Is there any way to make money besides doing a job?
By “doing a job” I mean engaging in productive effort that creates or abets the creation of things people might buy. It needn’t entail a conventional nine-to-five gig; nor hammering out widgets or growing potatoes yourself. You can be an investor working out of a garage who facilitates transactions between producers and consumers. If you are creating value for a market, that’s a job.
By “making money,” I mean being voluntarily paid for doing said job.
Stealing is not “making money.” Instead of abetting the productive process, stealing interrupts and assaults it. Stealing is neither economic exchange nor charity, but a coercive taking away. Even if you steal funds from someone who stole them himself, the funds originated with someone who did do a job, did produce.
Some people, who say they are not crooks, undertake to learn how to acquire stolen goods as an alleged means of entrepreneurial self-enlargement. They receive the instruction, acquire the stolen goods, and then pat themselves on the back for getting off the couch and “doing something.” Are they onto something?
“The money is just there waiting for you, the government has all these programs!” say the people on the infomercial for the National Grants Conference. Who should attend? “Basically everyone should attend, to find out if you can make a better life for yourself with opportunity money from the U.S. Government.” Hey. “Opportunity money.”
On the NGC infomercial, former Congressman Critter J.C. Watts is seated at the brain-trust table, nodding, giving it a Republican spin. “We want to help people be entrepreneurial!” he burbles. “Independence is what it’s all about!” “You know, why not take advantage,” says one of the moderators, agreeing. “Rob, rob, rob, steal, steal, steal!” chimes in another. “The duped taxpayers have been forced to fork over all this wealth to the government, so it’s out there, waiting for you! This seminar teaches you how to grab it!” Back to Watts, nodding sagely: “You know, it’s an opportunity! America is the land of opportunity! Come to the seminar!”
Another of the premier how-to-steal-from-thy-neighbor gurus is Riddler-clone Matthew Lesko. He hosts infomercials but I don’t think also seminars. Maybe his collations of theft opportunities, books with titles like Getting Yours: The Complete Guide to Government Money, generate enough sucker-boodle to keep a roof overhead even sans seminars.
Work? Yes, work is involved. Don’t think that getting free money comes without Herculean exertion!
“Once you have identified the program or programs that can help you, your work has just begun,” says Getting Yours. “Now you have to get the money. Volumes and volumes have been written and consultants have been paid thousands of dollars to counsel individuals and organizations on the ways and means of obtaining government financing. There is no mystery in the method. You do not need a Ph.D. or a Washington office. All you need is patience, determination and hard work, if you are eligible.”
Lesko should have been a bad guy in Atlas Shrugged. His neurotic demeanor is just what you would expect from a Randian arch evading arch-villain. Lesko babbles, zanily, not only on the infomercial but even when he is just talking, if I recall correctly the late-night talk show on which another guest suggested he ease up on the caffeine. According to my theory, Lesko is so hyper and self-parodying because he senses what a lout he is and that what he proposes, i.e., systematically draining the lifeblood of innocent others, cannot be safely debated.
Let us not give credit where credit is not due. This guy isn’t a moral philosopher trying to thrash out a quandary saying, “Hey, you know, if you’re starving in an alley, maybe you can be forgiven for grabbing an apple from somebody’s bodega to stay alive.”
No, don’t look to this guy for musings about the state of nature, the proper function of government, the wellsprings of civilization, what to do on a lifeboat after you have opened the last can of peaches, or anything like that. Lesko advocates stealing, a.k.a. government grant application, as a first resort in getting along in life. Except he never gets so far as advocacy; he takes for granted that everybody already believes in stealing as a way of life, just like him. And he’d rather not know different. He comes at you at a million miles an hour with his lurcho mannerisms and Riddler-knockoff getup from fear that if he slows down for even a beat he’ll hear you clearing your throat and asking:
“Hey, but, wait a minute, isn’t stealing wrong?”
Originally published at isil.org. David M. Brown is the publisher of The Webzine, and runs the blog for the Laissez Faire Books web site, where he has been talking about Wal-Mart, corruption, rice sales, and Google versus the government from an anti-stealing perspective.