America�s Social Experiment

The Trumpet (Link) - Robert Morley (July 27, 2010)

What�s the 21st-century version of the guillotine?

America may soon find out, if New York Times writer David Brooks is right. When historians look back on this time, he says, �they will be amazed that a nation that professed to hate bureaucracy produced so much of it.�

But �[i]f the reforms fail�if they kick off devastating unintended consequences or saddle the country with a maze of sclerotic regulations�then the popular backlash will be ferocious,� Brooks writes.

Yes, America is embarking on a social experiment unprecedented in its history. Republicans and Democrats both seem interested in just one thing: more power. And that means bigger government, more wasteful, inefficient, bureaucratic regulation and eventually higher taxes (and/or inflation) to pay for it.

But isn�t that what wrecked Greece, Argentina and the Soviet Union? Yes, but that doesn�t seem to matter. What matters is that politicians maintain their power and satisfy the special interest groups that put them there.

Consider the government�s recent mass expansion proposal. I am not talking about the national health-care law, which created 183 new agencies, commissions, panels and other bodies with names like Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee and Cures Acceleration Network Review Board. Neither am I talking about the more than 1,200 government agencies that have sprung into existence post-Sept. 11, 2001, that purport to work on counterterrorism, homeland security and other intelligence operations at 10,000 locations across America, or the 50,000-plus reports these agencies generate each year. Nor am I talking about the 2,319-page 2010 financial reform law that, among other things, gives government bureaucrats sweeping powers to override investors and CEOs to decide when a company could pose a risk to the financial system�and then conduct a government takeover. For comparison purposes, this particular law has more pages of code than the prior five pages of banking legislation combined. The hated Sarbanes-Oxley Act was only 66 pages.

The most recent, debilitating and massive proposed expansion of government is called the �Paycheck Fairness Act.� Supported by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, this social justice bill gives the federal government the power to require all businesses in America to report how many employees of each race and sex they employ, and the salary that each is paid�so the government can determine if there is any discrimination.

A new national database overseen and managed by a vast new bureaucratic network of activists with immense power and funded by more taxes and borrowing would be created.

And if white people are being paid more than black people or Hispanics, or if men are being paid more than women, the government will have the authority to levy �unprecedented penalties of unlimited punitive and compensatory damages,� say critics (emphasis mine). Private businesses may eventually have to employ specific numbers of minorities and women in proportion to their percentages in their communities, or else.

Those arguing against the Paycheck Fairness Act note that the new law would put the burden on employers to prove they are not racist or sexist, as opposed to the government or plaintiffs having to prove that discrimination was committed.

According to Forbes, no longer would companies be able to pay employees based on performance, but solely on job position. For example, if a company employs two landscapers, they both must be paid the same, regardless of merit or output.

Congress passed this bill last year. Fortunately for America, the Senate is having trouble passing it.

But burdensome, inefficient bills like this get slipped through all the time.

Beginning in 2012, all small businesses and self-employed individuals will be required to report to the Internal Revenue Service the purchase of all goods and services that exceed $600 in a calendar year. This was a provision that was tacked on to the president�s health-care legislation. But since lawmakers rarely have time to read the bills they vote for, no one noticed this addition.

Think of the mountain of paperwork and the thousands of man-hours of investigation and litigation this bill will generate. A whole new IRS division will need to be established. Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan, reportedly deals with around 1,000 customers per week. With gold at more than $1,100 per ounce, the company estimates it will need to file between 10,000 to 20,000 tax forms per year�and that is just one company!

Buy a used car? Mail IRS Form 1099. Get a new appliance? Fill out IRS Form 1099. Install one of those new efficient ergonomic toilets? Send government IRS Form 1099. Build a new fence? Make sure to let the IRS know. The government had better hire some more data-entry specialists�a lot of them. And some law enforcement officers and more managers too. Don�t forget the lawyers.

How is the government going to pay for all this?

That is the wrong question. The correct question is, how are you going to pay for all this? Government has only one source of revenue: taxpayers. And sadly, as the burden of unproductive, bloated government grows, the capacity of taxpayers to pay the bills is progressively degraded.

When the government legislates bills like the Paycheck Fairness Act�which destroys the motivation of employees to excel and the ability of companies to individually compensate them�the distinction between capitalist America and the USSR shrinks.

Do we all want to end up like the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Unfortunately, that is where living standards in America are heading.

Despite the many faults and shortcomings of capitalism, the ability to reward by merit (not race or gender) is a fundamental cornerstone of an economy that has produced the highest standard of living for the most people that the world has ever seen.

When this system breaks�and it is already breaking�millions of people will be looking for someone to blame. As Brooks writes, �[L]arge sectors of the population will feel as if they were subjected to a doomed experiment they did not consent to. They will feel as if their country has been hijacked by a self-serving professional class mostly interested in providing for themselves.� There will be plenty of finger-pointing. But the reality is that Americans should begin by looking in the mirror.

America�s economic breakdown is the direct result of moral breakdown. Broken law�God�s law�is the primary cause of America�s economic problems. When God�s law is broken, there is always a negative effect.

In the Bible, God commands employers to pay workers their due. Honest wages for honest work. And people should be paid according to their productivity. A laborer is worthy of his hire.

If all Americans would obey this one law, then there would be no wage discrimination and there would be no reason for this latest mass expansion of government at a time when America can least afford it.

Unfortunately, as Brooks theorized, when America�s social experiment fails and the economy continues to deteriorate, the rage will explode�and people will be looking for guillotines.