The Law – Frederic Bastiat (Commentary Part II)

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A continuation of my previous commentary on – or just providing relevant parts of – The Law…
As with last entry, all hiliting and italics are mine. Comments in brackets [] are also mine.

Let us start this time with philanthropy. Forced that is…

“Here I am taking on the most popular prejudice of our time. It is not considered enough that law should be just, it must be philanthropic. It is not sufficient that it should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive exercise of his faculties, applied to his physical, intellectual, and moral development; it is required to extend well-being, instruction, and morality, directly over the nation. This is the fascinating side of socialism. But, I repeat it, these two missions of the law contradict each other. We have to choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free [please leave aside the issue of Schrödinger’s cat – we are not in boxes]. Mr. de Lamartine wrote to me one day thus: “Your doctrine is only the half of my program; you have stopped at liberty, I go on to fraternity.” I answered him: “The second part of your program will destroy the first.” And in fact it is impossible for me to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I cannot possibly conceive fraternity legally enforced, without liberty being legally destroyed, and justice legally trampled under foot. Legal plunder has two roots: one of them, as we have already seen, is in human greed; the other is in misconceived philanthropy.”

“Before I proceed, I think I ought to explain myself upon the word plunder. I do not take it, as it often is taken, in a vague, undefined, relative, or metaphorical sense. I use it in its scientific acceptation, and as expressing the opposite idea to property. When a portion of wealth passes out of the hands of him who has acquired it, without his consent, and without compensation, to him who has not created it, whether by force or by artifice, I say that property is violated, that plunder is perpetrated. I say that this is exactly what the law ought to repress always and everywhere. If the law itself performs the action it ought to repress, I say that plunder is still perpetrated, and even, in a social point of view, under aggravated circumstances. In this case, however, he who profits from the plunder is not responsible for it; it is the law, the lawgiver, society itself, and this is where the political danger lies.”

“…as a friend of mine once remarked to me, to say that the aim of the law is to cause justice to reign, is to use an expression that is not rigorously exact. It ought to be said, the aim of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning. In fact, it is not justice that has an existence of its own, it is injustice. The one results from the absence of the other.”

“You say, “There are men who have no money,” and you apply to the law. But the law is not a self-supplied fountain, whence every stream may obtain supplies independently of society. Nothing can enter the public treasury, in favor of one citizen or one class, but what other citizens and other classes have been forced to send to it.
What so many either forget or ignore (to primarily their benefit – if only to make them feel better and even superior … “look, we are providing for those in need”. That they are using other’s money without consent seems to be lost on them)…

“Socialism, like the old policy from which it emanates, confounds Government and society. And so, every time we object to a thing being done by Government, it [government or those socialists supporting such a government] concludes that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of education by the State— then we are against education altogether. We object to a State religion— then we would have no religion at all. We object to an equality which is brought about by the State then we are against equality, etc., etc. They might as well accuse us of wishing men not to eat, because we object to the cultivation of corn by the State.”

“Are political rights under discussion? Is a legislator to be chosen? Oh, then the people possess science by instinct: they are gifted with an admirable discernment; their will is always right; the general will cannot err. Suffrage cannot be too universal [I understand the socialists are now looking at 16 as the new voting age!]. Nobody is under any responsibility to society. The will and the capacity to choose well are taken for granted. Can the people be mistaken? Are we not living in an age of enlightenment? What! Are the people to be forever led about by the nose? Have they not acquired their rights at the cost of effort and sacrifice? Have they not given sufficient proof of intelligence and wisdom? Are they not arrived at maturity? Are they not in a state to judge for themselves? Do they not know their own interest? Is there a man or a class who would dare to claim the right of putting himself in the place of the people, of deciding and of acting for them? No, no; the people would be free, and they shall be so. They wish to conduct their own affairs, and they shall do so.”
“And if mankind is not competent to judge for itself, why do they [Democratic Socialists] talk so much about universal suffrage [the right to vote, especially in a political election]?”

