"From bondage to spiritual faith ... to great courage ... to
liberty ... to abundance ... to selfishness ... to complacency
... to apathy ... to dependence ... to bondage."
Attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler,
Edinburgh University, at the time of the American Revolution.
Massachusetts legislators at the National Conference of State
Legislatures in Philadelphia, and Congressmen busy with the national
health plan they're being urged by President Obama to pass quickly
before their constituents find out what's in it, we have some time
for psychological inquiry. I want to understand why some people
support higher taxes and bigger government, despite the increasingly
visible evidence of waste and abuse.
my friend Dr. Charles Ormsby, a Ph.D from MIT, who responded,
sophisticated explanation is not required. JUST DO THE MATH!! Add up
the following percentages:
Percentage of voters who are NET consumers of tax dollars by virtue
of the services they personally consume.
Percentage of voters whose immediate families are net consumers
(e.g., children in public schools) even if they, personally, do not
qualify under "A" above.
Percentage of voters who don't qualify under A or B but whose
extended family does (children w/families, brother's or sister's
Percentage of voters who don't qualify under A, B, or C but who work
for the government, or for businesses or labor unions working on
Percentage of voters who have immediate or extended family members
who are employed by government.
subtract the percentage of those under A, B, C, D or E who have
moral qualms or feel guilty about using the government to steal the
property of others for their own benefit.
add back in those who you subtracted under item F who have qualms
about benefitting from government theft BUT say, "What the heck, I'd
rather have the benefit of the stolen loot and just learn to deal
with these feelings of guilt."
Finally, add in the percentage of people who do not qualify under
any of the above categories, but who are wealthy enough to not miss
the extra taxes extracted from their bank accounts AND who didn't
earn the money they have (e.g., they acquired it through inheritance
OR via the efforts of a successful spouse that they do not
adequately appreciate) and feel guilty for their good fortune.
more. Add in the percentage of people (not previously added) who do
whatever Oprah Winfrey or the other media air-heads tell them to do.
final percentage is now well over 50 percent and soon will exceed 90
percent. ALL HOPE IS LOST!"
Chuck, glad I asked.
we were warned about this percentage problem by professor Tytler: "A
democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can
only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves
largess from the public treasury.
that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates
promising them the most benefits ... with the result that a
democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed
by a dictatorship."
founding fathers attempted to address this concern by creating not a
democracy, but a constitutional republic - which helps until the
constitution is "updated" by those who want to distribute that
the problem is voters who don't directly benefit from extra
government spending yet seem to think that support for higher taxes
and bigger government makes them good, caring people - as opposed to
those of us who prefer to do our caring through private charities or
churches. But there are other more dangerous players of which many
Americans seem unaware.
us just want to live our lives, enjoying as much as we can of the
good things the world has to offer. But some people want control
over other people.
most of us know someone in our extended family or work circles who
seeks power: the tyrannical parent, abusive spouse, playground or
workplace bully. Eventually most of us find a way to escape or avoid
those who need to dominate.
sometimes we elect them. Politics and government give this
personality type a place to collect and exercise power over others:
to appropriate their money, regulate their behavior, make them ask
for permission to live as they choose. This power has been limited
for most of our history by our constitution, but we cannot take this
protection for granted.
us look at a new tax, a new government program, as a possible
attempt by the power-hungry to control us. As the federal government
moves to take over our health system, think about who will be
exercising power through this essential aspect of our personal and
those in charge will simply be trying to save money by denying
services, just as some insurance companies do now. But picture
yourself pleading for medical help from a politician or government
bureaucrat who enjoys making you beg because it makes him feel
can laugh at me and Alexander Tytler. But keep the warning in your
head, so it may be there when you, and our country, need to heed it.