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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10510/the-welfare-state-and-the-promise-of-protection/

The Welfare State and the Promise of Protection

August 24, 2009 by

Our ancestors relied on themselves; we rely on the welfare state. But the “safety net” that governments have stretched beneath us seems more and more to be a spider’s web in which we are entangled and from which we must extricate ourselves if we are to preserve a prosperous and free society. FULL ARTICLE

{ 21 comments }

Barry Loberfeld August 24, 2009 at 8:37 am

Forget about outright socialism and even such features of American social democracy as foreign aid (especially to foreign dictators) and corporate subsidies. Consider instead the most basic function of the “welfare state”: care for the needy. What justifies the concentration of all “welfare” dollars into the hands of government except the notion that society will starve the poor but the State won’t? Yes, the government — essentially, a handful of guys with guns — will be more compassionate and generous with the people’s money than the people themselves — the entirety of the population — will. With that as a concession, is it any wonder that this limited welfare state continues to grow beyond its limits (possibly with socialized medicine as the next domino)?

FROM HERE

Ohhh Henry August 24, 2009 at 11:28 am

We can have a free society or a welfare state. We cannot have both.

I believe that most people would be quite happy to renounce freedom in favor of receiving welfare benefits. They understand that freedom implies responsibility, and they want none of it. Where they completely fail is that they don’t realize, and don’t even want to know, that once the welfare state runs out of a source of cash then they will have thrown away their freedoms for *nothing*.

My own parents are a case in point. Their own investments are crashing, and their government and former employers’ pension plans are also in danger. Their “free” medicare has longer and longer waiting lists as do the local subsidized old age nursing homes. They simply do not want to hear that they’re being given the shaft, that all of the rhetoric they’ve been hearing about the benevolence of the state has been a confidence scam on steroids, and that they have to take steps right now to protect what capital they have. They acknowledge that things are very rocky but rather than deal with the stress of taking charge of their own lives they’re just going to cross their fingers and hope that they can run out the clock through a combination of not being around for the final collapse and/or relying on their children if they’re caught in a meltdown.

The fundamental problem is I think that for around 100 years nobody knows any more how the world works, i.e. they don’t understand the definitions of money, interest, capital, etc. and their critical faculties of reasoning and skepticism have been brainwashed out of them during the course of around a dozen years of public school brainwashing and half a century of media indoctrination.

fundamentalist August 24, 2009 at 11:52 am

Higgs: “Our predecessors dealt with their worries by relying on religious faith.”

So is it really that confusing that the decline in traditional Christianity correlates very well with the ascent of the welfare state? I applaud the efforts of atheist libertarians to win over their socialist brethren, but you guys are failing miserably. The largest remaining bastion of liberty exists with the religious right in the US.

geoih August 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Quote from fundamentalist: “The largest remaining bastion of liberty exists with the religious right in the US.”

I think this is true. In general, the “non-believers” on the left have simply traded in the gods in heaven, for the gods in government.

FarSide August 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm

“The largest remaining bastion of liberty exists with the religious right in the US. ”

Pushing morality on others is a large part of many religious groups, and many use the force of law where ever possible.

Much of the so-called “religious-right” are quite pro-war on top of it, which requires lots money from taxation.

Perhaps they are anti-welfare state more than other groups, but there is more to liberty than that.

FarSide August 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm

“The largest remaining bastion of liberty exists with the religious right in the US. ”

Pushing morality on others is a large part of many religious groups, and many use the force of law where ever possible.

Much of the so-called “religious-right” are quite pro-war on top of it, which requires lots money from taxation.

Perhaps they are anti-welfare state more than other groups, but there is more to liberty than that.

gg August 24, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Barry Loberfeld August 24, 2009 at 4:06 pm

The 1988 Times-Mirror profile of the electorate found that Religious Right “moralists” are a 94% white group that “favor[s] social spending except when it is targeted to minorities” (p. 20).

fundamentalist August 24, 2009 at 4:57 pm

A Gallop survey also showed that 80% of all charity and volunteer work in the US is done by the religious right.

fundamentalist August 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

PS, I’m not defending everything the religious right believes or does. They’re far from perfect. But can anyone describe a social group that in general supports liberty more than the religious right?

Timothy August 24, 2009 at 5:25 pm

As an atheist libertarian, I agree that fundamentalist Christians in America are vastly more pro-freedom than their agnostic opposite numbers in the blue states. I cheer their victories in homeschooling and states’ rights and am even more comfortable among typical fundamentalists than among typical agnostics.

However, I think their love of freedom often derives from being a persecuted minority, much like Republican politicians who start sounding libertarian when out of power. If fundamentalist Christians somehow captured the apparatus of the state, such as they did in colonial Massachusetts, I suspect they would rediscover an appreciation for might-makes-right.

