An Open Letter to Statists Everywhere

Chris - The Rowdy One! #187 2012/02/27 12:25:49
This is a very good read - enjoy!

Dear Statist Friends:

I know, I know. You’re already objecting to my letter. You don’t like the label “statist.” You don’t think of yourselves as worshipping government; rather, you think of yourselves as simply wanting to help people, with government being your preferred means to achieve what is usually a very worthy end. “Statist,” you say, is a loaded term—a pejorative that suggests an overweening, irrational kinship with the state.

Well, let’s wait and see how the term stacks up after you’ve read my whole letter and answered its questions. Meantime, if you have any doubt about whether this missive is directed at you, let me clarify to whom I am writing. If you’re among those many people who spend most of their time and energy advocating a litany of proposals for expanded government action, and little or no time recommending offsetting reductions in state power, then this letter has indeed found its mark.

You clever guys are always coming up with new schemes for government to do this or that, to address this issue or solve that problem, or fill some need somewhere. You get us limited-government people bogged down in the minutiae of how your proposed programs are likely to work (or not work), and while we’re doing the technical homework you seldom do, you demonize us as heartless number crunchers who don’t care about people.

Sometimes we all get so caught up in the particulars that we ignore the big picture. I propose that we step back for a moment. Put aside your endless list of things for government to do and focus on the whole package. I need some thoughtful answers to some questions that maybe, just maybe, you’ve never thought much about because you’ve been too wrapped up in the program du jour.

At the start of the 1900s, government at all levels in America claimed about 5 percent of personal income. A hundred years later, it takes more than 40 percent—up by a factor of eight. So my first questions to you are these: Why is this not enough? How much do you want? Fifty percent? Seventy percent? Do you want all of it? To what extent do you believe a person is entitled to what he (or she) has earned?

I want specifics. Like millions of Americans planning for their retirement or their children’s college education, I need to know. I’ve already sacrificed a lot of plans to pay your bills, but if you’re aiming for more, I’m going to have to significantly curtail my charitable giving, my discretionary spending, my saving for a rainy day, my future vacations, and perhaps some other worthwhile things.

I know what you’re thinking: “There you go again, you selfish character. We’re concerned about all the people’s needs and you’re only interested in your own bank account.” But who is really focused on dollars and cents here, you or me?

Why is it that if I disagree with your means, you almost always assume I oppose your ends? I want people to eat well, live long and healthy lives, get the prescription drugs and health care they need, etc., etc., just like you. But I happen to think there are more creative and voluntary ways to get the job done than robbing Peter to pay Paul through the force of government. Why don’t you show some confidence in your fellow citizens and assume that they can solve problems without you?

We’re not ignorant and helpless, in spite of your many poorly performing government schools and our having to scrape by with a little more than half of what we earn. In fact, give us credit for managing to do some pretty amazing things even after you take your 40 percent cut—things like feeding and clothing and housing more people at higher levels than any socialized society has ever even dreamed of.

This raises a whole series of related questions about how you see the nature of government and what you’ve learned, if anything, from our collective experiences with it. I see the ideal government as America’s founders did—in Washington’s words, a “dangerous servant” employing legalized force for the purpose of preserving individual liberties. As such, it is charged with deterring violence and fraud and keeping itself small, limited, and efficient. How can you profess allegiance to peace and nonviolence and at the same time call for so much forcible redistribution?

Don’t invoke democracy, unless you’re prepared to explain why might—in the form of superior numbers—makes right. Of course, I want the governed to have a big say in whatever government we have, but unlike you I have no illusions about any act’s being a legitimate function of government if its political supporters are blessed by 50 percent plus one of those who bother to show up at the polls. Give me something deeper than that, or I’ll round up a majority posse to come and rightfully claim whatever we want of yours.

