Tom Bethel, “Ruination,” The American Spectator, December 2013, Vol. 46 (no. 10), page 44.
….Over generations the U.S. has accumulated plenty of capital (and I don’t just mean our assets). Subconsciously, the president and his allies seem to have decided: “Let’s go ahead and spend that capital for our own political advantage.” The country will survive. “Social justice,” meaning equality, is what they say they want. If getting there means blowing some capital, well, only heartless right-wingers will object.
Here are some recent figures published by Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post:
✦ In 1955, defense spending was 62 percent of federal outlays and spending on “human resources” (the welfare state) was 22 percent. By 2012 the figures were reversed; welfare was 66 percent, defense 19 percent. Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants and Social Security’s disability program are all postwar creations.
The metastasis of the welfare state has been enabled by something that would have amazed Adam Smith. Earn a decent living and you will pay thousands of tax dollars into the Treasury, and have one vote. Receive food stamps, housing subsidies, and child support from the government, perhaps to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, and you too will enjoy one vote. You probably won’t owe any income taxes either. It’s a formula for instability.
John Stuart Mill saw the danger of a system like ours as far back as 1861:
✦ The receipt of parish relief [welfare] should be a peremptory disqualification for the franchise. He who cannot by his labor suffice for his own support has no claim to the privilege of helping himself to the money of others. By becoming dependent on the remaining members of the community for actual subsistence, he abdicates his claim to equal rights with them in other respects.
And remember, Mill was the big progressive of his time. If a politician made that comment today, it would qualify as a hate crime. Yet we keep hearing how far to the right we have moved.
Mill couldn’t have known how much worse things would get, both in Britain and in its former colonies. Consider the U.S. budget. For 51 of the last 60 years the government has spent more than it has taken in; in the latest year, $700 billion more. Total debt now exceeds $17 trillion, and unfunded liabilities (including such details as future Social Security payments) run into the hundreds of trillions. The Ponzi scheme is sustained by printing money to keep interest rates low. It is an unstable structure, to put it mildly….