Help Detroiters Help Themselves: Just Say No

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I initially wrote this commentary as a blog post because I was tired of turning on the radio or TV and hearing the whining from Detroiters about other Detroiters and their potential loss of union jobs. Also, there are the incessant remarks stating “we need to retrain those unfortunate workers so they can get comparable jobs.” We. We? It’s our problem, not the problem of each unfortunate individual. We need to help them. We need to pay for their new skills and give them jobs, health care, Internet, and college. How about some gift cards for Whole Foods or LCD TVs while we’re at it? To all of the whiners I say this: feel free to spend your money as you wish, but leave my wallet out of your plans.

Actually, “help” in this case means theft. Help is voluntary. Stealing my hard-earned cash to give to others to alleviate their plight or satisfy their demands is theft. And using government laws to enable union gangbangers to control and loot is aggression.

And so I sent my commentary to LewRockwell.com to run as a full-length article.

After receiving many reader responses, a few of those emails contained a similar, mistaken theme that I think is worthy of response. When I wrote about individuals having options and making choices, a few readers assumed that I was referring to my atomistic, John Galt-type life when there was no such reference made by me. I was told I had choices and options because I was single with no kids, I had special gifts, I was a workaholic who sought solace in her job, and I chose a “single life of accomplishment.” It was assumed I live some extraordinarily oddball life in a jar and I have no family, no ordinary experiences, and few encumbrances.

I don’t understand why people think they can make personal assumptions about others, with zero information, and then draw conclusions. Indeed, a long list of itemized, personal facts and melodramatic babble is not up on a My Space page. I write about liberty, markets, people, politics, and the cultural aspects of life. My views are very accessible, but I am not appearing on Oprah, visiting with Dr. Phil, doing a TV reality show, or living a life of Sex and the City.

First off, I have been married, with stepchildren. But I struggled long before that point — and after. In addition, I find it odd to think that people often convey that being married somehow puts them at a disadvantage compared to single people. I constantly hear people talk about a voluntary partnership with a chosen mate like it is a shackle to drag around, limiting their capacity for opportunity and excellence.

On the contrary, taking on a marriage partner does not negate opportunity in life — in fact, it is the opposite. This is largely a couple’s world, and without a significant other, there’s (usually) one less paycheck; no one to pick up the clothes from the cleaners or go grocery shopping while you go to your second job; and no one to clean up the house when you need to study for exams. Single people often have it more difficult than couples, especially if they are struggling financially. That is why people tend to marry for partnership or financial reasons.

That aside, the main theme in my article was apparent: all individuals have unique abilities. Individuals make choices. They make different choices based on their available opportunities. My premise was that if your choice of a career backfires, I am not obligated to assist you in fixing your problem. My money is my property and I have earned it. Displaced workers are not owed expensive job training, a new $73/hour job, an education, lifelong health care, a replacement pension, etc. Why is it that someone who denounces theft and redistribution is considered to be cruel, cold, and unrealistic? Why is the simplest aspect of libertarianism — your freedom ends at my nose — so difficult to understand and accept?

Unions use the power of law to control, steal, and empower. This is how they enrich their constituency. Now these union creeps demand that we take care of them because they are losing their high-paid jobs. They get free education and training for new careers, and if the corporation isn’t forced to pay for it, one government program after another is ready to take care of the costs. Essentially, the government will steal from struggling couples and single people making $10/hour to fund the “retraining” of six-figure UAW members who have been riding high for years.

Also, I don’t “seek solace” in my job. I have more passions than anyone could dream up in a lifetime — the readers I speak of were reading one of my hobbies. I worked hard so that my occupation could fund my passions. I understand the difference between my occupation and my calling (Gary North has written on this). I tried to set myself up so that I could live life without having to rely on redistributionist policy — welfare, unemployment, free Internet, free health care, government job — to keep me afloat and happy. There is nothing in my column that any reader could point to that promotes a workaholic lifestyle. Since when does having the ambition to take care of you and leave others alone denote being a workaholic?

I am a learnaholic, perhaps. And I am definitely a libertyaholic. I made the choice to prepare for a time when I may have to find different employment (without having to look for some government program to bail me out). I may ditch the corporate world at some point, and then all my hard work will have really paid off. But then again, that’s just one more option I may have. As Gary North said:

I want you to understand that there is no such thing as a dead-end job. Every job can be a stepping-stone to a better job. The limitation is not the job. The limitation is the person who has the job. When you get your job, think of it as a stepping-stone to the rest of your career. Think of your career as your calling.

Hard work, self-education, the acquisition of skills, developing options — this makes us more capable of gaining independence from the state as we stray further from the reach of its tentacles.

The point is that no one is responsible for the failures, bad choices, job loss, or bad luck of anyone else unless an individual voluntarily commits to using his resources to help someone else. Our generation has been bred to believe that they deserve what others have if something somewhere makes their situation more unfortunate than that of everyone else. We are a part of the can’t-won’t-shall not-who me?-certainly not! generation. And if you think the baby boomers and their parents are bad, just hang out in any mall on a Friday night and behold Generation X.

A simple equation to show my displeasure with all of the nonsense regarding who is owed what from whom is this: Any government program = taxation = redistribution = theft = violence. Non-libertarians who consistently advocate aggression unto others so they can be the recipients of passed-down booty are violating me and everyone else they loot. So please don’t tell me that if an individual has fewer opportunities, lesser skills, or more humble gifts, he should receive redistributive justice to make up for it. Some people are going to be worker bees, while others are going to be entrepreneurs, scientists, salesmen, or skilled tradesmen. A free market system, in order to survive, needs them all because they are all necessary and valuable producers.

Ultimately, I am willing to "help" displaced autoworkers. I’d like to help the autoworkers to help themselves by exposing them to libertarian ideals. Once they have come around, they’ll understand why I offer empathy and best wishes, but not my wallet.

Karen De Coster [send her mail] is a Certified Public Accountant, has an MA in Economics, and works in finance and accounting in the securities industry. See her website and her blog.

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