! The Democrats are Socialists in sheep's clothing! Only in America do we use the word 'politics' to describe our political system so well: 'Poli' in Latin meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures.'
It's entertaining (and never dull) watching Republicans and Democrats vie with each other to tell us who will do the most for uswith our own money. But why the despicable statements? "If there is any justice, he'll get AIDs and his grandchildren will die of it." Or, "I'll be watching, hoping someone shoots him!" Or "Gingrich should be hanged!"
Why the venom, viciousness and vitriolic claims and counterclaims from candidates who otherwise are friendly, courteous and quite likable, regardless of political affiliation when you meet them face to face. Are the stakes really so high?
Yes. The stakes are humongous and politicians hope voters won't notice what's really going on behind the scenes. The federal government spends an incomprehensible $2.7 trillion dollars annually. To get "their" fair share of the fishes and the loaves through a symbiotic relationship, voters are contributing more than $800 million to candidates to get "their" people elected. Inasmuch as all political power is derived from what government can do to you or for you, collectively, political campaigns are about how trillions of dollars will be spent and who gets what.
Whoever wins clinches the power to pay for thousands of things for which never in a million years would ordinary people pay with their own money. Among them: Art Photographs of streaming toilet paper unrolling when thrown from an airplane; $315 million for "a bridge to nowhere;" and incredibly, $2 billion annually "trying" to prove global warming is manmade. C'mon, for $2 billion who wouldn't say humans cause global warming? Just follow the money, "the mother's milk of politics." Dishing out $2.7 trillion is a humongous amount of political power.
Once upon a time taxes were collected only to support legitimate functions of government; to protect private property and people from criminals and foreign aggressors; to invoke a common system of justice; and to create a fair field without favor. (See the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution). Today, most money the government spends is not for traditional purposes. Most tax money comes from the middle class to subsidize the middle class (prescription drugs to golf courses) with the government taking a customary "handling charge." Why the middle class? Because, as Willie Sutton the bank robber said, "That's where the money is." It's also where the votes are.
Voters, in ever-increasing numbers, look to who promises the greatest benefits (to be paid by someone else). In loose terms, Republicans fund the military-industrial complex. Democrats fund the poverty, educational, environmental complex. Illusions, deceptions and lofty appeals, such as "it's for the children," are indispensable. However, Albert Shanker, a longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers, let the cat out of the bag when he said, "I'll start representing kids when kids start paying union dues."
Another lofty appeal is "national defense." The government and Northrop Grumman, in a symbiotic relationship, proposed building the stealth bomber at a cost of $800 million each in 383 congressional districts in 46 states. Why do you suppose? Efficiency? The point is not to legitimatize national defense or education, but to demonstrate the humongous stakes in politics. While national defense and education may be legitimate, there are thousands of indefensible government programs (aka congressional earmarks/pork) involving trillions of dollars that are questionable. And that's what elections are about: money, who spends it and who gets it.
George Washington once said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
In the private market, all legal transactions are voluntary based on persuasion. Consumers discriminate when spending their own money. Government transactions, however, are based on forced taxation, coercion and favoritism. For instance, politicians, businesses and environmentalists who cannot get people to support them voluntarily must resort to force and favor from government.
Politicians have the power to take your money, property and life. Even the two richest billionaires in America, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates cannot do this together.
Murray Rothbard defined the essence of government as: "There is us and there is the Government. If, then, the Government is not 'us,' if it is not 'the human family' getting together to decide mutual problems, if it is not a lodge meeting or country club, what is it? "Briefly, the Government is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area. In particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion."
This is why government must be bound down by the chains of the Constitution. Otherwise, as H.L. Mencken said, "Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods."
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Schnaubelt, president of Citizens for Private Property Rights, has been a commercial real estate broker for 35 years and was a San Diego City Councilman from 1977-81. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. All letters are forwarded to the author and may be published as Letters to the Editor. [Reprinted with permission.]