Russell Madden
Russell Madden

The Compassion Con

The latest buzzword in Washington, D.C., is "compassion." The members of one party claim to be the sole champions of it. Members of the opposition lament their perceived lack of compassion and seek to graft it to their self-description.

As generally used by the politicos, compassion is exhibited whenever a person or group seeks to improve the lot of the poor or of minorities, especially if this can be accomplished while simultaneously sticking it to the rich or those enjoying "privileged" power status. It is enlightening, however, to see just how well the rhetoric matches the reality of the "politics of compassion."

Government "compassion" stifles the dreams, initiative, and creativity of poor entrepreneurs who seek to lift themselves to higher levels. Whether attempting to run door-to-door jitneys, braiding hair, or opening a home bakery, regulations, mandatory licensing, and reams of paperwork discourage many would-be business owners. Or these "compassionate" policies make them subject to jail when they refuse to knuckle under and proceed regardless of the obstacles strewn in their way. Street venders are banned from the sidewalks of New York City. "Compassionate" minimum wage laws contribute to the high unemployment of the least skilled and poorest of our young people.

The Drug War strikes at the heart of the poorest, most destitute neighborhoods. Innocent people, both young and old, die or are murdered from a combination of lawlessness, impure drugs, and hopelessness. The government-induced high profit margins for drugs seduces these jobless individuals into a career promising short life spans. Simultaneously, they are led away from more legitimate and productive — and lower paying — opportunities.

Along with the Drug War comes the "compassion" of racial profiling by law enforcement, the disproportionate number of minorities imprisoned for drug crimes, and the asset forfeiture of money and property from innocent people. Often these are the very individuals who cannot afford the price in time or money of lengthy legal battles to regain the property stolen from them. DARE programs encourage children to spy on and rat out parents, relatives, or friends who might be using or selling drugs to bring in a little extra spending money. Keeping medical marijuana illegal also demonstrates the nature of governmental "compassion" for patients suffering from glaucoma, cancer treatments, or terminal illnesses.

Making other consensual activities such as prostitution and gambling criminal offenses "compassionately" sends to jail those desperate for escape who see no better avenue for gaining wealth. This illegality also makes such chosen professions less safe for the practitioners when they cannot go to the authorities when cheated, robbed, or beaten.

For eager, illegal immigrants willing to do the most menial and back-breaking work or trying to escape totalitarian regimes, our "compassionate" government offers barbed wire, concentration camps, and death or imprisonment when they are deported back to their homelands.

In order to protect the sectors of the country with the lowest per capita income, our "compassionate" leaders promulgate lies about the environment with attendant regulations and costs, prevent needed and welcomed businesses from locating in poor areas by "compassionately" opposing supposed "environmental injustice," and depriving elderly couples of modest means from using land they set aside for their retirement.

With their concern for "compassion," the politicians have mandated the kinds of coverage and policies insurance companies may issue and have thus priced insurance beyond the means of more and more people, made it harder for some with preexisting conditions to gain initial coverage, and driven up costs for everyone, rich or poor. Through Medicare and Medicaid, they have also increased medical expenses, reduced freedom of choice, and made millions of poor people utterly dependent on the velvet glove of Uncle Sam.

The "compassion" for widows, orphans, and disabled people which found expression in Social Security now prevents the poor from accumulating wealth for retirement and forces many to work at menial jobs well past age sixty-five. Similar "compassion" created our massive welfare bureaucracy and has kept millions of people on a treadmill to nowhere. Inflation and fiat money also increase this "compassion" by eroding the savings of individuals who attempt to be frugal and self-responsible.

"Compassionate" lawsuits against tobacco companies make poor people pay more for their smoking and lower their lifestyles while simultaneously denying them any moral autonomy for their actions. Similar lawsuits against gun manufacturers combined with vicious gun control laws and jihads against inexpensive weapons make it harder or impossible for the poor — and especially poor women — legally to defend themselves against robbers and rapists in the most dangerous neighborhoods in America.

Seat belt and air bag laws implemented with the best of "compassionate" intent despite the objections and warnings of auto manufacturers kill infants, little children, and small-framed women. Recently, the state will now (perhaps) "compassionately" grant you permission (at greater expense) to disarm air bags set to explosively deploy according to government-crafted standards.

Government education at the grade or high school levels "compassionately" denies children their choice of the best schools, forces them to endure state-approved brainwashing, wastes their parents' money, steals wealth from those who have no children, robs parents of control of their children's upbringing and socialization, and leaves more and more children uneducated and ill prepared to deal with an increasingly complex society. "Compassionate" educators also subject grade school children to strip searches, ransack lockers and encourage police-conducted drug sweeps, and expel children from school for bringing toy soldiers or aspirin to class...while drugging expanding numbers of normally rambunctious youngsters with Ritalin.

In order to protect "average folks" from the evil drug companies, the "compassionate" Federal Drug Administration drives up the cost of drug research, condemns hundreds of thousands of sick people to premature deaths by delaying or denying approval of needed drugs or medical devices, and treats adults as helpless children by making medical decisions for them.

On the other hand, our "compassionate" government engages in secret medical testing on poor black men and other individuals without their consent or knowledge.

"Compassionately" concerned with our safety, the state increasingly invades our privacy with cameras, wiretaps, and national databases while "compassionately" requiring V-chips for our televisions and censoring the Internet to save us from watching or reading what the politicians condescendingly believe will harm us.

Soon we will all enjoy the "compassion" of government-mandated and issued universal identification numbers and cards without which none of us will be able to obtain a job, seek medical service, or travel about the country ...

Perhaps we Americans have endured all the "compassion" we can stand. If our governmental leaders want to demonstrate their compassion for the citizens of this country, they can break the chains binding us to their will, recognize our full and complete freedom as autonomous adults, and leave compassion where it belongs: with our friends, neighbors, and relatives.

Perhaps it is about time for the politicians to practise true compassion and ... leave ... us ... alone!!

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