The Party of Welfare Is Just Getting Started

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Welfare’s Slow Moving Growth into Everything

Although watching the Democratic primary debates has made many of us sigh with countless face-palms, we should not be shocked to witness such intellectual debacles. Why? Because these jokers represent the wishes, demands, and philosophies of their expanding constituents. Furthermore, such growth in the ideology of entitlements is a consequence of an inevitable drift towards socialism. This growth is first and foremost fueled through the maintenance and expansion of the welfare system.

The welfare system is an unaffordable government instrument which distorts free-market competition and diminishes personal virtues of self-improvement. Surely such a grim statement may sound cold and represent the views of the 1%, but there is unquestionable evidence that the welfare system cannot be sustained, especially if we want to have an efficient economy.

The welfare system is an unaffordable government instrument which distorts free-market competition and diminishes personal virtues of self-improvement.

Yes, fair society ought to care for the people by ensuring humane standards of living. Unfortunately, such thinking has exacerbated the evolution of the government, and has resulted in the increase of the ranks of bureaucrats. When the welfare apparatus grows, it consumes people from the private sector employment to the ranks of the state. This by itself might not pose an existential issue, but from a political perspective it threatens our republic.

Government workers are not only earning a living from the state purse paid by the private sector, but also, they participate in society’s democratic process. And would a rational self-interested public sector worker jeopardize their livelihood by voting for a candidate whose well-intended goal is to shrink the state by eliminating certain public sector jobs? Of course not. As the welfare system expands, power begins to concentrate in interest group factions.

The Expanding and Failed Public Programs

It has been popular to attack single mothers, crack-dealing thugs, or tattooed red-neck men for their perceived laziness, lack of motivation to work, and their desire to exploit the system by receiving government benefits and entitlements. Even if such a generalization had any validity, it would be problematic to attack people who pursue their self-interest when the opportunity is easily reachable.

No matter who occupies the White House, the government is always and necessarily the problem.

The fact of the matter is that the government has established such conditions in which individuals do not have to prioritize productive engagement in the society, rather they utilize the public goods/services without participating in the actual financing of these services. Such premise begs the question then why should other people involuntarily compensate for the government’s failed policy?

The advocates of the welfare system argue that the price of living in the US has gone up over the years, and that by abolishing welfare, we would cause people to not earn enough to live on. Unfortunately, the advocates once again ignore the root of the problem. Government intervention in the markets through price-controls, import quotas, and tariffs limits competition, raising the prices of goods/services above their real level. The efficiency losses are enormous whenever government decides to participate in the markets through fiscal transfers and arrogant assumptions on what is good for the society.

Blame It on the Wealthier

Are the poor worse-off because of the rich? The current and future leaders of the Democratic party seem to think so and by design invoke their favorite ideological point: fairness. We must all agree that fairness is an unnatural concept, more of an abstract ideology than a realistic goal. Thomas Jefferson once famously wrote that “all men are created equal.” That certainly is true, at least in most parts of the world, but this should not mean that the winners in the game of poker should compensate for the losses of the losers.

What would be the point to play or participate by giving your best? For example, why should society punish children, who by luck are born to wealthier families and as such have greater opportunities to reach their potential? We don’t punish children for being born with certain natural strengths and abilities. But for some reason we must in the name of noble intentions and pursuit of “beautiful” fairness punish wealthy parents for their biological desire to provide their children the best life possible. And of course the messengers of these ideas take a nice cut for themselves, simply because they are “thinkers.” Right..

In terms of economic theory, the degree of fiscal transfers through the welfare system undermines economic efficiency. Nobel laureate Milton Friedman argued that if the welfare system was abolished tomorrow, unemployed individuals would be searching for employment the next day. An empty stomach is surprisingly motivating force. It doesn’t, of course, mean that tomorrow people with disabilities would be denied financial assistance.

I would mean, however, that the incentive structure would be changed to promote the choice of voluntary employment. It would also be wise to maintain some sort of limited minimum sustenance axiom to ensure that the basic needs of everyday life are satisfied, but at the same time would encourage people to earn more through employment as these standards gradually improve.

Of course, the Democrat party doesn’t see the issue in this way. They have understood that one can now buy votes by promising money from your neighbor’s pockets in the name of fairness. Not surprisingly, a concerning number of Americans (and illegal immigrants) appear to believe that theft can be sanctioned so long as it is the government stealing from their neighbor. Therefore, no matter who occupies the White House, the government is always and necessarily the problem.

Author Profile

Henri Erti
Henri Erti
Henri Erti is a writer for NRN. Born in former USSR Estonia, he escaped communism to neighboring Finland where he learned first hand about the atrophying effects of socialism. Erti studied international business in Brevard College (NC) and completed graduate studies in international political economy at Dubrovnik International University (Croatia).