Those who delight in schadenfreude were in special glee the other day, with the latest example of the Left eating its own.

It all started out with former Starbucks CEO sending the Democrats into a shark-chum frenzy over his announcement of a potential independent run at the Presidency in 2020. Schultz, a life-long Democrat, expressed fears and laments that his more moderate views would preclude him from having a shot at the party nomination, and that the declared candidates’ leftward lurch was a bad thing.

It-girl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defined the narrative (as she routinely has since she won her primary in a rock-the-party-foundations upset) by sniping “Why don’t people ever tell billionaires who want to run for President that they need to “work their way up”…”

Schultz replied “I’m self-made. I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, New York. I thought that was the American Dream.”

A no-idea-who-he-is self-described “former Obama guy” named Brandon Friedman responded with “If you “grew up in the projects,” then you’re not “self-made.” The “projects” are taxpayer-funded public housing. Your friends, neighbors, family members and millions of Americans you never met all worked and paid their taxes so you wouldn’t have to grow up homeless.”

Before I get into the frightening reveal that this rebuttal offers, there’s the matter of the massive freakout over Schultz, severe enough to bully him into reconsidering his run. We may conclude that they worry Schultz would split the Dem vote and get Trump re-elected (a worry that’s not necessarily supported by history), we may conclude that they fear Schultz would force the Democratic candidate to actually explain and defend some of the socialistic policies that are now the vogue, instead of simply running a “Trump sucks” campaign, or we may conclude that it would actually force the candidates vying for the nomination to cool it with the farther-left-than-thou games. Whatever the reason, the rage is real, and it’s fun to watch. Take note, in particular, of how Schultz is now being re-cast as not a Democrat, or not of the Left.

Now, onto the mind-set that produced the Brandon Friedman (I use his full name lest anyone think for a moment that the great man with whom he shares a surname had any thoughts of this nature).

It assumes that, were it not for government largesse, Schultz would have been homeless, never mind the fact that public “charity” often displaces more-efficient private charity, that the government is the chief culprit in making housing more expensive in many major cities, and that the War on Poverty has done more to keep people poor than to help them rise out of poverty. But, even if we exclude all this culpability, if we ignore libertarian Harry Browne’s observation:

The government is good at one thing. It knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, ‘See if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk,’

and grant that Schultz was indeed given a leg up by government largesse, we are witnessing an obvious re-tread of the Elizabeth Warren “you didn’t build that” declaration. It asserts that growing up in a society is, for just about everyone, a life-long (and post-death, given the Left’s love of estate taxes) indentured servitude, a permanent lien placed on the wealth someone creates during his lifetime. If the State ever did anything for you, i.e. if you ever so much as walked on a public sidewalk, you are obligated to support all that the State demands. The State’s “investment” in you is like a Mafia loan in that you can pay usurious interest and still never be considered clear, and it’s like a blackmail scheme in that it can forever after be used as leverage to demand whatever is desired.

This ignores several fundamentals.

First, if we consider things from a transactional nature, my use of a public road is paid for by the gas taxes, tolls, vehicle registration fees, and other licensing fees the State charges me. That transaction ends when I cease using the road, and resumes when I start again. If others use the road to provide me goods and services, they pay for that road and pass the cost on to me. Either way, it’s fee-for-service, not an eternal obligation to fund roads until I die.

Second, if we consider things from the angle of “investment,” then the leg-up provided by public assistance is repaid when someone climbs out of public dependence and starts creating wealth, especially when that wealth-creator becomes a millionaire or billionaire. Along the way, that wealth-creator paid taxes (probably a LOT of taxes, certainly more than his fair share given how progressive our tax code is), provided jobs to many people, provided goods and services to many people, provided working capital to the capital markets so that others could create more wealth, and contributed more than his share to the nation’s overall wealth, prosperity, and living standards. Indeed, in terms of an investment, the billionaire who rose out of public assistance has gone well beyond paying off a hoped-for rate of return. To obligate him eternally is, to repeat the comparison, the act of immoral criminals.

Third, a child cannot enter into a contractual obligation. It doesn’t matter that Schultz grew up in the projects, from an obligation standpoint. That can’t be used to assert that he owes the State recompense.

Unfortunately, for the folks who come up with this blather, all this is nuance that doesn’t carry enough weight to override their cognitive biases. It’s a simple fact that they presume any well-to-do person is a sheep to be shorn to further their agendas.

They do two things. First, they rationalize that shearing, their covetousness, and the immorality of the armed robbery they advocate (try not paying your taxes and see what happens) by fabricating an eternal indenture to the State on the part of anyone who’s succeeded economically, by giving the State credit for that success. Second, they demand that those to be shorn be happy about it, kiss the feet of the State, and support their side of the political fence, in part so that they don’t have to address the ugliness of their greed for OPM, and in part to validate and sell the idea of that greed (see! A properly grateful billionaire supports massive taxation of the rich!!).

With every passing day, the Left demonstrates that it hates others’ success. It hates that some people have made money that it can’t control or spend as it wishes. It couches that hate in high moral language about helping the poor, but when the poor it (supposedly) helped becomes not-poor, it demands endless payback.

And, with the increasingly virulent message of social justice and identity politics (they are one and the same): that no one who is of an “oppressed” identity can achieve success without the help and backing of the State, we are witnessing a multi-front effort at resurrecting Lenin’s attitude of indoctrination: “give us the child for eight years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.” In other words, teach everyone fealty to the State, and thereby make everyone beholden to the State’s whims.

Theres no positive message in any of this. There’s no reward for achievement or success. There’s only eternal servitude, to a master of endless greed and endless cruelty. This is not how a free and liberal society should work.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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