Take back America

Take back America
Take back America

None dare call it treason

None dare call it treason

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Welfare Nation

You're Entitled by Harry Browne
Welfare is a good example.
Once upon a time, before the 1960s, a person who needed help got it by appealing to a local charity (such as the Salvation Army) or to the town government, or even getting aid from a local church. The downtrodden individual had to explain how he got into trouble and how he intended to work his way out of it. He was monitored closely to assure that he was telling the truth and that he stuck to his plan to get back on his feet. And he knew that the money he received came from the pockets of his neighbors. Federal welfare, however, requires nothing more ambitious, energetic, or embarrassing than filling out a form.
In former days, you knew that you had to work for what you got. Today you can get a regular check from the federal government provided you're willing to undertake the arduous task of walking to your mail box once a month.
The same is true for all sorts of government subsidies. You don't have to be broke or hard up. With minimal qualifications, you can just sign up and receive:
Unemployment benefits
Student loans
Farm subsidies
Subsidized mortgages
Subsidized medical insurance
Disaster relief, andThousands of other giveaways.
Once provided, these benefits become "rights," and anyone who suggests eliminating them is denounced as mean and heartless. It's assumed that without farm subsidies all small farmers would go bankrupt and the country would starve; without federal loans no one could afford to go to college; and without Medicare no one would live past 65. No one asks how the country survived so well before these things became government's responsibility.
The worst effect of these programs is to separate acts from consequences. They teach people to be careless. Since you don't have to pay for your own mistakes, you have no reason to exercise caution, restraint, or forethought. Whatever goes wrong, the government will take care of you.
So it should be no surprise that Americans save less than they once did, exercise less caution in their business and personal dealings, seem less able to support themselves, and are more dependent on government to survive. This, of course, provides politicians with an excuse for more laws and subsidies.
America has been transformed from the land of enterprise, initiative, and self-reliance into the land of entitlements and dependency.
Lost Virtues
The transformation has devastated our civilization - bringing on terrifying crime rates, the abandonment of educational standards, an epidemic of teenage pregnancies, and the birth of a permanent class of citizens dependent upon the state for support.
Many of the social problems that worry us so much today were virtually unknown before the federal takeovers of the 1960s:
Crime rates were a fraction of what they are today. Gangs didn't terrorize adults on the street or students in school. No one had seen drive-by shootings since Prohibition ended in 1933.
Children graduated from high school knowing how to read, write, and add - and knowing a great deal about history, geography, and science. Today many college entrants can't even read the entrance exam. And many students have been told little more about Christopher Columbus than that he was an angry white male who took out his frustrations on the Indians.
Teenage pregnancies out of wedlock were virtually unknown. In 1950 only one in 79 unmarried teenage girls gave birth to a baby (even before birth-control pills were available). In 1991 the ratio had dropped to one in 22.
Welfare was rarely discussed, because it wasn't a compelling social issue. "Welfare" as we think of it was a tiny program operated by your city or county government. The truly desperate were helped mostly by private charities who took an interest in seeing that anyone in trouble got out of it as quickly as possible. Today welfare is a national scandal, and few politicians have any idea how to end it.
The escalation of "entitlements" in the 1960s and 1970s has led to the devastation of American cities, the decline of American education, and the deterioration of self-reliance. It has turned America into a battleground on which groups fight for the power to dictate who gets to take what from whom, and who gets to impose the rules dictating how everyone must live.
The four episodes of rapid government growth destroyed the qualities that had made America unique, and transformed it instead into something like an Old-World nation.
The Civil War changed the federal government into a national government superior to the states and the people.
The Progressive Era established the principle that the government was responsible for the economy, and it produced the foreign policy that has kept us in conflict with one country or another for almost all of the past 80 years.
The New Deal established that no area of American life is off limits to government.
The Great Society destroyed the self-responsibility that made possible the prosperity and freedoms we once took for granted.
A tragic casualty has been the loss of the system of federalism the Founding Fathers designed. That system empowered local governments to set their own rules. Local tyranny existed sometimes, but people could escape it by moving to another state. Today you can escape only by leaving the country.
The four eras transformed America from a free country into a nation of obedient serfs, paper-pushers, victims, whiners, and antagonists. Now we are just another country in which the citizens live at the sufferance of their rulers.
As Joseph Sobran has said, the land of the free has become the land of the government permit.
You are living in it!

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