Horatio Bunce, GOP Freedom Caucus, and the Libertarian Cause

By Sam McLure
Alabama Political Report

The political career of Tennessee militia colonel, David Crockett, has been ubiquitously overshadowed by his legendary defense of the Alamo in 1836. Before this heroic stand, Colonel Crockett was known as the “Lion of Washington,” serving three terms in the US House of Representatives between 1827 and 1835.

Halfway into Col. Crockett’s political career, he succumbed to a existential political conversion at the hands of a simple farmer named Horatio Bunce. Seeing the time of his re-election approaching, Col. Crockett took to riding through his district, mingling and speaking with his constituents, the way politicians still do today.

His trek through the towns and farming communities was going rather smoothly until he came across Horatio Bunch, quietly at his toil by the side of the road. Col. Crockett greeted Mr. Bunce and asked to speak with him. Much to Col. Crockett’s surprise, Mr. Bunce responded that he was busy and didn’t have much time for talk.

Col. Crockett was shocked by the cold greeting and introduced himself as US Representative David Crocket who was seeking re-election. Mr. Bunce conveyed to Col. Crockett that he knew who he was, that he voted for Col. Crockett in the last election, but that he would not be getting his vote again.

When Col. Crockett pressed Mr. Bunce for an explanation, Mr. Bunce explained that Col. Crockett either lacked the “capacity to understand the Constitution, or that [he was] wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it.” The exact transgression to which Mr. Bunce directed Col. Crockett’s attention was a bill apportioning $20,000 to the victims of a fire in Georgetown that had destroyed several homes – a bill which Col. Crockett voted for in support and which passed.

Mr. Bunce explained to his soon-to-be-convert:

“The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man.”

“[Seeing that] the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper.”

“You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other.”

“Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.”

“[W]hen Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people.”

Mr. Horatio Bunce, a simple farmer from a rural province, made a true convert that day. The Lion of Washington, Col. David Crockett, made good on his conversion the very next Legislative Session as he single handily defeated a bill that would have dispensed charity from public funds to the widow of a renowned military officer.

The full account of Col. David Crockett’s transformation can be found here, and is well worth the 20 minute investment.

If we were to witness Col. Crockett’s transformation today, we might see him moving toward the GOP Freedom Caucus … or maybe abandoning the GOP all-together for the Libertarian Party. Both of these entities are fighting for the ideals espoused by Mr. Horatio Bunce in the current healthcare debate.

The Constitution does not grant the Federal Government the right to take money out of one man’s pocket to provide for the healthcare of another man. The goals and purposes of “healthcare for all” are noble, right, and good – no one should be left sick, destitute, and alone. However, to say that these ideals lead to an authorization for the Federal Government to act outside of the Constitution, is to open a wide door for “fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other.”

Not only does current government intrusion into the healthcare markets violate the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, it is the most ineffective and inefficient method possible of accomplishing the ideals of “health care for all.”

The false premise is often touted that, prior to government intrusion into the free-market of healthcare, the poor often went untreated:

“In the days before Medicare and Medicaid, the poor and elderly were admitted to hospitals at the same rate they are now, and received good care. Before those programs came into existence, every physician understood that he or she had a responsibility towards the less fortunate and free medical care was the norm. Hardly anyone is aware of this today, since it doesn’t fit into the typical, by the script story of government rescuing us from a predatory private sector.”

As Mr. Horatio Bunce explained, “Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.” At a recent Birmingham Kiwanis meeting, the head coach of the UAB football program was the key note speaker. He explained that $40 million was being raised from the Birmingham community to resurrect his fledgling sports program.

$40,000,000 in charity from individuals for sport. Are we so jaded in our view of humanity that we think the purse strings cannot be equally pulled for much more noble goals? I for one am not. I am convinced, however, that if the Federal Government started using public funds to subsidize football, it would result in a drastic tightening of the individual charity towards it.

Mr. Horatio Bunce also explained that because the “Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper.” With the Federal Government’s intrusion into the healthcare market, it inherently determines what is health care and what is not. Just to mention one absurd example, under the last Presidential administration, infanticide was a government funded health care practice – the Federal Government dipped into the public funds to kill babies under the mantel of healthcare. Truly, Mr. Bunce’s words are true, “[t]he power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man.”

If our eulogy for Col. Crockett’s conversion were not complete, we could spend 10 times the ink on exploring the “fraud and corruption and favoritism” which result from the Federal Government’s unconstitutional intrusion into healthcare. For our purposes here, it will be sufficient to repeat the Libertarian Party’s position: “Currently, the healthcare industry is virtually monopolized by the government and a handful of insurance companies. They hold the checkbook and wield it for their own benefit.”

If Col. Crockett’s conversion sparks your interest, you can learn more about what our country may look like if the Federal Government stays within the bounds of the 10th Amendment here and here.

 

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