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Escaping the Federal Zoo

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

If Britney Spears performs her hit single “I'm a Slave 4 U” alongside exotic animals or dances inside a cage, you assume she craves easy attention but you don’t think that she literally wants to live like a zoo animal. Needless to say, humans do not belong in zoos. Cages do not enable men to grow and prosper.


But what if a man were born in a zoo? Like a baby tiger born in a zoo, he would not see the zoo as a trap. His needs for food, shelter and even procreation would be satisfied. (The zookeepers would figure it out.)

However, he would not learn how to build himself a shelter because he would have a temperature-regulated exhibit area. He would not learn to defend himself because there would be nothing threatening in his artificial environment. He would not learn to hunt and prepare his own meals because zookeepers would bring dishes of food to him. He would never learn to work. He would own nothing and be responsible for nothing. If he had children, the zoo would provide for them also.

He would learn to scratch at the walls and howl when he wanted his zookeepers. He would learn sloth.

When a government unjustly strips its people of their freedom by overstepping its Constitutional authority (think health care reform), by over-regulating business (think the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), by restraining online free speech (think net neutrality regulations and high-tech bullying) and by attacking free market competition within entire industries (think green technology and commercial real estate), the people begin to live like animals in a zoo.

Employers facing a 35 percent corporate income tax rate will quit posting job openings and move their businesses overseas. Hundreds of unemployed people will apply for the same open position—even if it’s just to flip burgers at McDonald’s. Some people will try to start their own business and give up when government taxes and regulations choke off their profits.


As capitalism disintegrates and jobs disappear, many hard-working individuals will suddenly and depressingly find themselves with few viable options for survival other than government assistance such as Medicaid, retirement benefits, unemployment benefits or federal assistance for higher education. Good and honest people will feel trapped by the government. They will feel like they moved from a rainforest into a zoo.

Meanwhile, more children will be born into poverty and welfare, which is similar to being born in a zoo. They will know nothing other than dependence. They will grow up thinking that the government will provide them with the “necessities” of life, from food to high-speed Internet access.

A recent Heritage Foundation study shows that poverty in America is not the best life (just as living in a zoo is not the best life) but it certainly is not an uncomfortable one: “…in 2005, the average household defined as poor by the government lived in a house or apartment equipped with air conditioning and cable TV. The family had a car (a third of the poor have two or more cars). For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, a DVD player, and a VCR.”

Given Heritage’s findings, many poor people will likely come to accept their dependent lifestyle as “normal” and “healthy” rather than question it.

Furthermore, children who grow up in a culture of welfare-induced poverty will have a hard time flourishing in society. Why? Because they grow up like baby panda bears in a zoo that only know dependence on zookeepers. Just like you can’t throw a zoo panda into the wild and expect it to instantly know how to survive on its own, children of welfare will need significant guidance in order to acquire responsibility.


Sadly, government corruption has cracked the American free market system. So, yes, some people (let’s call them “endangered species” for the sake of analogy) will need temporary, not life-long, help from the government if they have been working very hard to survive and stand on their own two feet and yet still face going “extinct.”

We need to decide as a country where we will go from here. Will we shelter our federal benefits? Will we agree to stifle countless Americans by holding their hands even after they can walk by themselves? Or, will we urge our elected officials to phase out these “perks” so that we can stop living like zoo animals?

As a country, let’s choose the path that allows us each to live full and free lives. Let’s persevere through temporary adversity and ask our elected officials to drastically reduce government spending. We need to act quickly if we prefer life in a spacious rainforest to life in a smelly zoo cage.

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