Saw a short item about the EPA giving a paltry $25,000 tax dollars to a "modern dance" troupe in Utah to perform modern dance pieces about the environment, for grade-schoolers.
Predictably, one person interviewed thought the EPA had no business doing that, while the head of the troupe couldn't imagine what the fuss was about. As she put it, "We take federal money in this state for all kinds of projects, why not environmental education?”
Equally predictably, someone else noted that "It helps underprivileged children."
(How watching a modern-dance performance could possibly help an underprivileged kid wasn't explained.)
Then it struck me where I'd heard all this before
: Davy Crockett--the famous frontiersman--represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives, and one winter while he was there a fire broke out in Georgetown, burning many homes and leaving scores of people homeless.
Crockett had witnessed the fire and the shivering victims, so when a bill was introduced in the House a few days later to provide a sum of money for their relief, he voted for it.
Later while doing some "electioneering" back in his home district, Crockett happened on a farmer plowing. The farmer recognized Crockett and proceeded to tell him that while he'd voted for him in the previous election, he wouldn't be doing so again. The reason, he said, was Crockett's vote in support of the bill providing taxpayer money to the fire survivors.
Crockett was taken aback. How could anyone object to the government relieving the suffering of victims of an act of God?
The farmer countered that the problem was that the Constitution didn't give congress the power to do such a thing. If Crockett and other reps believed the document gave them such a power, there was no limit to the amount of tax dollars representatives could vote to favored causes. As the farmer put it (wanting to use an absurdly high number to make his point): If congress felt free to appropriate $20,000 to a cause, why could they not as easily vote twenty million?
Why not indeed.
Moreover, there was no limit to the reason
a congressional appropriation might be made. That is, if representatives violated the Constitution by giving tax money to one group or activity, what would bar them from doing the same for any other cause, no matter how goofy?
Crockett said he felt stunned. He confessed that he'd never considered the matter in that light, and was simply being compassionate to those in obvious need.
The farmer replied that he wasn't at all opposed to showing compassion for those in need, but that the Founders--for very good reasons--didn't grant congress (or any other branch) the power to give charity. If the fire survivors needed $20,000 to relieve their suffering, said the farmer, such an amount could easily be raised from the wealthy in Washington.
Alternatively, each member of congress could have donated a week's pay and raised most of that sum. But of course they had no need to give their own money when they could give yours.
I'm becoming convinced that about three-quarters of liberal politicians and voters are like Crockett: they've simply never considered the ramifications of the policies they push. They simply believe
it's the government's job to award money to things like dance troupes doing environmental dance pieces for school kids. It never occurs to them that this is the certain, absolute road to ruin.
It should be noted that there's considerable doubt that the speech referenced in the link--from work by Edward S. Ellis--was actually given. Similarly, there's no evidence that the farmer Ellis describes as helping Crockett see the light about the nature of the Constitution is real. Nevertheless, the article makes a great and valid point.