Mike Devx said something in a recent comment that really hit home.
The dominant memes in a society or civilization are what controls the behavior of most of the people in that society.
I think that this is true…we won’t really change our society unless we change attitudes. So, I would like to recommend a change as follows:
Start teaching our contemporaries and (especially) our children that accepting money from the government is immoral unless it is paid back.
Why? Because it’s not the government’s money to give. When you take money from the “government”, you are expropriating someone else’s labor without their consent. When I hear people talk about government money, I try to correct them by interjecting with “other taxpayer’s money”.
Why do we need this? Because too many of us (all of us?) have divorced the connection between what the government ‘gives’ and what the government takes away from us.
It’s not just the poor that I am talking about: I am still kicking myself for not having taken a picture of a recent “Obama Stimulus” road resurfacing project sign that I saw while driving through one of Chicagoland’s wealthiest villages on a private village (not county, state or federal) road. Why was some middle class shlub in Iowa or Ohio having to foot the bill for this? Let the village pay for it. Similarly, with regard to NJ Gov. Christie’s shut-down of the NJ-NYC tunnel project: find a way to make the users pay for it through private financing. I worked for years with otherwise-conservative farmers and farmer cooperatives that based their economic decisions not on what they could produce to sell into a free market but rather what the government would buy from them or provide for “free”. I actually sat in boardrooms as decisions were made to build new manufacturing plants to produce commodities that had no market value but which the government had promised to purchase and store. To them, it was just “government money”. Look around us – until the Tea Party movement, the electorate largely applauded government largesse to actors’ guilds, local library projects, artists project, failed schools programs (remember midnight basketball?) and all kinds of other taxpayer gifts to under-employed rent seekers that otherwise lack the integrity to justify themselves in a free marketplace.
Can we, should we, and how would we work to instill the value meme that “taking government money is immoral” in our young? How would such a value meme affect how we define or deal with the social welfare obligations that are bankrupting (or, as I maintain, “have bankrupted”) our government, such as social security and ObamaCare?