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22 November 2009

The Problem With Liberalism

As I see it, the attraction of liberalism is the "good works" that it wants to accomplish. Save the whales. Feed the poor. House the needy. Educate and provide health care to these stricken with poverty. These are each good goals, many of which I share. My issue with liberalism, which is often on the Democrat's agenda, is the means by which they seek to accomplish these goals.

Liberals say: "Let's provide health care for everyone! Nobody should be without good health care."

Me: "OK, that's a noble goal. How will you pay for it?"

Liberals: "We're going to use public money."

This is, more or less, what I see in the current health care "reform" debate. But, where does so-called public money come from? It comes from taxes, withheld from private citizens.


To Withhold. verb.
1. to hold back; restrain or check.
2. to refrain from giving or granting: to withhold payment.
3. to collect (taxes) at the source of income.
-Dictionary.com (emphasis added)

Money that the government "witholds" - or takes - from private citizens. This is the source of "public" money. Any time the government gives, it must therefore begin its giving with taking from another. If we have a governmental program that pays my hospital bills, it must be funded by money taken from my neighbors. If we have a program that educates my children, it must be funded with money taken from my neighbors. If the government gives it is giving money that was taken.

This is not charity! Charitable works are voluntary. The idea, recently floated in Congress, of requiring "volunteerism" from every American citizen, is the idea of forced labor. This is true as well of requiring Americans to "volunteer" to help with their neighbor's bills, whether they be medical bills, heating bills, or grocery bills.

I have two main problems with governmental charity-by-force.

The first problem I have with governmental "charity" is that I believe it is outside the scope of our government. Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture for President Eisenhower and Apostle in the Church said it very well:

[T]he proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No man possesses such power to delegate. The creature cannot exceed the creator.

-Ezra Taft Benson, The Proper Role of Government

The second problem with this sort of governmental charity-by-force is that I believe it is immoral. I believe taking from one to give to another is theft, and when one convinces the government to do it the government then becomes party to that theft. If the government derives its just powers from the governed, as the Declaration of Independence declares, then the government can only do that which would be just and moral for the individual to do. Forcing my neighbor, against her will, to pay my bills, is unjust. I would be sent to prison for it, and rightly so. The assertion made by our Congress is that when government does this same thing it somehow is right. I don't believe it for a minute!

In fact, the very idea of charity-by-force is, in my opinion, straight out of the Adversary's playbook. "I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost," is what he said in the Great Counsel. His plan was to force us to do right, but that is not what the Lord intends:

The gospel plan is based on individual responsibility. Our article of faith states the eternal truth “that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (A of F 1:2). This requirement of individual responsibility, which has many expressions in our doctrine, is in sharp contrast to Satan’s plan to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost “ (Moses 4:1). The plan of the Father and the Savior is based on individual choice and individual effort.

-Dallin H. Oaks, Repentance and Change

Brother Oaks goes on in that same talk to discuss how this idea of personal responsibility is often in conflict with popular ideas of the world:

The doctrine and practice of personal responsibility and personal effort collide with individual traditions and local cultures in many lands. We live in a world where there are large differences in income and material possessions and where there are many public and private efforts to narrow these differences. The followers of the Savior are commanded to give to the poor, and many do. But some gifts have promoted a culture of dependency, reducing their recipients’ need for earthly food or shelter but impoverishing them in their eternal need for individual growth. The growth required by the gospel plan only occurs in a culture of individual effort and responsibility. It cannot occur in a culture of dependency. Whatever causes us to be dependent on someone else for decisions or resources we could provide for ourselves weakens us spiritually and retards our growth toward what the gospel plan intends us to be.

In short, taking from the one to give to another creates a culture of dependence which is not good for either the giver or the receiver. It simply impoverishes both parties, both monetarily and spiritually. Yet this is the model that my liberal friends (whom I hope will comment on this, as I know that several of you visit my blog!) are supporting. These are the reasons why I cannot support public health care, public education, really, any social agenda done publicly. These things belong exclusively to the private sector.

If I do the right thing, but in an immoral way, I am still wrong, no matter how noble my intentions.

And that is my problem with liberalism.


Tianna said...

Those are some pretty bold words. I agree with your reasoning, but I'm not quite sure how the USA would go about disbanding some of the current public programs because of the dependency they have already created. Some people like having the government take care of them, which completely blows my mind.

Ritsumei said...

The culture of dependency was built bit by bit, and it's probably going to have to be dismantled bit by bit, or there will be a lot of suffering. Have you read Little House on the Prairie? Pa said he'll not be beholden to any man. He makes a four day trip to Independence at one point, and important part of the reasoning for that trip is to return the nails his neighbor loaned him - and offered to just let him keep - to build the roof on his house. Can you imagine such a thing these days? The most independent of us would likely have kept the nails once they were offered as a gift. We'll have to rethink a lot of things to escape the culture of dependency we currently live in. People will have to learn to work, but more importantly, people would have to see the value in working. What is it that Pa Ingalls valued so much that lead him to leave his family on a wolf-infested prairie, near to Indians of questionable friendliness to return nails that his neighbor said he could keep?

Rebecca Irvine said...

Thanks for speaking up so boldly on a subject far too many let go by. Your thoughts were clear and well organized, too.

Ritsumei said...

My pleasure, and thank you for your kind words.

Jeannetta said...

WOW! WTG! Excellent post my friend, I wish there was a "share" button.

Ritsumei said...

LOL, thanks Jeannetta. I did link to it on facebook, as I must admit to being pleased with this bit of writing, so you could indulge your "share" urge there if you were so inclined. =)


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