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Is it right to give what one person earns to another?
nashvillecitypaper.com ^ | 17/04/03 | Walter E. Williams

Posted on 04/17/2003 8:25:00 AM PDT by Jakarta ex-pat

There's considerable confusion on public policy issues that would be more intelligently discussed if we would say what is actually meant rather than use euphemistic disguises.

The Grutter vs. Bollinger and Gratz vs. Bollinger cases before the U.S. Supreme Court challenge the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences for undergraduate and law school admissions. The university, along with its supporters who've filed amicus curie briefs, gives all manner of euphemistic justification for its racial practices.

But instead of using terms such as "diversity" and "multiculturalism," the debate should make what is actually being practiced more explicit. That would enable us to ask what standard of morality justifies a publicly financed institution creating an advantage for one person, at the disadvantage of another person, based on the race of the individuals involved.

Is race a suitable criterion for deciding who gets what in our society? That's a simple question with a yes or no answer. How about all the government programs that account for at least two-thirds of federal spending, such as: aid to higher education, Medicare, food stamps, welfare or farm subsidies? Are they moral?

To get at the answer, we must first ask where Congress gets the resources to finance these programs. All except the most naive would recognize that neither the Tooth Fairy nor Santa Claus supplies Congress with the money. That means Congress can give one American a dollar only by first taking it away from another American.

Now we can ask the moral question: Is it right to take, through threats, intimidation and coercion, what one American has earned and give it to another American who has not earned it? Or put another way: Is it right for one person to be forcibly compelled to serve the purposes of another person?

That question can be asked at two levels — the private and the social. If I see a person in need of food, what if I walk up to another person and, through threats, intimidation and coercion, take his money and give it to the needy person? I believe and hope that most Americans would see such an act as theft. Would the conclusion differ if we collectively agreed to take one person's money to feed the needy person? It'd still be theft.

Immoral acts such as theft, rape and murder don't become moral when done collectively through a majority decision.

As a sidebar, it's most disappointing that black Americans are some of the strongest advocates for forcibly compelling one person to serve the purposes of another. Isn't that what slavery was all about?

How about the morality of tariffs or other restraints on foreign trade? Some of the obfuscation is lifted when we recognize that, for the most part, countries do not trade with one another. That is, the U.S. Congress doesn't trade with England's or France's parliaments or Japan's Diet. It's individual Americans who trade with Japanese automakers, French wine producers and English clothing manufacturers.

What's the moral case for congressional use of threats or use of force to prevent two people who wish to engage in peaceable, voluntary exchange on mutually agreeable terms? If it's immoral for Congress to stop me or interfere with me, a Pennsylvanian, from trading with my fellow man in New Jersey, why isn't it also immoral for Congress to stop or interfere with my trading with my fellow man in London, Paris or Tokyo?

When we make government practices and programs explicit, we see that most of them are immoral. More importantly, we see why our Founders sought to limit the scope of government: The essence of government is force, and most often that force is used to accomplish evil ends.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: walterwilliams

1 posted on 04/17/2003 8:25:00 AM PDT by Jakarta ex-pat
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
As usual, Walter E. Williams is brilliant in his analysis. Thanks for posting it.
2 posted on 04/17/2003 8:31:15 AM PDT by newgeezer (A conservative who conserves -- a true capitalist!)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Is it right to give what one person earns to another?

No, it isn't. But with the 16th Admendment, who is to stop the government? ..."by any source derived". Does that mean the technique, or by the well the water is drawn from?

3 posted on 04/17/2003 8:32:19 AM PDT by Zavien Doombringer (If I keep my eyes on Jesus, I could walk on water - Audio Adrenaline)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
"Redistribution of Wealth" BUMP!
4 posted on 04/17/2003 8:33:56 AM PDT by CaptainJustice (Dangerous Jesus Lover)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Remeber kids its not nice to call it "Communism" anymore...
It's called "Global Democracy" now..and the UN is its PIMP.
5 posted on 04/17/2003 8:38:04 AM PDT by MD_Willington_1976
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Nice article bump!!
6 posted on 04/17/2003 8:55:56 AM PDT by conservativecorner
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Immoral acts such as theft, rape and murder don't become moral when done collectively through a majority decision.

This is going to become my tagline. Great article.

7 posted on 04/17/2003 9:00:41 AM PDT by B. Rabbit (Can I get a witness?)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
I wholeheartedly agree with his premise. Now I'd love to see a proposed workable solution. It is not going to happen through our current political system, not ever. The royal ruling class that has been created is simply too seductive. Good people with good intentions get there and fall prey quickly to the old "power corrupts" adage. Bottom line is that our government is broken beyond peaceful repair and I don't see this country rising up in revolution anytime soon. Any other thoughts?

