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Warnings From The Wise About The Welfare State

Posted by | March 23rd, 2013

Below, is a very insightful post, from FEE, in regards to The Welfare State:

“A February 27, 2013, article in The New York Times on last month’s Italian elections included this interesting paragraph:

“Increasingly, experts on both sides of the Atlantic are asking whether politicians in some advanced nations, faced with high debts, aging populations and slower growth, are capable of promoting plans that offer a way out of the malaise—or whether they could be elected if they did.”

So the “experts” are finally beginning to wonder if the welfare State is affordable and sustainable. I guess that’s progress. But in my view, these Johnny-come-latelies aren’t experts at all if they didn’t see it coming.

The real experts—the ones who deserve our praise and appreciation—were the people who warned against the welfare State when it was in its infancy and were often pilloried as thoughtless, mean-spirited skinflints. Many names come to mind.

President Grover Cleveland vetoed many welfare-type bills in the 1880s. He wisely declared that “though the people may support the government, it is not the duty of the government to support the people.”

When a federal income tax was put forward more than a century ago to help finance future government growth, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field prophesied, “A small progressive tax will be but the stepping stone to others, larger and more sweeping, till our political contests will become a war.” A war it has indeed become: of one class against another, of politicians against the people, of one generation against the next, of eternal truth against endless lies.

Senator Barry Goldwater counseled against the “Great Society” schemes of the 1960s, in part because he knew they would put the country on the path to bankruptcy: “It is a fact that Lyndon Johnson and his curious crew seem to believe that progress in this country is best served simply and directly through the ever-expanding gift power of the everlastingly growing Federal Government. . . . It’s political Daddyism, and it’s as old as demagogues and despotism.”

I also think of the people who bravely sounded the alarm about the boondoggles of the 1930s, the lonely voices who opposed the Bush prescription drug entitlement of 2004, and the farsighted ones who spoke against the bailouts of 2008–09. All of that baloney cost far more in both money and liberties than the proponents originally claimed. They established dangerous precedents and new dependent constituencies whose votes politicians could buy by offering still more. We’re paying an awful price today for not listening to those wise folks then.

If you declare at a party, “Guzzle with glee, you’ll feel great!” but fail to say a word about tomorrow’s hangover, in what subject are you an “expert”? You’re not even tuned in to the long-run consequences of your own advice.

Every expansion of the federal government—from food stamps to student loans, from the role of corporate subsidizer to that of global cop—was heralded as a great and noble development, at least for those on the receiving end. Politicians from both parties rushed to take credit, perhaps knowing deep down that if anything went wrong, they’d be gone and not be blamed. The French have a phrase for this: “Après moi, le deluge”—After me, the flood.

All around us, every minute of every day, signs abound of bad and intractable consequences of the dreams of myopic schemers. Those consequences are no longer long-term. They’re here, now. Soaring, almost incomprehensible deficits and debt. Abandonment of personal responsibility by large swaths of the population who pursue destructive behaviors while expecting a handout. Demagogues corrupting elections with promises of other people’s money. Program after program headed for fiscal insolvency. All of it was utterly predictable—and was indeed predicted by the wise who knew history, economics, human nature, and simple math.

No welfare State of the last 3,000 years improved a people’s character, enhanced their liberties, or put their government’s finances on a solid footing. The reality has been just the opposite, in every case, no exception. The late economist Howard Kershner summed it up well: “When a self-governing people confer upon their government the power to take from some and give to others, the process will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare.”

Say what you want about the welfare State, but you can’t say we weren’t warned.”

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6 thoughts on “Warnings From The Wise About The Welfare State

  1. free2bme

    We implemented federal income tax to fund the civil war not to “finance future government growth,” and we have been giving to one class and taking from another for centuries. But, with the welfare system you are taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Back before student loans you could be a share cropper, an engineer or teacher, all without an education; now McDonald’s and a cashier at Wal-Mart are your options. You can not go down to the DuPont plant and work your way up from a janitor to a process engineer. That leaves all but the rich without schooling. Hmm a country of illiterates… I am pretty sure you can’t even be a preacher anymore without some schooling beyond high school. Welfare is not what is breaking us. What is breaking us is the UNAmerican way corporations are allowed to do business by avoiding taxes and moving manufacturing overseas; and let’s not forget 2 wars. Corporations get tax breaks for hiring a food stamp recipient of about $10,000, for 2 years; that is almost a whole years wages for minimum wage. These jobs have high turnover and many large businesses share corporate headquarters, like pizza hut and taco bell. So if you quit pizza hut after 2 years and start at taco bell that corporation gets that tax break again, because even though they are owned by the same corporation they are treated separate. So why should they ever pay enough to get you off food stamps? Wal-Mart a large contributor of poverty doesn’t pay enough for employees to feed their families, but gladly makes huge profits off of the food stamps employees spend there, all the while taking more tax breaks for making charitable contributions. So you can an argument that foods stamps should be eradicated and the market may stabilize, I say eradicate dirty business and CEO’ S who get bonuses for bankrupting companies, leaving lower employees with nothing, not even the retirement they paid into. Eliminate people who send their factory overseas while still enjoying American rights and privileges. Stop letting corporate America run the government. This is America where anyone can be president and everyone is supposed to be able to overcome poverty. How? Hard work don’t cut it anymore, now you have to be willing to cheat and steal, starve out the competition, because whoever has the most money has the ear of the government and the control; to hell with everyone else or the good of the country. WAL-MART CEO’s don’t care if they break the nation – they got mega rich; the banks don’t care either they got theirs. Get it while the getting is good and then get out; who cares who’s left holding the empty bag, I got mine. This, I fear is what passes for patriotism. And they sure don’t want you looking at them as to why our nation is in a sad state.

    1. Mark Ross Post author

      Indeed Thomas! All welfare is a major problem; however, there is CLEARLY a difference between tax breaks and welfare. Welfare, generally speaking, is giving a person someone else’s money; tax breaks are allowing a person or entity, to keep “their own money.”

      I am all for every person and company keeping more of “their own money.” The problems occur when Government, via the force of law, makes us give them more of our money, then, they take that money and give it to someone else, or some other entity. These practices, whether it is to the poor or the rich, is one of the many reasons why we have such corrupt Governments in our country today.

      1. Thomas Fleres

        Indeed the ideal situation is all companies and individuals being able to keep more of their own money. I’m looking at it more in terms of certain companies getting tax breaks, which other companies do not get. When specific companies get tax breaks there is less revenue coming in for the government. If government spending does not decrease, which is usually the case, the other companies and individuals have to make up the difference in higher taxes. In my mind this is a form of welfare in an INDIRECT way towards the company getting the tax break. I get your point though. I think it all depends on how you look at it.

        1. Mark Ross Post author

          I see what you are saying Thomas; and, yes, I think we’d both agree that, no individual or entity, should be taxed any different then another. As you and I know, this “corrupt” system is a ramification of this God Forsaken, Progressive Income Tax!

          We need to do one of two things:
          1. Move immediately to a Flat Tax system, to which every “individual” pays exactly the amount, or percentage, of taxes, and there are ZERO subsidies and/or loopholes; or
          2. Which is my preference: Completely abolish all Income Taxes, and Repeal The 16th Amendment.


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