I think the last paragraph, taken as a whole, very well explains the political oxymoron of the current socialist (read – Democrat) movement – as well as all such movements prior to it. People are completely capable of taking care of themselves – that is why we need government to do it for them – provide welfare, healthcare, Section VIII housing, etc. They have the intelligence and discernment to determine the best people to run the country – but we now have approximately ½ the population that can’t (won’t?) make enough money to pay the taxes used to run it, much less take care of themselves and their family. Hmmmmm. If you are as confused as I am, I am grateful to not be alone.

“…there is not a grievance in the nation for which the Government does not voluntarily make itself responsible. Is it any wonder that every failure threatens to cause a revolution? And what is the remedy proposed? To extend indefinitely the dominion of the law, i.e., the responsibility of Government. But if the Government undertakes to raise and to regulate wages, and is not able to do it; if it undertakes to assist all those who are in want, and is not able to do it; if it undertakes to provide work for every laborer, and is not able to do it; if it undertakes to offer to all who wish to borrow, easy credit, and is not able to do it; if, in words that we regret should have escaped the pen of Mr. de Lamartine, “the State considers that its mission is to enlighten, to develop, to enlarge, to strengthen, to spiritualize, and to sanctify the soul of the people”—if it fails in this, is it not obvious that after every disappointment, which, alas! is more than probable, there will be a no less inevitable revolution?”
“What is law? What ought it to be? What is its domain? What are its limits? Where, in fact, does the prerogative of the legislator stop? I have no hesitation in answering, Law is common force organized to prevent injustice—in short, Law is Justice. It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property, since they pre-exist, and his work is only to secure them from injury. It is not true that the mission of the law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our will, our education, our sentiments, our works, our exchanges, our gifts, our enjoyments. Its mission is to prevent the rights of one from interfering with those of another, in any one of these things.
The law, then, is solely the organization of individual rights that existed before law.
“So far from being able to oppress the people, or to plunder their property, even for a philanthropic end, its mission is to protect the people, and to secure to them the possession of their property. It must not be said, either, that it may be philanthropic, so long as it abstains from all oppression; for this is a contradiction. The law cannot avoid acting upon our persons and property; if it does not secure them, then it violates them if it touches them.”
“Depart from this point, make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, industrial, literary, or artistic, and you will be lost in vagueness and uncertainty; you will be upon unknown ground, in a forced Utopia, or, what is worse, in the midst of a multitude of contending Utopias, each striving to gain possession of the law, and to impose it upon you; for fraternity and philanthropy have no fixed limits, as justice has. Where will you stop? Where is the law to stop? One person, Mr. de Saint Cricq, will only extend his philanthropy to some of the industrial classes, and will require the law to slight the consumers in favor of the producers. Another, like Mr. Considerant, will take up the cause of the working classes, and claim for them by means of the law, at a fixed rate, clothing, lodging, food, and everything necessary for the support of life. A third, Mr. Louis Blanc, will say, and with reason, that this would be an incomplete fraternity, and that the law ought to provide them with tools of labor and education. A fourth will observe that such an arrangement still leaves room for inequality, and that the law ought to introduce into the most remote hamlets luxury, literature, and the arts. This is the high road to communism;
in other words, legislation will be—as it now is—the battlefield for everybody’s dreams and everybody’s covetousness.” [me thinks we also are there]
“Law is justice. And it would be very strange if it could properly be anything else! Is not justice right? Are not rights equal?”

To sum it up:
“God has implanted in mankind also all that is necessary to enable it to accomplish its destinies. There is a providential social physiology, as well as a providential human physiology. The social organs are constituted so as to enable them to develop harmoniously in the grand air of liberty.”

Man I wish I were that good. And he was only 49 years old!

Maybe each and every Politian should read, and heed, his essay in its entirety. More than once.
Oh, and maybe the Constitution of the United States along with it. More than once.

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…

Niki was right!

