It’s amazing how the national debate has been corrupted.

It’s sad how people no longer discuss principles upon which this country was founded.

It’s disheartening to see the way America is slouching – no hurtling – toward unaccountable socialist oblivion.

Maybe you can’t detect it in the day’s news because there is so much noise. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

Let’s just look at one news story from this week – one that didn’t get much attention.

The U.S. Senate agreed to spend an additional $1 billion this year on a program to help individuals with energy costs.

This isn’t a new program. It’s more spending on one that has been around for a long time – too long, in fact. It’s the kind of program once started never goes away – because, as Jesus explained, the poor will always be with us.

But it’s the kind of program that is not only bankrupting this country economically, it is bankrupting it morally and legally.

It represents the worst kind of theft – legalized robbery. The government forcibly takes money from one taxpayer and gives it to another. To say there is no constitutional or moral justification for such theft is an understatement. But it goes on every day in Washington, no matter which party is in charge, no matter who the America people elect to represent them, no matter how unfair and wrong such programs are.

Worse yet is the level of debate that accompanies such decisions to spend ever more on such programs.

The only objection came from senators who claimed it was unfair, not to individuals who have to pay for it, but to states that didn’t get “their fair share” of the largesse.

“We don’t deny there is a need,” said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. But “is it fair across the country or does it benefit some states and not other states?”

You see, we no longer even care about protecting the rights of individuals in this country. It’s all about special-interest groups. “Group rights,” which are amorphous and don’t and shouldn’t exist in our constitutional system, are all that matters.

The only opposition to this insanity of increased direct freebies to individuals comes from people who want their fair share for their constituency.

A senator from Las Vegas, whose residents don’t have problems with heating costs, wants to get some money for people who care more about air-conditioning costs in the summer months. That’s the only “principled” opposition.

Oh, that’s not quite true. According to the news reports, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., objected to the increased spending because there were no corresponding cuts in other programs. While that may be a little better, it still ignores the immorality of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Understand me when I say that I am not opposed to helping the poor. God commands us to do that. But it is not the role of government. It is the responsibility of individuals.

Not only is government robbing us of our money, it is robbing us of our God-given responsibility to obey his commandments.

This is not charity. It is oppression. Charity is not a proper role of our constitutional system. Charity is not a proper role of government. Period. Charity programs have nothing to do with the enumerated powers of the federal government. In other words, they are none of Washington’s business. They are rightly the domain of the churches, individuals and private institutions, not the U.S. government.

By definition, charity is not a government program. Government is the antithesis of charity. It represents force, coercion. None of us voluntarily gives our money to the federal government. Washington extracts it from us, at the point of a gun or the threat of a jail cell. Charity, however, is voluntary. You can’t force someone to be charitable – it’s a contradiction of terms.

It’s the church’s job to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and nurse the sick – not the U.S. government’s.

Government has already far exceeded its constitutional authority and largely hijacked this vital role from the church. That’s neither to the church’s credit, nor the government’s.

The real constitutional issue here is that the government has no business confiscating your wealth and giving it to anyone else – religious or not. Yet, the federal government is vastly expanding its role in this massive theft on a daily basis.

The closest the Constitution comes to authorizing anything remotely resembling the kind of “forced charity” being proposed in Washington today is the “general welfare” clause. That’s the one that will be used to argue constitutional justification for every program – from Aid to Families With Dependent Children to Social Security.

However, these so-called “charitable” programs in no way promote the “general welfare.” Instead, they promote the specific welfare of individual recipients of aid – at the expense of specific taxpayers. That’s not fair. That’s not just. That’s not moral. That’s not charity. And that’s not constitutional.

I don’t expect to see this kind of phony “compassion” ended any time soon. But can we at least raise the level of debate?

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