Sunday, July 29, 2007

In the aftermath of 9/11, a fund was set up to dole out taxpayer dollars to 'victims' of the attack. Considering that most of the true victims were dead, the monies paid out - if I have it right, hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars - went to friends and family of those who died in the attacks.

I remember thinking at the time that this was not such a good idea. While I felt bad for those who lost loved ones, I thought it was a bad idea, a real bad idea, for the federal government - in other words, my tax dollars - paying money to those claiming a loss as a result of the attacks.

I had a number of reasons for thinking that way. One, while I certainly wish the federal government had done more to try and prevent these attacks, in no way was it the federal government's fault that it happened. The terrorists and their supporters were the ones responsible, and as such, the federal government had no obligation to make people financially whole.

Another reason was the slippery slope that would lead to cries from others in other situations to be compensated for their losses. While the attack was horrific, there really wasn't anything that distinguished these victims from the millions of others who lose a father, mother, son or daughter as a result of accident or evil. Every day across the country, someone loses someone they loved and counted on for financial and emotional support. That's life and society is under no obligation to make people financially whole after such a loss.

And if money - and lots of it - was paid out to the friends and family of those who died in 9/11, why shouldn't others who suffer the loss of a friend or family member also get a handout from the government?

And that is what is happening here in Virginia, where those who lost someone in the Va Tech shooting are clamoring for taxpayer dollars to be paid out as 'compensation' for their losses.

As with those who lost friends and family in 9/11, I feel bad for those who lost someone at Tech that day. But feeling bad for them doesn't obligate me to approve opening up the state treasury to them. It was NOT the state of Virginia's fault that those students and professors died that day. The killer - and the killer alone - is responsible and it's just plain wrong for the state to pay out money, not because they're responsible, but rather to make state officials feel they're doing something good.

People die every day, for all sort of reasons. We can feel bad, but in the absence of the government causing those deaths, I see no reason why the state has any financial obligation to these people. If the state of Virginia feels bad, the Governor and the Virginia legislature can all send a sympathy card. They shouldn't be sending out a check.

If someone feels bad, and to the point where they want their money to go to help out these people, there are many ways to take money out of their wallet and send it to those they feel deserving. But it ought to be money from their wallet, not mine.