It’s done all the time. A word that you thought you knew the definition to is taken and applied to a certain thing, in order to lull people into feeling warm fuzzies about what is really a power play hostile to freedom. Take the word “public,” for example. What does it mean? We’ve been taught, by our government-dressed-in-benevolent-clothing, that it means “free” and “available to all.” What it really means is that those in power get to decide what the rules are and who has access to “public” things. Public really means communist; which really means there are a few powerful people in charge of everyone else. By making certain schools “public,” the government took over the education of children and grants itself the authority to decide what qualifies as education and how it should be done. By making large tracts of land “public,” the government gets to decide how much to charge for entrance and when people are allowed to enjoy these areas. Like many communist take-overs, much of this is done by bringing the mobs to a lather, to give the impression of justice being acted out. Then the mobs, and everyone else, are made slaves of the “public’s” best interest.
Government designed tax-shelters or tax deductions are the same way. The programs are offered to us, with the promise that it will allow us to be better off. What it really is is the government manipulating behavior, so that people are inclined to make choices that are approved of. Go into debt for your house – get a tax deduction. Put children in non-parental daily care – get a tax deduction. Give to government sanctioned charities – get a tax deduction. It is not a lot different than receiving government aid in the more obvious ways. And whenever you sign up for any of these programs, the deceptively friendly government then gets a foot in the door. Before you know it, they are running your life. They are not so friendly then.
The truth of all of this has become painfully obvious once more as the government run programs of retirement savings, affectionately and ironically called Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs,) are now openly being discussed as potentially “public” property. After all, the government allowed them to exist with special privileges. Somehow, this translates into “it was good of you all to save that money for everyone.” Admittedly, the government has worked it’s way into regulating just about everything in our lives. Still, it is historically safest to limit activities of any sort, including investment activities, to those things that are the least regulated and least likely to be viewed as having been granted favor by the government. What the government feels it has the right to giveth, the government has no qualms about takething away.