[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV legal correspondent, Jim Karger]
“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the State. They forget that the State lives at the expense of everyone.” — Frederic Bastiat
Cars, houses, spouses, kids, jobs, bosses, and debt, to name a few, but they all boil down to one struggle: money. Or better said, the absence of money. Not enough money to buy a car, to take the wife to dinner, to send the kids to private school, to quit the crappy job, to shop like it was a sport, to take a vacation from a soul-dead existence, to pay off the credit cards, and the list goes on and on.
Someone needs to take responsibility. Someone needs to end the struggle.
Angel Adams insists on it. Watch her here:
Someone needs to step up, Angel says as she gestures across a sea of children, all her own.
Anyone, that is, but Angel Adams.
And most Americans, after watching Angel's story, will convict her, and criticize her for being a leech on government's largesse. What they cannot see is themselves in that video. Unfortunate since most Americans are not much different than Angel Adams.
What Angel is willing to say openly and without shame is that she wants someone else to pay.
And, so do a majority of Americans. They want someone to put their thumb on the scale of the market and tip the balance in their favor. They want something for nothing.
Bastiat was right when he observed "government as the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." And, it is not just welfare recipients who can't make the connection between kids with no shoes and lying on the their backs getting banged like a gong and ending up with 15 children.
Most Americans are—let me search for the word—freeloaders. And most of those deny it. Indeed, a 2008 poll found that 57% of Americans denied ever using a government program. But when shown a list of 21 actual programs, including student loans and home-mortgage interest deduction, 94% of the deniers turned out to have bellied up to the pork-bar after all.
Who are they? They are us.
They are current Social Security recipients who, under no theory, have paid in near enough to justify the benefits they are receiving in the mail each month.
It is a General Public filled with so much fear and hate that they can't get enough of the engorged war machine that spends more on "defense," more properly called "war," than the next 16 largest nations combined.
It is funding for the arts which means funding artists who can't sell their paintings or pottery or music in the free market.
It is parents who want public parks and museums to babysit their children.
It is Medicare recipients who want someone to pay for their overpriced sick care.
It is Section 8 housing recipients who get a check for rent for an unlimited amount of time with no work requirement.
Bottom line? An estimated 59% of the 308.7 million Americans in this country get at least one federal benefit, according to the Census Bureau. In 2009, an estimated 46.5 million received Social Security; 42.6 million got Medicare; 42.4 million were having doctor and hospital bills paid through Medicaid; 36.1 million get food stamps; 12.4 million enjoyed housing subsidies; and 3.2 million got Veterans' benefits.
Others who find insufficient the benefits they can latch onto legally just game the system.
US households are now getting more in cash handouts from the government than they are paying in taxes.
But before blaming it all on Angel Adams and the rest of the General Public who go to Disneyworld on food stamps, know that the hogs span every income level.
This includes homeowners who hump the mortgage interest deduction, 69% of which goes to those who earn $100,000 or more each year.
It includes all those who enjoy benefits from employer-provided retirement benefits, the contributions to which are deductible, and the taxes on those contributions and income from them delayed for years.
It is corporations, legal fictions that have no good reason to exist except to protect their owners from personal responsibility, with their heads in the federal feed bucket.
It is banks, themselves corporations, that have engaged in perhaps the most massive holdup in human history, bailed out by a government too afraid to take on the owners.
It is oil companies to whom Congress gave subsidies worth $30 billion over five years.
It is outright cash payments to business in the form of direct cash payments like those that have helped keep many renewable-energy projects afloat, including Solyndra to the tune of $535 million before it went bust.
It is corporate farmers who snort five billion dollars a year through rolled up hundred dollar bills, along with billions more in crop insurance and drought aid while the consumer gets bent over, e.g., US sugar companies enjoy import quotas which keep American sugar prices roughly twice as high as they otherwise would be.
It is the ethanol industry, a sacred cow of American politics whom the government rewards with the requirement that refiners blend billions of gallons of ethanol into gasoline annually, and sweetens the pot further with an ethanol tax credit. Again, the consumer gets it up his corn chute since forty per cent of corn acreage in the US now goes to make ethanol, jacking up food prices because less corn is grown to eat.
It is the drug industry, the biggest hog at the trough. Patent protection is worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year and growing as the range of things that can be patented expands dramatically.
Someone has to pay.
Yet, "someone" is always undefined. But we all know who someone is, right? Someone is government, our sugar daddy who can magically rain money on anyone anytime. The goal of "Let's Play America" is simple and straightforward: get to the trough first, get your share, and fuck everyone else.
A relative handful know better. They know the collective snorting and sucking is not a prescription for success. And, they know there is no government. Rather, there is a cash machine labeled "government," and behind that machine are millions of productive people who have their money stolen to fund the needs or wants of the unproductive. That theft manifests itself either as taxes or inflation.
The game is no longer won simply by stealing. Nearly everyone is doing that. The game is played well by stealing more than your neighbor. The grand prize winners steal more than they pay, for now.
Which leads to the problems going forward.
The problem is not "someone" failing to take responsibility.
The problem is individual Americans not taking responsibility.
The problem is not seeing ourselves as hogs at the trough.
The problem is not seeing ourselves in Angel Adams.
The problem is there are fewer people from whom to steal.
The problem is the trade off of liberty, of the freedom not to be harassed, controlled and violated by government, for those who stay and play the game.
They will be left to haggle over the ruins.
They will be held accountable.
Jim Karger is a lawyer, and frequent contributor to The Dollar Vigilante, who has represented American businesses against incursions by government and labor unions for 30 years. In 2001, he left Dallas and moved to San Miguel de Allende in the high desert of central Mexico where he sought and found a freer and simpler life for he and his wife, Kelly, and their 10 dogs. Karger's website is www.crediblyconnect.com.