All Commentary
Friday, June 1, 1990

Thats Already Been Settled

Earl Zarbin, a retired newspaperman, does historical research and writing in Phoenix, Arizona.

Solicitations through the mail for one cause or another are endless. Most I ignore, pitching them aside unopened. My wife, however, looks at all the mail. She reads everything, including all requests for money. Lately, there was an appeal to which she wanted to contribute some cash. This was a lobby in Washington, D.C., trying to get Congress to amend a law so that funds it appropriated for the arts would not go to pornographers or other purveyors of disgustment.

When my wife said we should make a contribution, my reaction was: “No, it’s a waste of money. The people behind that are fighting the wrong thing. If they were fighting to repeal all Federal aid to the arts, I probably would contribute something.”

“That’s already been settled,” my wife retorted. “What’s already been settled?” “Congressional funding of the arts.”

She maintained the issue now was to make certain the funds were not used for vulgar purposes such as displaying as art someone’s bottled urine or photographs of homosexuality. Certainly I could agree tax money should not be used for those purposes any more than they should be used to support three-cushion billiard parlors. But the need was not lobbying to ban the use of Federal funds to support pornography or disgustments: rather, the need was to ban stealing from billiard players (and everyone else) to support the arts.

On the surface, it appears the question of social welfare programs has been settled. Along with theft- supported giveaways to the arts, we have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, ad nauseam. However, there is no assurance these programs will last forever. A late example of this was Congress’ repeal of the law requiring Medicare recipients with qualifying incomes to pay higher taxes for the financing of catastrophic illness. Congress reacted after hundreds of thousands of Social Security recipients made known their displeasure. What if hundreds of thousands—or millions—of Americans under age 62, or 60, or 50, made known their displeasure with the entire thieving system of Social Security? Would Congress sit still? Or would it repeal the social stealing approved by Congress in 19357

Similarly, if millions of Americans rallied against subsidies for irrigation water, electrical production, and all other Federal theft programs, would not Congress respond? You bet. If the people made known they would vote out of office anyone who failed to repeal stealing as Congress’ favorite pastime, the entire transfer payment system could come tumbling down.

Indeed, ask individual citizens if they support theft. I think most would say they do not—even for so-called good causes. They prefer to decide for themselves whether something is worthy of their personal financial aid. What I suspect many of them do not perceive is the connection between committing theft themselves and Congress (or state legislatures or city councils) doing the same thing through the enactment of laws and their enforcement with the power of the police.

Many citizens might agree there is a need to help others pay rent, buy food, receive medical care, and become educated, but they would rebel and stiffen their backs if approached directly by a man with gun in hand to demand they turn over cash in their pockets for these purposes. Yet the majority of them tolerate the same conduct if the theft is enacted into law and the stealing is accomplished by government agencies.

Clearly, the masses of people have been deceived in their understanding of what government should be and what it has become. It should restrict itself to protecting life, liberty, and property; instead, it is the main agency for intrusion into virtually every aspect of living, threatening the well-being of the people by spending too much, and by inflation.

If my wife is correct—the triumph of the social welfare state in these United States has “already been settled”—then I might as well contribute to such narrow and unproductive causes as combat-ting the use of federally collected tax money to finance the public display of bottles of urine as art. But I think she is wrong—the only thing that has been settled is that the masses of people have been temporarily blinded and deceived by the siren song of those who pretend the world is better off when subjected to an elite in control of coercive forces. To me, nothing has been settled. If this puts me out of step, I at least know that I still tramp to my own beat.

  • Mr. Zarbin, a retired newspaperman, does historical research and writing in Phoenix, Arizona.