Here’s a letter that I just sent to the Los Angeles Times:
You join legions of others in describing Ted Kennedy as having been compassionate (“Ted Kennedy, America’s conscience,” August 30). Aware that I’ll come across as low-brow – as unable to appreciate the transformative magic of politics – I must ask: What’s compassionate about spending other people’s money and minding other people’s business?
Suppose Mr. Kennedy were my neighbor. One day he arrives at my door with a handful of other neighbors (all carrying concealed weapons) and demands some of my money and tells me that he’ll regulate what I eat, drink, and smoke. “And I’ll stop your teenage son from being employed if no employer offers him a wage at least as high as one that my friends here and I determine is appropriate.”
I gaze at him aghast. “Oh, don’t worry,” he assures me. “Because my undying dream is to help others, I’ll spend the money that I take from you in ways that will help you. But I’ll also spend much of it helping people on the other side of the tracks. And any restrictions that I impose on your behavior are ones that, you can be sure, spring only from my compassion for you and others.”
Should I regard neighbor Kennedy as great and compassionate – as a gallant champion of the interests of others? Or should I regard him as an arrogant bully, as fraudulent as he is dangerous?
Donald J. Boudreaux