published Monday, October 28th, 2013

Smith: SUBSIDY FRAUD: Plunder, when is it legal?

By Robin Smith

Last week, I followed two stories that sparked a question I'll pose to you after a few details.

On Wednesday morning, a thief entered a local bank wielding a gun, firing warning shots into the ceiling, demanding the savings of others, and ultimately wounding a bank employee while committing his crime.

The suspect, as of this writing, remains at large.

Then, up the road in Alcoa, I heard of a wheelchair-bound jewelry store owner who fought off two robbers who initially posed as interested customers, overtook him, obtained cash and attempted to leave his store.

The store owner may have had a disadvantage relative to his need of an ambulatory device, but it was his handgun that leveled the playing field.

One thief was injured and, ultimately, both criminals were arrested.

Having some windshield time from work downtown back to Hixson late Wednesday evening, this question rolled around in my rock tumbler: What makes it legal for able-bodied individuals and special interests to steal from others through government programs, but these "criminals" are sought by law enforcement to pay a debt to society?

In this space, the explosion of food stamp utilization and "disability" insurance, the subsidies of industry and the demand for more tax dollars amid shameful levels of federal debt have been discussed.

But while thieves "honest" enough to commit a blatant crime are sent through our justice system, untold numbers on our American soil spend their energy defrauding others and stealing our earnings taken in the form of taxes, all at the hands of the U.S. government.

As the rocks tumbled and became smoother in my head, I recalled the French economist and theorist, Frederic Bastiat, who wrote about free markets and vigorously opposed protectionism and subsidized efforts in several books, most notably "The Law -- the Classic Blueprint for a Free Society," given to me years back by a friend.

"The Law" has a common theme throughout: Each individual has a "right to protect his person, his liberty, and his property."

Bastiat bluntly defines "law" as "organized justice" and argues that the perversion and arbitrary application of the law results in "protectionism, socialism, and communism ... the same plant in three different stages of growth" that uses "plunder" under "pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement" to "take property from one person and give to another ... "

Plunder at the hands of an individual or group in a bank, jewelry store, credit card scam or any other concoction of fraud is illegal and the crime is punished.

Plunder is "legalized" when the agent of the transaction of taking property from one to give to another is the government.

A few notes from "The Law" to ponder without editorial comment:

"The state has no resources of its own. It has nothing, it possesses nothing that it does not take from the workers. When, then, it meddles in everything, it substitutes the deplorable and costly activity of its own agents for private activity.

"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe."

Our government has for far too long stolen from workers to engage in a false philanthropy and even greed to benefit a select group of individuals, interests, organizations or businesses.

The social engineering and malignant spending must stop. It will ... when politicians stop the assault on personal property.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.

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BigRidgePatriot said...

Great article Robin. It is important for TN lawmakers to understand that when they submit to federal government programs to obtain federal money they are participating in the process of "legal" plunder. They are just using federal mercenaries to do the stealing part for them.

The states should be fighting for their citizens freedom from federal intrusion into our lives. I have yet to meet that man or woman in the TN legislature that is willing to stand up and fight for less federal influence in TN. Everyone complains but when it comes time to make the tough decisions they whore themselves out for the federal money.

October 28, 2013 at 9:08 a.m.
conservative said...

I agree with you BRP.

Ms.Smith made many truthful points.

Our government has become much like an all you can eat restaurant where people pay a price (taxes) and then take in (demand) much more in food (programs,checks,subsidies) then they paid (were taxed) for.

Strict all you can eat restaurants invariably go bankrupt just like America.

The difference is borrowed money conceals it for now.

October 28, 2013 at 11:05 a.m.
LibDem said...

If you like it, it's legit. If I like it, it's plunder.

October 28, 2013 at 11:07 a.m.
conservative said...

If plunder were just a thought or feeling few would object.

Plunder is an action which a good citizen should oppose to say the least.

October 28, 2013 at 11:25 a.m.
soakya said...

