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The Democrats Play Shakespeare

Government can't give you something without taking it from someone.

By Will Offensicht  |  December 5, 2013

There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it a felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common, and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass: and when I am King, as King I shall be, ... there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, and they may agree like brothers and worship me their lord.

      -- Jack Cade in Henry VI, Part II, act IV, Scene ii

Shakespeare's description of how politicians seek power supports the Peter Pan theory of history: "This has all happened before and it will all happen again."  In drumming up support for his campaign to become King of England, Jack promised to cut the price of bread to 1/3 of what it had been.

Like the Soviet communists and our land-use regulation bureaucracies, Jack promised that "all the realm shall be in common," that is, everyone would share ownership of all property.  Like modern liberals who offer disability payments, welfare payments, food stamps, Obamaphones, and literally hundreds of support programs to their voters, Jack promised "there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score."

Like Mao tse Tung who put every Chinese in identical Mao suits while he was in power, Mr. Cade promised to "apparel them all in one livery."

Had he become king and tried to fulfill all these promises, Mr. Cade would have had the same problem the Soviet Union had - when everyone shares equally in the output, there's no reason for anyone to work hard.  The Soviets suffered periodic famines and chronic food shortages because they'd forced all the farmers into collectives.

The Soviet leadership eventually let farmers keep whatever they grew on their own private plots.  In short order, 4% of Soviet farmland produced 3/4 of the nation's food because farmers worked both harder and smarter when they got to keep the results.

The More Things Change

Like our Democrats, Jack would have had no use for anyone who preferred to earn his or her own way.  Anybody who didn't want to depend on him for food would have been looked on with suspicion and demonized as vehemently as possible.

The Obama administration is trying very hard to demonize accomplishment.  People like the Google Guys and Bill Gates who've become wealthy through successful efforts to offer products which people are glad to buy are called "privileged," as if their success should be taken away and redistributed to everyone.

The Lenins and the Maos and the Cades and the Democrats won't ever admit that their redistributive policies are self-defeating - people stop working hard and businesses stop creating jobs when the fruits of their labors and risk-taking are taken away.

Handwriting on the Wall

The highly-visible Obamacare fiasco has liberals running scared.  On Dec 1, the New York Times wrote:

Out of a tense meeting grew a frantic effort aimed at rescuing not only the troubled insurance portal and President Obama's credibility, but also the Democratic philosophy that an activist government can solve complex social problems[emphasis added]

We're pointed out that the American health care system is roughly the size the Soviet economy was when Communism imploded.  For all their brilliance, the Soviet bureaucrats couldn't produce the right number of shoes, or loaves of bread, or any other commodity.  Never mind managing our health care system, Mr. Obama's bureaucrats can't even deploy a web site which, despite the complexity of the rules our government has imposed on our health system, is far simpler than larger sites run by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.

Had he become King, Mr. Cade would've run short of food and livery because with "all things in common," he couldn't pay the people who grew the food and wove the clothing.  Mr. Cade may or may not have known he was lying about being able to feed and clothe everyone, but Mr. Obama certainly knew he was lying when he said people could keep their insurance if they liked it.

During the 1993 fight over HillaryCare, Hillary explained Democratic reasoning to then-House GOP Leader Denny Hastert. If Americans are allowed too much discretion over how they spend their health-care dollars, she said, "We just think people will be too focused on saving money and they won't get the care for their children and themselves that they need . . ."  Then she explained the Democrats' real agenda:

The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better.

Many cost-effective health insurance policies had to be forced off the market because Obamacare is based on making healthy voters buy more insurance than they need to pay for sicker people.  It's no accident that so many policies were canceled - if people could keep the simpler, cheaper policies they already had without being forced to sign up for policies which cost far more, there'd be no money to pay for  the hordes of previously uninsured people.  The White House knew from the beginning that millions of policies would be canceled but they lied about it for fear of voter anger during the 2012 elections.  They were right - if the election were held today, they'd lose.

In addition to forbidding insurance policies people like, Obamacare assumes that doctors will be willing to treat patients for ever-lower fees offered by the government.  There are signs of a looming doctor shortage as more and more physicians opt out of serving Medicare and Medicaid patients.  What will Obama voters do when they supposedly have insurance but can't find a doctor?

The Times is correct in worrying that Americans may realize that our activist government can't put a dent in any social problem.  Early education?  Head Start has been shown to be ineffective over and over, yet the Obama administration pushes kindergarten for all.

Fighting poverty?  As Thomas Sowell pointed out, the Negro family survived slavery and Jim Crow, but was destroyed by liberal welfare programs.  Women were told that a welfare check was an adequate replacement for a husband.  They're willing to get pregnant without any expectation that the man will stick around because welfare will take care of them.

The result?  The New York Times reports that fatherless young people are destroying Democrat-ruled cities like Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo, St. Lewis, Youngstown, and others.  Instead of growing, these cities have spent more than $250 million tearing down buildings which were abandoned because their owners could no longer afford sky-high taxes.

It's a good thing Mr. Cade didn't become King - he might have been ridden out of town on a rail when his programs failed and he would have destroyed England in the process.  The American economy is productive enough that it's taken a long time for liberalism's failures to become obvious, but maybe the time has come.

As Margaret Thatcher pointed out, the problem with socialism, which is a one-word description of "all shall eat and drink on my score," is that you eventually run out of other people's money.  Are we there yet?