On the floor of the U.S. Senate last Friday [9/27/13], Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) said that “a very wealthy group of people” are backing the Tea Party in what Reid described as an “effort to destroy our government.”
“A bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us, those who believe in no—I repeat, no—government. That is their belief,” Reid said. “The modern-day anarchists known as the Tea Party, they believe in no government. And they are backed by a very wealthy group of people who finance this effort to destroy our government.”
How many things are wrong with this statement?
Anarchy refers to a state of no government. Many members of the Tea Party are calling for Reagan-like reductions in the rate of government spending increases. Their concern is fiscal discipline, leading to debt reduction and a balanced federal budget. None of this is anarchy, and Harry Reid knows it.
Other advocates of limited government, myself included, find moral as well as fiscal flaws in forcing people to take part in programs—Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare—against their will. We argue that these programs violate individual rights of free association, private property and purchasing needed services in a private marketplace. Many in the Tea Party echo these themes, not in the name of anarchy, but in defense of individual rights.
It’s not possible to care about a private marketplace and private property while being an anarchist. Imagine a world with no government. How would voluntary contracts be upheld? How would private property rights be enforced? Who would have the final say in a dispute between a purse-snatcher—or a murderer—and his victims?
To career politicians like Harry Reid, even cutting back on government amounts to “anarchy.” They radically overstate the issue because they’re frightened, and because they hate opposition and dissension. They project on to their opponents qualities—shrillness, intellectual dishonesty, hatred of ideological differences—that they display on a daily basis in public life.
Career politicians (in both parties) don’t wish to live in a world where ultimately people will not depend on huge government programs. This would put them out of a job. It would take all “meaning” (defined as power) from their lives. They’d have to go out and make a real living, voluntarily persuading people to buy their products or services—or to give to their charities. When you remove government force from the equation, it’s downright obscene and horribly frightening to them. That’s why they go into a rage, and why they exaggerate, distort and attack every opportunity they get.
Reid, like most politicians in both parties, offer a false alternative between a big, debt-laden and intrusive government that robs from the productive to give to the government class; or outright anarchy. America’s founders thought otherwise, and many in today’s Tea Party movement sound the same theme. Establishment politicians scream “anarchy” when it’s not, because they fear the loss of their own power.
In true conspiracy theory fashion, Reid claims that “wealthy people” are behind Tea Party attitudes. Actually, established, profit-driven companies are often the biggest supporters of Big Government politicians like Barack Obama. This is because they’re afraid. They won’t stand up for their private property rights on the strength and confidence of their own product. They hope to preserve their status by using government pull and force, which is why they cozy up with politicians like Harry Reid, men who would never have become anything without the influence-peddling of professional politics. Government and big business? It’s truly a marriage made in hell.
Companies that make billions of dollars through providing a great product or service for which people voluntarily pay don’t need political pull. They got where they are without it. They will stay where they are without it, unless they falter or someone with a better product or service someday comes along. If it does, they have no right to lean on politicians to preserve their economic status for them. Yet that’s what often happens. If that’s the kind of “big business” you hate, then you’re right to do so—but then politicians like Harry Reid and Barack Obama are surely not your allies.