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Freedom for Sale

By David Bozeman

One morning while getting ready for work, channel surfing for the latest headlines, I happened upon one of those boring infomercials. Not one of the cheesy kinds, with just enough perverse entertainment value to keep you glued but, I thought, one of those about financial planning or picking stocks. The panel featured several staid business types, but the star of the half-hour soon presented itself in bold neon (figuratively speaking, for now, at least): The National Grants Introductory Conference.

The product advertised was a conference and home study course in 'How to Get Your Share of the Government Bailout.' One of the guests, a former HUD chief of staff, informed viewers that they can get money for a home and they won't have to pay it back. Or, as another guest advised, you can jump start your business with government money! Yes, government money, courtesy of yours—and your neighbor's—back pockets.

Can a nation founded on individual initiative and free enterprise sink any lower? Of course, the obvious response is that this is nothing new. Every once in a while a book or a seminar will pop up, claiming to lead citizens to government money. There have always been experts feeding from the government trough, willing to share their advice with other freeloa—ers, the general public. But therein lays the outrage—the fact that it isn't anything new.

The fact that our national work ethic has so deteriorated would be an outrage to an administration dedicated to preserving America's independent spirit. Sadly, the free-for-all game rules of a mixed economy have produced an ethos of collecting wealth as opposed to producing it.

The notion of 'government' money has entered the national lexicon unchallenged. The American working class, which should be leading the charge against the confiscation of its wealth, has been hijacked by a well-organized, vocal minority easily swayed by glib politicians and lame, tedious infomercials. Business leaders are no less complicit, whether funding universities and foundations that extol socialism (as noted by Ayn Rand in her article 'The Sanction of the Victims') or filling the campaign coffers of liberal politicians.

In modern culture, thanks primarily to intellectuals and their counterparts in political life, the picking of your neighbor's wallet is no longer an act committed on the sly, it is a national pastime. Lest anyone forget, dates and locations for the aforementioned seminars were posted frequently at the town's finest hotels instead of a back alley, which would have been more fitting.

It is true that 'public' money has always been up for grabs to some degree. It is also true that we are a great nation economically to the extent that we are free. We are also better morally. The American left prides itself on its compassion, while it endorses mercenary economic policies. But true compassion, as embodied in capitalism, consists of neighbors enriching one another through voluntary exchange and helping out charitably when needed, as Americans famously do. Compassionate people do not premeditate the looting of their neighbor's wallets.

Sadly, too many Americans today are not of the above mindset. They think no further than 'if I don't get it then somebody else will.' We can be thankful that these seminars and courses are not sold at fairs and parties, at least not yet. Finally, no word yet on whether refreshments and childcare will be offered at the local seminars, and, if so, will they be provided at private or 'government' expense.

David Bozeman is an ALG News Contributor.


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