I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
All for one, one for all!
I work hard for what I have and
I will share it with who I want to. Government
cannot force me to be charitable.
Like the last, this principle is designed to communicate on multiple levels.
The completely brainwashed contingent of his readership will take it on face value, agree with it, and admire Beck for putting their deepest feelings into words.
"Government," they will agree, "has no business spending my tax dollars on charity."
But the William F. Buckley conservatives, who are capable of rational thought and a bit of nuance, will immediately notice two things:
First, they will see that, even taken at face value, this principle is an attack on the Bush administration's famous Faith-based Initiatives, which channeled tax-payer money to religious charities.
Given Beck's support of the separation of church and state in principle number two, these more thoughtful readers will understand that the attack above is certainly intentional on Beck's part.
But the nuance doesn't stop there.
Any reader with the least sensitivity to language will also notice that the entire phrasing of the principle is a parody of the most selfish and truculent of attitudes.
"I'v got mine, and you can't make me do anything loving or generous with it!"
Having noticed that, his intelligent readers will be forced to ask what the brainwashed contingent actually admire about this principle—what, exactly, does it mean to them.
The answer, of course, is that the subtext isn't about government money going to churches, but about any government program which helps those in need.
Once this point becomes clear, two other points become clear as well:
Those who can approve of this principle, on face value, don't understand that a democratic government such as ours is precisely not an authority figure, looming over us like a king, but instead a set of structures through which we, the people, act.
The "government" is us—the people, acting together to make this country better for all of us. Sometimes some of us don't agree with the majority, and have to simply go along, but there isn't some alien entity out there, calling the shots.
It's us: you and me and our neighbors, trying to figure out how to make this society work in the best way for all concerned—how to, as our Constitution says, "promote the general welfare".
They also don't understand that programs to aid the poor don't just aid the poor.
They help all of us—as all government programs do.
We pay for roads with my tax dollars which I will never drive on, but which still benefit me because a national system of transportation helps everyone.
We pay for a fire station near my house, which I may never personally use, but which puts out that fire two blocks away. By doing that, it makes it more likely that I will never need it myself.
We pay for health care for poor people to give them and their children a hand, but also to help stop the spread of disease, and to strengthen the family and the fabric of our society.
We offer support to Americans who are down on their luck, not only because we may need that same support sometime, and because we care about our fellow Americans, but because it keeps their families from falling apart, helps them to get back to contributing quicker, and helps to make this the kind of country we want to live in.
We offer programs to end poverty and disease, because we care about poor Americans, but also because those programs cut crime rates and homelessness and drug abuse and mental illness and a thousand other things that we don't want to live with.
Beck is pointing out that these programs are not just charity, they are also some of the ways that we, the people, assure that the society our children grow up in is a healthy environment with less crime, less drug use, and less illness, populated by healthy families.
He's arguing that "every man for himself" is a motto of desperation, not hope, and that those who shout it simply don't understand how dependent all Americans are on each other.
And, between the lines, he's pointing out that perhaps a little charity—in either sense of the word—wouldn't be such a bad thing, either.
Next time, principle #8—It is not un-American for me
to disagree with authority or to share
my personal opinion.