MM

8 posted on 04/17/2003 9:08:24 AM PDT by MississippiMan
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
To get at the answer, we must first ask where Congress gets the resources to finance these programs. All except the most naive would recognize that neither the Tooth Fairy nor Santa Claus supplies Congress with the money. That means Congress can give one American a dollar only by first taking it away from another American.

Now we can ask the moral question: Is it right to take, through threats, intimidation and coercion, what one American has earned and give it to another American who has not earned it? Or put another way: Is it right for one person to be forcibly compelled to serve the purposes of another person?

WOW! Great article.

9 posted on 04/17/2003 9:11:30 AM PDT by RAT Patrol
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To: B. Rabbit
Good idea. I'm going to take a tag line for him as well. Check it out.
10 posted on 04/17/2003 9:16:09 AM PDT by RAT Patrol (Congress can give one American a dollar only by first taking it away from another American. -W.W.)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Great article bump.
11 posted on 04/17/2003 9:24:30 AM PDT by Lev
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Ayn Rand fans would say that we heard all these arguments before, summed up nicely in about 850 pages.
12 posted on 04/17/2003 9:27:08 AM PDT by ko_kyi
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
How else is government paid for?
13 posted on 04/17/2003 9:32:44 AM PDT by stuartcr
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Read my tag line.
14 posted on 04/17/2003 9:33:08 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Great post!
15 posted on 04/17/2003 9:36:42 AM PDT by HuntsvilleTxVeteran ( Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
"As a sidebar, it's most disappointing that black Americans are some of the strongest advocates for forcibly compelling one person to serve the purposes of another. Isn't that what slavery was all about?"
16 posted on 04/17/2003 9:47:09 AM PDT by gcruse (The F word, N word, C word: We're well on our way to spelling 'France.')
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To: MississippiMan
We need voters and candidates.

I don't fully agree with the good people, good intentions thing. In addition, their politics must be correct, legal, moral. ie: candidates must obey the Constitution and Bill of Rights. If the candidate is well steeped in these rules, then the fear is more of the system killing the candidate than of him being perverted by the system.

I don't know that we have time -- the generation(s) to get it done -- but I do think a move to educate the population in order to produce votes for candidates that would follow the Constitution and Bill of Rights is worth the try.

Brains, Bullhorns and Ballots can hopefully keep the bullets and blood out of it.
17 posted on 04/17/2003 10:05:18 AM PDT by FreeRadical (Buy Kids Books & Guns. Help them love liberty & hate the nanny state.)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Is it right to give what one person earns to another?

Yes, as long as the giver was a willing giver. Taking it with threat of force or imprisonment is not at all right.

18 posted on 04/17/2003 10:08:40 AM PDT by IYAS9YAS (Go Fast, Turn Left!)
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Walter Williams is The Man!!
19 posted on 04/17/2003 10:18:17 AM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Is it right to give what one person earns to another?

Of course!
It's called taxes.

Get with the program, Walter.

20 posted on 04/17/2003 10:21:31 AM PDT by Publius6961 (Californians are as dumm as a sack of rocks)
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To: FreeRadical
I don't know that we have time -- the generation(s) to get it done --

That's my point. IMHO the bulk of the damage has occurred over the past hundred years or so and I think reversal at this point is all but impossible.

To briefly explain why I believe this, take our current situation. Right now we're in arguably the "ideal" state, with allegedly the best party controlling the White House and Congress. Other than seeing the White House returning to a place of respect and a few things that flow from that, what's the difference? Political correctness still grows by the day. The liberals are in FIRM control of the minds of the masses, beginning with an iron grip on the education system and continuing control of adults through the joke that our mainstream media are. Bluntly put, the best we can now hope to accomplish wihtin our system is a slight slowing of the growth of insanity in our government.

An actual reversal of the insanity is impossible for me to imagine. Can anyone here realistically picture a coming time during which government handouts are cut off? Or when all able-bodied prisoners are subjected to hard labor that will make a return trip most unenticing? A repeal of the immorality that the progressive tax system is? In all these areas, again, all I can picture under the best case scenario is a slight retardation of the growth.

MM

21 posted on 04/17/2003 10:34:31 AM PDT by MississippiMan
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
Bump for Williams, Crockett, et al.
22 posted on 04/17/2003 10:56:09 AM PDT by Eastbound
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