Government bureaucrat: Beauty of taxes is citizens don’t decide how they’re spent

Victor Joecks

A short quotation, from Malcolm Ahlo of the Tobacco Control Program at the Southern Nevada Health District, that’s a perfect encapsulation of what’s wrong with government in general and many bureaucrats in particular:

“The beauty of our taxes is you [taxpayers] don’t decide how they are spent,” Ahlo said. “Someone might say ‘I don’t want my tax money to pay for welfare or go to the war because I don’t agree with it,’ but you can’t decide that.”

That’s right, taxpayers – your only job is to pony up your dough, so bureaucrats like Ahlo can decide how it’s spent – and how they’re spending it in this case is unbelievably wasteful.

All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others. At least that’s what some government bureaucrats want you to believe.

Has Ahlo never heard of elections? Or is he so used to avoiding accountability that he considers this is an acceptable attitude to have?

Once again, let’s turn to the brilliance of Fredric Bastiat in The Law for a spectacular takedown of this vanity.

Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. This is so true that, if by chance, the socialists have any doubts about the success of these combinations, they will demand that a small portion of mankind be set aside to experiment upon. The popular idea of trying all systems is well known. And one socialist leader has been known seriously to demand that the Constituent Assembly give him a small district with all its inhabitants, to try his experiments upon.

In the same manner, an inventor makes a model before he constructs the full-sized machine; the chemist wastes some chemicals — the farmer wastes some seeds and land — to try out an idea.

But what a difference there is between the gardener and his trees, between the inventor and his machine, between the chemist and his elements, between the farmer and his seeds! And in all sincerity, the socialist thinks that there is the same difference between him and mankind!

It is no wonder that the writers of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial creation of the legislator’s genius. This idea — the fruit of classical education — has taken possession of all the intellectuals and famous writers of our country. To these intellectuals and writers, the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.

Moreover, even where they have consented to recognize a principle of action in the heart of man — and a principle of discernment in man’s intellect — they have considered these gifts from God to be fatal gifts. They have thought that persons, under the impulse of these two gifts, would fatally tend to ruin themselves. They assume that if the legislators left persons free to follow their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion, ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production and exchange.

The Socialists Despise Mankind

According to these writers, it is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men — governors and legislators — the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue. Since they have decided that this is the true state of affairs, they then demand the use of force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human race.

Open at random any book on philosophy, politics, or history, and you will probably see how deeply rooted in our country is this idea — the child of classical studies, the mother of socialism. In all of them, you will probably find this idea that mankind is merely inert matter, receiving life, organization, morality, and prosperity from the power of the state. And even worse, it will be stated that mankind tends toward degeneration, and is stopped from this downward course only by the mysterious hand of the legislator. Conventional classical thought everywhere says that behind passive society there is a concealed power called law or legislator (or called by some other terminology that designates some unnamed person or persons of undisputed influence and authority) which moves, controls, benefits, and improves mankind. …

Oh, sublime writers! Please remember sometimes that this clay, this sand, and this manure which you so arbitrarily dispose of, are men! They are your equals! They are intelligent and free human beings like yourselves! As you have, they too have received from God the faculty to observe, to plan ahead, to think, and to judge for themselves! [Emphasis added]

Grantlandesque footnotes:

1. Ahlo’s quote is just the tip of the iceberg. The whole article will get your blood boiling and provide a concrete example of how there’s a lot of waste to cut in government.

2. If Ahlo had said that the beauty of our democratic republic form of government is that it’s not a direct democracy and public opinion doesn’t immediately change the actions of elected officials, that would have been fine. Not having a direct democracy is a very good thing.

But that doesn’t mean that taxpayers don’t have the ultimate voice or that they have conceded control over their tax dollars to bureaucrats like Ahlo. If Nevada legislators or Clark County commissioners are looking for wasteful spending to cut, Alho and his Tobacco Control Program at the Southern Nevada Health District would be a logical place to start.