“Did you know that the moon is 1/49 the size of the earth, even though it is further away?” was a memorable entry in an early issue of Mad Magazine many years ago. I was reminded of it when reading George Boardman’s regular column in the 13mar17 Union this morning (here). For readers unfamiliar, Mr Boardman is a left-of-center commentator, a public persona possessing some progressive propensities, one of our community’s prominent observers of the human condition, a gentleman, and a favorite local columnist of mine.
His contribution today makes a mighty attempt to show how conservatives – led hereabouts by Congressman LaMalfa - have an incoherent, even hypocritical, ideology when it comes to wealth redistribution through food stamps. The Mad Magazine simile launches his piece with, “Some people have portrayed Rep. Doug LaMalfa as a heartless ogre for campaigning to reduce the number of people eligible for food stamps, even though 12 percent of the families in his district fall below the poverty line. … Other people suggest LaMalfa's a hypocrite for taking food out of the mouths of people while his family farm collected almost $5.3 million in rice and wheat subsidies from 1995 through 2013.”
Given the widespread abuse of the federal food stamp program, one would think that a prudent reduction of the number of food stamp recipients, as sought by LaMalfa, would be a laudable and proper effort for our MoC. But the real question is what does LaMalfa’s seeking to refine the eligibility of food stamp recipients have to do with a particular level of poverty in his district? And then the gratuitous charge, later unabashedly contradicted, of “taking food out of the mouths of people” is somehow connected with LaMalfa’s qualification for receiving federal farm subsidies. (My opposition to corporate subsidies, including agricultural, is a matter of record.)
As Mr Boardman later makes clear, Congressman LaMalfa seeks only to restrict the use of food stamps by the poor and destitute so as to obtain the maximum amount of wholesome and nutritious food items possible. However, even that is a sin according to our intrepid critic of conservatives as he quotes another progressive MoC – "You can't deny (food stamp recipients) their freedoms to make choices without violating their pursuit of happiness." And this brings us to the crux of the matter that now transcends food stamps.
I have yet to meet a progressive who can parse the nuances of welfare in a liberal democracy like ours used to be. The progressive holds firmly to the belief that those who pay the piper have no more right to call the tune than those who merely listen. Specifically, that people have the equal right to pursue their happiness no matter whether they themselves or someone else underwrites their pursuit. Unfortunately, that is not the way the world works, nor is it the way that our Founders fashioned the workings of our democratic republic. Gifts from others come with a purpose, and almost always with some proviso as to how the gift is to be used. And that is doubly so if such ‘gifts’ from the giver are extracted at the point of a gun.
We all know that every dollar dispensed by the state comes with a user’s manual. It was ever thus, and the progressives’ desire to selectively abrogate such restrictions in order to curry a compliant and grateful voter is the prime cause of the social rot in our inner cities and rural hinterlands.
Finally, Mr Boardman almost understands conservatives when he writes “conservatives have particular scorn for programs like food stamps, which they view as populated by freeloaders who are too lazy to work, and they see as another means of getting people to rely on a government check.” To buttress this blanket assessment, he quotes my observation that liberals want to “promote raw democracy through increasing the size of compliant, ignorant, and powerless electorates (e.g. through … expanded wealth transfers …)”
For the record, the above was drawn from my comment on the liberals’ desire to extend the voting franchise to all residents including illegal aliens which reads, “(We) recall that for years RR has called out such culture killing, vote buying practices here and elsewhere. The Left's two-fisted approach to global autocracy is 1) grow governments of elite central planners by promoting fraudulent societal needs (e.g. 'climate change'), and 2) promote raw democracy through increasing the size of compliant, ignorant, and powerless electorates (e.g. through politicized education, expanded wealth transfers, and now franchising non-citizen migrants). … The Left can do nothing save repeat their strong denials in the face of overwhelming evidence. But as Lenin has shown, that works.”
In citing me, Mr Boardman totally miscommunicates my clear and oft-repeated position on the necessity of national wealth redistribution as we approach the Singularity, and as AI, along with globally competing labor, continues to grow America’s pool of the systemically unemployed. If nothing else, I do wish that the gentleman would append a future codicil to make that clear.