Government: our servant not our master 20

In a free society, anyone who wants to benefit a fellow citizen, by giving him money for instance, may do so; and if the giving makes the giver feel good, that shouldn’t trouble anyone else. Self-esteem also needs feeding.

But it’s an entirely different matter when it comes to a citizen being forced by government – the only agency that has the necessary power – to give money for the benefit of others.

For a society to be kept free, the power of government needs to be kept within narrow bounds. That’s why we conservatives list “small government”  among our primary principles, following immediately and logically after “the protection of liberty”, which is the first and last thing government should exist for.

As soon as government takes it upon itself to extract money from prosperous Peter and give it to poor Paul, it has exceeded its legitimate power and become a threat to liberty instead of its protector.

Walter Williams writes at Townhall:

If a person benefits from a hamburger, a suit of clothing, an apartment or an education, who should be forced to pay for it? I believe the question has only one moral answer, namely the person who benefits from a good or service should be forced to pay for it …

Our country’s problem is that too many Americans want to benefit from things for which they expect other Americans to be taxed. …

Does one American have a moral right to live at the expense of another American? To be more explicit, should Congress, through its taxing authority, give the Bank of America, Citibank, Archer Daniels Midland, farmers, dairymen, college students and poor people the right to live off of the earnings of another American? I’m guessing that only a few Americans would agree with my answer: No one should be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another American.

We agree with his answer.

As long as government is doing what it must – protecting the liberty of all citizens equally from foreign enemies and domestic crime – it serves the people. If it uses its power to force some citizens to  “serve the purposes” of others, it oppresses the people.

Government should be our servant, not our master.