Worrying About the Grown-Ups
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Since Virginia, where I live, happens to be one of the states where the presidential race is close, we have the unfortunate experience of being inundated by political advertisements. One of them — a pro-Obama ad — has me laughing every time I hear it.
Obama’s ad goes after Romney for his 47 percent remark, by which Romney criticized people on the government dole. Romney told an audience of well-heeled fat cats that as president he wouldn’t worry about that group of people.
The ad replays Romney’s remark and then focuses on certain groups of people who are on the dole, repeatedly making the point that if Romney is elected president, he’s not going to worry about them. Specifically mentioned are students receiving Pell grants, seniors on Social Security and Medicare, and veterans “who served their country.”
Why do I find this controversy so hilarious? Because it epitomizes the paternalistic relationship that exists between the citizenry and the government under a welfare state. In such a system, it’s the job of the president to worry about his children, especially those to whom he gives a welfare allowance. Never mind that his children are 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70 years old. That’s irrelevant. Under state paternalism, they are child-adults, people whom the president, the Congress, the federal bureaucrats, and the federal judiciary must be sure to worry about.
Of course, Obama is being a bit disingenuous. It’s not as though Romney doesn’t consider it his job, as president, to worry about his adult-children. It’s just that the people he would worry about are different from the adult-children that Obama worries about. Romney would obviously worry about 40-, 50-, 60-, or 70-year old millionaires.
Of course, the obvious question arises? What good does it do for the president of the United States to be worrying about his adult-children? What’s the worrying supposed to accomplish?
Consider the students on Pell grants, for example. Maybe the reason to worry about them is the enormous amount of federally inspired debt that is piled on their backs upon graduation. Many of them will end up being hounded by relentless federal debt collectors, perhaps for the rest of their lives.
Maybe the reason for worrying about the seniors on Social Security and Medicare is the possibility that young people will revolt against the ever-increasing tax and debt load they’re having to bear to fund these socialist programs.
Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the purpose of Obama’s ad. It’s to scare people on the dole into thinking that if Romney is elected president, he won’t worry about them and, therefore, might even reduce or, even worse, eliminate their dole. If people can be made to doubt Romney’s commitment to the socialist programs that undergird the paternalistic welfare state, then they’ll be more likely to stick with Obama.
In fact, that’s the primary rationale for the welfare state. No, it’s not to help the poor, needy, and disadvantaged, as we’re all taught in those government-approved schools to which our parents are forced to send us. It’s instead to create a large body of people who are dependent on the state and who live in constant fear of losing their dole. People who are dependent on the government for their sustenance and care are not likely to be the types that oppose government wrongdoing at a fundamental level. They know that if they make too much of a public fuss about what the government is doing in, say, in foreign affairs, the government is likely to cut or eliminate their dole, much like a parent cuts or eliminates a child’s allowance when he misbehaves.
I particularly found Obama’s reference to veterans who “served our country” to be an interesting manipulative technique. He’s obviously hoping to garner the votes of veterans all over the country by suggesting that Romney doesn’t worry about them.
More important, however, Obama has it wrong. Veterans haven’t served our country. They’ve served the government. There’s a difference, one that neither Obama nor Romney understands.
The government and the country are two separate and distinct entities, a fact that is confirmed by the Constitution, which expressly protects the country from the federal government. In fact, the Constitution is an explicit reminder that the federal government, the entity that the troops work for, is the greatest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people.
The specific threat to Americans posed by U.S. troops was pointed out by a former president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had previously been a U.S. Army general. In his Farewell Address, Eisenhower warned, “We must never let the weight of [the military-industrial complex] endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
Of course, how alert, knowledgeable, independent, and courageous can a citizenry be when it is on the government dole?
Every soldier serving in the U.S. military today knows that he is working for a vast military empire, one that is committed to imposing its will around the world through force, domination, and manipulation. The methods used are embargoes, sanctions, support of dictatorships, foreign aid, and meddling with the political process of other countries. When those things fail, coups, assassinations, kidnappings, torture, invasions, and occupations are employed. That’s where the troops come in. That’s how they serve the government or, to be more precise, how they serve the president, their boss.
Their “service” has nothing to do with defending their country. It has nothing to do with protecting the rights and freedoms of the American people. It has nothing to do with keeping America safe. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The service that the troops provide the president ensures a constant flood of anti-American anger and rage among people in the targeted nations, which then manifests itself in the threat of terrorist retaliation. That threat is then used as the excuse to suspend the civil liberties of the American people. That’s why the troops now wield the authority to take Americans (and foreigners) into custody, cart them away to a military dungeon or concentration camp, torture and abuse them, hold them indefinitely without trial, and even execute them, perhaps after some sort of kangaroo tribunal.
While Romney and Obama are worrying about millionaires and people on the dole, one couldn’t blame Americans for worrying about the future plight of our nation, especially with respect to freedom and economic well-being.