Saturday, April 7, 2007

Michael Savage's Coercive Benevolence

Today's Chronicle Herald features a fluff piece about Dartmouth Cole-Harbour MP Michael Savage, whose political philosophy is to "help people who need help and not those who don't."

Reports Sherri Borden Colley at Mr. Savage's nomination meeting:

But today, for perhaps the first time in generations, "we have a federal government who I don’t believe care about helping those who most need help," Mr. Savage said to applause.

"The budget of 2007 confirms this disgraceful lack of concern for Canada’s least fortunate."

Mr. Savage cited the exclusion of Aboriginal Canadians, low-income families, students in need and literacy groups as examples of those forgotten in the Harper government’s federal budget.

At the superficial level, Mr. Savage's rhetoric is reasonable. Helping people in need is unopposable. And it's true enough that Jim Flaherty's budget does not have boosts in funding to many "least fortunate" interest groups.

Going deeper, Liberalism's weaknesses show through. In particular, the claim of helping people in need is questionable because of how that help is funded. Liberals neglect that tax dollars are the result of coerced government actions. Give the state money or the state will put you in prison.

So while, helping people is a noble goal, helping people using the proceeds of force is not. If I gave the pan handler at the intersection $50, you would hardly commend me for being generous if it's because I threatened 50 people with jail unless they gave me $1. When the taxman does it, backed by majoritarian government decree, it doesn't make it right either. This is not to say that no taxation is justified, but it is to say helping people is not quite the description of actions that originate from oppression.

Moreover, while Liberals such as Mr. Savage decry a "disgraceful lack of concern" by the state, individual concern seems to be exempt. If the state does not meet a perceived funding gap, individuals are not precluded from meeting the shortfall. Imagine that every concerned Liberal (or New Democrat) voluntarily donated 5% of his or her income to the groups they allegedly care so much for. They could. But don't. In fact a smaller proportion of Canadians, in all our left leaning compassion, donate to charity than Americans.

Encouraging the state to rob Peter to help Paul is like cheering for totalitarianism. Keep the state out of our lives and let individuals who are interested in helping help out of their own free wills.