A total wreck waiting to happen

Last month, the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, or blanket package, showed that the majority of politicians have one-track minds. They identify problems, pass legislation, and send consequences down the line.

In The Coming Slavery (1884), Herbert Spencer notes that legislators often fail to realize that they have moved a train on a destructive course. Given the political impetus, he argues, “the question ought to be for the politician—“What kind of social structure am I inclined to produce?” “

If most of our politicians fail to ask this question, citizens should remind them of it now. Who benefits from the $1.65 trillion overall package? How does it enhance or restrict freedom? How do spending programs affect the mentality of future generations? The answers should make everyone hit the brakes.

fair platform

One problem is that the current appropriation package is full of software that redistributes wealth to advance a goal that moves faster than the bullet train: “fairness”. Voters’ ethnicity, geographic location, and employment shape their advantages in large part.

Consider the beneficiary of one of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s appropriations: $477,000 for the Equity Institute of Rhode Island. This “education-based nonprofit” works to “cultivate people-centered anti-racism communities for all learners.” To do this, the institute is developing an “evolving definition of equity in education,” insisting that “criteria for success when advancing educational equity should be based on individual and community quality of life rather than standardized test scores.” If these standards are opaque, the government’s standards are clearer.

For example, the “Unlocking American Innovators Act of 2022” amends existing legislation to enable the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office to encourage innovation and new patents among certain groups. He ends the preferred list with “any geographic group of innovators that the director may determine is underrepresented in patent filings.” The manager may spend your tax dollars less on the quality of the invention than on it Who is the innovate f where.

Senator Bernie Sanders is also focusing on a specific package in the $50 million Worker Ownership, Readiness and Knowledge Act. Sanders introduced the legislation in 2009. Then his colleagues refused, but this year nearly everyone has boarded the omnibus train.

Under this Act, “the Secretary is to establish with the Department of Labor an Employee Ownership Initiative to promote employee ownership.” Sanders calls it “modest but effective legislation” that would “go a long way to ensure workers have the tools they need to have a seat at the table they’ve worked to build.”

The program identifies “key groups, such as retired business owners, senior managers, labor organizations, trade associations, community organizations, and economic development organizations,” all of which educate about the means and benefits of employee ownership. But what are the long-term consequences of furthering this shift, apart from, of course, solidifying the electorate?

In its current form, this legislation seems harmless because it is voluntary: there is awareness, education and assistance. What Spencer stresses, however, is that what starts modestly expands into massive programming as legislation increases and costs mount: a runaway train with no brakes.

Paths to serfdom

Perhaps future recipients of innovation grants will be happy to share the metaphorical tables they invent with their employees, who then become owners. Or perhaps Spencer was right that the more government does, the less motivated people are to invent:

Each generation becomes less familiar with achieving desired ends through individual actions or private groups, and more familiar with their achievement by government agencies; Until finally government agencies are considered to be the only ones available.

Will the next generation simply see the well-worn paths of government assistance in every endeavor? How much will this funding increase over the coming decades?

Such a trend has long-term financial and intellectual consequences. As the government gravy train gains momentum, so does the government’s incentive to raise taxes to fuel it. Individuals have less money to advance their own interests and must work more hours each day to pay for socialism. This was for Spencer the “next slavery”:

It didn’t matter whether his master was an individual or a community. If he has, without choice, to work for society, and receive from the general stock such a portion as society gives him, he becomes a slave to society. Socialist arrangements entail enslavement of this kind, and in the direction of such enslavement we have been carried many modern measures, and even more so, those he advocates.

Without pretending to be “enslaved” today, we can admit that the Uniform Appropriations Act of 2023 will increase the national debt, as well as the political momentum toward social regulation.

Halting this process requires taxpayers to show the same wisdom that Agatha Christie’s legendary Hercule Poirot demonstrated. The detective, who encounters a dead body on the Orient Express, finally realizes that all the passengers on that train were involved in the murder. Likewise, the electors must accept that the majority of our elected representatives supported the passage of the omnibus, whether publicly or by appropriation.

It’s time for us to acknowledge the society they create and hold them accountable. If the current legislators do not apply the brakes on this train, we need to do so in the next election.

Caroline Brechers

Caroline Brechers

Dr. Caroline Brechers is Professor of English at Saint Lawrence University. Caroline has a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia with a major in eighteenth-century British literature. Recent publications include Women’s Writings in the Eighteenth Century, “Memoirs of a Scandal” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and articles in Aphra Behn Online and the International Journal of Pluralistic and Economic Education.

She was most recently the Adam Smith Scholar at the Liberty Fund, and her current research focuses on Adam Smith and literature. She teaches courses on fairy tales, eighteenth-century British literature, and Jane Austen.

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