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The New Player-Haters - March 2, 2001

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

They're afraid. They're very afraid. Their panic is justified because their adversaries' success means their very survival is in jeopardy. The plan of their foes is a simple one, solid in its history and compelling in its logic. It leaves them sniveling, stammering and ultimately resorting to the one tactic that might stave off their impending defeat. They lie, and lie big.

They bellow about unmerited opportunity, unfair advantage and unearned opulence. They paint a picture smeared with the hues of greed, arrogance and selfishness. They spread a doctrine of hatred toward fellow brethren of benefit and sow the crude seeds of envy. They are the new player-haters.

So the rich in our nation are rich. What a revelation. Most people believe that being rich beats being poor, and they wouldn't mind if their own status were closer to the former rather than the latter. Americans actually value wealth. It is part of a recurring American dream, that anyone might have the chance to experience financial gain some day.

That some politicians are urging people to resent their neighbor's good fortune is downright immoral. They appear to want to stifle camaraderie by nourishing the appetite to covet. It is a tired effort to amass greater power by using the strong-arm of government levies to punish those who have succeeded materially.

The top 5% of income earners in the United States pay more than half the taxes. The top 25% of earners pay more than 80% of the taxes. It is irrefutable that the producers in this country already pay the lion's share.

Government expansion is dependent upon a never-ending supply of revenue. Advocates for this type of national direction cannot bear the notion that the fuel to their power base might be siphoned away. The simple truth is, the present system loots private property in order to effectuate some disfigured version of equity. Whether intended or not, this turns proponents of the ever-extendible government model into enemies of freedom.

In defense of their position, they lay claim to the "social justice" movement. But theirs is a coercive morality. It is part of a transition that has occurred over the past 100 years, a veering away from personal responsibility and autonomy toward reliance on government and even addiction to publicly funded programs.

Although attempts at reform have been made, the antidote for such poisoning of the human spirit appears to be a long way off. Marvin Olasky has pointed out that in prior centuries, people expected charity to be provided by individuals within a given community. Both religious and non-religious organizations comprised a powerful chain of social networks. Americans combined resources and energies to become the helping hand to fellow citizens in need.

Beginning with the earliest settlements in colonial America, generosity poured out to those in distress. In the early nineteenth century, charitable organizations that provided relief for the less fortunate were active in New York, Boston and other large cities. Later that same century, when a fire in the city of Chicago destroyed 30% of its infrastructure, a surge of assistance from across the nation and the world ensured a successful rebuilding effort with no need for governmental rescue.

It is the spontaneous outburst of goodness clothed in a mantle of civic responsibility and personal liberty that provides sustenance to both benefactor and beneficiary. In contrast, excessive taxation demoralizes a people and discourages community cohesion. People from every strata of society realize that the federal government in its current state is bloated, unwieldy and burdensome.

Our founding fathers had a different vision. They saw a people cognizant of their birthrights and eternally devoted to their protection. They saw a government limited in size and scope and restrained by provisions of an inspired contract with its people. We are still the people of that vision. We need only fix our eyes upon the ideal and remind ourselves of its immeasurable worth and its import to freedom.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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