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The “quote” from Nikita Khrushchev to the UN on September 29, 1959 is yet again circulating the web and e-mails. Aside from there being no evidence he actually said it, at least not directly (and the banging of his shoe is complete fabrication) I have no doubt the sentiment has always been there. Some reliable evidence suggests his quote was more indirect. In fact, I would suggest it was (and is still) their (Russians in this case) plan A. Plan B (a simultaneous action) being a slow, methodical (but more obvious) military takeover of the world. Plan B is not going quite as well as desired at the moment. Plan A? Well you decide…

For those that remember well all the pontifications about it at the time (no, I was not around!) and remember laughing at what he said… I bet you’re not laughing anymore! At least I HOPE not.

Here is the more reliable “quote” as circulated at the time (and since):

“We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have Communism.” – Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev, 1959

Personally I think Socialism is worse than Communism but that is for another time.

Now I’m not suggesting any particular politician (I’ll leave it to Nikita to call them “leaders”) were (are?) assisted by Russia. I’m just say’n…

Per the Oxford Dictionary of English, Socialism is: “A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” [bold, italics mine] A sub definition [ibid]: “Policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.” [again, bold, italics, underline mine].

Apparently Bernie Sanders believes we are there. And who am I to argue with a U.S. Senator (at least when they are right).

On the other hand, according to Mises Institute, “Sanders is wrong about the New Deal ‘putting people to work’ since their government-funded activity did nothing to create wealth or end the [D]expression. The Depression lasted until 1945. And the New Deal certainly isn’t ‘the foundation of the middle class’ which grew and thrived in the second half of the 19th century. However, when he classifies the New Deal programs that dominate US policy today as “socialist,” Sanders is absolutely correct.”

It always sounds good on paper, especially when the liberal media adds its two-cents. But it never actually works out that way.

The Mises Institute also states: “To get a sense of what has constituted socialism, historically speaking, it is a mistake to rely on Marxism as the benchmark. Marxism was just one type of socialism in the 19th century, and it failed to gain traction in western Europe. Part of this is because, by the mid-19th century, it was already becoming clear that the predictions of Marxism were wrong. The ownership of capital was not becoming more concentrated. It was becoming more diffuse. The working classes were not descending into a wretched proletariat in western Europe. They were experiencing gains in their standard of living.”

It was for a time also the case on “this side of the pond”; further research showing the application to the U.S. as well. However, we now ARE getting that more concentrated capital (although not to the extent Marx predicted – YET). But the concentration is being caused by the power brokers implementing SOCIALISM, no longer allowing for the diffusion created by CAPITALISM. Why? Well… interestingly enough:

“But socialism isn’t just about cash transfer payment. It’s largely about government regulation, which is where the New Deal was most revolutionary. As political scientist Theda Skocpol pointed out years ago in her research (most especially in her book Protecting Soldiers and Mothers) the US has had “welfare” going back to the 19th century. What was most different about the New Deal — other than its scale — was how it took a largely unregulated economic system and imposed a massive amount of new regulation on property owners in the form of laws related to wages, labor, prices, and more. Arguably, this sort of regulation is far more damaging than mere cash transfers since it directly impedes the creation of wealth before it can even be redistributed.” [ibid]

So, our current state of Socialism? Let’s take a look…
*Medicare, *Medicaid, *Social Security, *Healthcare (ACA as only the latest example), *Public schools funded by the Federal government, *Government college grants, scholarships, and loans, *FDA, *EPA, *HUD, *EBT/ Food stamps, *Minimum wage, *Unemployment insurance, *40-hour work week, *Deposit insurance, *Job programs, *etc. etc. etc. (actually this is just the short list – the VERY short list.)

Hey, what said we combine both redistribution AND massive regulation and see how many lives we can destroy.

Don’t get me wrong. People, from time to time need help. However, I think if we mention that to the “more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations [that] are registered in the U.S.” [according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS)], we might get the problem solved without government involvement (and might I add bureaucratic expense and interference?).

While I completely agree that government has its place, in the United States of America that place is supposedly (used to be) defined by the Constitution. Leaving aside the completely absurd argument that the Preamble defines the responsibilities of the Federal government (i.e., the results of suggesting “…in Order to form a more perfect Union, … promote the general Welfare….” defines ANYTHING the fed is allowed to do), the Constitution defines specific enumerated responsibilities (defined in Section 8 – the remainder primarily defining how it is to do them). Unfortunately, “…promote the general Welfare…”, while intended to explain the WHY of the Federal government vice the WHAT, apparently allows for anything and everything the Federal government wants to force upon us.

