Several days ago, I engaged in a conversation that thrust me into a sense of bewilderment. The other party in our chat was fairly agitated about the national debt, the expansion of federal government, high taxation, and a number of other politically motivated issues. She was outspoken about her conservative views. She believes that the actions of the last several decades from all three branches of the
The word ‘socialism’ was frequently thrown into her conversation, along with the terms ‘redistribution of wealth’ and ‘entitlement programs.’ She even stated that she and her family could barely afford to live in their new home because the property taxes were exorbitant. Any casual listener would have categorized her with the right-wingers, tea-partiers, conservative talk-show supporters – you know, that grass roots movement that is gaining momentum throughout the country.
And then she contradicted her presuppositions. She didn’t know she did it. She was still talking with great fervor and conviction. She began to complain about the cost of her daughter’s involvement in cheerleading. She felt that the public school that her child attended was unjust in subsidizing other sports while denying that cheerleading was also a sport and therefore deserving of public funds. She felt that her daughter deserved an equal share of tax-payer revenue.
I departed the interaction wondering how she had not realized that public education and all the extra curricular activities that the state-supported schools provide are funded by redistribution of wealth. She had apparently not deliberated on the concept that she agreed with the state’s right to confiscate money from her neighbor through taxation so that her child could be educated “free.”
I wondered to myself how she – or any of us – can have it both ways. Can we protest our high property taxes while extending our hand to receive tax’s bounty for free education? The question begs to be answered from more areas than schooling. Can we resent taxation that pays for our neighbor’s children to attend state schools while holding out our hands for free medications? Do we dispute the right of the neighboring state to receive federal funding for a pet project but appreciate government grants to our state for our particular earmark? I am wondering if all of us are willing to tolerate a certain amount of redistribution of wealth – at least that which provides for our needs? Perhaps it is just the other guy’s socialism that we don’t like. Perhaps we wish to protect our freedom yet are willing to forfeit our neighbor’s freedom for our personal security.
If any of us view the state as our benefactor, we run the risk of selling our freedom – and our neighbor’s – for the promise of security. Educational security, health security, retirement security, and job security all come at a price. Someone pays. Someone’s freedom is at risk to provide each security. To live presuppositionally consistent, each conservative must ask if he or she is willing to live with just enough theft to insure his or her own security. Our national debt is 13.3 trillion dollars. For every $1.00 of federal spending, 43 cents of that dollar is borrowed money. A nation that values security over liberty may find itself in danger of losing both.
Principle: The foundations of all forms of freedom are found in defining those thoughts, actions, and systems which will destroy freedom itself.
For more information on the author, Dr. Patti Amsden, go to: www.pattiamsden.org