Walter E. Williams

Say that citizen John pays his share of the constitutionally mandated functions of the federal government. He recognizes that nothing in our Constitution gives Congress the authority to forcibly use one person to serve the purposes of another or take the earnings of one American and give them to another American, whether it be for medical services, business bailouts, handouts to farmers or handouts in the form of foreign aid. Suppose John refuses to allow what he earns to be taken and given to another. My guess is that Krugman and, sadly, most other Americans would sanction government punishment, imprisonment or initiation of violence against John. They share Professor Krugman's moral vision that one person has a right to live at the expense of another, but they just don't have the gall to call it that.

I share James Madison's vision, articulated when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees in 1794. Madison stood on the floor of the House to object, saying, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents," adding later that "charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." This vision of morality, I'm afraid, is repulsive to most Americans.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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