"People want government to do all manner of things, things that if done privately would lead to condemnation and jail sentences. Some want government to give money to farmers, poor folk, college students, senior citizens and businesses. There’s no Santa Claus or tooth fairy. The only way government can give money to one person is to forcibly take it from another person. If I privately used the same method to raise money for a “deserving” college student, homeless person or businessman, I’d face theft charges. Others among us want government to protect wild wolves, bears and the Stephens kangaroo rat even if it results in gross violations of private property and loss of lives. The problem is that some people disagree with having their earnings taken to satisfy someone else’s wishes. They don’t want the Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service dictating to them what they can and cannot do with their property to ensure a habitat for the kangaroo rat. Force and threats must be used. Here’s the question: Could the average American kill a person who resolutely refuses to give up his earnings so Congress can give it to farmers? Could you kill a person who insists on using all of his property, even though some wolves have set up a den on it? You say, “What do you mean, Williams -- kill?” Here’s the scenario: The Corps of Engineers commands me not to remove debris from a drainage ditch on my property, placed there by beavers building a dam, because the debris creates a wetland. I remove it anyway. The Corps of Engineers fines me. I refuse to pay the unjust fine. The Corps of Engineers threatens to seize my land. I say no, you won’t: it’s my land, and I’ll protect it. A politician sends marshals to take it, and I get killed defending it."
Walter E. Williams
(1936-2020) Columnist, Professor of Economics at George Mason University
CONSERVATIVE CHRONICLE, September 20, 1995
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