By Theresa Camoriano
Today we are seeing the results of the welfare state both in Europe and the U.S., and it is not a pretty sight. While the intentions of the people who created the welfare state may have been good, the results are horrible. Of course, should come as no surprise, since the welfare state ignores the reality of human nature.
1. When something appears to be free, people will consume too much of it. The program ends up costing more than the society can afford. That is what we are seeing today in the U.S. with Medicare and Medicaid.
2. When something is provided by the government, with no free market competition, there are no incentives to innovate or to provide improved products and services at reduced cost. Instead, the incentives are just the opposite. Again, this causes the program to cost more than the society can afford. As just one example, government schools cost twice as much as private schools and produce a far inferior product.
3. Giving a person something as an “entitlement” takes away that person’s dignity and self-respect, eliminating the satisfaction and happiness that would have come from earning his own way. The result is dissatisfaction, a “victim” mentality that causes anger and a desire to get revenge. You will note higher crime rates, and a less civil society. I recently talked with a man who lived his entire life on St. Thomas and is very concerned about the breakdown of the society there that is largely a result of the welfare state. He wonders what can be done to help the young people have hope for their future and what can be done to reduce the terrible crime rate. He is afraid he will have to leave the island. It is very sad.
4. Giving a person something as an “entitlement” removes the positive natural consequences of virtues like frugality, planning, hard work, and honesty, and rewards a lack of those virtues. When virtues are punished and vices are rewarded, we should not be surprised to get fewer virtues and more vices. This can result in an entire breakdown of the society. Women lose the incentive to be married before having children. Children growing up in fatherless homes have a far greater likelihood of having problems and a lack of success in life. Men who are not held responsible for the children they produce never have to grow up and become responsible.
5. People who become dependent upon the welfare state do not make arrangements to take care of themselves, so, when the welfare state fails, they are helpless. This is extremely cruel.
With the welfare state producing such extremely negative consequences, why is it supported and promoted by so many people? Are these people heartless and cruel? Are they stupid? No, I don’t think so. I think they are governed by feelings. Voting for a welfare state makes them feel good. As long as they can manage to ignore the real consequences of the welfare state, they can pat themselves on the back, feel good about themselves and even feel superior to those who oppose their programs, all without really having to do anything themselves. It’s a form of cheap grace offered by the church of liberalism. Just stick your hand in your neighbor’s pocket, and then pat yourself on the back!
What can be done about it? We need to show our concern for the people who are supposedly being helped but actually are harmed by these programs, and expose the real consequences of these programs and explain why they do not work as hoped. We need to continue helping through voluntary contributions of time and money to charitable institutions and by being a good neighbor and friend to our neighbors and friends. And we need to have faith that, if we all do our part, things will improve.
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