J.C. SPARKS, THE FREEMAN
Of all the plans and laws to bring about the adoption of socialism, perhaps none has been more effective than to offer to various local governments and public institutions the bribe of matching funds or grants-in-aid out of the federal treasury. There is no greater temptation than the offer of money, particularly where acceptance of such money can be justified with the reasoning (though faulty) that unless one takes his share, others will consume it for him. Another way of stating the same fallacy is that since everyone else is doing it, it is right for me to do it. It is by such thinking and action that federal aid and its twin, federal control, have grown over the past 30 years to bring about the insidious threat to American liberty that socialism has become.
That this idea is wrong is easily understood by large numbers of people throughout the country. In fact, many go on record opposing federal aid to one or another project. How is it then, that the demand for federal aid continues to increase if so many people understand why it is wrong? Let us take a look at this temptation to forget one’s principles.
Principles are easily claimed, but they may be extremely difficult to retain under adverse circumstances. Of course, this is the true test of whether one really embraces a set of principles or carries them only in his imagination.
An athlete may train for the day of a sporting event, but his fulfillment is reached only when he engages his opponent in the contest to determine the winner. Then, and only then, has he truly become an athlete.
A man may read and become familiar with all of the rules of baseball, studying books, pictures, and films to learn how to play the game. He may even become a critic of those who are playing. The day then arrives when he has an opportunity to get into the game himself, but at that moment he fearfully puts away his bat and ball. And so it is with fighting federal aid. The man in Ohio criticizes the acceptance of federal aid by cities and states throughout the nation but not in his own home town. When he comes face to face with the temptation to get on the federal aid band wagon, he finds it too difficult to stand on his purported principles. Federal aid may be wrong in Tennessee, Oregon, and Maine, but it is right when it is sought to build a hospital, an expressway, or a school in his own city. It doesn’t take much courage to wave the baseball bat and tell what you would do if you were in the game when the game is being played somewhere else. It is quite another thing to stand at the plate and battle for your principles when the game is in your own home town and it is your turn at bat.
Mr. Sparks was a businessman in Canton, Ohio and a contributor to The Freeman.
Copyright © 2012 Foundation for Economic Education. Used with permission.