>>American Thinker: Our National Blind Spot. A MUST READ food for thought. BB
Decades ago, the oldest free-market think tank, The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., published Lewis Love’s short parable, “A King of Long Ago.” In the story, an artisan, a mason, and a lame beggar petition their king for aid. The artisan can’t attract enough customers to meet his sales goals, the mason isn’t getting hired very often, and the beggar isn’t receiving sufficient alms.
They implore the king to correct this unsatisfactory state of affairs. The king commands that each petitioner be given a sword. He then authorizes the three to “go forth in the land and compel those who will not voluntarily deal with them to obey their command.”
“No! No!” the three men demur. “We are men of honor and could not set upon our fellow man to compel him to our will. This we cannot do. It is you, O King, who must use the power.”
“You ask me to do that which you would not do because of honor?” questioned the king. “I, too, am an honorable man, and that which is dishonorable for you will never be less dishonorable for your king.”
Besides illustrating the ideal of the rule of law — in which everyone, regardless of wealth, rank, and position, is equally constrained from infringing the rights of others — this little parable shows the inconsistency of believing that private citizens should respect private property, but government leaders need not. Is that which is personally immoral politically moral?
What causes otherwise-honest people to condone the political plunder and redistribution of personal property? Immorality? That’s too harsh for my taste. I prefer to say that there is a blind spot in their thinking.
Maybe what we’re dealing with is mob psychology. Perhaps it’s rationalization. “It’s for a worthy cause,” we tell ourselves, oblivious to the fact that the Eighth Commandment doesn’t say “Thou shalt not steal … except by majority vote or unless it’s for the poor.”
Perhaps the explanation for this blind spot is self-delusion. We see nothing wrong with receiving benefits from the state. What we remain blissfully unconscious of is that the state has nothing to give us but what it takes from our fellow citizens. Indeed, Bastiat called the state “the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” It is a dream, a myth, and a fiction to believe that government gives you wealth out of its own productive bounty. Governments don’t produce wealth; they only take it and redistribute it, substituting the political judgment of the few (the governing elite) for the economic verdict of everyone (a genuinely democratic process) acting in free markets.