Thursday, 03 January 2019 14:52

COLUMN: Let those who want things foot the bill

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There’s an important lesson that can be learned from one of the hottest news topics in recent weeks: voluntary action.

A disabled veteran started a GoFundMe account to raise money for a border wall, one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial campaign promises.

Before being elected, Trump said he would make Mexico pay for the wall. Now, the president and Congress are at a stalemate over the U.S. government funding the wall.

Brian Kolfage, a Purple Heart recipient, started the GoFundMe campaign on Dec. 16. As of Jan. 2, more than $18 million of the $1 billion goal had been raised by 308,000 people.

The chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party posted on his own wall Dec. 28 saying: “I approve of my tax dollars to be used to build a wall at the southern border. The funding can come from cutting taxpayers dollars used and given — given, not earned — to current illegal aliens.”

Here we have the inherent problem with the government funding projects through taxation.

While Republicans don’t mind their taxes going to a border wall, many Democrats would be appalled and would rather their coerced (though they don’t see it that way) money go toward helping immigrants get a fresh start on American soil.

The way government is set up, there’s no way to determine or dictate how your tax dollars are spent.

Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Just as conservatives balk at federal funds being used to pay for a study of the mating habits of birds on cocaine, so do progressives disapprove of the government funding things they don’t like — and libertarians don’t want to subsidize the drug war, military intervention in other countries, bloated government bureaucracies, corporate bailouts or much else.

Libertarians draw their ideas on funding projects from French economist Frederic Bastiat, who wrote in his 1849 work “The Law”: “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.”

I’ve previously used this example to suggest starting a GoFundMe campaign for a local recreation complex. A similar tactic has been used to help fund school playgrounds in Greene and Orange counties.

City and county leaders had intended to use a slight sales tax increase to pay for it, but a ballot initiative in 2015 failed miserably.

Proponents had said that it would be mostly paid by out-of-towners who are passing through. But where’s the fairness in that?

Let those who want it fund it.

The same goes for the border wall. Whether we think it’s needed, unnecessary or immoral, I think one thing we can agree on is that we don't have to force those who don't want it to pay for it.  

 

William R. Toler is managing editor of the Richmond Observer.