How we define freedom…
Freedom is a term that is typically bandied about in discussions of politics, American history, and other dubious social interactions. When using the word, a variety of meanings can be intended.
The other day I was heading into work and listening to Neil Cavuto on Fox News. He was interviewing a minor presidential candidate who was making the case for a corporate dividend to be awarded from the treasury to all citizens of the United States 12 times a year. Each of these dividends would be $1000. Everyone U.S. citizen over 18 years of age would receive these payments, regardless of economic need.
Thus, a husband and wife would receive $24,000 a year.
One up side of this proposal is that all social transfer payments (from the feds) be ended and replaced with this program.
At first blush there is, indeed, an attractiveness to it. The federal bureaucracy would be decimated and the only thing left would be a giant ATM spitting out thousand dollar bills.
Oh… there is that pesky thing… economics… that will inevitably get in the way. If everyone is suddenly a thousand dollars richer, then goods and services will miraculously increase in cost by, you guessed it, $1000. (For a guide on this, look at the cost of college tuition post-GI Bill and student loan programs.)
There is another problem, though, with these transfer payments… and for that we need to look at the Constitution:
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
I own my home. I take care to ensure that the curb appeal of my home is nice, both for aesthetic value as well as a desire to be a responsible neighbor to those around me.
My neighbor down the street does not share my same value system, though. He would prefer to use his time for self-reflection while playing video games and eating pizza. As such, he has lost his job, as well as his initiative to maintain his property.
He has been pestered by the neighbors to maintain his property, so he comes to me and demands that I mow his lawn for him.
I tell him to go to hell.
He realizes that the only way he can compel me to do something I otherwise would have little inclination to do, is to be forced with the threat of violence to perform that act, be persuaded through argumentation that I would be better off for performing that act, or encouraged through the gradually-rising offer of compensation to perform the act… (yes, in a sense, everyone has a price).
The government is in place to prevent the neighbor from exercising the first option and threatening me to give up my labor without compensation.
Left to his own devices, the neighbor must deal with the real possibility that, threatened with violence, I will use violence to stop his actions. The cost/benefit analysis does not work to his advantage.
So, instead, he leverages the power of the government to initiate the threat of violence against me. With the unlimited resources of state-sponsored violence, I am ultimately compelled to engage in the act of servitude that my neighbor originally wanted.
That government-leveraged threat of violence for noncompliance and refusal to provide non-compensated labor is Constitutionally problematic.
What we have just explored is the very definition of slavery… the exact antithesis to freedom: forced labor, without the option to sever the relationship, and compulsion upon the threat of violence.
Now, let’s go back to our original proposal.
Where does the money come from that will be parsed out as a “dividend”? It comes from the labors of others. Your labor will be forced from you upon pain of imprisonment, Then the proceeds of your labor will be distributed to others for their benefit. The 13th Amendment abolishes slavery… at least between consenting adults.
When the government does it, we call it progressivism.