Who will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, tend the sick, visit the imprisoned . . . ?

The candidates blew the emotional turning point in Monday’s CNN/Tea Party debate. Blew it. Big.

Before we go into that, hear me out on the pressure on those candidates.

Lights, Camera, Panic

Imagine being on a stage. Searing white brightness reduces your range of vision to a few degrees of arc. You hear hundreds of people making the sounds that audiences make, but you can’t really see them.

Before you are journalists bent on catching in a gaffe, or unprepared, or vulnerable. On either side of you stand your ideological soul mates. They, too, stand ready to skewer you with your own words.

I only marvel that people can even speak in that circumstance.  So what you’re about read does mean I could do better.  I couldn’t.

Still, when you take the stage, you better be ready.  And Dr. Paul and his colleagues were not.

Let Him Die?

The turning point in that debate involved Dr. Paul. He had the opportunity to champion his greatest cause—liberty.  He missed it.  The rest of the Republicans missed it, too.

Clarence Page recounts the moment in today’s Chicago Tribune:

Moderator Wolf Blitzerasked Paul, a medical doctor and fierce libertarian, if a seriously ill young man who had decided on his own to forgo health insurance suddenly needs expensive hospital care, should the state pay for it?

Paul, shaking his head, lectured, “That’s what freedom is all about. Taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to take care of everybody. … ”

At that point Paul was interrupted by a burst of applause from the tea party-filled audience.

“But congressman,” Blitzer persisted, “are you saying society should just let him die?”

“Yeah,” shouted at least two voices in the crowd. But Paul, to his credit, said, “No.”

So who pays? Paul asserted that in his experience, friends, neighbors, churches and charities step forward to help.

Society vs. Government

Here’s how the scenario might have played out.

In answer to Blitzer’s second challenge, “are you saying society should just let him die?” Paul might have made a crucial distinction.

“Society, Mr. Blitzer, is not government; government is not society. Throughout the vast majority of human history, in fact, society was the unwilling slave to its unwanted government.  The history of man is a history of cruel domination.

“Two hundred thirty years ago, something changed.  On this continent, away from their masters, society woke up and said, ‘my only master is God.’  That society broke the chains that bound it to its European masters and formed its own government—a government subservient to the people.

Who Pays?

“Now you ask, ‘who pays for the sick who cannot pay for themselves.’ Well, we do. But not through some massive bureaucracy as far from Santa Monica as Philadelphia is from London. Instead, we, the people who surround our sick brothers, take care of him. This isn’t a Pollyanna dream; it’s the only way a free people can exist.

“Can we just abolish all of the systems and services that Washington has forced upon us over the decades?  No.  The good society that once occupied this land is a shell of its former self.  Most of us have lost the capacity to completely care for ourselves, much less caring for others.

“Corporate officers who believe their only job is to amass and hold ridiculous wealth, corrupt union bosses who exploit the hall to build their mansions, and ordinary citizens who turn a blind eye to the decay and want all around them—these are all the products of a government that over-reached its purpose.  Excessive government pacified us into the callous, hollow people many have become.

No Off Switch

“No, Wolf, we can’t just flip the switch on the federal programs that sweet-talked Americans out of their humanity. We need to wind them down as we, the people, restore the dignity, honor, and nobility we once carried.

“No, we’ll never reach every person—there will always be pathological money whores who exploit society. Like everyone else—everyone except the exploiters—I want government there to stop them.

“But I don’t want government to be the charity ward.  If you proxy out your decency, your proxy, not you, enters the Pearly Gates.

“Finally, no, our society should not stand around and watch a man die. But now it does. We expect somebody to do something about this. We wash our hands and say, ‘it’s government’s job.’   We seem to to have forgotten that, on this continent, the government is me.”

The After Party

The purpose of The After Party is to live that answer.  We must mend the tattered fabric of American society. We must learn how to offer our services and accept others’ hand.  Relying on government aid dispensed by a paid bureaucrat is demeaning.  Accepting the loving help of a stranger is the essence of humanity.

Twelve months from now, for thousands of participants in The After Party, government programs will become a superfluous waste of time, money, and energy.  We will be a force for good that no government can challenge.

Join Us 

If you want to mend the torn fabric of society as we ease out from under a bloated bureacracy, then fill out this simple form.  You will not receive our other, regular Tea Party news.  You will be in a special list of those who want to be prepared for that day when Washington can no longer pretend to be our consciences.


10 thoughts on “Who will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, tend the sick, visit the imprisoned . . . ?”

  1. I agree that Paul gave the wrong answer, but I disagree as to what you think it should be. Yes, the individual should be untethered to intrusive gum’mint and left to make his or her own decisions. That’s part of being FREE. Another part is the willingness to accept responsibility for making our own decisions. If I’m at the racetrack and parlay a $50 superfecta wager into a $7,300 payoff then I should enjoy the fruits of my cleverness. If instead Glacial Speed comes roaring up the rail faster than a dim o’wit can dance around the truth and spoils my ticket, only I should suck up the consequences of blowing my last 50 bucks. If anyone makes the decision to gamble with their own money or health then they and only they must be accountable for the consequences. This fictional young man took the gamble, he lost and loser pays. Years ago, maybe still – don’t know – many rural fire districts asked the residents in their areas to buy fire protection tags. If a Uncle Finster did not and his house caught fire, the fire fighters would come. They’d let the building burn down but endeavor to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring properties. That’s the same principle that applies here.  If third parties are freely willing to come forth with assistance, that’s fine and dandy, but should not be relied on. Medical personnel are just like everyone else with a marketable skill or a desirable product. They are entitled to compensation for their work. That compensation is the responsibility of the potential buyer, and no one else.

    1. Thanks, Gill.

      I personally believe in mercy and redemption. I don’t believe you should be compelled to help someone. But I do want to live in a society where most people would. I think the other kind of society–where everyone is out solely for himself–is doomed from the start. And life without mercy and redemption would be brutal and short. It encourages agency theory which dehumanizes us.

  2. Bill Hennessey’s essay “Who Will Feed….” was excellant.  I wish you’d add a printer friendly option to the site.  I’d love to keep that one handy. 

  3. Well done, Bill.   Get rid of the  massive, and massively expensive Federal programs.  In the name of love, the Fed Govt is bankrupting  the country, and deriving their political power.  Private, local help is the only way to go.  Govt is not the proper agent of charity.  When Govt nontheless takes the task upon itself , the result is political insanity, bankruptcy, fraud, corruption, massively expensive bureaucracy, the ugliest of politics, demagoguery, coercion of tax dollars for charity, along with the other negatives you  mentioned. 

  4. When a man incurred huge cancer treatment bills, (down by my farm in Miller Co.) auctions were held with donated items, entertainment also donated, food etc. When a manager at a local restaurant came down with huge medical bills, the restaurant owner opened his place for fund raising; again food, etc was donated.  The same rocking chair was auctioned off three times as people redonated it. It is being done by some.

  5. I profoundly disagree with your assessment of Dr. Paul’s response in the “let him die” question.  Candidates do not have opportunities in these debates to put forth complicated, lengthy missives such as the one you wrote over some period of time from the convenience of your home.  He made a very simple, eloquent point, which is that for each individual circumstance there may be a private responsibility to help those in need, but there should be no mandatory collective one.  In these debates the concepts need to be kept simple and straightforward to accommodate the venue and the attention spans therein.  People who were influenced can then hash out the details with friends and family or in forums like this.

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