Column on Welfare State Follies

Welfare State Follies
Tibor R. Machan
By all historical accounts the fully free society has never been tried, so
arguing about it will always be to a large extent theoretical. But than
nearly all of contemporary astrophysics is theoretical, as it much of
psychology and other social sciences in which controlled experiments are
not possible or permissible.
Based, however, on much thinking and research, some of it historical
enough, there is no reasonable doubt about the benefit of human liberty in
all realms of human endeavor. Unfortunately the sole trial has been
conducted in the realm covered by the First Amendment to the U. S.
Constitution, effecting religion and the arts and humanities (including
journalism). And few other than out and out Fascists and theocrats deny
that in these areas freedom has been all to the good! It may, therefore,
be reasonably inferred that liberty would mostly likely serve us well in
all areas of human concern, including the financial markets and even
emergency services, two in which recent upheavals haven’t been dealt with
swimmingly by the welfare state. That’s despite the fact that welfare
state measures–namely vast government interference in various professions
and ordinary human activities–are most often defended on the grounds that
they are needed to prevent or cope with disasters, financial or natural!
It is here where welfare state advocates roll out their market failure
arguments, examples (mostly imagined) where free men and women are unable
or unwilling to solve problems successfully.
Yet, despite piles of government regulations imposed year after year, with
bureaucrats being given immense powers to regiment the society–supported
by both the Left and the Right, though focused on different
“failures”–the disasters keep coming and the prominent pundits, such as
The New York Times’ line of the welfare state’s cheerleaders (like Paul
Krugman, Bob Herbert, at al.) keep trying to blame freedom for them all.
No sooner does some trouble arise, these folks chime in with the same
mantra: We need more government! And they support these incantations with
the blatant falsehood that America is in the grips of market
fundamentalism!
But what seems to be the real culprit for mounting troubles is not
freedom, not free markets, but all the phony government supports Congress
and other bodies politic keep erecting so as to pretend to be helping
everyone. All the financial woes come from the easy credit that is mostly
the policy of all the governments whose “public servants” promise to solve
all our problems by stealing from Peter to aid Paul–an endless daisy
chain of the government’s version of Ponzi schemes. The lack of ability to
cope with natural disasters, too, comes from all the reckless faith in
government supporter of which, sadly, still manage to get away with
claiming that government is the answer. (Just check out the bulk of the
current crop of candidates to verify this!)
Is it so unthinkable that if the government didn’t pretend to help us, we
would put our minds to the task of finding solutions ourselves? Given all
the flaws with the very idea of government solutions–flaws pointed out in
well developed, Nobel Prize winning work such as “public choice theory”
that shows how politicians are mostly promoters of their vested
interests–it should be clear by now that moving in the direction of a
more and more free society is much more promising than moving away from
one.
Alas, the temptation to rely on coercion so as to get solutions to one’s
problems is very powerful and has been yielded to virtually throughout
human history. So there is probably not going to be a quick turnaround
from such a trend even if, like the hope that one is going to win big in
Vegas, gets shattered over and over again. Attempts to get where one wants
to go by means of discredited shortcuts keep being made and there is only
very slow progress toward embracing full freedom. Nonetheless, it is
really the only genuine systematic solution to the problems the promoters
of the welfare state create and keep promising to handle just fine.

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3 Responses to Column on Welfare State Follies

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  2. Unknown says:

    Thank you.
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