I've been a good boy all year. I know I haven't written to you lately, but it sure would be nice to get a present from you this year: You see, I have some bad news. It turns out that some elected officials think, well, that they're you. I know that's a bit embarrassing. Now, they don't make it obvious, say, by wearing a red suit and sliding down my chimney like you do every year. No, they're just constantly trying to give us stuff -- new programs, new entitlements, some service or another that comes at a cost to taxpayers.
I keep trying to tell these elected officials that they're not Santa Claus, that it is not their job to give us stuff, that every time they do, it costs money, and that really all they have to do is keep out of our way, keep taxes low and reduce regulations. Still, they keep showing up with a bunch of wild ideas that they're going to "help" us by doing something -- anything.
My friend, Ralph Smeed, once gave me a copy of Frederick Bastiat precious work, The Law. Bastiat explains that government commits acts of "legalized plunder" in that it "takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong." The law then "benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime," wrote Bastiat.
Ralph always noted that lawmakers and other elected officials tend to become a slave to "statism," a condition in which the state is deemed the answer for everything and people are mere beneficiaries of the government largess. By now, it should be obvious that elected officials are not at all like you, Santa. I mean, I don't see you taking toys from some kids and giving those toys to others you deem more deserving.
Like Ralph, I'm still giving out copies of The Law, in the hopes that people will begin to recognize that government shouldn't try to play Santa Claus, that in the protection of rights and properties, government shouldn't try to take rights and properties and redistribute them to those whom the people in power consider more deserving. Heck, even here in Idaho, the government takes money from people in order to provide television to other people. Crazy, I know. They call it "public television." I call it government television, and it is exactly the legal plunder that Bastiat describes. But we can talk about that another day.
So Santa, all I want for Christmas this year is for legislators, county commissioners, city councilors, school board trustees and anyone else at the helm of government to recognize that they're not you -- that while Santa Claus has the power to distinguish naughty from nice and dispense neatly wrapped gifts accordingly, that's not what government is all about.
Thank you Santa. I'll have your favorite cookies and a glass of milk waiting for you when you get here.