Watching as Government Lusts, Covets and Steals

Barb Wire

It’s easy to be misdirected and focus on political symptoms, rather than causes. Politicians are masters of this sleight of hand.

They’d rather we debate how to tweak outcomes they’ve already presented us, and not pay attention to how they got us into this fine mess where we are forced to choose Option A because it stinks a little less than Option B.

To get past this purposeful misdirection, focus on basics. For example, the root of all kinds of evil is the love of money. What sprouts from that root? Covetousness. Intensify that abomination by adding another sin – theft.

That’s a potent combination: lust for money, coveting others’ money and then stealing it.

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Where do we find this evil amalgamation lived out as a matter of course? In government.

Clearly, government lusts for money. Obviously, government has no money of its own. Any money government has, it must take from others. The prerequisite for taking money is that government wants what it doesn’t own. Government covets others’ money. Finally, when the government takes others’ money, it commits theft.

Perhaps you’re protesting that people vote to approve government taking their money. The first problem with that excuse is that in almost no cases have individuals given particular approval to take their money in the amounts taken or by the means used to take it. But far worse is the fact that in absolutely no cases can individuals give legitimate moral approval for government to take someone else’s money.

If you, your neighbor and I vote on taking your money and you’re out-voted 2 to 1, it doesn’t make it right. It may make it legal, but taking your money against your will is still wrong, no matter how many votes your neighbor and I can muster. It’s theft. Legally approved theft. That’s what taxes are.

That is how government operates. As a matter of course. Worse yet, if you resist, you’re declared the lawbreaker and you, not the government, face dire consequences for resisting its theft.

It’s difficult to conceive of a more upside down situation. What’s yours is theirs, whether you agree or not. What’s theft is legal. And resisting theft is illegal. Isaiah 5:20 comes to mind.

Once this is understood, we can focus clearly on the vile situation in which we find ourselves. Government, unlike private relationships, is based on entirely on force. Government doesn’t request your cooperation. Government demands it.

God bless Democratic presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders for his honesty. Bernie unashamedly says that of course he will raise taxes if elected. On everyone. A lot. Even a 90 percent tax would not be too much.

Before you level a partisan shot at Bernie it might be prudent to recall the last time the federal income tax brackets reached 92 percent. It was during the Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower. Still like Ike? But we digress.

Some people are happy with taxes, usually in proportion to how much is paid by other people, not by them. But other people understand that taxes would be evil even if they were very low. That’s because taxes essentially are legalized theft. Call it theft by majority vote.

You might say taxes are the fruit of all evil. You wouldn’t be far off. Remove taxes from the equation and we would have an infinitesimally smaller government and barely enough bureaucrats to open and close the doors.

Remove taxes and there could be no political payoffs to cronies who bought favors from corrupt politicians by financing their run for office.

Remove taxes and we would necessarily be reduced to what the founders envisioned: small, limited government that stays out of peoples’ lives.

Obviously, this would be extreme, and sadly not very likely. But every step in the direction of less tax empowers people, leaves them more of their own money to do with as they see fit and reduces government’s threat to personal freedom.

Government’s larcenous desire to take people’s money and to use it as the takers see fit is less Robin Hood than it is Al Capone. But even Robin Hood was at root a thief, and his purported good motives didn’t change the fact that he stole what didn’t belong to him. If well-intentioned theft is wrong, then how much more so is well-intentioned theft on a trillion-dollar scale?

Progressives demand everyone pay his fair share, which in their scheme of things means taxes, not investments in private businesses, donations to private charities or tithing in church.

But how much is fair? When is enough enough? And who decides? The covetous ones? Even Robin Hood took every coin he could lay his hands on.

Call it the Rocco effect. In the 1948 film “Key Largo,” Edward G. Robinson portrayed the gangster Johnny Rocco, who had an insatiable appetite for what belonged to others.

What does Rocco want? “He wants more, don’t you Rocco?” interjected the movie’s hero, played by Humphrey Bogart.

To which Rocco enthusiastically responded: “Yeah, that’s it! More! I want more!”

Art imitates life. The Johnny Roccos in government want what’s not theirs. They want what’s yours. And they always want more.

The next exchange in the movie should be all taxpayers need to hear. “Will you ever get enough?” Rocco is asked.

“Well I never have. No, I guess I won’t.”

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Mark Landsbaum
Mark Landsbaum is a Christian husband, father, grandfather and journalist who has written for a living for 43 years, ever since discovering he had no particular talents. He can be found on Facebook, Linkedin, and in the archives of the Orange County Register where he wrote another column for 10 years. He can be reached at

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