- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2000

Can you identify the real Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that control the country through the political process? Before you answer Big Oil and Big Business, consider the power of the Social Security/Medicare lobby. Republicans would like to privatize at least part of Social Security. But what their presidential candidate, George W. Bush, is forced to propose is a plan for taxpayers to pay the cost of prescription drugs for retired people.

Forcing working people to dig into their pockets to pay for retired people's prescription drugs is considered to be “the moral thing to do.” The fact that retired people, on average, have more wealth and assets than working people makes this a redistribution from people with less to people with more.

This fact passes unnoticed, because decades of propaganda have conditioned us to think of retired people as an underprivileged victim group. When taxpayer subsidies for medical prescriptions increase the demand for, and price of, medicines, Big Government will not be blamed.

Instead, all eyes will be on the pharmaceutical companies. They will be accused of profiteering, and price controls will be proposed.

Take a moment to think about the second largest SIG-public employee unions, specifically the National Education Association. The NEA has had great success in reducing educational standards and test scores. However, the NEA has won at propaganda. The union is associated with “educating our children.” Whenever there is evidence to the contrary, the NEA's solution is more federal money.

In order to be elected, Republicans have to give assurances that they will support the education lobby and the Medicare lobby. Candidate George W. Bush opened the floodgates wider once he uttered those words, “compassionate conservative.”

In U.S. politics, “compassion” means giving money and privileges to well organized interest groups at everyone else's expense.

The most powerful SIGs are organized around the federal budget. They are the beneficiaries of federal spending programs. These are not the “special interests” that campaign finance reformers are after.

When Democrats and the media speak about special interests, they do not mean the NEA and the Medicare lobby. They mean private business groups that favor lower taxes and less regulation so that they can operate their businesses in an economic manner.

Once a politics of redistribution takes hold, it is almost impossible to get out of the morass. Increasingly, people perceive themselves as more dependent on spending programs than on their own incomes. They regard the benefits they receive — Medicare prescriptions and education for their children — as large relative to their personal tax contribution to the cost.

On Aug. 31, President Clinton vetoed the repeal of the death tax. He said that unless the federal government continued to confiscate people's property at death, the government would have “no money to invest in our common future.”

Clinton's few words show the change in thinking that occurred in the 20th century. The United States has become a political entity in which strangers have a stronger claim to a person's accumulated lifetime assets than that person's children or heirs. This elevation of the interests of strangers over the interest of the family is the achievement of Karl Marx. Like the program of Marxism-Leninism, the death tax makes individual property common property.

“A nation cannot exist half slave and half free.” But the United States has been existing in such a state for some time. We are half slave, because the government has claim to about half of our income during our lives and to about half of our assets at our death. We are half free because we control the other half.

This is an ambiguous position for a country that calls itself “the land of the free.” In which direction will we go? Will we become two-thirds slave and one-third free or will we move in the direction of one-third slave and two-thirds free?

This is a good question to keep in mind as you evaluate the election campaign. What are the candidates for the House, the Senate and the presidency proposing that would make more of our individual incomes common property — that is, the property of strangers? What are they proposing that would make more of our income our own property?

On balance, you may find that both political parties are making proposals that would make us more slave and less free. As the 21st century gets underway, the former “land of the free” takes a far higher percentage of the individual's income than the former communist state of Russia.

Dr. Roberts' latest book, “The Tyranny of Good Intentions,” has just been released by Prima Publishers.

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