No, Not Just ‘the Money’ — It’s ‘the Power, Stupid’

Written by Wes Walker on January 31, 2014

Many of you will remember that phrase Bill Clinton made famous on his way to the White House, “The Economy, Stupid.”  But is it more than just money?

The culture our nihilism and pragmatism has spawned makes it easy to think money motivates almost every decision.

We’ve witnessed celebrities’ daughters intentionally leak explicit videos — sort of a public-access “casting couch” — in search of fame and fortune.  We have seen exploited child stars.  More recently, we have seen child stars show the world how “adult” they are by publicly debasing themselves beyond previous benchmarks … only to “out-do” themselves again when that act gets tired.

The possibilities are legion:  Identity theft, fraud, graft, kickbacks, cronyism, politically incestuous arrangements regardless of political affiliation abound.  Many people seem ready to sell their own grandmothers for a dollar.
So-called men, (and now women), neglect or abandon spouse and kids to pursue a career path.  “Abortion Barbie”, let her husband pay off her student loans before filing for divorce.  Maybe the definitions of “independent woman” have been broadened to include despicable parasite.

Very often, it IS “about the money”.  But with high-power politics, especially the tug of war about the right size for government, and the right definition of “freedom” it is about much more than money.

Maybe you don’t believe me.  I’ll show you what I mean.

Let me ask you something.  The reasons people give for expanding the big-government machine usually center around how they will improve the lives of all the “little people” who are [in some sense of the word] “suffering”.  Right?  They claim they are looking for ways to diminish the hardships present in the lives of the “downtrodden”.

Sometimes, it will be for education.  Other times, it will be health care.  Sometimes it will be at-risk kids, or rehabilitation of prisoners, or immigrants, or seniors care.  But always, it will be for the alleged improvement of people’s lives in some form or fashion.

How effective has that system been?  I could cite Detroit, or the California bankruptcies, but that doesn’t really capture the image, nor does it explain why money failed to “help” the people it was supposed to be helping.
Let’s try this.  Imagine a line of people — about thirty people long.  The guy at the back is thirsty and the guy at the front has a cup of water.  The guy in front pours his cup of water into the next guy’s empty cup, who does the same thing, so on down the line to the end.

How much water would be left in that cup once it gets to the end?  A mouthful? A teaspoon? Will  the thirsty guy be refreshed, or has it spilled out over the other people in line. What if it’s not just one thirsty guy, but the process is repeated 100 or even 1000 times?

That example describes what’s happening when the government uses public money to meet needs.

Remember, when the government does it, there’s no guarantee that the person actually getting the water was actually thirsty.

Real needs are seldom met effectively — if at all — but they do invariably place a burden on ordinary people in terms of regulations, fees, taxation etc.  Red tape kills jobs, pushing unemployment higher.  Higher taxes and fees (however “progressive”) often pinch the lower and middle class, reducing their real standard of living by reducing their buying power.

“Buying power”.  Remember that phrase, we’ll come back to it.

If their goal is utopia-creation, they’ve got a really poor track record.  Worse, if the Detroit experience is any indicator, things will sour quickly when it comes time to pay the national credit card, and all the free stuff “goes away”.

They aren’t actually helping people; evidence is pointing the other way.  It is a naked power grab.  They are “buying power”.  Redistribution of wealth is two things:  It is “carrot” and it is “stick”.

Citizens and Corporations alike are beholden to the rewards and the penalties of the puppet-masters gaming this system.  Make the Political Overlords happy, and you can expect to see financial incentives in any number of forms — tax breaks, grants, bursaries, big projects, minimum wage increase, you name it.  Free candy!

Make those same Political Overlords unhappy, by supporting the “wrong” cause, and you will face red tape, IRS audits, and other penalties.  

Notice how the Romeike family was singled out to have their lawfully-granted asylum revoked by the same Eric Holder who calls amnesty a “civil right”.  Dinesh D’Sousa had bail set at a cool half-million, but were there legal implications for Obama’s tax dodging associates; or were they just nominated for plum government appointments?

The more government money at the disposal of legislators for rewarding friends, granting favors, buying votes and harassing opponents, the more political power they have.  Money is only incidental.  Money is only useful so long as it is an avenue to power.  

Make no mistake: it’s “the power, stupid.”

When we argue for small government, and lower taxes, it isn’t because we’re greedy, or indifferent to the poor.  The “progressives” talk about money like it’s a zero-sum game. That’s not how money works; but it IS how power works.

Know this: Augmented government powers only come from diminished personal freedoms.


You want your freedoms back?  It’s pretty straight-forward.  Starve the beast:  make government smaller.  Limit debt and limit spending.

Get Wes Walker’s new, controversial book, A Blueprint for Government That Doesn’t Suck. Available at