Why is it that you statists never seem to learn anything about government? You see almost any shortcoming in the marketplace as a reason for government to get bigger but you rarely see any shortcoming in government as a reason for it to get smaller. In fact, I wonder at times if you are honestly capable of identifying shortcomings of government at all! Do we really have to give you an encyclopedia of broken promises, failed programs, and wasted billions to get your attention? Do we have to recite all the workers’ paradises that never materialized, the flashy programs that fizzled, the problems government was supposed to solve but only managed into expensive perpetuity?

Where, by the way, do you think wealth comes from in the first place? I know you’re fond of collecting it and laundering it through bureaucracies—“feeding the sparrows through the horses” as my grandfather once put it—but tell me honestly how you think it initially comes into being. Come on, now. You can say it: private initiative.

I’ve asked a lot of questions here, I know. But you have to understand that you’re asking an awful lot more in blood, sweat, tears, and treasure from the rest of us every time you pile on more government without lightening any of the previous load. If anything I’ve asked prompts you to rethink your premises and place some new restraints on the reach of the state, then maybe the statist label doesn’t apply to you. In which case, you can look forward to devoting more of your energies to actually solving problems instead of just talking about them, and liberating people instead of enslaving them.

Lawrence W. Reed

Your comments are always welcomed and UNBLOCKED. You are free to be as pleasant or as rude and hateful as you feel the need to be. I will honor your comment accordingly. Anti-Paul and Pro-Obama people are welcome to name call...it is allowed on my postings.

Read More: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/an-open-le...

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  • Tasine 2012/02/27 14:47:57 (edited)
    A great post, Chris! Mr. Reed could have been reading my mind! He is spot on. His words triggered a thought: If those on the left think we are so totally incapable of looking after ourselves and making our own decisions, then how is it they task us with providing for others "less fortunate" ? well  duh

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  • stl.shamrock 2012/03/02 16:42:30
    I posted this as a reply to a poll about "Anonymous" but I think it fits in pretty good here as well.


    With each passing day, I feel I can almost hear the government whispering,

    "Do not think nor feel, that which we do not tell you.
    Do not eat nor drink, what we do not feed you.
    We are here for you.
    We will teach you to walk in our footsteps.
    We will give you what you need to flourish and prosper."

    It sounds good enough for a lot of people to blindly believe and follow, but there are those who can look past the flowery words and smell the manure underneath.

    I agree with Anonymous, for the most part because the stink of greed and corruption is getting too foul (and too deep) for my liking.
  • Chris -... stl.sha... 2012/03/02 22:35:06
  • RighCraobh 2012/02/29 20:24:46
    Government is the problem, not the solution.
  • Chris -... RighCraobh 2012/02/29 21:41:38
  • RighCraobh Chris -... 2012/02/29 22:48:06
  • shadow76 2012/02/29 02:47:00
  • Chris -... shadow76 2012/02/29 14:33:54
  • shadow76 Chris -... 2012/02/29 14:41:20
    sure i love reading.
  • Kima5489 2012/02/28 23:50:12 (edited)
    I agree that government should be limited. It has too much involvement in financial and social issues. A lot of the agencies that have been created are not doing what they've been paid to do. Cut the fat.
  • Chris -... Kima5489 2012/02/29 14:34:08
  • praiserock 2012/02/28 21:14:55

    To answer this question:
    "To what extent do you believe a person is entitled to what he (or she) has earned?"

    100% of everything he or she has earned. The government is not "entitled" to my money anymore than a business is. Put forth a compelling product and the people will buy it. That's how the market works, that's how the government should. BTW, I place the military in the compelling product category. The EPA, DoE, NEA, and several more alphabet agencies, not so much.

    Yes, I know it isn't as simple as I've made it out, but the government needs to have a chainsaw taken to it.

