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Letter to the Editor (of the L.A. Times)

Posted by Rob Longenecker on September 1st, 2009

31 August 2009

Editor, Los Angeles Times

Dear Editor:

You join legions of others in describing Ted Kennedy as having been “compassionate” (“Ted Kennedy, America’s conscience,” August 30).  Aware that I’ll come across as low-brow – as unable to appreciate the transformative magic of politics – I must ask: What’s compassionate about spending other people’s money and minding other people’s business?

Suppose Mr. Kennedy were my neighbor.  One day he arrives at my door with a handful of other neighbors (all carrying concealed weapons) and demands some of my money and tells me that he’ll regulate what I eat, drink, and smoke.  “And I’ll stop your teenage son from being employed if no employer offers him a wage at least as high as one that my friends here and I determine is appropriate.”

I gaze at him aghast.  “Oh, don’t worry.  Because my undying dream is to help others, I’ll spend the money that I take from you in ways that will help you.  But I’ll also spend much of it helping people on the other side of the tracks.  And any restrictions that I impose on your behavior are ones that, you can be sure, spring only from my compassion for you and others.”

Should I regard neighbor Kennedy as great and compassionate – as a gallant champion of the interests of others?  Or should I regard him as an arrogant bully, as fraudulent as he is dangerous?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

2 Responses to “Letter to the Editor (of the L.A. Times)”

  1. BruceGibson Says:

    Ted Kennedy, compassionate? It was a good letter, but immediately makes me wonder if Mary Jo Kopechne’s family would share the same sentiments in describing Teddy as “compassionate.” I doubt it.

  2. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    Ted was soooo compassionate that he wanted to select the senatorial successor from Massachusetts just in case the people of that great state weren’t capable of selecting one for themselves.

    I wonder if he plans on sharing his glory with the Almighty?

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