Harold Pease, Ph. D.
As government controls more portions of the economy, democracy transcends to socialism. Sometime in this transition democracy ceases to be democracy although the term continues to be used, and no-one can identify that moment when it is too late to pull free.
So why should the dependent class, defined as the approximately 47% who pay no federal income tax and are largely those who benefit from food stamps, subsidized housing, healthcare and other assistance programs, fear socialism? Because socialism has a history of ending assistance programs. Democracy enables a marriage between the assisted class with their vote power and politicians wishing to empower themselves by, in effect, transferring wealth from those who have to the poor. Once established this marriage self perpetuates and amplifies. Try seeking office today on a platform that ends all governmental assistance programs—or, even just one, food stamps.
The brakes (limits) of the Constitution are powerful when observed but they cannot perform well once gifting (bribing the dependent class for their vote) has been introduced into the body politic. Once ingrained it cannot prevent itself from offering larger and more gifts until elections are bidding wars without constitutional restraints. This feeds an enlarging national debt that can never be paid. We see this today in the Democratic Party presidential debates: free college, reparations for the descendants of ex-slaves, a guaranteed income, and free healthcare for everyone in the world willing to cross our borders illegally. In exchange for your vote the socialist politician advocates that everything be free. This is his most powerful lure and works well on idealistic youth and the already dependent but it risks collapsing the economy, democracy, the Constitution and liberty.
Aristotle recognized this when he wrote, “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotism.” The deadly virus of democracy is voter gifting by politicians willing to sell their souls for elected office.
King Solon of Athens created the governmental form a republic because the philosopher king believed that man should govern himself and, once he had the republic in place, left Athens to attend the University of Alexandria in Egypt never to return. The new idea, personal freedom, resulted in five major unintended consequences: a booming economy, a creative and intellectual surge, an ever enlarging voter base, an unequal distribution of wealth because not all were equally gifted or industrious and, finally, class envy because, although all who worked were comparatively better off from pre-republic standards, some still had more.
The ever enlarging voter base deteriorated into a democracy which had no brakes, no resistance to class envy and the marriage between the expanding poor who could link their vote with unprincipled politicians willing to transfer the fruits of labor from those who produce to those who do not in exchange for their gaining power. Democracy degenerates into gifting but soon enough there does not exist enough money to sustain the gifting and it ends with an economic crash. Once despotism replaces democracy there are no constitutional checks.
Rome repeated the same experiment with a similar result about a century later. Bread and circuses (free food and entertainment) destroyed the noble idea.
The previous failures were known to the well-read Founding Fathers who wanted the burst in creativity and general prosperity for all as delivered in a republic without the class envy and voter gifting. What if the powers of government were divided and separated into three branches with each a check on the other two and each given a list of the things they could do with gifting excluded? What if all powers not specifically mentioned in Article I, Section 8, remained with the states and the people as stipulated? What if all taxes must be spent only on the items on the list? What if the federal government could not assume additional power without the consent of 3/4th of the states? The government could not take over the economy by confiscation or regulation and the poor could never destroy the rich or devour the middle class. We could never degenerate into democracy then to the most common form of despotism today, socialism—fathered by Karl Marx.
Not a single sentence in the Constitution gives a benefit to anyone, only an environment of equality where one can maximize his talents.
In our republic all votes are not equal. Under the Constitution as designed only the House of Representatives was democratically elected by the people. State legislators voted for U.S. Senators, an Electoral College selected the President, and he appointed supreme court justices for life confirmed only by the Senate.
We must apply the brakes of the Constitution to retain our republic. Otherwise in time the productive classes cannot provide the money that is demanded of them to feed and otherwise subsidize the less productive class. It already can’t. We exceed 22 trillion dollars in debt. Each taxpayer owes the federal government $182,881, payable today (See USDebtClock.org). Despite unrealistic promises, socialism gives only slavery and shared poverty.
Gifting must end. When the banks crash, a new government will form and it will not honor the debt that destroyed its predecessor government, nor is it likely to fund social security, medicare, unlimited war, income security, federal pensions or any other program that contributed to it. Under socialism freedom does not survive.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.