    Now where are all the haters? They seem to be absent. Maybe they didn't get their internet subsidy.
  • Chris -... praiserock 2012/02/29 14:35:00
  • Batman 2012/02/28 07:15:43
    I think in the end you will find that desperate people will do anything to alleviate the suffering...even if it's wrong or has long term detrimental effects.
  • Chris -... Batman 2012/02/28 11:52:59
  • Viet Era medic 2012/02/28 04:45:19
    Viet Era medic
    wow, good letter. long but good..
    cut em off at the roots... They like to pass on the blame when the outcome didn't favor their plans but they are quick to take credit otherwise. Like it said in the letter, when things fail, statists don't see a need for government to get smaller.. They always want more government.
  • Chris -... Viet Er... 2012/02/28 11:53:20
  • stl.sha... Viet Er... 2012/03/02 16:45:44
    I can't agree with cutting them off from the roots... I'd be more prone to yanking the whole thing out of the ground, roots and all. I can protect what's mine without the assistance of any other "legal" entity.

    I gave you a +1 for the second half of your reply though. *grins*
  • Viet Er... stl.sha... 2012/03/02 17:29:19
    Viet Era medic
    Thanks... You know, I like your idea better. Yank em out.. Just like pain in the butt weeds, don't cut em, yank em. I like that a lot.
  • Bill 2012/02/27 22:08:57
    Very good! Thank you!
  • Chris -... Bill 2012/02/28 11:53:32
  • overdog001 2012/02/27 21:54:14
    Very well said. As an Objectivist, I approve this message.
  • Chris -... overdog001 2012/02/28 11:53:48
  • Mindlesspartyhack 2012/02/27 21:14:00
    I'm not a Statist.
    However, I read the post in its entirety.

    Keep 'em comin', Chris
  • Chris -... Mindles... 2012/02/28 11:54:00
  • goatman112003 2012/02/27 21:00:22
    The problem is very simple. Basic government is the strong protecting the weak thru a price. Charity is the individual but government plans are extortion plain and simple. It is one thing to aid the unable another to pay the unwilling. This is something which the left will never realize in their dreams of Utopia. The irony of all these programs is they truly hurt those they are suppose to help.
  • Chris -... goatman... 2012/02/28 11:54:30
  • Kiosk Kid 2012/02/27 19:23:47
    Kiosk Kid
    A Marxist is an individual that supports the teachings and ideology of Karl Marx. Liberals support the teaching and ideology of Karl Marx. Therefore, Liberals are Marxist.

    Karl Marx said; “Democracy is the road to socialism.”
    Karl Marx said; “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need.”

    Didn’t Obama pass Obamacare in the Senate without a single Republican vote? Didn’t Obamacare transfer wealth from those with abilities to those of need? Wasn’t the justification for Obamacare that 30 million people needed it?

    If you walk like a duck and you talk like a duck, you are a duck.

    I would call them Marxists but Statists and Nazi's works just as well. After all Hitler was a Marxist, Statists and Nazi's. There all have the same ideas, teaching, and ideology.
  • Chris -... Kiosk Kid 2012/02/27 19:38:47
  • Chet 2012/02/27 19:06:21
    Spot on sir, well said!
  • Chris -... Chet 2012/02/27 19:13:29
  • Chet Chris -... 2012/02/27 20:21:50
    Just wish more people would not only read it, but take it to heart as well!
  • Chris -... Chet 2012/02/28 11:55:14
  • Chet Chris -... 2012/02/28 18:30:36
    You can lead a horse to water.
  • Tink123 2012/02/27 18:50:26
    This was great - straight to the point. Outed every failed principle. I enjoyed it.
  • Chris -... Tink123 2012/02/27 19:13:43
  • Tink123 Chris -... 2012/02/27 19:20:35
    Thanks for posting it =)
  • tommyg - POTL- PWCM-JLA 2012/02/27 15:54:22
    tommyg - POTL- PWCM-JLA
    Excellent read Chris. Thanks for the share.
  • Chris -... tommyg ... 2012/02/27 16:18:56
  • Jimbo 2012/02/27 15:13:31
    Sad breaking news. 4 shot at a OH high school.

  • Chris -... Jimbo 2012/02/27 15:25:13

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