Plunder: An American Way of Life


“When law [IE:gun control laws] and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”
USA – -( Frederic Bastiat, a French economist and member of the French National Assembly, lived from 1801 to 1850. He had great admiration for our country, except for our two faults — slavery and tariffs.

He said: “Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person's liberty and property.” If Bastiat were alive today, he would not have that same level of admiration. The U.S. has become what he fought against for most of his short life.

Bastiat observed that “when plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

You might ask, “What did Bastiat mean by ‘plunder'?” Plunder is when someone forcibly takes the property of another. That's private plunder. What he truly railed against was legalized plunder, and he told us how to identify it.

He said: “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

That could describe today's American laws. We enthusiastically demand that the U.S. Congress forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American.

You say: “Williams, that's insulting. It's no less than saying that we Americans support a form of slavery!” What then should we call it when two-thirds to three-quarters of a $4 trillion-plus federal budget can be described as Congress taking the property of one American and giving it to another to whom it does not belong? Where do you think Congress gets the billions upon billions of dollars for business and farmer handouts? What about the billions handed out for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing allowances and thousands of other handouts? There's no Santa Claus or tooth fairy giving Congress the money, and members of Congress are not spending their own money. The only way Congress can give one American $1 is to first take it from another American.

What if I privately took the property of one American to give to another American to help him out? I'm guessing and hoping you'd call it theft and seek to jail me. When Congress does the same thing, it's still theft. The only difference is that it's legalized theft. However, legality alone does not establish morality. Slavery was legal; was it moral? Nazi, Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal, but were they moral?

Some argue that Congress gets its authority to bypass its enumerated powers from the general welfare clause. There are a host of proofs that the Framers had no such intention.

  • James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one.”
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Our tenet ever was … that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated.”
  • Rep. William Drayton of South Carolina asked in 1828, “If Congress can determine what constitutes the general welfare and can appropriate money for its advancement, where is the limitation to carrying into execution whatever can be effected by money?”

What about our nation's future? Alexis de Tocqueville is said to have predicted, “The American republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.” We long ago began ignoring Bastiat's warning when the federal government was just a tiny fraction of gross domestic product — 3 percent, as opposed to today's 20 percent: “If you don't take care, what begins by being an exception tends to become general, to multiply itself, and to develop into a veritable system.”

Moral Americans are increasingly confronted with Bastiat's dilemma: “When law [IE:gun control laws] and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”

Walter E.Williams
Walter E. Williams

About Walter E.Williams

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. Williams is also the author of several books. Among these are The State Against Blacks, later made into a television documentary, America: A Minority Viewpoint, All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa's War Against Capitalism, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty Versus The Tyranny of Socialism, and recently his autobiography, Up From The Projects.

  • 17 thoughts on “Plunder: An American Way of Life

    1. Yeh, but it gets better, when you get to 701/2 the government gets to tell you that you have to withdraw a minimum out of you retirement fund 401 K’s or face very high penalties for not taking it out, I just got my notice from my bank, this SUCKS !!!!!!!!!!!! It is like when you go to Retire you face off with every Tom, Dick, and Harry that it is like it is coming out of their pocket and you never put a dime of your money in to get it !!!!!!!!!!!!! All they want you to do is work until you drop so they can support the scum that doesn’t want to work !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. We have allowed it to happen for so long and so deeply now, I fear it IS a system. I fear it is already too late. There is nothing that I can foresee that can possibly slow them down, much less stop it and turn it back. If we could just make them stop-now, the economy could possibly catch us up in a few decades. But more and more people like more and more free stuff. The socialist benefits everyone now receive and expect are still paid for by adults exercising capatilistic opportunity. What happens when they eventually (in the not too far distant future) kill this capitalist goose extruding all of the golden eggs? I think that’s as obvious as it is inevitable. Alas this country was truly a great experiment in liberty.

    3. New York public education……
      $21,206 per student per year
      x 12 years of school k-12
      x 87,325 annual # of abortions
      = 22.2 Billion education dollars saved every year by the New York State government sanctioning and encouraging, even worshipping child sacrifice, and committing 87,325 abortions annually.

