An article of mine previously published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Mises.org)
Emasculated by the Political Class
By Jim Fedako
Posted on 7/17/2007
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Once again, I was emasculated by the political class. I shouldn't have been surprised since it happens all the time. However, this latest incident was one more slap in my face by those who readily spend my money as if it were their own.
Not long ago, my wife and I invited an energetic young man over to our house for dinner and discussion. This man was on a mission. Well, actually, he is looking to go on a mission. You see, our heroic gentleman is devoting his life to missionary work throughout the Third World: flying airplanes filled with supplies and hope, and landing those packed aircraft on all too-short runways carved into mountain tops and jungles. A noble cause indeed. A cause that my wife and I want to support.
So, we invited him over to learn more about his mission, and his financial needs. We fed our guest and sat down to a very interesting and enlightening presentation. It was obvious that this man was committed and ready to go.
Even though the journey through his slides and videos really excited us, my wife and I had already set our maximum contribution level during earlier contemplations. It was not going to be much, a point that really hit our hearts. Nevertheless, it was going to be something. We would rearrange some things and commit our money toward this man's mission of service and sacrifice.
This is the world of the individual. A world where scarcity limits the ability to satisfy all wants — with most wants never being addressed, let alone satisfied.
Contrast our world with that of the political class. Here, scarcity is nonexistent. While my wife and I struggled over whether or not we could commit financial resources, the politician simply commits our resources for us. No questions asked.
Soon after we had settled on an affordable monthly gift for missionary flights, I read where Bush trumped me by committing $30 billion toward fighting AIDS in Africa. Worthy? Certainly. But, that was my money he committed, not his.
"I end up emasculated by the politician's theft of my charity."
While my wife and I agonized, never feeling satisfied that our level of financial commitment was sufficient, Bush proudly committed multiples of our contribution level (when you consider the $30 billion on a per-capita basis) without taking into account our ability to pay. It was easy for him.
Politicians can proudly proclaim their gifts to the world, and never worry about the source of funds, nor weigh the gifts against alternate choices. They simply get to give, smile, and sit back to receive the accolades that fall at the feet of the political don. What a life — though a life devoid of reason and reality.
You see, by acknowledging the reality of scarcity, we actually create more value. Scarcity causes us to provide funds to the producers of only the most worthy goods produced most efficiently. This is true whether the good is a producer good, consumer good, or charitable good.
Recognizing scarcity and alternative costs is essential for progressing economies. The consumer or donor quickly notes wasteful activities and excludes these from further investment or giving. Under a system of recognized scarcity, the wants of the consumer force entrepreneurs and charities to allocate resources to the most valued activities. This allocation benefits the consumer and the investor, as well as the sick and the poor.
Bush's gift is unrecognized by me, financially speaking. I have not given any thought to which of my wants will go unsatisfied due to his political philanthropy. The rearrangement of my finances will become reality when his bill is finally due — at the checkout line. When that reckoning occurs, I will not put two and two together — or $15 billion and $15 billion in this case — and note that changes in the marketplace are the result of Bush's gift. The beauty of political philanthropy for the politician is that the gifts appear to be free.
But such gifts limit my ability to fund the mission work of my pilot friend. I end up emasculated by the politician's theft of my charity. Bush gets to stand proud while I try to come up with excuses for why I can't give more. While I shuffle my feet and avoid the direct eye contact of the adventurous pilot, Bush looks the camera in the lens and proclaims his righteousness.
Isn't it high time that we demand that our so-call representatives quit giving our money in their names? We will help the sick and poor if only we can keep our money in our own wallets.
In fact, our giving will have a greater effect since our gifts will be subject to the constraints of alternative costs. Donors will award funding to the efficient providers of service and sacrifice. Those providers that cannot meet the demands of donors — donors who face the reality of scarcity — will quickly disappear. Market pressures will create an efficient delivery system of charity, one that far exceeds the current system run by government agencies.
We are continually emasculated by DC thugs who steal our dollars and then hand them out as their own, leaving us to distribute whatever change is left in our pockets. The politicians get to stand proud while we have to make excuses.
How dare they do that to us! How dare we let them!