The Alternative

Woody to Arlo; Now That's Progress.

    At a recent musical event, we had a moment to stand and stretch while singing Woody Guthrie's “This Land is Your Land.” A gentleman nearby held his Korean War Veteran hat over his heart as if we were singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

    Guthrie wrote, “This Land is Your Land,” as an angry response to “God Bless America.” He thought the common man was being exploited instead of voluntarily cooperating with the ones who made it possible for specialization and the prosperity it brings. The song is about collective ownership as opposed to private property.

    So it seemed particularly ironic that a man who fought and saw the horrors of the Korean conflict would show reverence for a song written by a man who advocated a system our men were fighting and dying to defeat.

    I think what is going on is that the purpose of our military is forgotten and replaced by a phony sense of patriotism in order to enable a profitable war industry and growth of the welfare state. There is a lot of profit to be made in the idea that love of country means loving its government. They are not the same thing.

    As the blood flowed in Korea, the principles the Korean communists fought for were poised to blossom here at home, and they have. Universities are belching forth hordes of graduates who think voluntary cooperation and private property are obstacles to progress. Since they found comfort and security in the routine of college life they can't imagine making their own decisions in this big scary world with their only boundaries being the rights of others. They appreciate direction from above by some unseen authority that is perceived to have more wisdom than them. They lack self-esteem and imagine everyone else needs that same guidance.

    A similar situation exists with my friend, the Korean War veteran. Nobody likes to be had. To think that so much sacrifice went to war profiteers instead of stopping socialism is hard to accept. A single villain is a much simpler enemy than the damaging effects of altruism filtered through a faceless web of bureaucracy.

    A private business fails when it can't turn a profit. A government business gets a raise.

    When a product is offered for free, demand goes up but incentive to create more supply is only increased by higher income through taxation. There is no limit on the growth of demand. When a product is offered at a cost, the buyer has a point where they seek alternatives. The only way to limit demand of a government product is to put a ceiling on the availability, thus the wait times in Canadian and European health care.

    From the 1940s through 1964 the U.S. was in boom times and as incomes rose, the proportion of charitable giving increased as well. Then giving nose-dived. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society led people to believe that government would take care of the less fortunate and at the same time it would cost less (especially on a personal level) because the cost was spread over the entire country. When I see Bernie Sanders' spare bedrooms full of indigent souls that is when I will believe his altruism to be genuine.

    Woody Guthrie's son, Arlo saw the light in 2008. As the son of a devout communist, he realized that a forced economy is so inefficient that it doesn't help the people it is designed to help. It breeds generational dependence, rewards cronyism before productivity, and produces malinvestment that leads to rising prices. Arlo wrote the forward to Ron Paul's book, “The Revolution: A Manifesto,” during his run for president in 2008.

     Any opinions on this column are welcome at or through a letter to the editor. The blog is updated almost daily at Try it. You’ll like it.