In April, businesses in Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district received 38 out of 204 waivers from Obamacare from the Department of Health and Human Services, according to The Daily Caller. The lucky recipients in Pelosi’s zip code include health spas, nightclubs, hotels and gourmet restaurants that most Americans can’t afford.
In 2009, Pelosi helped ram Obamacare down America’s throat. The system is preying on anyone not protected by ruling elites. If this sounds familiar, it’s the way things work in communist countries, where party leaders pick which of their subjects merit exceptions to the misery they impose on everyone else.
Back in the 1970s and ’80s, this double standard was derided as the lifestyle of “limousine liberals,” who hypocritically spare their families and friends the consequences of their ill-advised policies. It still works. Think of Al Gore, who owns electricity-sucking mansions while jetting around in fuel-guzzling planes and railing against carbon emitted by the rest of us. Or John Edwards lecturing us on income inequality.
Or President Obama, who sends his daughters to the hyper exclusive Sidwell Friends School while railing against “the rich.” Meanwhile, his cronies worked to deny vouchers to parents seeking to save their kids from the failed D.C. schools.
Linda Chavez, former staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has noted how the ruling elites’ envy is selectively expressed: “The populist zeal to seek revenge on those who make a lot of money is targeted almost exclusively at corporations. I haven’t heard outcries about Hollywood actors who make millions per film.”
No, that would be biting the hand that feeds. Speaking of Hollywood, liberal Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger went from defending marriage in his last campaign to refusing to defend California’s Prop. 8 marriage amendment in court. I don’t think it’s unfair to ask whether his having cheated on his wife and sired a “love child” had something to do with his liberated outlook on sexual unions. And, by the way, I’m not saying that conservatives are immune to temptation. Whenever a longtime conservative develops strange, new respect for liberal social policies, it may be time for his spouse to check his phone and hotel records.
This tendency of the ruling elites to pose as champions of virtue while making up their own rules is part of the temptation of power. If you can legally take money from one group and give to another, why not take anything else you want?
When socialism was rising in France in the mid-19th century, Frederic Bastiat saw clearly how socialists misused the law to create what he called “legal plunder.” In 1850, in his classic book The Law, he wrote: “Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another.”
Since the New Deal, legal plunder has become the guiding principle in America. Its proponents, protected by a servile media, are growing bolder by the day. President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board is trying to stop Boeing from opening its new, $750-million factory in South Carolina, where an assembly line is ready to roll out new Dreamliner 787s. The unions that back Obama don’t like those jobs going to a conservative, right to work state instead of closed-shop Washington State. Is this plunder? Yes.
After the government takeover of General Motors, Rep. Barney Frank, who helped broker the GM deal, made a phone call and reversed the cancellation of a GM distribution center in Norton, Mass. It’s this kind of commissar-like behavior that prompted Rep. Michele Bachmann to declare on the House floor that America was in the grip of “gangster government.”
Given the extent of the corruption here and abroad, it might be best to take the long view so we won’t get too discouraged. The moral laws given to us by God may be flouted, but they cannot be repealed.
Wanting what is not yours and taking from others may work in the short run, but it bears a heavy cost, as we are reminded by Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s predicament and by Proverbs 14:30: “Envy is rottenness to the bones.”
Robert Knight is Senior Fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.