Commentary

Dependency diminishes government’s role to protect property

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Karl Marx said that “Religion is the opium of the people.” Marx should have said “Government dependence is the opium of the people.” Like a potent drug, it only takes a small amount of government dependence to feel good in the beginning, but over time, it takes more and more to reach that same good feeling. As dependence becomes absolute, the good feelings disappear and the recipient becomes enslaved in despondency and despair.

The right to property is the difference between our Constitutional Republic and government opium. The essence of our constitutional government, as James Madison put it, is “…Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…This being the end of government, that alone is ajust government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.” (Emphasis mine)

Progressives on the other hand believe that government should control your property; that trained bureaucrats and venial politicians know how much of your property you can keep, how you can use your property and who else gets to keep and use your property. The essential question that government dependence fails to address is: Why should able-bodied adults work for their property when government is willing and able to plunder what others produce and give it to them?

In our schools and institutions of higher learning, our courts and the halls of government, the right to possess property has been totally undermined by the perfect storm of social planning, social justice and socialist economics (an oxymoron). Since the Great Depression, creeping government dependence has snuck into the fabric of our unique American form of government.

Individual liberty and free-market economics are antithetical to government dependence. Group think, redistribution of wealth and all-powerful government are the problems, not the solutions. Sadly, for those who believe in government dependence, it just doesn’t work. Government dependence is socialism in one form or another and is fatally flawed.

Socialism kills capital formation by taking away the profit motive, competition and accountability. Socialism’s incentives are all wrong. Instead of appealing to mankind’s better angels of entrepreneurship, creativity, improving one’s standard of living, expressing one’s faith and respect for the property rights of others, socialism appeals to our darker angels – envy, hate, dependence, cultural baseness, suppression of faith and expropriating the property of others.

Like pregnancy, socialism can’t be “just a little bit.”  Sooner or later, socialism comes to term and society has to live with its results. History tells us that the results are not pretty; chronic shortages of food, shelter, medicine, life, property and freedom (take a good look at Venezuela as these tragedies unfold.)  

Government dependence ravages society in the same insidious way that opium ravages the minds and bodies of people. People should beware of leaders who hide government dependence behind words like “socialism,” “progressivism” and “democratic socialism.” That is a classic misdirection. People need to review the history of the societies that listened to the siren song of government dependence, and arm themselves against the entreaties of charlatans.

About John MacGregor

John "Jock" MacGregor is a student of history and politics, a pursuit he has enjoyed for most of his 79 years. Jock attended Villanova University’s School of Education; served in the U.S. Marine Corps; and is an entrepreneur with enterprises in restaurants, construction and boatbuilding. Mr. MacGregor was managing editor of an online news site in Hot Springs Arkansas. Currently, Jock comments on the role of government in society. Jock believes in a constitutionally limited government, instituted by the people, to protect their rights to life, liberty and property.

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