By Joanna Francisco
“There are people who think that
plunder loses all its immorality assoon as it becomes legal. Personally, Icannot imagine a more alarming
Why is it that actions that are illegal anduniversally accepted as immoral suddenly, as if bymagic, regarded as both moral and legal by manyof our fellow citizens when performed by peopleacting in some official role under the banner of government? Why is plunder illegal for some, butlegal and acceptable for others?And what is legal plunder?
But how is this legal plunder to be identified?Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another bydoing what the citizen himself cannot do withoutcommitting a crime.Then abolish this law without delay, for it is notonly an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such alaw -- which may be an isolated case -- is notabolished immediately, it will spread, multiply,and develop into a system. The person who profitsfrom this law will complain bitterly, defending hisacquired rights. He will claim that the state isobligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spendmore and to pay higher wages to the poor
Acceptance of this argument has indeed led to asystem of legalized plunder that we really shouldreject if we are to be the moral people John Adams
spoke of when he said that “our
Constitution was made only for a moral and
religious people”. Last time I checked, it was
still immoral and sinful to steal from others.Suppose my neighbor is hungry. Of course it is amoral act to feed him. But suppose I came to youand stole money from your wallet and used thatmoney to feed my neighbor.Do the ends (feeding my neighbor) justify themeans (theft)? If you were the one from whom Istole, you would no doubt consider my actionsimmoral, illegal, maybe even evil. You wouldrightly feel violated, aggressed upon.But what if I was able to convince enough peopleto pressure enough legislators to pass a law thatthen made it legal for me to come to you, robyou, and redistribute your property to benefitsomeone in need? By the magic of government,does an immoral act suddenly become moral,legitimate, virtuous?Those darned welfare recipients.
Wait a minute. The welfare recipients aren’t the
ones in the legislature passing laws that legalize
redistributive theft. They aren’t employed in
cushy taxpayer funded positions within agencies
that carry out the act of theft. They aren’t the
ones who will come and arrest you if you refuseto pay up. Now suppose there is an industry or a particular corporation that, for whatever reason, finds favor with those in key policymaking positions ingovernment. Perhaps it employs lobbyists whowere former legislators. Imagine if legislationcould be written that would protect suchcorporation or industry from the risks associatedwith the free market. Suppose regulations andlegislation could be fashioned in such a way thatwould limit competition, or even impede new businesses from entering into the market in thefirst place.