Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Fallacy of Free Stuff

Alexis de Tocqueville once said “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” It seems our current leaders are determined to prove him correct by pandering to a slim majority who want ever increasing free handouts.

The problem, as the french historian and political thinker so stylishly laid out, is that there is no such thing as truly free government handouts, such loose policy inevitably bankrupts the coffers because it relies on an ever shrinking minority of wealthy earners to fund a constantly growing majority of so-called-poor. Forgetting for a moment Jefferson's warning that a government powerful enough to give anything can take anything, this process leads to those with the means skirting the system, either securing their wealth outside of the reach of the state, or leaving the state all together.

Some would call that immoral, I just call it a reasonable result of human nature. It is only reasonable that I secure what I have (hypothetically speaking, I am a blogger after all) to be passed on to my wife and children (also hypothetical, I'm something of a bachelor) when I die, perhaps some will go to my friends as well, in the end a man concerns himself with the people who are concerned with him. I could donate to charity, it is entirely my choice, and in fact when I have spare money I do exactly that, but that comes after taking care of the things that are of immediate importance to me. I am not advocating fleeing taxes, I'm saying it is a natural outcome of taxes becoming punitive towards those who generate wealth. Something to consider the next time Uncle Sam promises a unicorn or jobs, whether he wears a republican or deomocrat hat.

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