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Accepting 'Help' Only to Find Rights Forfeited

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

Cable’s Home and Garden Television (HGTV) appears to have a new reality show about what happens when the government buys itself the right to tell you what to do.

In theory, anyway.

According to, the new show “My House, Your Money” “reveals what really goes on behind closed doors as prospective homebuyers turn to their extended family members for financial help in order to land their dream home. … What could possibly go wrong when the grown-up kids want a beautiful home to live in and the parents want a safe place to invest their money?”

What could go wrong, indeed? With more young adults asking their parents and grandparents for help in financing a home, this program has a promising future. Tales of financial family feuds often last a lifetime. I can foresee spinoffs and celebrity specials.

Of course, the biggest issue confronting the homebuyers in this series is the fact that the family members holding the purse strings want a say in how their money is spent. To illustrate the point, a commercial for the show follows a couple falling in love with a property, then cuts to an older family member who says, “There is no way I am putting my money into that house.”

Cut to reality.

In Michigan, this very principle is manifesting itself more and more frequently and in ways that are growing increasingly frustrating, or even corrupt. Michigan is a state where the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has succeeded in forcing unionization on everyday citizens who happen to receive public funds for various reasons.

A while back, I wrote about the despicable scheme begun under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (reversed by Gov. Rick Snyder's administration) to declare that home-based child-care providers whose clients receive subsidies for child care are de facto state employees, and therefore required to belong to a union. Dues were collected automatically by the state on behalf of the union, because that’s just the way we do things here in the Mitten, where we love our unions.

Now, political news outlet Michigan Capitol Confidential reveals that SEIU has collected some $28 million over the past five years by forcing unionization on caretakers of disabled citizens who receive state subsidies, even if the caretakers are the parents of the disabled!

That’s right. If you are the parent of a disabled person who receives benefits in Michigan to offset your noninstitutional home care, you’re officially a state employee and thus must be a member of SEIU.

What do you get for that membership? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just the pleasure of donating part of your child’s much-needed assistance to the union’s coffers. As for SEIU, it may use those funds in virtually any way it likes, including for political lobbying and campaigning.

Siphoning funds from unsuspecting citizens is a problem, but to be clear, the crucial issue isn’t the money. It’s the independence lost when we sublimate our liberty to anyone who may then assert the right to tell us how to live our lives. These are the “strings” that are always - always! - attached to money that is given and not earned.

Expect much more of the same. As assistance programs grow, so will the burgeoning bureaucracies to tell us how best to live. (To wit: Here’s your general assistance check, here’s a cup, there’s the bathroom.) And why not, we might say? Those of us paying taxes ought to have a sense that our tax dollars aren’t being wasted on programs that don’t work and people who won’t make the most of our money.

Except, as forced unionization scams demonstrate time and again, every dime a government redistributes is tied up with a string. The loss of freedom that comes with growing government in our lives is incremental at first, and perhaps confined only to a relative few, but it eventually will creep into all our lives as the price we pay for the care we expect from the state.

The state giveth, but so too the state will taketh away your freedom - just like that rich grandma who offers to finance your house.

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