Compassionate Tyranny
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John Kenneth Galbraith is not a Republican guru. Try to tell President Bush and Senator John McCain. Both are following Galbraith's political prescription for "the good society."

Six years ago Professor Galbraith published "The Good Society: The Humane Agenda" in which the good society is defined as one politically organized to coerce "the favored" to work for the poor.

The coercion of "the favored" is not to be limited to serving the needs of their fellow citizens. The good society, Galbraith says, must not attempt to avoid its responsibility for the worlds' poor on nation-state grounds. The "favored" American citizen's worldwide responsibility requires "the setting aside of sovereignty to rescue and protect distressed and endangered populations."

Bush and McCain have answered Galbraith's call. Bush has assigned to the American taxpayer responsibility for combating AIDS in Africa. McCain, a sponsor of the "Federal Responsibility for Immigrant Health Act of 2002,"[PDF] wants to burden the federal taxpayer with responsibility for the medical bills of legal and illegal immigrants.

Neither Bush nor McCain are deterred from launching their bold ventures by the escalating and unmanageable cost of providing health care to American citizens. Having reached the point where American citizens cannot afford health care insurance, much less health care itself, two prominent Republicans want to extend coverage to Africa and Mexico.

No thought is given to the American taxpayer who is looked upon as a magic purse that never runs out of gold. House Republicans have been working through all-night sessions to burden the federal taxpayer with $350 billion to subsidize prescription medicines for the elderly.

These open-ended commitments make no sense financially or in terms of health care. Bush, McCain and the House should begin anew by reading Milton Friedman on Gammon's Law (Wall St. Journal, 11-12-91).

Max Gammon, a British physician and health care researcher, discovered that as more money was poured into Britain's socialized system, the output of health services fell. Gammon concluded that in a bureaucratic system "increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production." Bureaucratic systems are "like 'black holes' in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources and shrinking in terms of 'emitted' production."

Gammon was just talking about tiny Britain. Imagine a medical black hole the size of the U.S., Mexico and Africa. Bush, McCain and the House are constructing the best possible insurance policy for Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. An economic black hole this size won't leave a penny for the war on terrorism.

Designated "the favored," the 35 million federal taxpayers who bear the brunt of the personal income tax can expect no mercy. The selfish claims of the favored to their own work product are outweighed by the compassionate claims of the world's poor. Politically, federal taxpayers are a negligible force. Their numbers are matched by 35 million poor immigrants who are already in the U.S., and millions more arrive each year.

The U.S. has constructed a society, the first in modern history, in which native-born productive citizens are the tax slaves of the welfare and immigrant lobbies. The 35 million taxpayers who carry the burden of the income tax have no more claim to their income than did medieval serfs or 19th century black slaves.

How will 21st century tax slaves react when the burdens imposed on them rise higher than the exploitation of 19th century slaves? Will Atlas shrug? Will productive citizens follow the departure of U.S. corporations to other lands that do not burden their citizens with worldwide responsibilities?

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau believes shrugging has begun. He has announced that he will criminally prosecute corporations for tax evasion if they reincorporate in order to move their legal residence from New York. 

Is the tyranny of compassion close at hand? Decades of socialist and liberal propaganda against "the rich" and "big business" have delegitimized successful individuals and companies, just as Communist Party propaganda delegitimized the bourgeoisie and National Socialists delegitimized Jews. If corporations cannot vote with their feet to leave high tax regimes, neither will government allow you to shirk your responsibility to the world's poor.

Paul Craig Roberts is the author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.


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