Welcome to Socialism. I think we are there. And a sad state of affairs to be sure…

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…

“In God We Trust” – Well, at least we used to

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I think I will have a few regrets, but hopefully only a few, when I finally depart this earth.
Of the, if not THE, greatest will be that my generation destroyed a country by our lust for power. This lust led us not only to a great country ruined, but also to convince a great majority of the Rising Generation to believe Socialism is not only ok, but should be honored and glorified. A belief that replaces God with the government (since we apparently no longer have trust in God – interesting for a country with “In God We Trust” on its currency…).

By dictionary definition, Socialism is “a system of society or group living in which there is no private property” or “a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned or controlled by the state” or “a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done”. I think a careful read of the last part of that sentence is telling – key on the word “unequal”. Communism is “distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done”. Sound like anywhere you know? It seems we are attempting to achieve, if not already having achieved, what the U.S.S.R. never could. Regardless, under any definition, it is the stealing from one to give to another. Stealing? Yes, when taxes are used to redistribute wealth from one segment of the population to another, vice to pay for services needed by all, it is stealing.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs…” was popularized by Marx and Engels in The Manifesto of the Communist Party. This will never of course be achieved in this country because so many are convinced the “from each according to his ability” part is unnecessary. Why waste to energy. The State will take care of me. However, it creates a state where those that ARE willing to do what they are able are robbed of the fruits of their labor to provide for those not willing – regardless of ability.

There are numerous ways to categorize people in. For the sake of this commentary I will use these five. The Power Hungry. The I Want to Work But Can’t Find A Job. The Why Work, the Government Will Take Care of Me. The Working. The Employer (aka, Rich).
Here’s how the five play out:
The Power Hungry say, “vote for me and I’ll take care of you”.
Some say, “OK” and become the Why Work, the Government Will Take Care of Me.

The Power Hungry steal more money (in the form of increasing various taxes) from the Employer and the Working to pay for the Why Work, the Government Will Take Care of Me.
The Employer lays off some of the Working because he can’t afford them due to the decreased sales (since, due to higher taxes, the Working don’t have as much money to spend) and increased taxes on the Employer thereby creating more I Want to Work But Can’t Find A Job.
The Power Hungry say to the new I Want to Work But Can’t Find A Job, “vote for me and I’ll take care of you”.
Some of the new I Want to Work But Can’t Find A Job give up for lack of jobs and become Why Work, the Government Will Take Care of Me.

The Power Hungry steal more money (in the form of increasing various taxes) from the Employer and the Working to pay for the Why Work, the Government Will Take Care of Me.
The Employer lays off more Working because he can’t afford them (see above) thereby creating more I Want to Work But Can’t Find A Job.
The Power Hungry say to the new I Want to Work But Can’t Find A Job, “vote for me and I’ll take care of you”.
Some of the new I Want to Work But Can’t Find A Job give up for lack of jobs and become Why Work, the Government Will Take Care of Me.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
And around and around we go.

In the end, the Power Hungry (aka, government) control all and the rest are slaves of the system. Welcome to the New Dark Ages.

Regrets and apologies (oops, sounding like BO) to the Rising Generation.
Now that you know, you CAN turn it around. Unless you are already one of the…

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…

Yesterday (19 July 2015) was updated

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For those of you that subscribe, I understand “modifications” to posts are not sent out. This is unfortunate since I, from time-to-time, do make corrections, additions or general modifications to posts rather than create a whole new post that then must be linked back to the one it references.
For this I apologize. I strive to ensure my posts are correct and complete but, much to my chagrin (not a normal state of affairs), I am not perfect. Just traditional.
That said, I was on vacation this past week and my post of yesterday was not as well thought out or complete as I had hoped. Even in my desire to keep them informative but short, I failed.
Therefore, I have updated my post of 19 July 2015 if you wish to read the “complete” thought (or at least as complete as it can be for an internet blog post).
Thank you as always for your support and readership.