Freedom is a big word. Our National Fathers, when they wrote our constitution, understood it better than us. Naturally. They lived in an age where it had only been discovered that very morning. A buoyancy was in the air. They realized that this new, fragile concept had to be zealously guarded. The history books tell us that working folks and intellectuals alike incessantly talked about it, in the streets, in the workshops. It was the center of their attention.
I wish some reincarnated soul from those golden days could be summoned up to lecture the Maryland legislature to remind them of this excitement. Or at least pass out free American history texts to the pols. I recommend this educational step because in earl January this assembly overruled the governors veto of the “Fair Share Health Care Act” (FSHCA).
If truth in labeling applied to legislation - whoever named this bill would be serving 5 to 10 years in a maximum security prison without the usual penal amenities of ping pong, TV, spa and midnight snacks. This law requires any corporation employing over 10,000 people to assign 8% of their payroll to health care - or give the shortfall to the state. The intended target of this singular bill was Wal-Mart - an alias in the Neocomm mind for capitalism - second only to globalization.
FSHCA is a double edged sword that in one swipe inflicted 2 wounds on Marylanders. First its an outrageous amputation of freedom. Secondly, due to its demands, According to the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart will cancel a planned distribution center in the Somerset county of this state that acts like a burglar whose brother is the Chief of Police. The legislature has antagonized an employer with a thick wallet and a long list of employment opportunities. Wal-Mart shouldn’t complain. With these kind of legislative opponents, they’re lucky they retain the right to locate their stores where they will.
But the “Lick” as they say in Somerset county is ominous. The entity called Wal-Mart is not a tycoon puffing on a stogy and chasing his secretary around an elegant office. It is millions of shareholders. That means owners, Maryland legislators. This ownership gives them the right to govern the company. It’s a system called capitalism. Unlike a political democracy - one man, one vote - the more shares you own, the more votes you cast. Still, even the smallest shareholder/owner has his say via many different instruments. Contentious shareholders can even shout their position on a corporate issue in an open meeting
and the boss has to listen. It is a modified form of democracy adapted
to the business world. It rests on a rock solid belief in private
property. The Maryland lawmakers own no shares of the company, so
according to the rules now in play they have no say whatsoever in this
condominium of private property. None, zero. About the same rights
Stalin had in seizing the rich farmland of the Ukrainian Kulaks in the
early 20’s. The dictator, unbound by a constitution that respected
private property used “benefit of the state” as his rationale for
theft. Unsurprisingly, famine and death followed. What did the state
know about growing wheat?
Like the old syllogism says: when the minions of the state came for this group or that group, I cared not. I was not in their number. But finally they came for me.
When the Liberty bell tolls for Wal-Mart, it tolls for thee. If the state can tell the owners of this private property how to allocate
their budget, why do you feel so safe?
Ted Roberts is a syndicated humorist and cultural commentator whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Readers Digest, Freemen, Ideas on liberty, Von Mises and Disney mag. He will be glad to respond to lavish praise or even nitpicking criticism from readers (firstname.lastname@example.org).