Friday, January 28, 2011

Now that is Integrity

A while back I posted on the need to be repulsed by the mere idea of improperly taking government money and my horror at a young man who claimed not to see anything wrong in stealing from the government. At its roots integrity is about the recognition of what you deserve and a loathing to receive anything other than that. The moment someone loses that moral compass of “I should not have it therefore I do not want it” it becomes possible, and even perhaps inevitable, to accept playing outside the rules

One can see baseball’s malady this past decade of star baseball players using steroids as based in this lack of integrity. Millions of dollars are at stake and players desire to extend their careers. If it means violating some rules well then it is not like they are actually hurting anyone and besides “everyone else is doing it.” This is the logic of someone who wants millions of dollars as opposed to someone who wishes to earn millions of dollars and do it in complete honesty.

So what are we to make of Royals pitcher Gil Meche who declined the $12 million of the last year of his contract because he did not feel he was playing well enough to deserve that kind of money? Legally he had every right to this money and no one would have questioned him for taking it. How many people here (me included) have that kind of integrity to not be able to bring oneself to accept millions of dollars that was not completely deserved.

As a libertarian I would add that there is a lesson here in the how and why statist regimes come to power. Contrary to what some of you might think, libertarianism is not about greed. Quite the contrary it is rooted in the moral integrity to only want what one honestly deserves. It is the statist that suffers from greed and that is how the government ensnares them. People look around and see others with more than they have. They are not criminals and would never dream of actually stealing, but still they are consumed with the desire to have that which by law they have no right to. Even worse than simple materialist greed is the jealously of wanting something not for its own sake, but precisely because someone else has it. Keep this up long enough and a person will believe that they “deserve” what the other person has regardless of any law and if the law does not come to this “correct” solution it needs to be made more “practical” to fit the “reality” of day to day life. It is at this point that the statist politician enters the picture and offers to use government to give you what belongs to someone else (this includes anything paid for with someone else’s tax dollars) in the interest of “fairness.”

The vast majority of Americans lack the integrity to not desire what they have not honestly earned and politicians from both parties eagerly cater to this moral weakness. What most people do not realize that there is a hidden price to pay. Allowing the government to take money in the interest of fairness means the government now has the right to take your money in the interest of someone else’s “fairness.” You agree to let the government give you a single penny of someone else’s money you are really signing over to the government everything you own. Every election cycle the American population happily sells itself into slavery and thanks the government for being so kind as to slap on the chains of bondage. So who here can resist the temptation to accept from the government something they have not worked for and earned? Who has the integrity to be a free man?

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