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The High Cost of a Free Lunch

FDR's heirs in Washington can afford to be generous because they're spending your money, writes Burt Prelutsky.

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March 8, 2008 - 1:00 am

Growing up, as I did, in the home of Russian Jewish immigrants, it figures that I’d start out thinking that, by all rights, Franklin D. Roosevelt belonged on Mount Rushmore. But, all these years later, I have concluded that most of America’s woes can be traced back to his presidency, and that the best reason for him being up there along with Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, is that his head was already made of stone.

Although FDR is often, mistakenly, credited with bringing the Great Depression to an end, as Amity Shlaes made clear in her book, The Forgotten Man, his policies, which can best be described as socialistic and anti-business, in reality prolonged America’s misery. The mere fact that he and his economic advisors thought it made perfect sense to keep raising taxes during the 1930s suggests that their primary motive wasn’t to lift the country out of its economic morass, but to take advantage of the situation to inflate the power of the federal government.

The end result of his 12 years in the White House is a hodge-podge of Washington bureaucracies and an economy that finds the federal government being far and away the single largest employer in the U.S. Couple that with his personal fondness for Joseph Stalin, his filling his administration and the State Department with like-minded people, and you have a perfect blueprint for disaster. For as Thomas Jefferson recognized, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.”

It should be no surprise that we now have tens of millions of Americans, not to mention several million illegal aliens, who seem to believe that the feds should guarantee their home loans, turn their schools into liberal indoctrination centers with a bias against religion and traditional values, and, for good measure, pay for their health insurance.

I’m not sure if they think that the government magically pays for all these things out of its own non-existent pocket or if they understand that all of this largesse is only made possible by taking it from others in the form of taxes. But it probably makes no difference to them, for, as some cynic once observed, when you rob Peter to pay Paul, don’t expect Paul to object too strenuously.

Recently, thanks to Michael Medved, I learned that the federal government spends well over eight billion dollars a year supplying over 30 million school children with “free” lunches and another two-and-a-half billion on “free” breakfasts. And what I, as a concerned citizen, would like to know is why they’re forcing the parents to be responsible for putting dinner on the table. Okay, I admit I’m joshing. But how long will it be before the leftists demand to know why the feds are shucking their obvious responsibility just because the sun has gone down? And just how long before FDR’s heirs in Washington launch their own version of the New Deal called Three Square Meals?

What I’d really like to know is: why haven’t public services removed those millions of kids from their homes? I mean, if parents can’t afford to give their children a couple of eggs or a banana and a bowl of cereal in the morning or an apple and a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich for lunch, what other essentials can’t they afford to provide for their kids? A bed? A blanket? Shoes? A tooth brush? A semi-automatic?

The truth is, if I were running for president as a Democrat, I wouldn’t be a piker like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Why stop with universal health care? I’d promise universal car, fire and life insurance. I’d promise four weeks paid vacation for every workingman and workingwoman in America, and eight weeks for every non-working man and woman. Why not? They have more time to kill and even greater incentive to get out to the polls on election day. On top of all that, I’d promise to give any person who voted for me $5,000, a lifetime supply of Viagra and free lottery tickets, besides.

Hey, I’m a Democrat! I can afford to be generous. It’s not my money, after all. It’s yours.

Television writer Burt Prelutsky is the author of Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco (101 Reasons Why I’m Happy I Left the Left).

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