Thousands of years of civilizations (of all kinds) have demonstrated that there are certain foundations that a society must have in order for humans to thrive and prosper in general. Human life must be valued. Property rights must be respected. The nuclear family — father, mother and children — must be protected. People should, for the most part, keep their promises, including paying their debts. Laws and the judicial system must respect these structures, enforce them and protect them.
America is dismantling the foundations of our society as fast as our complacent politicians can find ways to do it, and if we continue, we will be collapse.
One of the most common and pernicious justifications for our unraveling is a distorted definition of “compassion,” and the evidence of the damage this causes is everywhere.
The exploding homeless populations in our cities are a perfect example. Michael Shellenberger, a former Democratic activist turned best-selling author (and recent candidate for governor of California), has written extensively about the mistakes his state made that turned a problem into a crisis. Virtually all of them are classic examples of “misguided compassion”: arguments that poverty is a “social construct”; eliminate involuntary confinement and compulsory treatment for the seriously mentally ill; creating “injection zones” where drug users can inject “safely” (Governor Gavin Newsom just vetoed the legislation this week); insisting on luxury housing for the homeless instead of safe and basic housing.
The list is long and California is suffering terribly. Los Angeles County’s homeless population now numbers in the tens of thousands, with Third World diseases rampant in areas where homeless people camp. San Francisco has become infamous for its used needles and piles of human excrement in the streets. It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that letting people live, sleep, poop, shoot, convulse, and die on the streets is not “compassionate.” Nor is it normal that Californians have to endure this in the cities where they live and work.
Proposition 47, a law passed in 2020 that reduced theft under $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor, is another of California’s misguided “compassionate” efforts. In practice (given the volume of cases prosecutors’ offices have to deal with), this has turned into a license to steal. Thieves commit smash-and-grab crimes with impunity knowing they will never even be identified, let alone prosecuted. Worse still, they can steal $950 from store after store after store (amounts are not aggregated), and “flash mobs” of thieves are routinely caught on video. Each individual thief is effectively “free” to steal nearly $1,000 in inventory.
The results have been catastrophic for the owners, who can neither arrest the thieves themselves nor rely on law enforcement. Citizens who own stolen businesses are helpless and furious at what has been described as “rogue work”; voters were told that savings from reduced sentences would be transferred to mental illness and addiction treatment.
You would think that other states would learn from California’s woes. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Oregon decriminalized drug use in 2020. Encampments of homeless people and drug addicts — many of whom also have serious mental illnesses — have sprung up in some of Portland’s most popular neighborhoods, driving down the value properties. The townspeople are angry with dirt, crime and disease.
In 2019, New York eliminated cash bail for most crimes. Activists who have lobbied for changes to the laws defend it, saying bail “penalizes poverty”. But those now penalized are the innocent victims of criminals who are back on the streets within hours of their arrest – and in a number of high-profile cases, committing crimes again.
Now President Joe Biden has stepped in by issuing an executive order “forgiving” $10,000 in debt to people who took out student loans. This, too, is being sold to Americans as a “compassionate” response to those in debt.
One question is whether the president has the constitutional power to change contracts by executive order. (I maintain that he does not.) But it’s not just about the president unilaterally changing the terms of loan agreements between lender and borrower; Biden’s action would transfer repayment obligations to people who never signed those contracts. Because it’s not that the $10,000 won’t be refunded. Instead, these sums will now be reimbursed by taxpayers. Given that only about a third of Americans attend college, this means that the bulk of the taxes paying off these loans will fall on Americans who, on average, earn significantly less than the people who took out the loans.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a proponent of this form of student loan ‘forgiveness’, was confronted two years ago by an angry voter who said he had saved up money to pay for college. his daughter and asked if he would receive his money. return. “Of course not,” Warren snorted.
“So,” he retorted, “you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save money and those of us who did well got screwed?”
It’s a precise – if down to earth – way of summarizing. No one has forced anyone to take on student debt. But the government will now force others to pay these obligations. Even those who have borrowed money to pay for their education and repay their own debts will be forced to repay those of others.
When politicians use the word “compassion” to describe their policies, chances are those who need real help won’t get it. And everyone – except the politicians, of course – gets screwed.
To learn more about Laura Hollis and read articles by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: fancycrave1 on Pixabay