Wednesday, May 3, 2006

"We're all socialists now"

Frederic Bastiat on plunder, from The Law.

When justice is organized by law — that is, by force — this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization — justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?

[..] When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it — without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud — to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed.

I say that this act is exactly what the law is supposed to suppress, always and everywhere. When the law itself commits this act that it is supposed to suppress, I say that plunder is still committed, and I add that from the point of view of society and welfare, this aggression against rights is even worse.

[..] When law and force keep a person within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing but a mere negation. They oblige him only to abstain from harming others. They violate neither his personality, his liberty, nor his property. They safeguard all of these. They are defensive; they defend equally the rights of all.

[..] When a politician views society from the seclusion of his office, he is struck by the spectacle of the inequality that he sees. He deplores the deprivations which are the lot of so many of our brothers, deprivations which appear to be even sadder when contrasted with luxury and wealth.

Perhaps the politician should ask himself whether this state of affairs has not been caused by old conquests and lootings, and by more recent legal plunder. Perhaps he should consider this proposition: Since all persons seek well-being and perfection, would not a condition of justice be sufficient to cause the greatest efforts toward progress, and the greatest possible equality that is compatible with individual responsibility?

[..] But the politician never gives this a thought. His mind turns to organizations, combinations, and arrangements — legal or apparently legal. He attempts to remedy the evil by increasing and perpetuating the very thing that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder. We have seen that justice is a negative concept. Is there even one of these positive legal actions that does not contain the principle of plunder?
Mack the Turtle examines Jim Flaherty's budget speech, and calculates the increased plunder Canadians can look forward to:
There, like the plantars wart that no amount of Compound W can kill, was that combination of phrases that government-growing socialist governments has delivered with each budget, much like a one-two punch, for as long as I can remember:

"...government revenue as a share of GDP is projected to decline from 16.4 per cent in 2004–05 to 15.5 per cent in 2007–08.

"I am proud to say that because of this budget, growth in program spending is projected to fall below the rate of economic growth. As a result, program spending as a share of GDP is projected to decline from 13.7 per cent in 2004–05 to 13.0 per cent in 2007–08."

Let's cut through the bullshit, shall we?

Basically, GDP ("Gross Domestic Product") is a measure of the value of the goods and services produced in Canada in one calendar year. According to this year's budget figures, Canada's gross domestic product was at $1,290B in 2004-2005, and will be at $1,517B in 2007.

So, let's do the math.


16.4% x $1,290B = $211.56B

15.5% x $1,517B = $235.14B

Increase: $23.58B


13.7% x $1,290B = $176.73B

13.0% x $1,517B = $197.21B

Increase: $20.48B

So, let's give the honest version of the Minister's message:

"I am proud to say that because of this budget, government revenues will increase $23.58B and government spending will grow by $20.48B, by 2007-2008."

In other words: he is proud that he is continuing the socialist tradition of making the government even bigger.

Now, ask yourself: why didn't the minister just come out and say that taxes and spending would increase? Was he unable to do the math? No, that cannot be it: one doesn't need to do the math because the actual taxing and spending figures (not as a percentage of GDP) are printed right in the budget.

The truth, of course, is that - being a Conservative - he has to do what Conservatives always do: pretend that they are not socialists.
Even more frightening, is the support more overtly socialist parties, like the NDP and the Liberals, receive.