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Karen asks, What does it mean when the robbers in Washington say we’ll be “paid back?”

My history teacher at Notre Dame 45 years ago didn’t know much about economics (or history either, for that matter. Or teaching But I digress.) “We owe it to ourselves,” he would endlessly prate, all the way through the 1930s until the end of the semester.

Karen hits it on the head. Just like “mandatory government charity,” a “forced investment” is theft. The government has corrupted charity (and many clueless men of goodwill, alas) with the first, and the free market with the second.

Lincoln lets them get away with the ruse with his magical formula (which Mel Bradford addresses at length in his exchanges with Lincolnista Harry Jaffa)– a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Eric Voegelin points out that there are three different senses of “people” in that formula, a little-noticed detail which has allowed bamboozlers of every generation since to plague our lives, families, and communities in the name of ourselves. That formula and its spawn accounts for the tares that have been sown among the wheat of our freedoms, and where Rousseau displaced Madison in our national self-understanding.

By the way, the notion of “government charity” — mandatory — is patently ideological on its face (as in “The Ministry of Truth,” or “Down is Up.”) Yet my own Catholic Church national hierarchy and bureaucracy has drunk the Kool-Aid, and so it celebrates higher taxes and greater socialism in the name of the “common good” — and gets billions of taxpayer money, seized from us at the point of a gun, for its “charities.”

Frankly, I don’t think things will go very well at the Last Judgment if the only thing we can say on our own behalf is that we rendered unto Caesar.

7:31 am on October 5, 2008