The Reader Writes: Disagrees with Rev. J. Byker

629 So. 198th Seattle 88, Wash.

Mr. John J. Byker’s article, “Something For Nothing” is one of the most skillful pieces of biased propaganda I have yet encountered. The author begins his article with the undeniable truism that “evil men” have used the desire to get something for nothing to gain power and he then proceeds through a series of the most illogical steps based upon the most inadequate proofs to conclude that the federal government is deliberately planning totalitarian control over our lives. His logic seems to run as follows: Evil men have promised something for nothing to gain power. Government welfare programs are something for nothing. Therefore government welfare programs are evil and aimed at totalitarian power.

The first statement is true—although good men have also promised and given something for nothing just because they are good. There is also an element of truth in the second statement since some who pay less taxes than others get more benefits. And undoubtedly some of the welfare programs demanded by some people out of taxes on the rich are unwise, unfair and motivated by the wish to get something for nothing. But, to use a bit of Mr. Byker’s reasoning, I doubt that any “thinking person” questions the fairness of graduated taxes to provide such basic elements of civilization as decent economic security, medical care and education or that such programs are generally motivated by a desire to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Therefore government welfare programs are not necessarily evil means to an evil end. If Mr. Byker has read Mr. Palmer’s article in the same issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, he must recognize that not all “thinking people” accept the premise that excessive control automatically follows the collection and disbursement of revenue. Mr. Byker fails to distinguish between degrees of control and fails to recognize that limited regulation by a government responsive to the people is significantly different from unlimited control by a government unresponsive to the people.

I would remind Mr. Byker that never in the history of the U.S. was there more overt greed or a greater desire to get “something for nothing” than during that period of unregulated economic activity between 1870 and 1900 when the worker, the small businessman and the public domain were criminally exploited on the principle of the survival of the fittest. A limited degree of government control and welfare as well as a vastly expanded program of charity to promote the decency befitting all men created in the image of God and blessed with his common grace seems to be worthy of the support of all Christians.

The evidence Mr. Byker presents to support his premises is sketchy and questionable. For example, which controls of the medical care bill are excessive? What is the source of information for his conclusions regarding British medical service? What specific controls are suggested in “A Federal Education Agency for the Future”? What did the Majority Report on HR 7904 say?

The serious charges brought by Mr. Byker against individuals, agencies and policies of our government require more careful documentation than Mr. Byker has provided.

Sincerely yours,



Thanks for the opportunity given to answer Mr. Leistra’s response to my article in the March issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, “Something for Nothing.”

Through the course of the past few years I have often met the reaction that Mr. Leistra expresses and am not surprised. I thank the brother for his reaction and am flattered by his speaking of my article as “one of the most skillful,” even if “biased.” This almost makes me want to write again. The correspondent calls me biased—I am. So is he.

Our objector seeks to defend “state welfarism,” socialism or any other system providing “decent economic security.” Who determines what is decent economic security? The state? And may the state determine that for everyone, and if so, by what standard? What qualifications does the state have to perform this function? If the state does so determine, we are slaves! It would be a marvelous thing if the state ever operated in its welfare programs from the motivation of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” However, this certainly flies in the face of history, and even the history of our land in the last thirty years. I know of no example, nor do I believe our correspondent knows of an example in history, whereby means of collection of revenue and distribution of the same for regulation or adjustment in an economy did not lead to excessive control. It is not that I fail to distinguish between degrees of control. My contention is that all absolute control starts by degrees. I further believe that we are witnessing the buildup of such controls at the present time. It moves by degrees from the responsive to the unresponsive control.

I shall not seek to defend abuses which have existed in the past, say in the 1870’s to the 1900’s, but the same exploitation takes place openly today on the part of labor unions. Government winks at these abuses. Are we therefore better off because someone else does the exploiting?

Very few are the workers who today are free to join or not to join, pay dues or not pay dues, participate in welfare programs or not. People may be better fed or clothed, but that is not the issue. Slaves may be well fed and clothed but they are slaves whose “welfare is determined and may be arbitrarily suspended.” To me this is the issue. We cannot be fed from the udders of government and hope to remain free.

I fail to see how the government received or is qualified to fulfill the prerogative of charity programs and decency programs which befits all men. Mr. Leistra’s plea for a government nursemaid reminds me of the Frenchman who watched as the German army raced over his homeland and remarked, “Our problem is that we looked up to the government of France as a milk cow to be milked rather than a watchdog to be chained.” That, Mr. Editor, is my conviction concerning “state welfarism.” Government is marvelous and necessary, like fire when controlled and when it serves, but not when it by degrees or otherwise controls, shows favoritism, ignores the Constitution, etc. It is the duty of the citizens to see that government serves rather than controls. That is my task and Mr. Leistra’s task. Today it is high time that we pay attention to that duty so that those who follow may have opportunity to live, develop and worship…not only drink.



P.S. If Mr. Leistra is genuinely interested in documentation I shall be glad to supply the sources. All it will cost is a three cent “government” postcard.