Thursday, August 13, 2009

Compassion and law

The term "compassion" is thrown around a lot in politics, and proves to be one of the most asinine arguments I am faced with. We are a compassionate society, someone will argue, and must therefore do this, this and this.....(Of course, when they say we, they really mean the government.) What these people do not understand is that government is not compassion, it is force.

You exercise compassion when you give from your own pocket to charity, when you give your own time to someone in need of assistance and when you compel others to do the same. The law eliminates the option of compassion. If you are happy to give money to help some group of needy people, but the government taxes your money and distributes money to that same group, you have not exercised compassion. More importantly, all those people who wished to give different amounts of money or to help different causes (and even those who didn't wish to help anyone at all) have been harmed by the law that compels them to share in your so-called philanthropy.

What is forgotten is that your compassion for one group necessarily means you cannot show compassion to another group. Those who decide to not pay their taxes because the government does not use the money as they wish will be threatened with the loss of property, jail and even death. Just as you wouldn't see it as compassionate to demand charitable donations at gunpoint, it is not compassionate to position the government apparatus against anyone to achieve your ends.

And due to widespread economic ignorance, people also fail to understand how not giving is a laudable use of money. When someone hoards money, they take themselves out of the consumer pool for certain goods and services, which drives costs down, making things more affordable for those in the market. If the money is saved, it drives up supply of available credit, which drives down the interest rate, making credit more affordable for those at the bottom who may rely on it to get through a tough time. By investing, the money is turned into productive capacity that can create jobs. This is a far more pleasing method, at least in my view, to create jobs than to institute government bureaucracies to rob the wealth of the people and then distribute it politically. And finally if the money is spent, that results in someone else saving, hoarding or investing, precipitating a cycle that promotes affordable goods and services and job growth. Bureaucracy robs from the productive wealth of society and hurts everyone.

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