By Bradley Harrington
“If concern with poverty and human suffering were the collectivists’ motive, they would have become champions of capitalism long ago; they would have discovered that it is the only political system capable of producing abundance..” — Ayn Rand, “The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” 1971 —
As we saw last week (“‘Welfare’: Time to get the bull out of the china shop,” WTE, Oct. 1), “welfare” programs have done nothing more than keep their recipients under bureaucratic thumbs while government officials exploit and manipulate their lives in order to gain political power.
And, despite the fact that government has the legal ability to plunder as much of the earnings of the thinkers and producers as it can get away with to support this scandalous process, such courses of action have still brought our federal government (now $127 trillion in the hole) and states such as Illinois (now $130 billion in the hole) to actual financial insolvency.
How did we ever get into this mess? Time for a few facts:
■ For most of this nation’s history, none of these “welfare” structures even existed, and it was understood by the overwhelming majority of the country’s population that a man’s “need” did not entitle him to forcibly pillage the property of other men. If someone sought to acquire wealth, they CREATED it … And were able to retain the product of their efforts afterwards;
■ By any standard you care to name — individual earnings, life expectancy, infant mortality, income mobility or GDP — the Industrial Revolution and its explosively technological aftermath created a level of wealth and plentitude unseen before in all of man’s history. Nor was this merely a consequence of the abundance of resources available in America’s virgin wilderness, as collectivist “historians” would have you believe — since Britain, essentially a large island that’s been populated for millennia, experienced the same phenomenon all throughout the 19th century as well;
■ In the United States, for instance, white male and female life expectancies in 1850 were 38 and 40 years, respectively. By 1900, those figures had risen to 48 and 50 years — and, by 1950, to 66 and 72 years (“Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970,” 1975, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov). In the space of a single century, in other words, life expectancies nearly DOUBLED;
■ Regarding per-capita income, i.e., GDP divided by population, chew on these figures: In 1850, per-capita income stood at $1,840; in 1900, at $4,091; and, by 1950, at $9,561 (in inflation-adjusted 1990 dollars, “Maddison Project GDP Dataset,” 2013, www.ggdc.net). That’s an increase of 519 PERCENT;
So, what happened? The “Great Depression,” basically, and all of the Roosevelt administration’s “social welfare” legislation that came about as a result of it. In 1900, federal spending as a percentage of GDP stood at 5.5 percent; on Black Tuesday, 1929, it was 7.7 percent; but by 1939 it had more than doubled to 15.7 percent (“The Growth of Government Spending in the Twentieth Century,” 2000, “The Tax Foundation,” www.taxfoundation.org).
Nor do the collectivists attempt to dispute these truths, as they are indisputable; no, they just ignore them instead … Because how can anyone ever claim that liberty, individualism and private property create poverty without doing so?
No, the “welfare” state isn’t about “helping” anybody … It’s about the political class creating a dependent class of beholden-to-the-state serfs in order to gain control of our lives … With all the rest of their guff functioning as easily-refutable intellectual hooey designed to obfuscate that fact. And to hide the reality of our ever-tightening chains.
So, what’s our next move? Assuming that any actions are even possible and that we’re not permanently on the skids?
Yes, obviously, we need roll back this destructive “welfare” state and get the government out of our lives.
That’s not going to happen, however, as long as a majority of our population fails to understand our own role in these political and economic disasters — because, when one examines the particular details of just how this nonsense was erected in the first place, it’s been US who have been asking for it!
That’s right, Dear Readers: Nearly-completely ignorant of our own history, WE’RE the ones who holler the loudest for the controls, whether we seek to live at our neighbors’ expense or merely regulate their non-aggressive behavior … While the plundering, power-seeking politicians rub their hands with glee and oblige us.
So, if the advancement of liberty and prosperity is what we’re after, I would respectfully suggest that it’s our own faulty premises we need to sweep out of power first.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on October 8, 2017.