Aunt Lucy Didn't Send the Sheriff
When I was a boy, Mom insisted I go visit Aunt Lucy at her small house near the creek. I went reluctantly since Aunt Lucy liked to talk about family history and always kept her house a comfortable 85 degrees, tempting a young boy to nod off.
Aunt Lucy was really a great aunt, my maternal grandfather's sister. When Aunt Lucy's grandfather died, her grandmother, Ann, came to live with Aunt Lucy and her husband until Ann's death in 1916. Later, when Aunt Lucy's father Emannuel died, she took care of her mother Nancy until Nancy died. Aunt Lucy accepted without question that it was her moral responsibility to care for her own family. She never tried to shift that responsibility onto others, either directly or through the government. To exist "on the dole" or be dependent on the charity of others would have been a moral lapse, a personal failing, and a disgrace. Such had been the moral standard for Aunt Lucy and her ancestors, (simple, self-reliant farmers all) going back to before the Revolution. Christian charity may have been part of their lives, but it would never have been forced. The suggestion that the sheriff be sent down the road to force a wealthier neighbor to pay for someone else would be met with a hearty laugh at best.
Yet that is exactly where we are today. As soon as someone is determined to be "in need" (not even your neighbor), the sheriff (IRS) is sent to collect, and we all know this is not voluntary. We have been enslaved to "the general welfare," which is not very general since some are sacrificed to benefit others who are often not in need. "The general welfare" is so vaguely defined that anything goes, things such as $2 billion annually paid to farmers not to farm their land, $1.8 million to help build a private golf course, and $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.
For the federal government to bill us for services provided as defined by the Constitution is one thing. Taking the fruits of our labor and giving them to whoever has sufficient political influence is quite another.
Is this a moral society? Does any religion teach a morality of taking from others by force? Does the Constitution really allow this? This was clearly not the intent of the Founders. Where have we come as a nation that such government use of force is so passively accepted? What kind of people are we who elect politicians to bring home somebody else's bacon? Have our politics become a game of stick the other guy with the visit from the sheriff? What would Aunt Lucy say about us? What would the Founders think of us?
Even the enormous sums collected under the current tax system are not enough to feed the beast of progressive government. Words like "fair share" and "shared sacrifice" are used to urge a more complete sacrifice of select taxpayers to tax consumers. Current debate is about who gets what and who has to pay, much like trying to decide what color to paint a termite-infested house. The root of the current deficit and spending crisis is the extra-Constitutional growth of government power, accelerated with the passage of the 16th Amendment, which gives the federal government unlimited power to confiscate. The tax system allows government to select who is favored and who is not and permits federal government intrusion into areas it has not been allowed by the Constitution.
Such redistribution has somehow claimed the labels "compassionate" and "fair," while being neither. What kind of moral standard allows taking by force from some to give to others? Such a contradiction can exist only if there is no moral standard other than that the end justifies the means, described by F. A. Hayek in The Road to Serfdom:
The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule; there is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves "the good of the whole" because the "good of the whole" is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.
For the progressives, never mind that some are sacrificed, because utopia is just around the corner. But the only utopia Aunt Lucy may have imagined would have been Heaven, and she wouldn't have sacrificed anyone to get there.