The Vagabond at the Intersection: The Consequences of Pooled Burden

One road after another, one Medicare prescription after another, one postal delivery after another, one public school after another, our federal government has encouraged us to -- unwittingly and incrementally -- rely on one another for some of our most basic needs.  Over the past century, we have grown to increasingly share our burdens to the extent that it may finally be said with a straight face that as individuals we do nothing and together we do everything.  In a country where almost fifty percent of individuals live in a household that receives some form of federal assistance, perhaps the President was correct in stating that "If you have a business, you didn't build that.  Somebody else made that happen."  To be sure, "somebody else" is making all kinds of things happen for the large number of us receiving federal assistance.

Like the vagabond at the intersection who scrubs your windshield for change even after you've waved him off, our government has collected a trophy case of carefully planned gratuities force fed to us one at a time, all taking form as social programs, government funded infrastructure, etc. They have been collected for purposes of later guilting us into a socialist disposition. 

By appealing to our humanity and state of desperation, FDR and his administration stripped us of some of our most basic and important personal responsibilities.  For example, no longer would we be required to take care of ourselves by saving for our ascent into old age, but rather, seniors were now able to wait and share the monetary burden of growing old with the young.  From senior safety nets to social programs designed to curb bullying, we have evolved from a people willing to employ limited socialist principles in the interest of preserving the dignity of our most vulnerable citizens to a nation of individuals eager to spend someone else's money in order to further the most superfluous of ends.  Perhaps our digression into such a careless fiscal state was precipitated by the inexorable slide down the slippery slope of socialist policy.  If we can pay for the medicine of the elderly, why not the children as well?  If the children, why not everyone?

Is it any surprise that now, after 80 years of progressively and incrementally socializing our burdens, we are led by a President who feels comfortable appealing to our guilt in an effort to sell us even more socialism than we've already seen fit to employ?  It was never just a matter of doing the humane thing, and it never will be.  The more we give, the more we will owe.  By the President's logic, it is not only our economic endeavors which are not ours alone.  To arrive at my property, I must travel roads paid for by the masses.  The innovation I may wish to patent came forth from an intellect cultivated by the public education system.  Perhaps, instead of whining about the President's declaration, we should look back on the atrocities we've permitted over the last 80 years and acknowledge the unfortunate accuracy of his point.

By tempting us all with the convenience of a pooled burden, our government has slowly and methodically eroded our sense of individualism and invaded our duty of self-responsibility.  No matter the promise of Utopia made to us by the proprietors of the socialist concept, we are limping into a hellish dystopia which we have manufactured for ourselves by virtue of our manifest desire to pass our burdens off on "somebody else."  After all, those who made and believe in that promise exhibit a faith in the institution of government rivaled only by the faith in God of the religious proletarians they so readily disparage.  The hypocrisy of their worldview is congruent only to the disappointment realized in its application.

As a nation, we are at a crossroads.  We can either continue to pool our burdens and, in doing so, dive off of the fiscal cliff before us, or else we can denounce this tyranny of charity by insisting on being left alone, for better or for worse.  With the right to pursue happiness comes also the right to fail miserably.  We cannot faithfully realize the former without readily accepting the possibility of the latter.

Adam Floyd is a third-year law student at Southern Methodist University and a Process Auditor for a corporate law firm in Dallas, Texas.  He can be reached at