I often hear that we as a party that supports spending other people’s money, that we will run up the public debt, and we essentially political libertines trying to socially engineer Marxism. This is mostly due to our support of a decentralized public assistance system.
To the first objection I would like to jovially point out that I am a tax payer as well. April truly is the cruelest month with the innumerable taxes to be paid every year after you had already been taxed with each pay stub. So to say that we desire to spend other people’s money would be a gross overstatement. We don’t desire to spend anyone else’s money any more than we want to spend our own money. We are, like every other tax payer, human as well with our own desires and obligations.
That said, we do not wish to put any burden on our neighbors that we are not willing to shoulder ourselves. This is part of our principle of Solidarity. Community is voluntary association and the solidarity bonding it together is for the advancement of the common good, not special interest. Thus, the nature, scope, and cost of such a system would be decided by the community to meet the common good of the citizens in it.
Now, many will likely attack our position as a means to redistribute wealth. In a sense, that is precisely what it is. We believe that the world has natural inequalities and these stem from natural evil rather than explicit moral evil. Some people are born into poverty through no fault of their own. We also believe that the fruits of the earth were given to all men equally and that in the beginning there was no lack of resources nor disproportion in their distribution. Yet the fallen nature of the world causes these resources to be scatted according to the evil in the world and not by the justice in which it was created. Man, caring for his fellow in stark contrast to Cain, as the steward of the earth must see to it that these natural injustices be eliminated when possible or at the minimum reduced.
Naturally, meeting this obligation requires immense amounts of time and money and everyone doesn’t want to give up too much of their time and especially not their money. But the demands of justice call to each and every one of us and we cannot be blind to the Lazarus outside our own gates. It is a bold undertaking that we have received from the Gospels and one that requires all the actors in the community to come together in solidarity. As Pope Leo XIII said, “It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor. And the danger lies in this, that crafty agitators are intent on making use of these differences of opinion to pervert men’s judgments and to stir up the people to revolt.” Like Leo, when we talk about assistance to the poor, we cannot fail to address its purpose: the acquisition and retention of private property.
It is the right of every human being to acquire and retain private property. Leo writes:
The fact that God has given the earth for the use and enjoyment of the whole human race can in no way be a bar to the owning of private property. For God has granted the earth to mankind in general, not in the sense that all without distinction can deal with it as they like, but rather that no part of it was assigned to any one in particular, and that the limits of private possession have been left to be fixed by man’s own industry, and by the laws of individual races. Moreover, the earth, even though apportioned among private owners, ceases not thereby to minister to the needs of all, inasmuch as there is not one who does not sustain life from what the land produces. Those who do not possess the soil contribute their labor; hence, it may truly be said that all human subsistence is derived either from labor on one’s own land, or from some toil, some calling, which is paid for either in the produce of the land itself, or in that which is exchanged for what the land brings forth.
Here, again, we have further proof that private ownership is in accordance with the law of nature. Truly, that which is required for the preservation of life, and for life’s well-being, is produced in great abundance from the soil, but not until man has brought it into cultivation and expended upon it his solicitude and skill. Now, when man thus turns the activity of his mind and the strength of his body toward procuring the fruits of nature, by such act he makes his own that portion of nature’s field which he cultivates – that portion on which he leaves, as it were, the impress of his personality; and it cannot but be just that he should possess that portion as his very own, and have a right to hold it without any one being justified in violating that right.
Private property, no matter how small, gives a man dignity and worth. It is something of his own that he can maintain and cultivate for his descendants. It is important to remember that we, along with Leo, do not consider wages to be private property in the strictest sense. It is a means to private property, but it is not to be the end as private property. Wages, therefore, need to be supportive of that end such that the reasonable worker can provide for his family and attain property for himself. Such wages should always be determined by agreements between the employer and the worker, though the State has an obligation to ensure that the requirements of justice are met. Thus, union bargaining, minimum wage laws, and other such remedies on their own are insufficient to address the issue of wages. Businesses should conduct themselves according to the principles of solidarity between employer and worker rather than adversarial disputes. States should enact laws that encourage such solidarity and foster good relationships in the community.
Sometimes, however, it is not possible for innumerable circumstances, for a person to be paid a wage that can lead to private property. Further instances make it impossible for a person to even feed their family or have housing. These are great struggles implicit in the fallen nature of man and the world, but they are equally great opportunities for solidarity. Essentially, sometimes people need help and the community needs to be there for them.
This is likely where the accusation of large government expenditures will begin. We do not, again, desire taxes to rise or deficits increase. Indeed, we know that there are ample resources already available both from the public and the private sectors. Our approach is two pronged: reform the public systems to better reflect the needs of the local community and integrate the efforts of the private sector with the public sector.
The first is simple. The lion’s share of control over how programs are implemented should go to the local government. The only directions from Richmond should be the support of basic subsistence programs i.e. food, clothing, and shelter, ensuring that programs comply with state laws regarding discrimination, and coordinating the programs of the various localities when necessary. No fiats should come that directly dictate how a program should operate in a locality as a bureaucrat from Richmond has little idea as to the actual life of a community in Roanoke. While the bureaucrat has to operate from quotas and spreadsheets, the local communities operate from personal, firsthand knowledge and experience of the needs and best practices.
The second is less so and it is best to leave this less defined. The various localities would know better regarding the resources and needs of their community. We are a party that is principle driven, not policy driven. We keep things vague in certain areas because we believe that they should be vague enough for the local communities to determine what is best for them. That said, the policies should conform to the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. Beyond that, there is little to be said on local practices. As for state practice, we can be more specific. The government in Richmond should concentrate its efforts on inter-jurisdictional organizations i.e. organizations that need to cross county lines to do their work. Even then, the state’s oversight should not infringe upon the local control to the extent that they directly influence policy.
Now we come to the final objection: that we favor Marxism or desire some utopia. We are not ignorant of the human condition; we know that this is a difficult task. We cannot, however, believe in the commonality of the earth’s fruits and the rights and duties of private property and shirk the demands of justice. We cannot create a perfect world, but we can at least ease the suffering of those in it and give them a reasonable chance at attaining the same dignities that we enjoy. Also, since we draw almost all our inspiration from a specifically anti-Marxist movement, this charge is beyond absurd. Solidarity is the enemy of Marxism. Where Marxism seeks to isolate men as merely a collection of individuals whose only strength is collective revolution and dissolution of the only thing giving them dignity i.e. private property, Solidarity acknowledges and defends the personal dignity of each human person as a unique creation and offers free association to each person so that united on common ground based in common sense, we may affect the common good. We are the enemy of Marxists because we deny them the envy they need to sow the seeds of their dissent. We bring people together through mutual cooperation rather than violent upheaval. We are, just as the Polish Solidarity was to the Soviet oppressors, the greatest threat to Marxism the United States has seen. We show, more than any other political movement, that their promises are empty and their motives are not liberation but slavery to greed and envy.
The American Solidarity Party seeks, above all, for the care of the community and all its members. Like Solidarity in Poland, we are against social engineering but rather for social interaction. We are against central planning and unseen bureaucrats; we are for all people in their local communities coming together to support one another and grow with each other, defending each other’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We seek to protect private property as the essential component of human dignity by tearing down obstacles to it and fostering its growth and acquisition. Above all, we are for life and life that is lived well in the company of others towards the final end of all men.
It worked for Poland.