In my experience, many, even most groups are pro-freedom only as long as their particular freedoms are being violated.

What Americans really need is a belief in freedom that does not depend on who’s pointing the gun or waggling the carrot and stick of heaven and hell.

A simple respect for private property would be a great start.

Lowell Sherris August 24, 2009 at 5:27 pm

But can anyone describe a social group that in general supports liberty more than the religious right?

You mean mises.org isn’t a social group?

Tina Brewer August 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I think people’s willingness to give up freedom for comfort exists on a continuum…as long as they don’t have to give up too much freedom, and sense that they can enjoy relatively high levels of safety in the exchange, they are willing. The capacity for radical liberty, the total embrace of self-responsibility and its partner freedom, is generally NOT going to be actively embraced on a mass scale. Its just not human nature, in my opinion. This is why I often regret that libertarians spend so much energy criticizing coerced collectivization and not NEARLY enough describing the many wonders which can be accomplished by VOLUNTARY collective action.

Abhilash Nambiar August 24, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Timothy
‘If fundamentalist Christians somehow captured the apparatus of the state .. I suspect they would rediscover an appreciation for might-makes-right.’

That is exactly my fear. In fact there is little reason to think that it won’t happen. Being in power is a position of privilege that people rarely give up. I suspect that a good many of them see the freedom afforded to them in a liberal society as merely an opportunity to fulfill their statist theo-centric agenda.

It is better they remain out of power and love freedom because of it, than be in power and suppress freedom because of it. They are an excellent counter-balance to the socialist liberals and do succeed in rolling back some of their excesses.

But yes, things could be better.

fundamentalist August 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

Timothy: ‘If fundamentalist Christians somehow captured the apparatus of the state .. I suspect they would rediscover an appreciation for might-makes-right.’

I have to agree with you. I don’t know how deep liberty runs in the Christian right and the leadership tends to be easily seduced with power. Maybe it is the minority status that keeps them in line. I would like to think it was their knowledge of Biblical principles of property.

Patrick Mahoney August 25, 2009 at 10:54 am

Sadly, a stopped clock is right twice a day. The religious right can hardly be said to support freedom-it seems more that they simply oppose the current administration. They seem to feel disenfranchised that they do not currently wield power; as a result, they can tend towards being against government. I have a feeling that this disenfranchisement will again vanish when the Republicans are back in power. And while I am for property rights, the bible is at best a horrible text from which to take any lessons on property rights.

fundamentalist August 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Patrick: “The religious right can hardly be said to support freedom-it seems more that they simply oppose the current administration.”

The religious right existed long before the last election. In fact, Obama’s win can be attributed to the religious right’s disaffection with Bush because of his socialist policies.

Patrick: “the bible is at best a horrible text from which to take any lessons on property rights.”

The first modern nation to implement real property rights was the Dutch Republic of the 15th century. The did so solely on the basis of the Bible. They got their economics from the Church Scholastics of the University of Salmanca, Spain. The modern concept of liberty flows from those property rights found in the Bible.

Abhilash Nambiar August 25, 2009 at 8:31 pm

To fundamentalist,

I would like to know more details on this claim you make. The Bible does not offer any consistent affirmation of property rights, which if exists at all must stem from self-ownership. Particular to note in this regard is the indifference in the book to the question of slavery.

But I suppose if you can pick and choose, you maybe able to defend the concept of property rights using the Bible. I suspect the modern concept of liberty may have something to do with the attitude certain Christians approached the Bible, in which case it is their opinion about the Bible that matters more than the Bible itself. It has to be that way for a book that does not give an unambiguous message. But I like to be sure. So I ask for details.

1776jedi August 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

You shall not steal.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

I would say that this is a fairly unambiguous affirmation of property rights from the bible.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Unambiguous encouragement to be charitable.

These are not mutual exclusive as some may think. How can one give something that is not theirs to give? God undoubtedly supports an individuals right to their property, because it is God that gives his children property to sustain them out of love. Love cannot be forced, it can only be felt and shared. To force one to give is property to another is not an act of love. God gives bounty to us, so that we can live and share our bounty with others out of love. Confiscation by threat of force is not sharing, it is theft. God does not force people to share, he encourages them to by sharing himself. If you do not love your fellow man, God will not share with you. Now there are many who have riches aplenty and don’t share. The plenty they enjoy is not the bounty of God, but gain brought about by theft. These people, God does not share the only thing that cannot be bought or stolen, love. They may live and die with fortunes a plenty, but they live a wretched life deprived of love.