Tell me Robin would you consider giving taxpayer money to VW, Wacker, Amazon, Alstom, Hemlock, Electrolux, and many others plundering?

I'm willing to bet you consider it justifiable plunder and not an assault on personal property. If I'm wrong please tell me so.

October 28, 2013 at 1:05 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Robin Smith, I will give your credit for one thing: you rightly refer to that space between your ears as a rock tumbler. There doesn't seem to be much actual brain matter occupying that space.

It is shameful and disgusting how the radical right today has taken taxation and safety net programs, two things that ALL civilized nations have agreed are not only beneficial but vital to their existence, and tried to make of them something akin to criminal activity. Conservatives today like to refer to taxation as "stealing" from the makers to give to the takers and safety net programs as government "handouts" that only encourage and facilitate moochers and scammers. I notice that you throw a bone to the liberals by your token mention of subsidies of industry and special interests, but it is obvious that your primary target is the "entitlement" and safety net programs like social security, food stamps, welfare, SSDI, Medicare, Medicaid… and even taxation itself.

We all know that there are those who are lazy and lack self-pride or motivation to make their own way, but the vast majority of people on those programs don’t want to depend on them any longer than they absolutely have to. There were many who were fortunate and were not personally affected by the recession that hit in ’08 but it has not gone away for the many millions of Americans who were hit hard by it. Those jobs that disappeared have not come back and are not coming back and the unemployed have been forced to pick and choose from little else but low-wage part-time jobs. Even if they are able to go back to school to get training for the hi-tech jobs there are not enough of those jobs to go around. And you rabid righties not only want to deny them a decent living wage, you want to strip down or take away altogether the only means that they have of staying afloat.

There is nothing wrong with our safety net programs. You really want to balance the budget? You are not going to do it by cutting funding there. The people who receive those funds at least put the money right back into the economy, benefiting businesses and generating more demand. The rich only invest their wealth and then pay minimal taxes on it, benefiting no one but themselves. And therein lies the essence of the problem: Tax the rich more (they are not over-taxed, they’re under-taxed!), slash wasteful military spending by at least a half-trillion dollars (not from the soldiers but from the wasteful and extravagant arms-building programs), create jobs repairing our broken and crumbling infrastructure, invest in green energy (it’s not a gamble, it WILL be our energy source for the future), remove or at least raise the $106,000 cap on social security taxes. That would be a good start. And stop making your ridiculous comparisons of thieves robbing banks and jewelry stores to government programs that help those hit by hard times. Rubbish.

October 28, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.
conservative said...


I hope someone reads all that.

October 28, 2013 at 1:54 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Sorry, con-man. I can't understand a word you are saying. All I see when you type is blah blah blah blah blah or yada yada yada yada yada. I cannot interpret the language of the brain-dead.

October 28, 2013 at 2:05 p.m.
nucanuck said...

I want to see the Robin Smith's of this world call for a WAR TAX for the twelve years of unfunded tragedy the US has unloaded on the Middle East before talking about subsistence help for those whose jobs have been destroyed by corporate outsourcing.

If we need budget cuts, let's start by defunding the NSA, the CIA, the drone programs, and the huge army of contract warriors who commit atrocities around the globe. After we have made those cuts, we can look at issues affecting those Americans who have lost their jobs.

October 28, 2013 at 5:41 p.m.
conservative said...

How much should you be taxed?

And how much should you be taxed for those 2.3 earths you say you are consuming?

October 28, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Right on, Soakya.

October 28, 2013 at 6:50 p.m.
SaraB said...

Funny. I guess the article's reference to special interests, organizations and businesses just doesn't satisfy those who are simply offended that a female thinks for herself and has the ability to offer critical thought. So, the personal attacks ensue. In communications it was taught to me to change the subject when losing the argument; just like in these comments.

