Monday, January 26, 2009

Free Lunch with Toqueville!

179 years ago, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville prophetically wrote that "the American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."

Toqueville's perfectly explains one of the main sources of our current economic and political ills, particularly our 10 trillion dollar deficit.

So many people don't realize that they will pay for every "free" service that the government provides them, be it welfare or warfare, in one or more of the following ways:

1. Direct taxation that burdens the rich and poor alike. Especially in our city and county, those who are too poor to pay an income tax are heavily burdened through a sales tax, corporate taxes (that raises the cost of the goods and services that they utilize) and property taxes (that are passed on to them in the form of higher rents.)

2. Creating massive public debt through continuous borrowing. Fundamentally this equals a transference of wealth from future generations to our own short sighted generation.

3. The inflationary tax that occurs when the government debases the value of the dollar by printing money to cover the costs of a massive state. The working and middle class know that costs are rising faster than their income, but few see the culprit as the government's expansion of the money supply.

Unfortunately a perverse form of natural selection occurs that virtually ensures the "bribery of the public" by grossly irresponsible politicians. As the elections of Bush, Blagojevich and Obama show, anyone who promises more "free" government programs and less taxes will almost certainly get elected. And anyone who is informed and honest enough to present the public with the painful choice between less government and / or more taxes will almost never get elected.

As a good friend of mine from Iran said "people usually gets the government they deserve."

To learn more about Tocqueville:

To learn more about Toqueville's great work - Democracy in America:

1 comment:

  1. I find myself moved by the sheer courageousness and defiance of this blog at this dark moment in our history. As most of us stand in dumbfounded paralysis at the sudden explosive expansion of an already monstrously large government we could not have imagined could grow even larger and more oppressive. As most of us grapple with the despair caused by falling many thousands of dollars further in debt with the mere signing of a bill, the mere panic of a moment. As we grow dizzy trying to imagine what a 10 trillion national debt actually means, and how a government manages to spend/lose 3 trillion dollars a year, and yet our roads have potholes, our schools don't teach, even the most rudimentary responsibilities of government are not well-met.

    At this very moment, the nadir of our national experience, one still, small, and yet clarion voice summons the strength to be heard.

    Even as the collective surges and crushes the individual, one voice rings out.

    Even as group-think and conformity reign, one original voice rings out.

    I can't help but be reminded of another young firebrand, from another generation, who famously declared his purpose as to "stand awthwart history, yelling stop!".

    Then it was William F. Buckley.

    Now it is Jason. An individual, entrepreneur, free thinker, and just possibly the one who can save us.

    Sir, your intestinal fortitude is an inspiration to us all.