Bastiat, Liberty And My Daughter

The Law

I was driving with my daughter tonight and had Jason Lewis on the radio.  Jason was discussing individual liberty, as he often does, and my 11 year old asked me what he was talking about.

Oh yeah!

Last night I made the kids listen to the reading of The Declaration of Independence recited before the Super Bowl.  So I used that as a segue into the fact that the concept that individual human rights flowed directly from God, to the citizen and THEN to the government was a revolutionary concept that no one had ever thought of in the history of all mankind.

Never, not ever, before had it occurred to anyone to write down the words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The whole concept changed the world.

She looked at me and said that she didn’t understand.  How could government abuse people.

So I entered into an explanation that well intentioned people, working to benefit folks who might be less fortunate or in need, will desire to create programs that will alleviate, to such a degree as possible, the suffering conditions faced by those people.  And when they do that, they begin to realize that an easier way to convince people to contribute to their cause is to pass a law requiring it.

That is tyranny.

She paused some and looked back at me from the rear-view mirror, “Dad, I know that people who are poor, that have less than us, need help.  But I don’t think that just giving them money is the right thing to do.”

“Why not?”, I asked.  “Because,” she answered, “how do we know that they’ll know how to use it to make their life better?”

My job here is done!

7 responses to “Bastiat, Liberty And My Daughter

  1. Well done, your daughter now thinks charity is a bad idea.

    Have you ever actually paid attention to the listing of charges in the Declaration? It’s not about things like social welfare and health care, it’s about things like rendition, voter suppression (then it was political suppression) and inadequate judicial protections. To take that and try to twist it into an anti-government screed is ridiculous. The whole point of the declaration is that governments are good but not immortal. People can change their government by choice into one that better suits them. “Consent of the governed” is certainly a huge part of it, but the modern conservative wing takes that to mean “Anything I don’t like is tyranny.” It’s not.

    • Well done, your daughter now thinks charity is a bad idea.

      Nah man, not at all. We continue to teach the kids about personal charity. We still donate money, make them donate money, serve at the church programs designed to help folks in town.

      The kids prepare, cook and then serve meals at the orphanage. In fact, they still request their birthday party guests bring “wish list” items for that orphanage instead of birthday presents.

      They’re good on the charity thing.

      It’s not about things like social welfare and health care

      To be sure my conversation with my daughter was more in the veins of “The Law” than of the Declaration. But I accounted for this – the title of the post speaks to Bastiat, specifically “The Law” and I make a point of saying that I used Fox’s Super Bowl reading of the DoI as a segue.

      The whole point of the declaration is that governments are good but not immortal.

      With all of THAT said, I disagree with you here. The point of the Declaration is to define where rights come from and, indeed, what those rights might be. In this case I focused on Liberty. Namely, that no man has claim upon my industry without my consent.

    • Well done, your daughter now thinks charity is a bad idea.

      Not to mention that she wasn’t saying we shouldn’t engage in charity; only that a direct monetary transfer might not be the answer. For example, teaching them how to get, keep and excel at a job might be a better use of money.

      In that context – it’s hard to argue that providing only today’s “just in time meal” isn’t a very effective method of keeping these people poor.

  2. In 1972, my 7th grade teacher brought a record player to class. He played The Declaration of Independence as it was recored by the group The 5th Dimension.
    Here is a Youtube link to the song.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9EHmvN8wp8

    Now on a slightly different subject…
    It took just seconds for me to find that recording online. In 1972, that task would have required me to ride my bike 5 miles to the music store. The album would have cost at least $8, and I likely would have been “stuck” with songs that I did not want. The vinyl record could break or get scratched. The record played was big and bulky, plus it needed to be plugged into a 110 volt receptacle. Battery technology was still in the dark ages back then.

  3. Sad for one how “fair share” liberals can be so quick to believe that charity and help can only come through government; sad for another that an 11 year old gets the fallacy of this belief vs. so many adult Occulosers who don’t.

    Perhaps when your daughter’s older, you can start to teach her about “Liberal White Guilt”! haha. Or perhaps she will witness it herself when she’s the one helping the poor while the rest of the FSL’s are sitting on their a$$ believing simply demanding higher taxes from “anyone but them” and their oh, so hard life suffices as their contribution. 🙂

    • an 11 year old gets the fallacy of this belief vs. so many adult Occulosers who don’t.

      She can’t get over the fact that these people need money but won’t at least go to work at McDonalds to earn a little of their own.

      FSL’s are sitting on their a$$ believing simply demanding higher taxes from “anyone but them” and their oh, so hard life suffices as their contribution.

      That is what pisses me off the most. These people think that they are engaging in charitable acts by voting to steal my money and give to their preferred charity.

  4. “That is what pisses me off the most. These people think that they are engaging in charitable acts by voting to steal my money and give to their preferred charity.”
    Hey, it’s not your money – “you didn’t build that”. haha! 😉

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