October 28, 2013 at 7:19 p.m.
soakya said...

calling out hypocrisy is not changing the subject. she is criticizing plundering of taxpayer money but not the plundering she agrees with. no government has any resources that it does not take from its citizenry. government is always inefficient and should first do the things only it can do such as national defense and border protection, get this right and then we can debate the rest.

it was taught to me by the progressives to level charges of racism or sexism when losing the debate, just like you did so good job.

October 28, 2013 at 8:09 p.m.
SaraB said...

No charges of racism.Just recognize this article calls out fraud of all sorts by businesses, individuals, groups, all that benefit from the government. So, who's the hypocrite?

Let it be recorded here, you don't like the author. Maybe that's better.

October 28, 2013 at 9:06 p.m.
soakya said...

I said racism or sexism and since you didn't deny the sexism charge I will take that as your admission of guilt for the record. I don't know the author so I neither like her nor dislike her. Since we're recoding for the record you tried to change the conversation by leveling charges of sexism to quieting the legitimate criticism of the hypocrisy of the typical republican. Its old try something new.

October 28, 2013 at 11:50 p.m.
SaraB said...

No charges of anything except disagreeing with a well-written piece with only distractions as responses.

I continue to be confirmed in my belief that the far left and the far right are incapable of anything beyond anger and arguments. Thank you for being part of that confirmation.

October 29, 2013 at 8:24 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

There is no "far" left in this country. At least not nearly to the degree that there is a far right. As much as the righties like to complain that we libs are wanting a country comprised of pure socialism with government running every facet of our existence, that simply is not true. That is just one of those lies that they (the right wing)keeps perpetuating because it makes it so much easier to make the argument against us if you can convince people that we are irrational extremists. Granted, there is a small group of socialists in America who truly would like to see a purely socialist state but they are so small as not to even register on the radar screen. And there certainly is no faction of socialists in the Democratic Party. Even Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of the most admittedly liberal of Democrats, are in no way calling for a dismantlement of our capitalist system.

The vast majority of liberals are all in favor of free enterprise but we are aware of its flaws and limitations. It is a system that is easily corrupted by greed and power and it needs checks and balances. There is no "magic hand" of the free market that self-corrects itself and anyone is a complete fool to thinks that there is. We libs recognize that fact and that is why we believe in a healthy balance between government and the free market. We are not trying to usher in a purely socialist state, we are just trying to get back some of that balance we had prior to the 80s, when Regan's anti-government fever took hold of the right wing and it has been growing ever since, taking this country further and further to the right, culminating in this anti-government Tea Party madness that is current today.

If the Tea Party represents the far right, name me one group of liberal extremists among the Democrats who are as far left as the TP is far right. You cannot name such a group because it doesn't exist. I repeat...there IS no "far" left in this country, at least not one of any significance that has infiltrated the Democratic Party or the mainstream of politics.

October 29, 2013 at 11:28 a.m.
soakya said...

a common tactic of the left when losing the argument is to label the opposition as racist or sexist and if that doesn't work you declare them angry. again try something new.

I'll name you a few groups who is far left its the United States Senate and the President of the United States and MSM. And I would say you qualify Ricky as far left and a number of other posters on here. Everyone I mentioned could be chartered members of OWS.

October 29, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.
gypsylady said...

Interesting that you bring up OWS. Do you know what it stands for? Occupy Wall Street? I think they were against the corporate plundering you mentioned in a previous post. Does that mean you've got a little lefty in you?

October 29, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

A common tactic of the right wing when losing the argument is to claim that the left wing is losing the argument, even though there is nothing it indicate that we are actually losing it. Judging from the latest polls the GOTP is not looking to good in the eyes of most Americans. As for the pejorative labels that you say we libs commonly employ, point to one sentence in my post where I accused right wingers of being racist, sexist, or even angry. You cannot do so because I used no such labels. Out of touch with reality is certainly a legitimate description of right wingers today, however. The fact that you call the Senate, Obama, and the corporate-owned MSM far left shows just how out of touch you are. We have veered so far to the right for the past 30+ years that even moderate-left appears extreme to you. I repeat, no liberal is calling for a socialist state, with a dismantling of the free market. THAT is what "far" left would be. It is not extreme to merely believe that our free market system should have reasonable checks and balances.

