Gary Hofmeister: Youth and freedom


— During the July 4 parade last year here in Steamboat, our tea party/Freedom Float caught a pretty big razzing by a group of young teens and twenty-somethings. They quickly broke into a chant of their hero, O-B-A-M-A. As I was a fire-breathing liberal at that age, as well, it got me thinking.

I suspect one big factor that hasn’t changed is the compassion for the less fortunate. And who has the resources and power to help them more than the government, right? Understanding the negatives of making people dependent, and thus, robbing them of their initiative is not something most young people have experienced personally or vicariously. And we love the idea of a silver bullet to cure most of societal ills as opposed to the messy and laborious task of getting citizens involved one by one to tackle seemingly endless injustices and inequities. Who could possibly have time for that? I didn’t.

But as the years progressed, though I never lost my fervor to help the downtrodden, I also gained a clearer understanding of many of the dynamics of human nature that made me increasingly suspicious of government intervention on a massive scale. One needn’t be a statistician to know that if you subsidize something, you get more of it. Tax it and you get less. People don’t take care of others’ belongings as they do their own. If you work for something, it means a lot more to you. Getting charity from an individual or even a private company or foundation carries greater responsibility for your subsequent behavior than receiving it from the government, which quickly becomes an entitlement you think you deserve. These are just basics of human nature that should inform our laws and policies because they impact the efficacy of every program we create.

But there’s something else, as well. It dawned on me even in my early 20s that every program I championed for government intervention meant less freedom for the recipients, as well as those being taxed to fund them. Studying the Founding Fathers of our country and the constitution made it clear they knew government always (and that means always!) wants more power because it’s for our own good. Yeah, right.

This realization impacted me in two ways. One, anyone who objectively looks at such programs knows there are unintended consequences that often outweigh the benefits. Indeed, Washington is often called the Capital of Unintended Consequences, justifiably. The other factor is more foundational. For every dollar we give the government, we give away a bit of our freedom to make the decision what to do with it ourselves. Do we actually think the behemoth in D.C. can spend that money better than we can? Is anyone at a loss to find great charities to direct their beneficence? If so, give me a call and I can give you about a thousand just for starters.

President Barack Obama has awakened something in millions of Americans that is bringing these truths to the fore in their minds. The bad news of his thinking and acting boldly on the assumption that government involvement in virtually every aspect of our lives is also the good news of citizens being jolted from their slumber with the threat of freedoms being lost that might never be able to be regained. And the people with the most to lose: the young. Sorry, kids. But the magic button for utopia doesn’t exist, even with a charismatic black Harvard man at the helm. Freedom, once lost, is excruciatingly difficult to regain. Best to cherish it and not give it away.

Gary Hofmeister is the owner and operator of Hofmeister Personal Jewelers in downtown Steamboat, a company he founded in 1973. He is a director of The Steamboat Institute and a former Republican nominee for Congress in the 10th District of Indiana. He made 18 trips to the former USSR to teach democratic-capitalism during the 1990s.


beentheredonethat 6 years, 12 months ago

Boycott Mr. Hofmeister's jewelery business if you disagree with his political views. He gets to choose his viewpoints and I get to spend my money elsewhere.


trump_suit 6 years, 12 months ago

Funny, as I got older, I became more concerned about my fellow human beings not less.


mmjPatient22 6 years, 12 months ago

I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. – Thomas Jefferson

If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny. – Thomas Jefferson


kathy foos 6 years, 12 months ago

Hey Pilot ,where is the story about the Energy Convention?Just didnt want to go there.?Its nice to see you can really pull those out after what you did to Fred Duckles for a month by showing an old newspaper article for people to trash him on.Too controversial?How about running the storys from the archives about the oil tank explosions again?Its easier to pick on teenage explosion victims?Their familys?Again I say,Fix the safety laws for oil industry! You at the pilot are suppressing news to suit this community for you to shape how you want us to believe in things?Where is the story about the safety video for the kids to see that I asked you to print?The CSB just a bigot group that needs to be repressed?Or just me?Im not shuting up if you havent noticed.


ybul 6 years, 12 months ago

So what in Garys views do you disagree with. I see him pointing out the potential negative impacts of having the government intervene in deciding what is right and wrong. Every time we say yes to something that essentially means we need to say no to other things.

