President Obama has declared that “There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy.” Indeed, both Democrats and Republicans in the Obama and Bush Administrations have called for vast increases in government spending. Many among the public also agree with this approach: prior to the approval of the latest $787 billion economic stimulus bill, a Gallup poll taken in February observed that a slight majority of Americans were in favor of its passage. A general consensus seems to exist that these “stimulus” packages will help America’s economy through government investment into infrastructure projects.
This may sound enticing, but we must remember where these “investment” dollars come from. The government is not in the business of producing goods or services and therefore does not create any wealth that can be given away, let alone invested. The only funds the government has to give are those confiscated from the paychecks of taxpayers.
Of course, some segments of society may benefit from the “injection” of stimulus dollars. For example, the latest stimulus package helps many of the unemployed by providing them with a $25 increase in their weekly benefits check. Different industries providing services that coincide with Washington’s agenda, such as harvesting renewable energy sources or providing broadband services to rural areas, will also benefit from the billion dollar allocations in the stimulus bill. But their stimulus dollars are coming from your back pocket. All of these “investments” are being made possible at the expense of and without the consent or judgment of the individuals who rightfully earned the money in the first place.
Imagine if a thief stole your wallet but left you a note promising that your money would be “invested” in different industries and those in need “for the good of the economy”. Would you drop your objection to his act of theft, given the allegedly benevolent motive for his crime? Should you?
What our government has failed to recognize is the fact that we are morally entitled to keep what we earn and use it according to our own judgment and priorities, which may or may not include such things as investment and charity. But simply calling redistributed tax money an “investment” does not change its nature as stolen goods. Just as such a thief violates the rights of his victims, so too the government is violating our rights under the guise of “investing” in our name.
If we are to remain committed to the ideals of our founding fathers, that all men are endowed with inalienable rights, and among those are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must remember that this includes property rights, i.e. the right to earn, keep and dispose of our property as we see fit.
The Undercurrent is a magazine distributed at college campuses and communities across the country. We release a print edition once per semester, and in the interim, regularly post additional articles, blog entries, and campus media responses reports to our website.
The Undercurrent's cultural commentary is based on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. Objectivism, which animates Ayn Rand's fiction, is a systematic philosophy of life. It holds that the universe is orderly and comprehensible, that man survives by reason, that his life and happiness comprise his highest moral purpose, and that he flourishes only in a society that protects his individual rights.
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