Will the Looted Just Shrug?

The reaction to one senator’s temporary block of a welfare bill shows what the welfare state has done to America.

The statist reaction to Republican senator Jim Bunning’s temporary block of a welfare bill shows what the welfare state has done to the American people.

Everyone knows that federal spending is out of control. The feds are spending $1.4 trillion more than what they’re collecting in taxes. And that’s just for this year.

Where are they getting the difference? They’re borrowing it, adding to the massive and ever-growing debt of the federal government. How is that debt going to be paid off? By US taxpayers. Your individual, average share as of right now is about $40,000. It’s growing every day because the feds are running up your credit card, which has no limit.

So, Bunning blocks a welfare bill on the ground that the federal government shouldn’t be borrowing any more money. If it can’t afford to be providing the welfare, Bunning said, then it shouldn’t be spending more money.

The statist crowd went ballistic. The attacks were the standard ones whenever anyone objects to any welfare state scheme: “He’s selfish, self-centered, and greedy. He hates the poor and loves the rich. He’s just grandstanding. The bill is only a small percentage of total spending and so it doesn’t make any difference in the larger scheme of things.”

But the statist reaction to Bunning’s move goes much deeper than that and is a perfect reflection of what the socialistic welfare state has done to the American people. Having been born and raised under the welfare state, American recipients of welfare largess, including those on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, education grants, mortgage guarantees, and bailout and stimulus monies, honestly believe that they are entitled to continue receiving it for as long as they “need” the money.

That’s why they call much of this junk an “entitlement.” What the entitlement crowd is saying is: “I am entitled to your money because I want it and I need it. If you object, my statist associates and I will go on the attack against you and expose you for being a vicious, no-good, selfish hater of the poor and lover of the rich.”

This is what the welfare state has done to America. It has produced a real war among the American people — between those who produce and own their wealth and those who are trying to get their hands on other people’s money through the force of the state. The nineteenth century French legislator Frederic Bastiat put it well when he indicated that under the welfare state, the government becomes a great fiction by which some people try to live at the expense of other people.

Almost as bad has been what the welfare state has done to the mindsets of the American people. It has made so many Americans dependent on the government, not just financially but also emotionally and psychologically. People are on the dole have convinced themselves that they could never survive without their dole. And they absolutely freak out whenever someone talks about ending their dole. Even worse, they look upon the government as their daddy or, even worse, as a beloved deity.

What is happening, not only here in the United States but in Greece, Portugal, Spain, England, and other welfare state countries, is that there isn’t enough wealth among the taxpayers to plunder to fund the massive, ever-growing number of people on the dole.

Meanwhile, panicky over the potential crack up of the welfare state, liberals are blaming the economic woes on “freedom, deregulation, greed, the bankers, and free enterprise,” and they’re proposing their standard statist solution — more socialism and Keynesianism. They’re saying that the feds should just keep spending, spending, and spending, no matter how much they have to borrow or inflate to do so. The notion is that more spending will put unemployed people back to work, whose taxes can then fund the voracious and ever-growing wants of the parasitic sector of society.

But as we libertarians have been saying for decades, ultimately the welfare state house of cards is going to crack apart, just as it did in Cuba and the Soviet Union. God has created a consistent universe, one in which immoral means will beget bad ends. The crack up has obviously already begun in such heavy-duty welfare state countries as Greece, Portugal, Spain, and England, where the base of wealth to plunder and loot is more limited than it is in the United States.

But even here in the United States there is a limit to how much socialism the private sector can bear. And don’t forget: there is always the possibility that those who are being plundered and looted might just decide to go on strike, refusing to produce any more wealth and just “shrugging.”

This article originally appeared on Hornberger’s Blog, The Future of Freedom Foundation, March 4, 2010.

Comments

  1. The reaction startled me as well. Bunnings may have opted for a less dramatic approach, but it was effective in demonstrating that the US Federal Government is spending money which it simply doesn’t have. That’s tough for people living off unemployment benefits but it isn’t right to saddle up all Americans, future generations included, with a record debt, because today’s politicians can’t get the budget under control.

  2. “Even worse, they look upon the government as their daddy or, even worse, as a beloved deity.”

    Ahh the love of big brother.

    “Bunnings may have opted for a less dramatic approach, but it was effective in demonstrating that the US Federal Government is spending money which it simply doesn’t have.”

    You forget that many of our politicians were formerly actors and celebrities, they can’t help but be dramatic!

  3. True, but it is unfortunate that people vote for them simply because they are famous.