Census and the Welfare State: The Plunderbund Society In
All It Majestic Glory
14 March 2010
By Jacob G. Hornberger
The letter that Ralph Groves, director of the U.S.
Census Bureau, recently sent to the American people
reflects what America has become under the welfare
state. Here is what the letter states in part:
“Your response is important. Results from the 2010
Census will be used to help each community get its
fair share of government funds for highways, schools,
health facilities, and many other programs you and
your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate
census, your community may not receive its fair
In that one paragraph lies the plunderbund society in
all it majestic glory. Everyone is supposed to feel
morally obligated to answer all those intrusive
questions in order to ensure that his community
receives its fair share of the loot forcibly collected
by the Internal Revenue Service during the course of
the year, but especially on April 15.
You see, all that IRS-collected money goes into a
gigantic pool that the president and Congress then
have at their disposal to distribute to people.
As Groves points out, some of that IRS-collected money
is sent to your “community.” What does “community”
mean? Alas, it doesn’t mean you. If it did, that would
mean that the federal government would simply be
returning your hard-earned money to you.
No, by “community” Groves means your state and local
elected and appointed politicians and bureaucrats, who
send complicated and expensive proposals to Washington
begging and pleading for help to construct some new
highway, health-care facility, school, recreational
facility, or some other project or program.
Federal grants are announced with tremendous fanfare.
The distributing federal agency issues a press release
announcing that the city has received a grant of
several million dollars to build, say, its new
recreation center. The congressman for that district
humbly takes credit for the grant. Area newspapers
publish editorials extolling local officials for their
genius is securing the grant and effusively praising
the effectiveness of their congressman.
In the process, most everyone forgets where the money
originally came from, or they simply don’t care. All
that people focus on is that they’re receiving free
money that is coming from the federal government, the
all-good, all-caring, all-compassionate entity whose
job it is to take care of the citizenry.
A particular sign oftentimes is posted on the project
site for passersby to see: “Jobs for your community!”
Not only has the federal government provided free
funds for your community, it also uses local people to
help build the project.
It’s all so grand, so glorious. Who could possibly
object to such a process?
Well, that’s where libertarians come in. Libertarians
object to the process because it is immoral, crooked,
corrupt, fraudulent, and destructive to the core.
The process entails an all-out battle between public
officials in different states and cities to get their
dirty little hands on as large a portion of the money
that has been forcibly taken from people as they can.
Millions of people across the country are struggling
financially, but does anyone suggest a moratorium on
the payment of income taxes to the IRS? Of course not
(well, except for libertarians, who call for a
permanent moratorium on income taxation). Nothing must
be permitted to interfere with that giant pool of
IRS-collected money that federal officials have at
their disposal to send to grateful state and local
And no, the process does not create jobs, it simply
redistributes them from productive, private-sector
projects to politically motivated projects. You see,
all the money that the IRS took from people would have
brought jobs into existence if people had been left
free to keep their own hard-earned money instead of
sending it to the IRS. Since those jobs were never
permitted to come into existence, you don’t see them.
All you see is that “free” health-care facility which
federal, state, and local politicians and bureaucrats
can point to and say, “Here it is — your free facility
that has provided free jobs for your community.”
The sad part of all this is that all too many
Americans continue to play right into the celebration
and even praise it. Failing to think through what has
been done to them and their fellow citizens, they
haplessly and pathetically play the role of a theft
victim celebrating what has been done to them.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The
Future of Freedom Foundation.