• Arne Mortensen

Government grants: are they right for us?

The basic function of government is to protect life and property, and I intend to move us toward that concept, which, by the way, has been proven by us, the United States, to be the recipe for the benefit of all humans. All the other approaches, that government is the solution to problems, has yielded misery for mankind. Just think of Venezuela or the Soviet Union or Zimbabwe. Or, just think about how much we have slid in this country … dare I name Detroit? How do we feel about Seattle?

There are government mandates that we follow because we fear the repercussions if we do not do so. That we are afraid of our government, that we cannot keep the fruits of our labor, should tell us very clearly that we have a problem. In the adage, applicable to anything: if government works for you, then you have something, but if you work for the government, then you have a problem. And, as taxpayers, we all work for the government … we have a problem.

Last year I gave fair warning about the need to justify grants beyond just arguing that it is free money. Of course, there is no free money … the money we get from state and federal grants was taken from involuntary taxpayers, and that is not fair. Furthermore, this money that we receive which we have not earned, corrupts us. We are rent seekers, and that is not good. We have to learn how to produce and make money by voluntary trade, not by coercing our fellow man, under penalty of jail, to provide for us.

Looking forward, I will categorize grants by their long-term effect on our county. The short-term effect: is it like a fix of heroin to get us to the next … well fix … always a downward spiral. Or is it to fix something that does not beget a further problem? Will the grant help us deal with an act of God, or is it yet another one of those well-meaning but misguided programs that deals with self-inflicted wounds? Will the grant support behavior we want to discourage? My vote on accepting or seeking grants will depend on the answer to these questions.

I’ve been asking grant seeking agencies to demonstrate that programs funded by grants provide sustainable and verifiable progress, and they have not done so, despite my asking for a year (2017) and despite a trail of decades of program history. Frankly, I don’t think they can offer proof, because the evidence, away from the fog or personal involvement, is that the more we spend on (many) programs, the more the problem grows. We must get off that treadmill or we will collapse as a society if not as a civilization. We are not better off today than yesterday, to answer a Ronald Reagan question.

The answer to our problems is in ourselves. People can help other people only if they can help themselves. Then, if they have surplus, they can apply it to voluntary work for their causes. It is no virtue at all to give someone else’s money away; those who advocate that approach are many and, starkly put, devoid of the basic morality of respect for the rights and capabilities of the individual.

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