Which government programs are you so happy with that show how great a job they are doing?


seeuski 6 years, 12 months ago

I think the interesting part of Gary's story is that he admits " As I was a fire-breathing liberal at that age, as well,". So was I and not that everyone sees the ills of their ways as they grow into old age as trump-suit proves,LOL, but many do and the youth now more than ever should consider the alternatives. The youth are the targets of those that have power and we can see in many ways how the Progressives are trying to manipulate thought through the teachings of revisionist history in the public schools and using such videos as "The story of stuff". Why else would Obama put a stop to the voucher program which has been a screaming success? Subtly they are being taught Socialism over Capitalism. It may be too late for them to wake up if they follow the typical path of Gary, myself and the rest who got smarter in their aging.


Fred Duckels 6 years, 12 months ago

For the most part charity is best left to the private sector, I'm not likely to supplement a slacker, but some definitely need help. When the Government takes our money and provides assistance, much to buy votes for the givers, they attract freeloaders, since it is now an entitlement. We are becoming top heavy with this welfare state, Europe should provide an ample example. Some would call this idea heartless, but to mother others is an illness. I owe my fellow man the opportunity to make his own decisions, and reap the rewards, positive or negative, this way he can live his life and mature. I call this wisdom. In the end this produces an individual that can take responsibility and run with it, and is no longer a ward of the state. We have much to learn from Mother Nature.


ybul 6 years, 12 months ago

I just wonder what been there done that could be so upset about that it would cause him to want to boycott. I see nothing wrong in expressing ones views and if we are at the point we can not listen to one with a differing viewpoint then we are at a very bad point in this nation.

That is why in the another thread I suggested that we all need to figure out what are common themes within this country.

The idea that I should pay more in taxes for my modest home than someone with a mcmansion on 2-35 acres does lend one to re-examine that line of thought. It is also a common ground that all but those with the McMansions should agree (and in reality many of them also 99.5% of the population).

Seeking a just society should be a goal of all. In order for it to be just, those that work hard should not be unfairly taxed on the rewards of their hard work so another can ride on their coattails. Once there become too many on the coattails, those pulling the the load will simply stop and the system will crash. Near that point today, with the load the government is going to need to put on the middle class to service our debt in the future.


sledneck 6 years, 12 months ago

At that age I was too. I was falling for the green movement. I'll never forget the month I changed my mind.

When the news broke about those whackos in Waco hold-up in their "compound" I actually said " the government outta go in there and shoot 'em if they have to".

50 days later, on April 19, 1993 I had an epiphany. 76 people including 2 pregnant women and 20 children less than 5 feet tall were burned to death by our government.

Our government, in violation of the posse- comitatus act, sent military personel from Ft. Hood up against its own citizens. No trial, no conviction, no arrest, no discussion.

Since that fateful day I have watched for 17 years as our retarded big brother screws up one thing after another. It was the government, on its own, that convinced me of its inability to help anyone and its dangerous might when it fails. Ultimately, I learned that government is like fire, a wonderful servant but a terrible master.


Sara Gleason 6 years, 12 months ago

Ditto Mr. Hofmeister-

I think this describes the political evolution many of us go through. Some earlier than others! Great letter!



pitpoodle 6 years, 12 months ago

I worked for George McGovern though I hate to admit that now. Don't know what I could have been thinking. The old adage: Too soon old, too late smart, comes to mind. I agree with Hofmeister, government involvement is the problem not the solution. People recognize this more now than ever and that is why Dems wanting bigger government and higher taxes to support it will be voted out in large numbers at the next opportunity. Personally, I am looking forward to that day.


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