The Downward Spiral of the Subsidy Shell Game

There's a lot of envy going on the United States these days. It's not necessarily by those who have less than the others. It's more often by those who are trying to convince the ones that have less that they're trapped, and that it's because those with more took it all from them. This is how subsidies are born. This is how nations die.

Jesus taught that "Thou shalt not covet." I think it's a pretty good idea. There was once a time when I had a hard time making ends meet. I've worked hard, and that's not the case now. If I'd have coveted, at best I would have settled for a life of mediocrity. It's frustrating, then, that many people believe the propaganda of certain politicians who tell them that they can't ever work hard and make something of themselves, and that it is other people's fault that they can't.

Coveting makes us all angry. It makes the poor angry because they are encouraged to believe that they've been stolen from, and it makes the rich angry because they keep getting told that they are the problem. It's remarkable, with all the negativity preached against the so-called rich in the United States, that the United States is still the most charitable nation. Imagine how charitable it could be if there weren't so much envy-fomenting going around.

If there are specific cases of theft from the poor by the rich, then the rich should be punished (as should anyone be punished for theft). But if there aren't, it is much worse than counterproductive to pretend that there are.

If you realized that someone was taking away your money and giving you back only part of it, would you still want them taking it? Probably not. Yet that's all a government subsidy is. Subsidies become more common in nations that pit groups of people against other groups of people in a hard-to-end battle of hate. America, welcome to the downward spiral of hate, called the Subsidy Shell Game!!!

The more subsidies the government forces each citizen to bankroll for others, the less the citizen is able to provide for himself and his family. Subsidies, by eroding self reliance, guarantee a spiral of growing demands for more subsidies.

We are often not able to pay for our own children's needs, such as college education because we are paying for everyone else's children's needs. Nor do we have the ability to help our family, friends, and neighbors pay for their children's education, because the government is doing it for us.

The more things are financed by subsidies, the more activities become dependent on bureaucratic approval and political manipulation. The expansion of subsidies guarantees the expansion of political power.

Some politicians make a career of being politicians precisely because they crave power along with anything that perpetuates that power. Subsidies are an excellent way to ensure that perpetuation.

Government subsidies allow the government to progressively dominate each activity that it sets out to aid. Politicians first assert their sacred duty to help those in need by creating a subsidy program--and then assert their sacred duty to taxpayers to regulate the subsidized in order to protect the taxpayers' "investment". Government starts out acting generous and soon ends up dictating terms and conditions.

What has government ever subsidized that is has improved?
The more rewards and penalties the government possesses, the more the individual will be influenced in his daily decisions by the preferences and values of the bureaucratic political rulers. (All quotes from Lost Rightsby James Bovard, pages 162-163.)


  1. I am struggling with the point of the post, Frank. Are you suggesting that the government should simply abolish subsidies across the board? Or maybe just some of the subsidies? If the latter, then which ones get the ax and which ones survive?

  2. Because the problem is entrenched, it is not an easy solution. Those subsidies should be removed that don't comport with the constitution. (1) I talked about eduction in the post--Pell grants are a subsidy that for example should not be. (2) Social security is an subsidy that has caused far more problems than it ever hoped to attempt to solve. (3) As you can read in some of my previous posts, health insurance is a perfect example of government subsidy turning into something that the government dictates. Government has caused most of the problems as relate to health care.

    There are more, but hopefully that helps you see where I'm coming from.

  3. Frank, You really need to move to wordpress.

    You said: "This is how subsidies are born. This is how nations die."

    Which other countries are you thinking about when you say that?

    PS: I really resent having to type the "picture above"

  4. Venezuela. Cuba. Soviet Union. Saudi Arabia. South Africa.

    Did you read any more of the post? What to agree with or disagree with?

    When you say "picture above", are you referring to the anti-spamming feature of comments? I like it better than the way Wordpress does it.

  5. Frank,

    In the words of my friend and colleague Richard C. during my years at Princeton (scholarship, no subsidies), "the government could yet refuse to put up two-cent to send a black man to college, but would happily spend $35,000 per year in jail to keep him locked up."

    So, Frank, I ask, how about it? Maybe a small subsidy up front will prevent us from paying a much larger subsidy down the road. See how that works?

  6. Frank, I think if your premise about how nations die is going to fly, you'll have to be more clear.

    Some of the countries you named have higher standards of living than we do. Most are dictatorships and all have a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality than the US.

    Problem is, all the more socialized countries in Europe are actually doing much better than we are by just about any measure.

    So your "how nations die" thing is really unsupportable.

    PS: Please turn of the Bot thing.

  7. Nephi,

    Why does the government have to do it? Why don't they step out of the way and let charitable organizations take care of it. This point was made in one of my quotes in the article above. "Subsidies, by eroding self reliance, guarantee a spiral of growing demands for more subsidies."