      Yeah, that’s sick but we are still just scratching the surface. Think of all the other social services which save money by murdering hated children, Medicare, foster care, subsidized higher Ed, even penal costs to name some.

      Follow the money, find the dead bodies stacking up. The Devil pays his little dividends and we are addicted like heroin addicts. Believing people can attain worthwhile benefits by spilling the blood of their little ones, is a demonic religion, just like the human sacrifice religions of old.

      Psalms 106:37-38 (KJV) Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,
      And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

    4. The best thing that could happen for the benefit of the American people and probably the ONLY way we will ever get change,
      Would be for a 737 to crash directly into the Hart office building during a joint session of congress.

      The tree of liberty is PARCHED.

      Congress are the termites that are consuming the TREE!!!!!!!!!

      1. Listen having all 535members of Congress killed via a Tom Clancy novel plot would accomplish what? The same idiots that elect the present Congress would just turn around and elect the damn style of politician there now! Until you change the electorate you will change nothing. Chipthebarber is right . It is too late and until you have a another “civil” war with some serious vampire/zombie reduction nothing will change.

    5. Medicare is the difference between receiving medical care or none at all. I, and many like me, must see Doctors on a regular basis due to severe health issues. Speaking for myself only, I need $900+ a month in medication, and $50 for Dr. visit co-pays. These amounts would rise to well over $2,000 without the Medicare insurance. I worked and paid taxes for this benefit from the INSURANCE. It has been recently reported that approximately 62% of all Americans retire with little or no savings. Imagine how well they would do without the Medicare Insurance they paid for when they worked. No Sir, Medicare is not a handout for those who worked and paid their taxes. For those that constantly complain about anyone receiving any Gov’t help, it would serve well to remember that some of the assistance was paid for; and don’t let the door of hypocrisy kick you in the rear when you retire and sign up for an Insurance benefit that you paid for in every check for 60+ years.

      1. If it weren’t for the no questions asked amount paid by the government, private doctors would be forced to be competitive in pricing. As it is, they can charge what they want to Medicare, and get it. This simply runs up the overall cost of medical care. Get rid of the no-ceiling payouts of government health care, and watch medicine become very affordable, even for retirees.

        1. WRONG…… I was forced onto Medicare and get the quarterly billing statements.

          When the medical provider bills Medicare for, say, $1200, Medicare ONLY pays maybe $700, maybe $500. . The provider CAN come after me for the difference, but because of the class of Medicare it is, they know I’ve not no money. So, the provider sucks u the loss, and takes what Medicare give them.

          Sure wish I could pay whatever I felt like paying to my other vendors.

          Medicare do NOT pay whatever the medical providers bill. Far from it.

          What makes “medical care” so stinking expensive is the FACT that FedGov have mandated ridiculous and complex “records keeping”, demanding pages and pages of useless forms, electronic record systems that can’t talk one to another, so medical providers now spend about half of their labour costs on federally mandated paperwork that serves no real purpose other than complying with federal laws. The docs themselves (I am close personal friends with two full on MD’s) can no longer handle the caseload they used to….. why? Because of all the federal demands for records keeping and fliing. They now only have time to handle about 65 to 70% of the visits per day than they could before all this garbage, and are now spending longer days treating fewer patients, patients/insurance companies must increase costs to patients to pay for the facility treating fewer patients with the same monthly fixed costs, the extra labour to handle them per federal requrements, and THEN these docs I know go home and take two to four hours per day from their already reduced family time to take care of online charting at home in the evenings,,,, for no extra pay.

          One of them is seriously looking into quitting his group practice and opening his own clinic, perhaps a co-op of a fwe practitioners, and serving cash only patients only. come in for an office visit, crop greenbacks, write a check, or dip a chip, walk out the door we’re all one. No waiting for the insurance company or Medicare to pay when they get round to it, in the amount THEIR tables say they want to pay, no copays, deductibles, etc. He figures he’ll regain most of his lost income due to new Fed ragulations, and have more time for eithe rmore patients or his family.

