Speaking of democracy, Winston Churchill declared “It is the worst system possible, except for all the others.” As I read Animal Farm, I realized that the animals never really were well off under any system. With the humans, they never enjoyed the fruit of their labor. With the pigs, they were oppressed and manipulated. Both systems stunk.
It was only for one brief year, before Snowball and Napolean, that Animal Farm enjoyed unfettered liberty. With no one in charge, the animals found a spontaneous order of prosperity and enjoyment. They ate the fat of the land and slept in the shade of the trees. However, no sooner than when a project arose for the “greater good” did all that end. Someone came to power to accomplish this good, and the long road to serfdom began. I wonder if this is an inevitable outcome of government programs for the “greater good.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I love taking care of people. And it’s important that we do things to benefit society as a whole. But I am convinced that the “greater good” cannot be accomplished with formal power. It has to be a grass-roots effort. It has to be accomplished through individual choice and the exercise of liberty. It must be a private sector initiative; otherwise the power will be abused. As an example, compare the effectiveness of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation with any other government effort. It’s when individuals decide to give back and lend a hand that things really get moving. And herein lies the problem: very few people take the time (or the money) to lend that hand. We outsource our charitable contributions to the government. We give unyielding power to a group of individuals to take care of the poor and afflicted. I often ask myself “did we elect Mr. Obama a) to oversee the government or b) to make sure that people get healthcare and jobs and paychecks, and houses?” It often seems that ‘b’ is the answer.