To say that all hope for America lies in the “religious right” is a fallacy. Not because atheism is the only way, or much of the right supports the war, but because “religion” has been hijacked by the state through the 501c3 corporate provision in the Tax code. This gives the state the ability to shutdown churches that speak out against state corruption. I feel that much is made about “religion” but we all ignore faith. Religions are institutions of men that seek to control our faith, and direct it one way or another. Religion can be wielded for political power by whom ever controls it. Faith on the other hand is personal, it is between you and your creator, you can find it, or not share it with others,or not, but none can control it save if you let them. Where the right goes wrong is they allow state controlled corporations (religion) to direct their faith, and the left has no faith but that in the state.
The liberal left constantly fail to remember that our Republic, and the liberties we enjoy, was instituted by fundamentalist Christians of several warring varieties that came together in recognition that all people have inalienable rights granted by the Creator to live as they wish, worship ,or not worship as they wish, own property and that the purpose of government was to secure these rights among men. These men also understood that people are imperfect and given to wickedness. That is why they strived to build a Republic with checks on power that prevent any one group, be it a majority or minority, from wielding too much power. This construct, born of the very Christian concepts of free will and peaceful co-existence with one’s neighbours, is what has allowed over time people to choose to be atheist, or Christian under the protection of law. Any Christian worth their stripes should know that not even the Creator can force an individual to have faith, it is a personal choice. Even if you use the power of the state to force them to act a certain way, you have only forced them to lie and profess a thing that they do not feel in their heart. You have not saved their soul, only damned them as they would rightfully hate you and your “religion” by dpriving them of their choice. They will spend their lifetime pantomiming religion, but never find their faith. It is the threat of cold steel and burning flames used by Christians through history to force the submission of individuals to a religion, that has driven so many to atheism. This is not a failing of the Creator, but one of man and his institutions. Both sides fail to recognize that our fore fathers attempt at a more perfect union is one to secure an individuals right to live as long and peaceful life as possible to exercise their free will, as the Creator intended.

Bottom line, God is love, while the State is force.

1776jedi August 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

You shall not steal.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

I would say that this is a fairly unambiguous affirmation of property rights from the bible.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Unambiguous encouragement to be charitable.

These are not mutual exclusive as some may think. How can one give something that is not theirs to give? God undoubtedly supports an individuals right to their property, because it is God that gives his children property to sustain them out of love. Love cannot be forced, it can only be felt and shared. To force one to give is property to another is not an act of love. God gives bounty to us, so that we can live and share our bounty with others out of love. Confiscation by threat of force is not sharing, it is theft. God does not force people to share, he encourages them to by sharing himself. If you do not love your fellow man, God will not share with you. Now there are many who have riches aplenty and don’t share. The plenty they enjoy is not the bounty of God, but gain brought about by theft. These people, God does not share the only thing that cannot be bought or stolen, love. They may live and die with fortunes a plenty, but they live a wretched life deprived of love.

To say that all hope for America lies in the “religious right” is a fallacy. Not because atheism is the only way, or much of the right supports the war, but because “religion” has been hijacked by the state through the 501c3 corporate provision in the Tax code. This gives the state the ability to shutdown churches that speak out against state corruption. I feel that much is made about “religion” but we all ignore faith. Religions are institutions of men that seek to control our faith, and direct it one way or another. Religion can be wielded for political power by whom ever controls it. Faith on the other hand is personal, it is between you and your creator, you can find it, or not share it with others,or not, but none can control it save if you let them. Where the right goes wrong is they allow state controlled corporations (religion) to direct their faith, and the left has no faith but that in the state.
The liberal left constantly fail to remember that our Republic, and the liberties we enjoy, was instituted by fundamentalist Christians of several warring varieties that came together in recognition that all people have inalienable rights granted by the Creator to live as they wish, worship ,or not worship as they wish, own property and that the purpose of government was to secure these rights among men. These men also understood that people are imperfect and given to wickedness. That is why they strived to build a Republic with checks on power that prevent any one group, be it a majority or minority, from wielding too much power. This construct, born of the very Christian concepts of free will and peaceful co-existence with one’s neighbours, is what has allowed over time people to choose to be atheist, or Christian under the protection of law. Any Christian worth their stripes should know that not even the Creator can force an individual to have faith, it is a personal choice. Even if you use the power of the state to force them to act a certain way, you have only forced them to lie and profess a thing that they do not feel in their heart. You have not saved their soul, only damned them as they would rightfully hate you and your “religion” by dpriving them of their choice. They will spend their lifetime pantomiming religion, but never find their faith. It is the threat of cold steel and burning flames used by Christians through history to force the submission of individuals to a religion, that has driven so many to atheism. This is not a failing of the Creator, but one of man and his institutions. Both sides fail to recognize that our fore fathers attempt at a more perfect union is one to secure an individuals right to live as long and peaceful life as possible to exercise their free will, as the Creator intended.

Bottom line, God is love, while the State is force.

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