Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Producers vs. Plunderers

This past weekend there was an article in the Grand Rapids Press about the benefits that Grand Rapids City Commissioners receive. We weren't even aware that Commissioners got both health care and pension benefits for their one day a week job.

It seems as though five Commissioners participate in the City's health care plan, though four of them make a voluntary contribution (James Jendrasiak pays nothing). The health care plan costs the city (consequently, us) $11,000 a year.

In addition, Commissioners receive pension benefits. Again, for a one day a week job.

One is reminded of the work of the great 19th century French economist, Frederic Bastiat. In his short treatise, entitled The Law, he separates people into two classes, those who produce something valuable and those who use the law to plunder the producers:

Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly.

Remember this the next time the City Commission complains more about how they need to raise taxes.

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