I was sitting at a four-way intersection the other day waiting for the red light to turn green. There was a vehicle with its left-turn signal blinking across the intersection with about 10 cars lined up behind.

I also had a long line of cars behind me, so my dilemma was this: Should I let this one vehicle take a quick left turn, which would free the long line behind, or should I follow the rules of the road and make the driver wait. I had the right of way. The left-turning vehicle didn’t.

So what did I do? I wasn’t a nice guy; I went as soon as the light turned green. That left-turning vehicle and the cars behind it may still be there, as far as I know.

You’ve no doubt been in this same position. We can make the life of the oncoming driver and the ones following easier by letting the left-turning vehicle go. That might work out, or it might end up in an accident, because although it may seem kind and compassionate to let a left-turning vehicle go, it’s against all rules of the road.

This Labor Day weekend, as we celebrate workers, we have been witnessing a sea change in the Democratic Party when it comes to economic policy. Leftist Democrats seem to detest the fruits of one’s hard labor, which is the accumulation of wealth. Instead, they want those with to subsidize those without, as if that will solve all societal problems.

Candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others espouse the supposed benefits of socialism. Their brand of socialism, of course, is increased wealth redistribution, by way of free college tuition and free health insurance. They like to say how socialism is more compassionate than capitalism. Imposing a new economic order, they say, will reduce the divide between rich and poor. Their panacea will bring equality and make us all better people, they tout.

Don’t believe it. There will always be poor, and there will always be rich. We may not be as rich or as poor under socialism, but the stratified layers of society will persist, as will the underlying jealousy.

Beyond the relativity of it all, socialism doesn’t work on a human level because, as the illustration of the four-way intersection shows, there’s a right way to go about daily life and a wrong way. Society needs the products and resulting order and purpose that comes from labor. On a personal scale, work brings self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. Giving people money, rather than making them earn it, is soul-killing faux-compassion.

Compassion isn’t always what we think it is. Had I let that vehicle make a left turn, perhaps the car behind me would have smashed into my rear bumper. The oncoming drivers may have appreciated my seemingly compassionate act, but the driver behind me, not expecting it, would have rightly been angry because I’d disobeyed the rules of the road.

It may appear compassionate to not demand people earn their own living, but, in fact, it’s the most compassionate thing society can do. Giving able-bodied and able-minded people a welfare check destroys their self-esteem. It weakens their resolve to fend for themselves.

Endless government handouts ultimately bring societal breakdown because human nature is evil, and if given an inch will eventually demand a mile – in this case, full-blown authoritarianism, in which nobody is free, either economically or politically.

John Balentine of Windham is a former managing editor of the Lakes Region Weekly.


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