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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

Neither Predator Nor Prey

by Richard A. Cheatham, Press Media Group, LLC

More and more frequently we’re offered the sad choice of being a predator or prey. Many of our choices through government are framed in this language, though in a camouflaged form. We’re not supposed to realize what we’re really being asked.

Consider elections in which candidates make promises. “If elected, I’ll work to get this or that for you.” Of course, if this candidate is elected, you may get what you want…at the expense of those who didn’t want it or want to pay for it. You get to be the predator. Just as often your candidate loses and you get to be the prey.

Consider “benefits” such as the government education factory system. If you use the system, you are the predator benefitting from money taken involuntarily from the prey, those who pay to send their children to private schools (and who still also have to pay for the system they aren’t using). One could make the case that those using the lower quality non-customer-responsive government system are being primed to participate in the predator/prey paradigm. Perhaps that makes them the ultimate “prey,” those who just don’t “get it.”

Consider grand governmental schemes such as publicly financed sports stadiums benefiting politically-connected private businesses and light rail transportation systems that charge riders (the predators) $3 per person while costing taxpayers (the prey) $25 per rider. How about military bases that are more effective at pumping tax money into a community with highly-placed political friends than at providing actual defense value for the nation?

How about that great retirement insurance we’ve got through the national government, the one with initials SS? Can you identify the predators and the prey when some finally get their money out of the system and many others don’t? Can you tell who’s preying upon whom when government inflates the money supply and some get the new money before prices rise?

Here’s a typical thinly veiled invitation to feel good about being a predator. “Don’t worry, this local project is being subsidized by federal money, it’s not all our local money.” This is supposed to make me feel good? Am I not a federal taxpayer also? Won’t this very same argument be used hundreds or thousands of times by other people in other places when I’m not the direct beneficiary? Isn’t a system where you’re the predator once or twice or even a hundred times but the prey thousands of times a bad deal when you consider the bottom line?

I can’t help recalling Frederic Bastiat’s great and appropriate statement, “The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else.” I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy into arguments favoring our present predator/prey system that most of you seem to love so much. I’d much rather be neither predator nor prey.

©2005 by Richard A. Cheatham. All rights reserved. Mr.Cheatham is a professional speaker/writer whose weekly column, “Drawing Back The Veil” appears weekly in The Lynchburg Ledger. Mr. Cheatham is syndicated through Press Media Group, LLC, 434-332-2845. Contact him through, Living History Assoc., Ltd., at or

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