CONRAD: Reckless Spending on Pet Projects is Confiscation of Income and a Violation of Liberty.

By Richard Conrad | August 24th, 2016 at 8:18 am

BY: Richard Conrad / Contributor

Richard Conrad is Treasurer of the United Conservatives Fund and an active grassroots conservative from Laurel, MS.

Filed Under: Budget, Business, Contributor, Economic Development, Economy, Legislature, Liberty, Mississippi PEP, MS State Government, Opinion, Pine Belt, Principles of Freedom, Spending, State Bonds, Taxes, Transportation

America has lost her first love. From the beginning, the cornerstone of America’s greatness and exceptionalism is liberty. The ability to determine one’s own fate by making choices tempered by a moral foundation without interference from government, catapulted a peculiar and special people to the greatest nation in history. A nation that positively impacted society, economy, industry, medicine, and religion within its own borders and around the globe for over 200 years. But now, the greatest nation known to mankind is greatly deteriorating from within due to the falling away from liberty.

Liberty, or the lack of, affects everything in our lives from religion to speech to economics. The level of liberty determines the free flow of business, the amount of one’s paycheck, the price of a gallon of gas, the quality of schools, the curriculum of schools, and so much more. Liberty is the soil that germinates and enriches all other of our immeasurable rights “endowed by our Creator.”

In these United States every political decision, introduction of a bill into the state or federal legislature, and governmental rule or regulation, should begin and end with liberty in mind. Liberty allows a group of citizens with a common goal to pursue their project by soliciting the private sector. If the cause is honorable, worthy, and beneficial to society, those interested will gladly contribute to the project. Liberty is not present when a group of like-minded people lobby government, such as the State of Mississippi, to acquire millions of Mississippi taxpayer dollars for an interest group’s project. Why should a person who does not like a certain genre of music have his pocket picked by government for a museum? Or why should a person who does not like a specific entertainer be forced to pay for buildings enshrined for his or her honor? Why should a Mississippi taxpayer that does not agree with an institution’s pet project be robbed of his hard earned money by legislators? Although a project of a special interest group or institution may be a good idea or beneficial to some, it should not be a requirement that the taxpayer or his posterity be forced to pay for it.

The recent session of the Mississippi Legislature awarded an incentive package of $274 million to two corporations courtesy of the Mississippi tax payer. Isn’t our economic system a free market and capitalist system? For some reason, a government seizing citizens’ hard earned money to choose winners in business and industry reflects a centralized government ruled by a select few for their own benefit. “Seizing” in the previous sentence was used intentionally because what happens if you do not pay your state taxes? A Mississippi taxpayer cannot choose to reduce his tax liability for his/her portion of that $274 million dollars or the portion of the $250 million bond passed in 2015 without the Mississippi Department of Revenue laying a levy on his/her paycheck or seizing the individual’s bank account. The seizing of Mississippi taxpayer money for special projects and business winners is absolutely incomprehensible and incongruent with liberty.

Now, after confiscating Mississippian’s income for pet projects, Mississippi government officials are considering a gas tax increase to pay for road and bridge improvements. Why increase taxes on middle class and lower class Mississippians for roads and bridges when there seems to be enough tax money to pay for pet projects? What happened to Department of Transportation (DOT) funds raised by the current fuel tax? Has that money been misappropriated, used to increase bureaucracy, or used for unnecessary programs? Legislators increasing the fuel tax while recklessly spending tax revenue on pet projects is irresponsible. Also, increasing the fuel tax without first reducing the bureaucracy of the DOT and unnecessary programs, fleeces the Mississippi tax payer. The State of Mississippi does well on the popular conservative issues such as guns and marriage; however, the more unexciting issues are just as important. The mundane issues are where our state government is failing Mississippians and violating the principles of liberty.

Regarding the federal government, a plethora of anti-liberty actions are demonstrated on a continuous basis. Let us just take a glance at one issue. Congress approved a budget that included over $500 million of grants and reimbursements to Planned Parenthood, which is about 40% of Planned Parenthood’s annual budget. If an American taxpayer does not agree with Planned Parenthood’s abortion tactics, why should the federal government take his/her money? Regardless if one thinks Planned Parenthood does some good or not, it is not the role of the government to forcefully take the money of any taxpayer to fund Planned Parenthood or any other special interest group. Instead of the American taxpayer making a personal decision to support a group or not (liberty exercised), government has trampled on liberty by forcefully taking a worker’s money for a cause the taxpayer does not support and has no control (tyranny exercised). Liberty and government involvement cannot exist together in the same vacuum. It is the very nature of government to take more and more, which is why the U.S. Constitution limitead the federal government to certain powers.

Will liberty experience a revival or even survive for the enjoyment of our children and grandchildren? The answer to that question is dependent upon the active involvement and education of the American electorate. In addition, Americans must quit viewing the government as the provider of rights, liberties, and happiness, and the provider of solutions to every problem. Liberty is a precious gift from our Creator, and any infringements by elected officials upon that liberty should be immediately exposed. The electorate must come to understand that it isn’t some other state’s elected official, it is also ours. Statistics reflect that incumbents have a 95% chance of re-election; so if our country is on the wrong path, that statistic needs to be reversed. As long as citizens continue to elect the same people to office who have violated liberty, nothing will change. They will only take more and more of our liberty. When an elected official violates principles of liberty or our Constitution, the electorate should never waver on voting that official out of office. Liberty is too precious to re-elect government officials who are repeat offenders of it.