Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Michele Bachmann and Conservative Hypocrites taking Government Handouts.

Last night liberal broadcaster Lawrence O'Donnell took Michele Bachmann to task accusing her of hypocrisy for preaching a message of anti-socialism and free markets yet at the same time accepting a quarter-million dollar agriculture subsidy for her family farm. Is that criticism justified?  Does it make her a hypocrite?  I don't know but I am bothered by it.

I like Michelle Backmann but think her anti-government, pro free-market message would ring more true if she were not taking a government hand-out. Our own Rep. Stephen Fincher, a tea party favorite,  from 1995 to 2009 received over $3.3 million in farm subsidies. How devoted is he to curtailing the reach of government? Would he support policies that would end that subsidy?

If one accepts a government hand-out does that mean you give up your right to criticize the government and have an opinion on economic policy? A relative of mine criticized me for my opposition to Obamacare pointing out that I had good insurance through the Metro government due to my former service in the Metro Council, as if that made me a hypocrite for opposing Obamacare.  If one used government subsidized student loans to go to college, or takes the home interest deduction on their income tax, or draws a social security check, does that mean they give up the right to express an opinion on government fiscal and economic policy? I don't think so.

The danger in an expansive government is that when people do get on the dole, they are less likely to criticize the welfare state of which they are now a part and once they start receiving benefits they fear losing them. The welfare state can turn almost everyone into an advocate for a larger and larger public sector.

We all have to work in the environment that exist. If one is entitled to a handout, they should not be criticized for taking it. A person who qualifies for food stamps is doing nothing immoral by getting food stamps. It is the system that makes food stamps available to so many people that is at fought, not the individuals legitimately qualifying for the assistance. It is the policy that makes $3.3 million available to Stephen Fincher that is at fought, not Stephen Fincher accepting the subsidy.

Nevertheless, I think people who have benefited to the extend of Bachmann and Ficher need to explain themselves. They need to reassure us who believe in less government that despite personally benefiting from agriculture subsidies that they are committed to reform that would vote to end those subsidies.

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1 comment:

  1. Is it immoral to take government handouts while opposing them? No. Is it hypocritical? Yes. Being immoral and being hypocritical are not the same. The thing about being a hypocrite though is that people are less inclined to take you seriously.