Even OWS is not an extreme liberal front or organization. That was nothing but a grass roots movement comprised of various members of the 99% who are fed up with our oligarchic system of government and the stranglehold that corporations and the super-rich have on our country. The fact that you anti-government wing-nuts cannot see the extent of that stranglehold and how undemocratic and unjust it is only indicates how out of touch you are with what is going on.

October 29, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
moon4kat said...

So, help to poor and disabled people must be scrutinized and pounced on while corporate subsidies are allowed a pass. What about billions in farm subsidies to giant corporations? What about oil depletion allowances to giant oil companies, which are allowed to drill on federal lands and along our coastlines? If you totaled up the money subsidizing those who don't need it, you'd find far more plundered by corporate greed than by people living at poverty level.

October 30, 2013 at 8:53 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

For the most part, you are right moon4kat. All of the wealth distribution is an inappropriate role for government. Their false philanthropy is creating poverty, not solving it. We have more people on welfare now than with full time jobs.

Just curious, what are the subsidies to oil companies you seem to be referring to?

October 30, 2013 at 12:11 p.m.
conservative said...

"Subsidies, Tax Deductions are Different" May 3, 2011

"WASHINGTON, D.C. - Before you can decide if you want the federal government to subsidize energy sources, you need to understand the difference between a subsidy and a tax deduction."

"Petroleum refiners – who manufacture gasoline, diesel and other fuels – don't get subsidies. They simply get the same type of tax deductions other businesses get. This is also true for companies that produce crude oil and natural gas."

"Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines a subsidy as "a direct pecuniary aid furnished by a government to a private industrial undertaking, a charity organization or the like.""

"An example of a subsidy would be the $6 billion the U.S. government pays the corn ethanol industry each year, or the $7,500 the government pays individuals who buy an electric car."

" tax deduction is something quite different. The same dictionary defines a tax deduction as "an expenditure that is deducted from taxable income.""

October 30, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.
soakya said...

depletion is not a subsidy it is a ordinary and necessary business expense. depletion is similar to depreciation. it is just allocating the natural resource expense as the resource is extracted. not saying they don't get subsidies just depletion is not a subsidy. all subsidies for all energy needs to stop.

October 30, 2013 at 1:38 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

Robin quotes from an old French "political philosopher." A salient quote by the fellow is this: "And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing."

He also maintains the state should restrict the right to vote based upon a person's "incompetency." That is the basis of the old Jim Crow laws.

Besides the fact his first assertion above has no evidentiary support, and his voter qualification is at best fascist or elitism, it also insults the core principles of Christianity.

The interesting thing is this a "gospel of wealth" mindset: work hard, worship the Lord and you will be monetarily rich on Earth. (Bastiat says property is one of the God-given gifts.) Ironically, this is the core of Islamic thought, you enjoy the fruits of your labor as reward here on earth.

Another interesting question posed by this fellow's rambling is "what is the responsibilty of the citizen for those who are in need?"

Both Robin and Bastiat seem to think anyone who needs government help is a "plunderer," if not a Neanderthal. Ah, King Louis and Marie would be proud, let them eat cake, they said.

October 31, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

inquiringmind said... "He also maintains the state should restrict the right to vote based upon a person's "incompetency." That is the basis of the old Jim Crow laws."

Of course it should. Letting people that are taking from society vote ultimately and always results in the collapse of a democracy or representative form of government. Our founding fathers understood this. The universal "right" to vote was given to the under informed joe and jane on the street to gain an advantage in upcoming elections, not because it was good for the republic.

October 31, 2013 at 9:10 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

BigRidgePatriot perhaps you ought consider moving to move to Italy where fascism is welcome. Some of our founding fathers (sic) believed certain races were defective, as you also apparently believe. Also your understanding of American history is defective, perhaps you could take a remedial course at CSU?

November 2, 2013 at 9:58 a.m.
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