Freedom From Government

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President
Obama signed an executive order last week continuing the faith-based
initiatives program created by former President Bush. When the program
was created, I warned that giving taxpayer money to private religious
organizations would eventually lead to political control and manipulation
of them. This week has provided some evidence that this was a justified
concern.

The logic behind
funding faith-based initiatives seemed reasonable to some. Private
organizations are much more effective in charitable endeavors than
government programs and bureaucracies. Therefore, why not “outsource”
some of the government’s welfare-state activities to these
worthy organizations? This appealed to many conservatives, especially
after the follow-up executive order exempting recipients from discriminatory
hiring laws, which assured many that taking federal funds would
not jeopardize their control over their own operations. But beware
the government program started under an administration you like,
for it may look a lot different under the one you don’t. Exemptions
that Bush gave, Obama can take away.

But now, dependencies
on federal money have been set, operations have been expanded accordingly,
and many charities are waiting breathlessly for the administration
to tell them what new conditions they will have to meet. With the
stroke of a pen, religious charities might not be able to take into
consideration a job applicant’s faith, sexual orientation or
lifestyle if they wish to remain eligible for that taxpayer money
that was so enticing a few years ago. Similarly, if FOCA (Freedom
of Choice Act) is passed, will Catholic Church hospitals be forced
to offer abortion services to retain their federal funding? Can
they remain solvent without it?

This is the
major problem with basing a private business model on the receipt
of government funds. This money does not come without control, or
the future possibility of control. We are seeing parallel control
grabs in industries that have recently been the recipients of taxpayer
largess. Government officials are now discussing executive compensation
on Wall Street, banking, and in the auto industry. How much is too
much to pay someone? When is a bonus deserved? But because politicians
have bought their way into these industries, these are now political
decisions. It is easy to utilize class envy to whip up public support
for these interventions, but government always slides down the slippery
slope. Politicians are also discussing other aspects of these businesses
in which they are not expert, such as, what should lending standards
be? What sort of cars should we direct the auto industry to make?
Once government money infiltrates a balance sheet, “taxpayers”
meaning “politicians” have a say in how you operate.

Money is the
Trojan horse that government uses to infiltrate and infect organizations.
Funding that, on the outset, is designed to strengthen and support,
will bureaucratize and regulate in the end. It is sad to see charities
now having reason to focus on lobbying, regulatory compliance and
paper pushing to get and retain money taken by force, rather than
beefing up private, voluntary fundraising activities. Those tempted
to join Washington’s ongoing bailout bonanza should instead
take the famed advice of former First Lady Nancy Reagan on the acceptance
of harmful and addictive substances and “Just Say No”
to government money. This is the best protection from government
control.

See
the Ron Paul File

February
10, 2009

Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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Paul Archives

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