Citizens' townhall meetings with members of Congress can be painful.
A college professor asks, what are you going to do so that our students can pay off their loans? Another citizen asks whether the budget will be increased for this or that social program. A third asks for unemployment benefits to be extended, again. The officeholder is compelled to promise ever-increasing benefits, goodies for all, increased spending with no considerations of cost, competing demands, prioritization, trade-offs or the constitutional appropriateness of the expenditures.
Where do the constituents making these earnest pleas think the money for all of this comes from? It comes from themselves -- from the rest of the people there in the junior high school auditorium. To say that the money comes from "Washington" is to be deluded by the Big Lie. Washington DC, the federal government, has nothing except what it takes from the states and the counties and cities and the citizens, taxpaying or otherwise. For any district to ask for more money is either to ask for its own money back less Washington's commission or to ask for other districts to run a deficit for the former's benefit, also less middleman fees. Should Mississippi support the San Fernando Valley? Should Beverly Hills underwrite Anchorage? Why shouldn't Denver subsidize Appalachia and Bel Air, if their respective representatives demand it?
Set aside for a moment the immorality of politicians and their supporters constantly jockeying for advantage at each other's expense (for this is truly a zero-sum game). Money extracted from other districts and dispensed by political favoritism does not create wealth. Senator Robert Byrd, the once member of the Ku Klux Klan of West Virginia, was a master at bringing home the political bacon. Nevertheless, West Virginia remained poor over all. Other states and districts with less adept politicians have nevertheless thrived without being beneficiaries of a political gravy train. What counts in order for a district, a state, or a nation to prosper is individual initiative, hard work and the creative destruction of capitalist enterprise operating under liberty, private property rights, rule of law, low taxes, and light regulation.
What if a congressman/woman or candidate were to say to his or her constituents, No! I'm not going to try to rob the pork from a richer or poorer district. There is no moral justification for robbing the poor, and if the great wealth of some other district is so attractive, then do what they do! Instead, I'm going to fight to see to it that our money doesn't leave our district in the first place. Because even if we could get back 100% of our share of the pie, that 'share' will end up being much less than what we had paid out because of Washington 'public servants' extracting their piece of the action.
We have capable experts in business, technology, medicine, charity, and administration right here. We don't need Washington 'experts' to do it for us or tell us what to do. We don't need bureaucrats usurping power over our own job creators and demoralizing our people with dependency. We don't need them crowding out our churches and synagogues that deliver charity and aid to the less fortunate on a personal and voluntary basis, replacing them with armies of salaried and pensioned functionaries in whose interest it is to increase the number of their 'clients' to the highest possible volume.
No. What is needed is to take responsibility for ourselves and to demand our own lives, liberty, and property back; to reduce the federal government's jackboot print on our lives and economy; to cut federal tax rates to low, flat levels, and to lighten regulation to the point of simply preventing and punishing murder, assault, robbery, theft, fraud, rape, persecution, and conspiracy; and even then only to the degree that states and counties are unable to do so for themselves. To go back to the model where the largest line item in the federal budget is the Defense Department, because that is the most important of the few and constitutionally enumerated responsibilities of the federal government which the states may not take on independently; keeping our citizens safe from foreign aggression.
The answer to this 'what if' of course is that any congressman or candidate who refuses to play Santa Claus and promise unlimited candy for all if only the 'rich' would pay their 'fair share' would be routed in the next election, unless a plurality of the voters are private-sector property and/or business-owning, responsible, and intelligent working adults and parents. The current administration and its supporters are not only rapidly extinguishing this category of Americans through their policies, decrees and executive orders, but celebrating their own success in doing so.
Now if you will excuse me, my teeth hurt. What is my congressman going to do about it?
Howard Hyde is author of Pull the Plug on Obamacare', available in Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.com. He edits the website http://www.hhcapitalism.com/.
Follow on Twitter: @HowardHyde