Should the U.S. Federal Government Bail Out Victims of Weather Tragedies?
March 12, 2018
Why should taxpayers provide financial relief for victims of weather or fire damage, especially when those victims chose to live in areas prone to disasters? And many of those families refused to purchase insurance to protect against such tragedies, thereby expecting the rest of us to finance their choice of location and their refusal to purchase insurance.
Practically all members of Congress and the President have been quick to help the victims with other peoples’ money. You do understand that when Congress gives away money, it isn’t theirs to give! They are giving away your money without asking your permission. That used to be called thievery.
The federal government spent billions of dollars aiding Hurricane Irma victims in Florida and Hurricane Harvey victims in eastern Texas and southeast Louisiana. Moreover, the government aided the wildfire victims in Northern California where over 8,400 homes and business were destroyed. That was followed by massive damage from mudslides.
The storm damage in various parts of America including Puerto Rico is enough to make a stone cry with all the destroyed houses, damaged homes and businesses, the cold, hunger, and general suffering. Many private individuals showed compassion toward fellow sufferers by providing clothes, blankets, water, food, and other necessities. Such kindness shows that decency is still obvious in some Americans.
However, government giveaways to help the unfortunate victims are without constitutional authorization. Let’s look at each group: No government agency has an obligation to rebuild or repair a citizen’s home or business. That is what insurance is all about. If one is so foolish to not have insurance then he should live with his decision. As to the damage of the streets and public buildings, that is the responsibility of the county, city, state, or federal government depending on what is destroyed.
When a president or governor views the destruction, he usually promises that the government will ride to the rescue with billions of dollars of help. That money does not come from the State House or the White House but from your house. Such governors and presidents are acting illegally and are giving away money that is not theirs to give.
Without any attempt to justify their “gifts,” the politicians stumble all over each other to promise that “help is on the way.” Rather than be ashamed for their illegal actions, they boast about being sensitive to the peoples’ needs. However, again, they are not giving away their own money.
Even little children know that it is stealing for anyone (including governments) to take from the haves and give to the have-nots. Do sane people really believe that it is right, by any standard, to take from hardworking taxpayers and give to others--even suffering, innocent others? Sure, it is cordial, charitable, commendable and even noble to help those in need (which people should do), but it is not legal for government to do so.
We gave personal funds to aid victims in Haiti, starving people in Africa, and sufferers in Houston but that is our choice. Our grandson (a pastor) took 14 church members from his church in New Jersey to Houston to rip out damaged floors and walls of damaged homes. That was their choice, but why would they do that or give personal funds when the government misuses its power to take our money? Even for altruistic purposes.
By what logic should taxpayers bail out banks and mortgage companies for bad business practices? After all, the feds don’t rescue a small businessman who doesn’t make it in the food business or a machine shop. The noble idea of helping a failing industry is now ingrained in the American psyche and taxpayer aid is now an obligation of government and a right of natural disaster victims!
It is easy to give away someone else’s money; however, it is wrong, evil, wicked, immoral, illegal, etc., to give it away when the owner of the money has not authorized it. While I will be accused of being un-Christian, unkind, and uncaring, I cannot be accused of being unconstitutional when I declare that public money (taxpayers') should not be used to bail out fire, flood or tornado victims! Or any other victims unless they are the victims of government. Nevertheless, politicians are always quick to dip into the pot, using “federal” money for altruistic purposes. It also helps one’s next election or legacy to point to “all I did for the poor victims.”
Many will say my position is cruel, crass, and contemptible. However, no one has convinced me that public money should be used for private bailouts, or to support AIDS victims in Africa, or victims in the U.S.! Federal politicians seem to look for opportunities at home and abroad to send in the cavalry with saddlebags full of money to rescue some needy group. Of course, hurting people certainly can’t be faulted for accepting any help they get.
The massive loss and the obscene extent of floods or fires do not justify a generous but illegal reaction. Of course, private contributions are another matter and are definitely needed.
My critics cannot stand on the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution to support these efforts. It is a misreading, misinterpretation, or mishandling of that document to suggest otherwise. Thomas Jefferson aptly said, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."
Many later presidents had the moral courage to stand foursquare on the Constitution and veto welfare benefits for private, yes, and even hurting individuals. President Cleveland (a Democrat and the only man to serve nonconsecutive terms as President) correctly said of one bill that came to his desk: “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.” In fact, he vetoed numerous unconstitutional spending measures during his presidency. Later presidents seemed to be afraid of the veto pen.
I am all for being compassionate but U.S. Presidents cannot be compassionate with my dollar. He can only do that with his own dollar. He cannot honestly and constitutionally give away money that is not his to give. He is only the President of the United States, not the CEO of a charity organization with unlimited funds. What is different in principle with the federal government giving aid to Americans ravaged by storms versus giving aid to a local businessman who was attacked and burned out by hoodlums? That local businessman will not be helped by government.
When David Crockett was a member of the U.S. Congress from Tennessee, he was asked to vote to provide a financial benefit to a widow of a distinguished naval officer. It seemed everyone was in favor of the bill; however, Crockett rose to the floor and spoke against the bill! He said, “We must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living.” He pointed out that every member of the House knew there was no constitutional authority to give public money to private individuals. The bill was defeated.
He ended his speech by saying that he was the poorest man in the House but he would be willing to give a week’s salary to the widow and if every member did the same, the amount of money would be more than the bill would have provided. Not another member of the House agreed to give anything to the widow! It seems hypocrisy was a common requirement for political office then, as now.
It is easy to give away money that belongs to others; but, Mr. Trump must realize that the money isn’t his to give and Congress has no right (power--yes, but authority--no) to give a dollar to victims of any disaster unless the federal government directly caused the disaster.
Any government official who votes for give-away largess should be horsewhipped on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives; ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis, wrote columns for USA Today for eight years; authored 15 books, which can be purchased below, and hundreds of columns and articles for Internet and print media publications; defended his beliefs on hundreds of talk shows. www.cstnews.com, www.Muslimfact.com, www.thegodhaters.com.
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