In Part I, we talked about the history of how we got started into the Socialist mire of entitlements. While FDR and the New Deal introduced us to Social Security, it was future generations and future presidents that made the matter worse. They did so not just because it would buy them votes in upcoming elections, but they each learned that people spoke so highly and favorably about FDR and the New Deal, and they wanted a legacy of their own to match his.
Apparently, each of these presidents missed that line about “the government that governs least, governs best.”
LBJ needed a history lesson when he launched his “war on poverty.” In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville submitted an Essay on Pauperism to the Royal Academic Society of Cherbourg. The Essay addressed an odd paradox: why, in the most affluent nation in the world (at the time it was England) was there a massive problem of “pauperism” (what we would now call “welfare”: poor people on poor relief)?
In France, Spain, and Portugal, he found that the people were significantly much poorer monetarily than in England. He also found that the average Spaniard was poorer than an English pauper on poor relief. The great paradox is that in none of these poorer countries was there a “pauper problem” of the magnitude that drove English society and English politicians nuts. We apparently never looked back into history to learn of its lessons, because we would have found that the number of eligible poor who actually apply for welfare will increase as welfare benefits go up — as they did throughout the 1960s, 70s, and to this very day. When welfare payments, Medicaid, and food stamps compete with low wages, many poor people prefer welfare. It’s only rational. In large cities across the US, welfare benefits are better than low-wage jobs.
Further compounding the Big Government mess was President George W. Bush’s prescription drug entitlement program. While the logic seems sound (“Why pay $80,000 for heart surgery through Medicare to fix a problem that could have been prevented by $8,000 worth of medicine?”) it is nothing less than another government hand-out. It is no different than any other, and again, it removes personal responsibility, personal
charity, and free markets from the equation. Those three things are the pillars of a free society, blessed with personal liberties. Removing any of the three weakens the hold we have on liberty; removing all three
plunges us toward the abyss.
Tomorrow: Part III — The Excuses