          THAT is what’s wrong with the medical care industyr.

          That and the ripoff artists now known as thepharmaceutical industry, aided and abetted by our own Federal Government arm of coercion known as the FDA. WHY is it that a simple product I was recently prescribed was to cost Medicare $38, but they denied coverage (why? no one ever told me) so I was to pay out of pocket.. which I did not have. Frustrated, the pharmacist asked me to come down to the other end of the counter, where she told me “go ti aisle 17, about twenty feet in, on the right low down,look for this package. Same item, its about $12 over the counter, identical to what we have back here, same manufacturer, srtrengty alnd everything.

          Scam or what? WHY is it $12 over the counter but $38 when ,my doctor prescribes it? Racket….

          1. Brother, I am most curious to know how you were forced into receiving Medicare against your will. Insurance is no longer mandated, and your monthly premiums can be stopped if you want off the coverage. Forced or not it is at least some help.

            1. Once you reach 65 you are mandated to take Medicare. However, only Part B results in you making any payment to them. My wife has Part A and opted out of Part B because we have my Federal BCBS to cover everything else.

          2. @Tio What you are talking about consists of printed codes for each service performed by a Dr. or hospital. That has an amount attached to it and some of that is based on where you live. The drs. and hospitals always inflate the amount they put on their statements to the insurance company. The insurance company has to employ claim adjusters to oversee what codes are being used and the amounts they are able to collect. I appreciate this because the providers will try everything they can go get paid more. Every once in a while one gets collared for fraud and it usually is in the millions. Anyway that is why you are not expected to pay the difference between what medicare pays and what the drs. try to get.

      2. Like Social Security, there simply is no defending a corrupt and unsustainable system of disenfranchising the American people. Your Medicare is not responsibly paid for with the money that you paid in the past. It is hardly even paid with the stolen tax money of current workers, but with the magic money of the Federal Reserve that continually devalues the dollar and supports the irresponsible spending of our government. Just because Uncle Sam robbed you doesn’t justify the continued robbing of America’s future with inflation and taxation.

    6. Given the amount of taxes we pay here in the US, there should be plenty of money to go around. I believe the days of spending unforseen US tax dollars overseas need to end soon. Imagine what we can do with all that money we blow to benefit US citizens right here in the US? ($1.2T Afghanistan, 2017) The scariest thing the Left is entertaining is giving free handouts to non citizens and even wanting them to vote? What lunacy! We also need to Defund, Disbarr, and Discharge ALL those in government who currently knowingly violate Article VI and continue to do so in the future. We need to compartmentalize and downsize the FBI and create a branch of government that will advise and enforce the US Constitution on ALL executive actions and legislation, from the POTUS all the way down to the Locale. It should be run by veterans with no political axes to grind (including family) and a sense of service to their oath to the US Constitution, and advised by constitutional attorneys and judges from the Supreme Court. It would ensure even the Supreme Court Justices are in compliance or they get the boot. Congress, Senate, and Supreme Court, and many Governors and Presidents, have dropped the ball, it’s time for a change. Checks and balances and no taxation without representation!.

      1. I agree. We need to downsize or disband the ABC agencies and form an agency run by THE PEOPLE that enforce the constitution and bill of rights. Any government official found to be serving not the people but their own gain should face the same penalty as traitors. My second issue is big business not paying their share. It is sick that the working people of this country carry the load of everyone.

        1. James, you need to study economics. Companies do not pay taxes, you do through the cost of goods and services. Raise the taxes utilities pay 1000% and guess how much more you will pay for your electricity and gas. Any taxes paid by corporations gets figured into their cost of goods and services, which is then reflected in how much you pay for those goods and services.

    7. I remember a recent attempt to bribe the American people. Some may argue the point, but I see the Wall Street/Banks bail out as a bribe, when Obama printed off more money and gave even one a check for $250…

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