All Commentary
Sunday, May 1, 1960

The Result Is Slavery

Dr. Kershner is President of the Christian Freedom Foundation. This article is from his weekly column, “It’s Up to You,” February 15, 1960.

The People who live in the regions round about New York, and other cities, are in great distress because commuter railroad fares are being raised sharply—to $50 and $60 a month and even more. I heard a minister say, last night, that gov­ernment must step in and do some­thing about it. There is general agreement with his statement.

What can government do to solve this problem? It can tax noncom­muters and give the proceeds to the commuters. It can reach out to the farthest corners of the state and take money from people who never use suburban railroad serv­ice and give that money to those who do. It can go into slums of New York and tax people who have never been on a train, to make life easier for those who live in the suburbs and use the trains daily.

Suppose the commuters would go to their noncommuter friends, and to others in the cities and throughout the state, and say to them frankly, “I cannot afford to go to and from my work because the fare is too high. Will you con­tribute to the cost of my transpor­tation?” How many would do it? Would you? If not, why do you think government should force you to do that which you do not wish to do?

You have no more returned from canvassing the public to ob­tain help with your transportation problem than a neighboring farmer comes in and says he can­not afford to continue farming, unless you and others will pay him more for his produce than he can obtain in the open market. You refuse to help, and he successfully invokes the power of government to rob you in order to pay him.

After the visit from the farmer, a delegation calls to tell you they cannot afford the proper kind of housing. Some of them want you to pay part of their rent and others want you to pay part of the cost of building a house for them. You refuse, and they successfully invoke the power of government to compel you to pay part of the rent for those who prefer to rent and part of the building cost for those who want to own their own homes.

Next, a group of publishers call who say they cannot afford to send their publications through the United States mails without some help from you. You refuse their request, and they successfully in­voke the power of government to compel you to pay a part of the cost of their operation.

Your next visitors are a group of labor leaders who say their members do not wish to work 40 hours a week but ask you to con­tribute so they may be paid for the time they are not working. You refuse indignantly, and they successfully invoke the power of government to compel you to con­tribute to a full day’s pay for many of them who work possibly a few hours, a few minutes, or not at all.

If we confined ourselves to ask­ing others to help us in all these matters, we would be a nation of beggars. Actually, we have become a nation of thieves because we do not content ourselves with request­ing help but systematically rob one another by the exercise of the police power of government. How foolish we are to think we can have more by paying each other’s expenses. Doing it through the machinery of government is very wasteful and in the end we all have less.

Coming back to the problem of the commuter, the problem exists in the first place because of gov­ernment intervention. Govern­ment-regulated rates have long been too low to cover costs. Taxes in many cases are above the total railway receipts in certain areas. Disastrous “featherbedding” has been made possible by government-granted privilege to railway workers. One government inter­vention has followed another until now disaster is upon us. As always, more of the disease is proposed as a cure. Socialism seems unable to stop short of complete control of the economic activities of the people; but that means slavery. Do the American people want it? Any government intervention makes matters worse and calls more loudly for further intervention. There is no stopping place. We must either deprive government of the right of all intervention in the economic activities of the people or go on to full control which amounts to slavery.