    If America indeed has a higher infant mortality and lower life expectancy, I suspect it can be explained by our penchant for drugs, homosexual practices, gang warfare, and our desire to imitate Hollywood.

    The Soviet Union is dead in large part because it attempted to subsidize the elite on the backs of the proletariat. Venezuela is on the same path. South Africa died because of apartheid and arose again without it. Saudi Arabia will die if it ever runs out of oil.

    Hopefully that helps. But that was just the introductory paragraph. The entire rest of the post is a warning of one thing necessary to stop the death of America. I hope you'll read the rest of it.

    Other failed states--Ancient Greece: socialization of everything. Ancient Rome: bread and circuses. Sri Lanka and India: bitter religious strife. Algeria and Sudan: Islamist domination of government--death to the disagreeable. Mexico: cronyism which leads to moribund economy, whose main outlet is illegal immigration to the United States.

  8. I agree with Cliff regarding WordPress. I use Spam Karma 2 for spam filtering and only a single spam comment has made it through in that time. (It caught several thousand spams and had only a handful of false-positives in the same time period.) CAPTCHAs annoy the crap out of me, especially since Google decides to have them expire after a length of time, hardly convenient when typing a long comment.

    Cliff: When it comes to subsidies, look at the havoc that artificially deflated corn prices have caused us. We're now totally dependent on corn for everything from food to feed to packaging, it drives Latin American farmers out of business and up to America and it plays a large part in the plethora of cheap and unhealthy food available at any market. This doesn't even mention how ethanol production is now driving the prices even higher; we wouldn't even have started making ethanol from corn if we hadn't been so artificially cheap in the first place!

    Once you see how terribly corn subsidies have affected us, it doesn't take a whole lot to figure that other subsidies probably need to go too.

  9. Frank, your starting point seems to concede that income inequality has increased tremendously during the Bush administration, as it has:

    Average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent are going down, while the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans.

    But then you get all "workers in the vineyard" and say Jesus would want it that way. No, Bush wants it that way. And no, our president is not divinely ordained-- he's in power because of Diebold and Karl Rove.

  10. I hadn't thought about it in that way, but I think you have a good point. Bush, just like Clinton and the other Bush, have not been good for the country, because they have encouraged the oppression of workers at the expense of multi-national corporations and through the million threads of regulation that tie us down more and more as time goes by.

  11. Lower infant morality rates are explained quite simply. In the U.S. we go to valiant lengths to save each child born. In other countries, babies considered to be uviable are discarded and are not counted in infant mortality rates.

    I'm scratching my head about which among Venezuela, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa enjoy a higher standard of living than the U.S. Certainly not Venezuela, Cuba, or the Soviet Union. South Africa? Um, not exactly. They've made good progress, but they're not there yet. Saudi Arabia? Maybe. My father-in-law lived there for a while. They've got lots of stuff, but they don't have freedom. And their stuff is a house of cards built on a single commodity.

    "all the more socialized countries in Europe are actually doing much better than we are by just about any measure" Whoa! I've lived there, and that's not even remotely true.

    The high standard of living in Paris includes only 100 car burnings on any average quiet non-riot night. People throughout Europe enjoy cramped living conditions that many Americans simply wouldn't endure. At least they've got 4-week mandated vacations each year so that they can get away from it for a while. A 3-month wait for a hospital bed for critical surgery is common in Europe.

    The higher standard of living enjoyed by these countries exists only on United Nations (and similar) charts, but not in real life.

  12. Frank, I'm interested to hear what you think about the subsidy arguments in Jay Evensen's column on Sunday. He was talking about transit, but he points out some valuable transportation subsidies.

  13. I think he makes some very interesting points, and he's right. We do subsidize highways much more than we do mass transit. I look at it from the perspective that we should attempt to subsidize both of these as little as possible, but requiring use fees commensurate with the cost of use. I have written here about why I support a gas tax, and why I don't support Trax in its current implementation.

    That being said, the voters have voted, and I think as an elected representative it would be my responsibility at this point to support the voice of the people, contrary to what Mr. Evensen implies in his reporting that some don't. It should be their prerogative to speak their minds on the issue, but not to oppose the people.

  14. "reach upward," have you ever been to Paris?

    "I suspect it can be explained by our penchant for drugs, homosexual practices, gang warfare, and our desire to imitate Hollywood."

    Well, there are drugs, and homosexuality, and Hollywood films in Britain and Europe but they still have longer life expectancies than we do. Could it be because they have...better health care?

  15. That statement was based on some reading I did about the comparative health of Candadians vs. Americans. They have a much lower incidence of drug use. I have no evidence, but would also suspect that homosexual activity has not become so politicized in Canada as it has here.

  16. Frank,

    I would love to continue this discussion.

    Let me know when the captcha thing is resolved.


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