In Entitlements, We See Evil on the March

On "Meet The Press," Grover Norquist, keeper of the pledge some legislators and presidential candidates have signed not to raise taxes, succinctly stated the Democrat position.

The only problem in Washington, D.C., Norquist explained, is that the peasants aren't sending in enough money for the royals to spend. I'll paraphrase his hopeful description of the Republican position: We acknowledge that the federal government is a bloated, wasteful, poorly behaving beast desperately needing to be tamed and we will work on that, not on taking more food from you to feed it.

I characterize that as a hopeful description because I'm not convinced anybody remotely connected to political power means it.

But this should be the argument of 2012. Should we keep growing the insatiably hungry beast and burying ourselves and future generations in debt? Or should we slash the size of federal government so as to responsibly cut current spending and reduce debt before dropping even a dime on new initiatives of any kind or even thinking about getting more revenue in. It should be clear-cut choice.

In the 12 years between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis massacred more than 20-million people. They also confiscated untold wealth, private property and businesses. Fueling their evil was collectivism, the philosophy so integral to their belief system it was inscribed around the edge of every Nazi Reichsmark coin: "Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz." ("The community comes before the individual.")

We still see this seemingly endless philosophical battle manifested in government policy. Its inevitable extension is that individuals have no rights, except those granted them by government - as opposed to individuals granting their government limited rights and restricting their government to exercising only those rights in the performance of its narrowly defined duties. This should be the way each choice about government is made, and it could be the way an honest media analyzes each government scheme and politician's plans. It isn't.

Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz sneaks its way into politics, governance and life in these United States from many different directions. Eminent domain, for example, is sometimes used to confiscate private property from one owner to hand it over to a different private owner who will put it to a different purpose and will pay the confiscating government more property taxes.

We have risked and seen collectivism's expansion, ironically as our thanks for compassion. Each safety net we have permitted government to create and administer, starting in earnest with FDR, began small and narrowly focused. Each has grown and grown into gigantic, sprawling entitlement programs that, combined, represent a Ponzi scheme of such weight it is sinking our entire economy.

The pressure for more and more sacrifice of earned private property for the communal, collectivist good grows. The dangerous phrase "for the greater good" is oft-uttered. Politicians who mostly fail to recognize their evil pander to the idea. Ignorant young people camp out, occupying others' property, disrupting individuals' businesses, to advocate on behalf of this evil. Like other evil, this one disguises itself. This one hides itself behind programs with nice sounding names it's difficult to oppose, inside concepts of merit like compassion. It advances through co-opted people who appear trustworthy like a Warren Buffet or a President Obama. Is promulgated by an ignorant, sympathetic media. It is evil nonetheless.

No one would argue against funding a legitimate social safety net or even expanding its assumption of burden in times like these. No one could who watched the heart-wrenching "60 Minutes" report on families with children living in single rooms in cheap motels or in their cars, lining up for a space in already full homeless shelters. But collectivism is no cure for these peoples' troubles or anyone else's. Their salvation is only in availability of gainful employment from a healthy economy, spurred by risk-taking, investment, capital un-hoarded and put to work - which requires an enthusiastically pro-capitalism, pro-business, pro-success, pro-wealth environment.

The ultimate irony is that our foolish surrender to the evil of Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz has already compromised and will certainly destroy our ability to provide decent, limited, narrowly focused safety nets to the weakest. Instead we have grossly bloated centralized government ineffectually administering overly inclusive entitlement programs, and birthing an entitlement culture.

If only those who lust for such a culture would understand that what they see on the TV news in Greece is their own future as they are shaping it right now, not some distant and irrelevant event.

We are moving toward embrace of evil. We need to reverse course.