Either people are remarkably ignorant of how government works, or they’re remarkably disingenuous and deceitful. The frequent charge thrown at any candidate running for office who makes campaign promises to provide services, is that they’re giving away “free stuff” to win votes. Bernie Sanders is the latest target of these falsehoods by conservative pundits and the average American who listens to them.
There is no free anything. Anyone who paid a bit of attention during their education, have ever read anything or has ever tried to run a family budget knows this. What’s at stake here is how the government will allocate the tax dollars they collect, and who will receive the benefit of the spending. If Bernie Sanders believes college education should be tuition free for students at public universities, he means exactly that. The same way students go to K-12 tuition free today. Why is no one arguing that 5th graders are getting free stuff? There’s a long list of things Americans use every day that they don’t directly pay for. We’re on the receiving end of government spending that benefits us, but it isn’t, and never was, free.
Every time you get in your car and pop on the GPS to give you lovely turn-by-turn voice commands to grandma’s, you’re using satellites placed into orbit by the US Air Force. Unless you’re writing a check to the Air Force when you crank up the Garmin, you’re using those satellites “for free.” That road you’re driving on, you’re using for free. The traffic lights keeping you from crashing into your neighbor at the intersection were installed, and are maintained, without a payment from you. Conservatives should be outraged every time they walk out the door because they’re entering a Free Stuff Zone.
The US government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is our founding principle that we will, together as a nation of individuals, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. We’ve chosen as citizens of this country, to band together to do these things. We voluntarily agree to pay for the armed forces, for social security, Medicare and Medicaid, public elementary, middle and high schools for our children, and so on, and so forth. The Medicare Prescription Drug Act, created and passed by Republicans in the US House of Representatives, and then passed by the Republican controlled Senate and signed by “conservative” Republican President George W. Bush was a massive federal-government program to subsidize the costs of prescription drugs and prescription drug insurance premiums for Medicare beneficiaries. Oh the horror! Conservatives giving “free stuff” to senior citizens! Where is the public outcry?
GOP favorite Donald Trump, who inexplicably continues to lead the early polls for the GOP nomination for President has proposed to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. This wall would cost tens of billions of dollars. Conservatives opposed to “free stuff” should be up in arms as every citizen opposed to immigration from Mexico–legal or illegal– is getting a free wall. As I stated at the outset, the “free stuff” crowd is either remarkably ignorant or they’re misleading, deceitful, and disingenuous.
What we do as a nation of people attempting to govern ourselves as a society is to determine what things we will do collectively as a nation to defend ourselves and to promote the general welfare. We use the power of taxation to get the funds to do this. There’s nothing free at all. The real thorn in the conservatives’ side is that people other than themselves benefit from their tax dollars. Well that’s a damn shame, but it’s part of being an American citizen. We choose to promote the general welfare, which means to ” further the progress of something, especially a cause, venture, or aim; and to support or actively encourage” it. If a person doesn’t want their tax dollars subsidizing public school for someone else’s kids, they should leave the country, because that’s a very American thing to do. Just like subsidizing prescriptions for old folks on Medicare.
Anyone who wants to live without government involvement in their welfare or the welfare of their neighbors can put their money with their mouth is and move to one of these fine nations with very little government; lovely places where a conservative can set up camp and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps without concern that the government is going to try to make their lives better in any way at all.
- The Western Sahara
Or my personal favorite, a pirate ship in International Waters. So put up or shut up you ignorant, selfish, duplicitous, un-American, blowhards.