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Electing Our Daddy

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With the presidential campaign season upon us, one cannot help but ask whether we are electing a president … or a daddy. After all, both George W. Bush and Al Gore are promising to take care of us in most aspects of our lives and even to make us more caring and compassionate people.

Isn’t that what a daddy’s for?

Consider the drug war, which both candidates have promised to wage even more fiercely than ever. Johnny decides to ingest cocaine. Under either Bush or Gore, the government will say to him, “Bad Johnny! You shouldn’t have put that stuff in your mouth. Go to your room (in a penitentiary) for ten years so that you can learn not to do this.” And Johnny’s a 40-year-old banker! By punishing him for engaging in a purely self-destructive act, hasn’t the state essentially assumed the role of Johnny’s daddy?

How about school compulsory-attendance laws? Under these laws, the state punishes a parent who does not subject his children to some form of government-approved education. What if a parent says, “I don’t need the state to dictate to me what is and isn’t a proper education for my children. As an adult and as a parent, I’ll make that decision.” Government officials will haul him into court and accuse him of child abuse, threatening to incarcerate him and even take his children away from him. Why? Because the parent is not considered any more competent than his children to make such important educational decisions. Like the child, the parent needs “guidance.” (Of course, one cannot help but ask why so many parents are incompetent to make these decisions when most of them are graduates of public schools.)

What about being caring and compassionate people? Aren’t we taught as children that we should share with our brothers and sisters? Well, that’s what the Internal Revenue Service and welfare programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and public housing are all about. People cannot be trusted to decide on their own whether to help others who are in need. They might turn their backs on their brethren, such as the poor or even their parents. No, we need the IRS to ensure that people pay their taxes “voluntarily” so that people in need will be certain to receive assistance. We need our daddy to help us to be caring and compassionate people.

Of course, our daddy also gives us our allowance to help us pay our bills. That’s why Congress sets the percentage of income we are going to be permitted to keep each year. Sometimes our daddy is good to us and sets the percentage low. Sometimes he’s not so good and sets the percentage high. But make no mistake about it: by having the power to set the percentage, our daddy is the one who controls how much money we are going to have during the year.

We don’t really need to worry about running out of money because if we do run out, our daddy will be there to take care of us. If we fail to save part of our allowance, our daddy has Social Security to take care of us. And there’s no problem if we get sick that’s what Medicare and Medicaid are for. And if we lose our job, our daddy will keep us going until we find a new one.

Our daddy also ensures that we don’t hang out with strangers. That’s why we have immigration controls to protect us from hiring the wrong people. Or travel restrictions, to ensure we don’t get sick by traveling to dangerous places, like Cuba. Imagine the harm that could result if our daddy wasn’t helping us to select our friends and monitor where we were going.

Of course, sometimes it seems as though our daddy mistreats and abuses us. If he gets angry at one of his foreign friends, he orders his children to go thousands of miles away to do the fighting for him. So, sometimes we have to go to war in some faraway land and possibly even die for our daddy. But that’s just part of being in a family, isn’t it?

Several years ago, during one of the presidential debates, a member of the audience stood up and said to both candidates that the reason that the upcoming election was so important was that we were essentially selecting a father for our country. I wonder whether he realized how close to the mark he was.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.