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.