by Jacob G. Hornberger
Twelve years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Electing Our Daddy,” which pointed out that every four years Americans go to the polls not just to elect a president bur also to elect a daddy, one who will take watch over them and take care of them, send them to their room when they put bad things in their mouths, force them to share with others, and protect them from the boogeyman.
Well, you’ll never guess what happened this week. A liberal named Carl Gibson wrote an article inappropriately entitled “Grow Up, Ron Paul,” which, hilariously, confirms what I stated in my article.
The reason that Gibson’s article is inappropriately titled is because it suggests that Ron Paul’s (and libertarians’) desire to end the paternalistic state reflects that he’s not “grown up.” Gibson thinks a grown up should want the government to care of adults just as a parent takes care of his children.
Don’t believe me? Read what he says:
Ron Paul and his right-libertarian ideology does espouse a new kind of freedom, just as rebellious children who fantasize about running away from home dream of a new kind of freedom. But as much as we may have rebelled against our parents as little kids, we eventually matured and realized that the rules and regulations our parents imposed on us were meant so we’d grow up to be responsible, functioning adults in society.
An unregulated little kid free to eat junk food and play video games all day won’t ever learn the responsibilities of adulthood. And an unregulated society where every individual is out for themselves will quickly collapse.
It’s one thing to support parental rules and regulations over how children are raised. But isn’t it quite another thing to suggest that adults should be treated the same as children, with the government serving as their daddy?
Consider Social Security, one of the government programs that Gibson brings up. He is aghast that “employees would no longer be required to pay into Social Security.”
You see, America’s child-adults might not do the responsible thing if there is no Social Security program. They might not save for their retirement. And they might refuse to help out their aging parents.
So, our government daddy must force the child-adult to save for his retirement and to care for his aging parents by forcing him to do so with a mandatory program that takes money from young people through taxation and redistributes it to seniors through welfare.
Gibson is also scared that the “Social Security trust fund would become insolvent … for those who have paid into it all their lives.” He honestly believes what his daddy has told him about there being a Social Security trust fund. He thinks that the monies that are taken from him in Social Security taxes are being placed into a nice, little fund that will be available for him when he retires. Isn’t that cute? Gibson obviously places as much faith and trust in his government daddy as he did his regular daddy when he was a growing up.
Consider big business, another thing that frightens Gibson to death. Without our daddy protecting us from mergers and acquisitions, companies would get bigger and bigger. What could be scarier than that, well except for communists, terrorists, illegal aliens, speculators, radical Muslims, and other scary creatures in the world?
Unfortunately, however, Gibson fails to understand the concept of consumer sovereignty. Who cares if a company gets bigger and bigger in a genuine free market — that is, one in which there is no combination of business and the state? Doesn’t that reflect that the company is pleasing consumers by providing goods and services that they’re willing to buy? And if a company fails to do that, doesn’t it lose market share and maybe even end up going out of business? I wonder how Gibson would explain the fact that the top 25 companies today are different than those 10 years ago.
Gibson is also scared that the government might not protect him from tainted food. I hope no one tells him about the people who sometimes get things like salmonella poisoning or listeria from tainted food — people who thought that the government was protecting them from such things.
Gibson is also scared that without a federal Department of Education “millions of college students dependent on Pell grants would be forced to move back home and work minimum-wage jobs, no longer financially able to further their education.”
I wonder where he thinks the government gets the money to fund those Pell grants. Maybe he thinks the government is like the tooth fairy or Santa Claus when he was a child, able to provide child-adults with unlimited gifts produced by an independent fountain of wealth. I wonder if his natural daddy ever told him who the tooth fairy and Santa Claus really are.
Gibson is also worried about libertarian calls to eliminate the minimum wage. He believes that if our government daddy didn’t set a minimum wage, employers would be paying people a pittance. I wonder how he would explain the fact that many employers pay their workers more than the minimum wage. I wonder if he knows that the minimum wage prevents some people from getting a job.
Gibson is also concerned that people wouldn’t be held responsible for torts in a libertarian society. I wonder where he got that notion. The libertarian position has always been that people should be held responsible for acts of negligence or any other violation of the rights of others.
Speaking of responsibility, at some point or other shouldn’t a person be free to be an adult — free to make his own decisions and live his life the way he wants, so long as his conduct is peaceful? Apparently not in Gibson’s mind. For him, even a 60-year-old should be prevented from being irresponsible, uncompassionate, or selfish.
The terrible twist to Gibson’s paternalistic philosophy, of course, is that it produces a nation of child-adults — people who live their lives in constant fear, who are unable to make decisions, and who defer to authority.
That’s how we have ended up with a society in which government manages the most minute aspects of our lives, controls the amount of money we’re permitted to keep out of the income we produce, and forces us to share with others, including not just seniors and college students but also brutal foreign dictatorships through foreign aid.
It’s also how we have ended up with a society in which the government wields the omnipotent authority to invade and occupy other countries and kidnap, incarcerate, torture, and assassinate anyone in the world, including American child-adults. After all, isn’t the government just keeping its adult children safe?
A libertarian society is one in which adults are treated as adults rather than child-adults. They are free to make whatever choices they want and live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is peaceful. In other words, no murder, rape, theft, fraud, and so forth, but otherwise free to do whatever they want. It’s the free society, not the paternalistic society, that nurtures the values of responsibility and compassion.
For some reason, while Gibson mentions the FDA, he failed to mention the DEA and the war on drugs, a 40-year-old paternalistic program in which the government sends adults to their room in some penitentiary for putting bad things in their mouths. Maybe he just decided to leave that issue to conservatives, who look upon the government as their daddy too.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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