Free Money Fairytales (part one)
Once upon a time in a magical land much like ours…oh wait, it IS ours… (I get so confused.) We were expected to suspend reality and believe that Free Money grew on trees or magically appeared in county, state and federal offices somewhere far, far away where it was raked into overflowing piles known as the government “stash”.
Folks had heard about the stash and thought it sounded delightful, but they were skeptical about getting something for “nothing”, having been rooted in the American tradition of hard work and self-reliance. Telling them that you were going to “give” them something for free would never go over unless you could first create a need or encourage an atmosphere of entitlement or stir in them a sense of excitement for something new. Or you could just change the name. Of course, it would help if you dressed it up as “improvement” and called it by a magnanimous name and topped it with a really big dash of “smarts” and a full measure of authority to make it palatable.
Let’s think. What would work? Hmmmm… [chin in hand] What could we call it? [fingers tapping] Wait…I’ve got it. We’ll call it a Grant. Yes, a Grant sounds like a gift, and a gift implies the goodness of a benevolent heart. Like from a Fairy Godmother or something. Who wouldn’t go for that? Better yet, we’d do it in the name of the children (education) or jobs (the down and out) or the underprivileged (Yes! That’s it, our town could become part of an Urban Entitlement County!) A fantastic idea. Sold.
The word “Grant” would definitely work. It implies something solid being bestowed out of a kind heart in the name of a stately influence; yet it purrs in our ears like a basket of kitties on Christmas morning. No one will be the wiser, at least not for a very long time and by then it’ll be too late for them to change what they have set into place. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?) Come on, everyone just keep smiling; play along! Yes, the people will believe in the free money fairytale and go along willingly just as long as we always remember to call it by its pen name. So, henceforth and forever more we will it call it “Grant”, or better yet, it’s full name, Grant Project. Oooh, how practical. I like it.
Whereby citizens are duped. Their money is whisked away through taxes and placed into the government “stash”. Later the government’s other hand dips back into that seemingly “magic well” and hands some back for a designated project, compassionately “bestowing” it upon the town as “free money!”… “just to help”, of course… after all, they do know what’s best.
The people cheer, mesmerized by the pretty flowers lining their streets and smile broadly at how they got something for nothing, thinking to themselves… “Isn’t it wonderful, and I didn’t have to lift a finger… and did I mention it was freeee…. Yipee! Just a generous gift from a kind and caring government.” Out of gratitude for such a caring government, and with a belief that someone sure is working awfully hard to make their town nice, the people proceed to vote the caring, smart, generous government back into power for perpetuity. Hip, hip, hooray!
Oh, please, pay no attention to the clank of those chains they’re placing on your wrists or the discomfort of the shackles on your ankles. Those are the extras that come with the gift. Not to worry, it’s nothing more than a necessary footnote to the deed. You would be a simpleton or a cold, heartless “so and so” to deny your town (more likely the CRA) the “free money blessings” of a big government fairy godmother. Have you no shame?
But what does that footnote say? What is that odd jargon in the instructions? “Oh, those are merely a few “insignificant” stipulations; don’t you worry your pretty little head about those. Run along. Yes, the print IS very small. Don’t worry, no, really, don’t worry, we’ll read all that nonsense for you. You wouldn’t understand anyway. Shoo, now. We know what we are doing. We are the government, and after all, we are just here to help.”
“And if you don’t accept this gift today, you’ll lose out on this one-time-only, oh, so beneficial opportunity. You musn’t miss it! No sireee. Only a fool or an ingrate would question such an opportunity. Are you an ingrate? You aren’t a simpleton, are you? That’s right. I didn’t think so.”
So, it’s okay? A small trade off, right? We’ll eventually get used to the weight and the cumbrance of one stipulation at a time, one control after one regulation and one entanglement after one concession, won’t we? Because after all, the lights will shine brightly and the flowers will bloom, and that makes everything all better, now, doesn’t it? Gee, isn’t free money great!
When a fairytale ends
One day in the not too distant future, the people will start to feel the weight of their chains and the burden of what they’ve bought into. But by then what’s done is done and someone will already have a wonderfully orchestrated system in place, handed over to them for free without shots fired or blood in the streets. The formerly free citizens who just wanted goodies at someone elses’ expense will awake from their free money fairytale to find their own freedoms bound and gagged and being carted away by the trade-offs they’ve made. Those willing to take for free, must know that eventually, they too will have to pay into the “stash”. And that price IS their freedom. And that day is coming sooner than you think. Look up, look around.
You might want to check. You may be missing a few things already.
to be continued…