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Thomas Hobbes, a seventeenth century political philosopher, advocated in his famous work Leviathan that the fundamental role of government is to protect its citizens. A fine goal to be certain but where does one draw the line for what is acceptable protection and what is unnecessary? It has become more and more evident that the current systems in place unnecessarily restrict our liberties more than offer us any real protection. The United States Department of Agriculture is just one example of one of those unnecessary government agencies that seeks only to protect a chosen few rather than America as a whole.
No clearer an example of this kind of government protectionism exists than the case of the Dollarhites. The Dollarhites are a family that wanted to teach their son some responsibility and the value of a dollar by rescuing two rabbits, one male and one female. Before long the Dollarhites found that the family of two rabbits had started to expand. The rabbits' family expanded so much that the Dollarhites decided to open Dollarvalue Rabbitry, where they’d sell four week old rabbits for ten or fifteen dollars apiece. In 2009 the Rabbitry had grown so large, and with their son’s lack of interest, the Dollarhites bought the business from their son and tried managing it themselves. By the end of the year the family had earned approximately $4,600 from their rabbitry. However, this capitalist fairytale does not have such a happy ending. For the USDA stepped in and has issued them a $90,643 fine for selling more than $500 worth of rabbits a year, and if the Dollarhites don’t pay the original fine they could receive $10,000 per rabbit beyond the first fifty sold. Since the Dollarhites sold 390 rabbits over their first 50 they could end up having to pay $3.9 million dollars in fines.
Claude Frédéric Bastiat, a nineteenth century economist and political philosopher, wrote in his famous essay titled Government said, “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” The USDA is set up not to protect the citizenry as a whole, but to protect only those farmers that are protected by the government. These special farmers are a clearly trying to live at the expense of everybody else. The Dollarhites did nothing wrong but tried to enjoy the American dream. Their only fault was not being a member of the agricultural cartel, set up and protected by the government.