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At moments of great tragedy and disaster, the federal government has,
in recent years, stepped in to provide direct assistance to people
affected by floods, hurricanes, even acts of great violence such as the
Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

It’s tough to do what I am about to do without seeming like a person
lacking any “compassion.” I’m about to make the case that no matter how
compelling the tragedy, no matter how devastating the disaster, this
kind of assistance is an inappropriate and illegitimate use of federal
tax dollars.

The very day of the mass murders in Littleton, President Clinton was
already devising ways to spend other people’s tax dollars on relief. He
went so far as to say the federal government would provide any
assistance needed in the aftermath of the crime. He didn’t even bother
to consult Congress — the only branch of government authorized under
the Constitution to allocate resources. No matter, in this case. It’s a
mere technicality. There aren’t 10 souls in both houses of Congress who
would have denied anything to the people of Littleton for fear of being
labeled cold-hearted.

That’s really the heart of the problem. The American people and the
leaders of both major parties have completely lost sight of the
constitutionally limited powers and scope of the federal government. We
may go beyond the point of no return. And the response to Littleton is a
perfect example of how this insidious process works.

After saying that Littleton could, in effect, have a blank check from
Washington to aid in recovering from the massacre, Clinton went on to
offer some specifics. He dispatched a “crisis response team” to Colorado
to make sure there were enough counselors to handle the grief. Enough
counselors? In the greater Denver area? I should think there would be
enough — several thousand, I would guess, for every person directly
touched by this crime.

What Clinton really meant, though, was he wanted to make sure that no
one would have to pay for counseling. Later, he expanded his offer to
include $1.5 million to pay for funerals, uninsured medical expenses,
lost wages and counseling.

The question America should be asking is “Why?” Why should Americans
in all 50 states — some without medical insurance themselves, some
facing funeral expenses of their own and others in need of counseling
over the loss of loved ones — be forced to pay for the needs of those
in Littleton?

I know. It sounds heartless of me to ask these questions. That shows
you how conditioned you have become in America to socialism — to
big-government nannyism, to the idea of cradle-to-grave care from
Washington.

The reality is that it is a bad idea for Washington pay for these
expenses. Politicians do it only to empower themselves, to make
themselves look better, to feel compassionate — all at the expense of
others.

If it’s the right thing to do for the federal government to pay for
the funerals in Littleton, Colo., this week, why isn’t it right for
Washington to pay for the funerals of all murder victims? I don’t see
anyone in Washington proposing that. That would be an unpopular measure.
People could discern that would be a bad idea. Yet, because of the
symbolism, paying for the funerals in Littleton is considered a good
idea.

Now, if the executive branch of the federal government really wants
to demonstrate how compassionate its leadership is, an appropriate
response would be to take up a collection among the thousands of
government employees — beginning with Bill and Hillary Clinton — and
raise the $1.5 million that way. That would be meaningful. That would be
true compassion. Maybe Congress would like to get involved in the act,
too. Perhaps members and their staffs would like to chip in. But it is
not compassionate to spend other people’s money — and that’s all the
Clinton administration ever does with its bogus programs designed to buy
votes.

There’s an old notion that “charity begins at home.” That means that
the most effective way to help people is, first, within the family
structure; second, within the structure of a church community; and,
lastly and leastly, within the structure of a town or city. Those are
the only effective ways to help people. Nothing else works. Centralized
planning is counterproductive — no matter how well-intentioned.

Washington should stay the hell away from local tragedies — for the
good of all of us, but particularly, for the sake of the victims.

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