Goods Are Not Rights: Analysis of the Welfare State

This is an excellent essay by Noemie Emery at the Weekly Standard.  She cuts through the entrenched leftwing ideas on “rights”; the socialist dependency on others to supply and pay for goods and services, rather than earn them through free market competition and hard work.

Some excerpts:

The intentions of Democrats are only the best. They want all of the old to have lavish retirements, all of the young to have scholarships, verse-penning cowboys to have festivals funded by government, and everyone to have access to all the best health care, at no cost to himself. In the face of a huge wave of debt swamping all western nations, this is the core of their argument: They want a fair society, and their critics do not; they want to help, and their opponents like to see people suffer; they want a world filled with love and caring, and their opponents want one of callous indifference, in which the helpless must fend for themselves.

……Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt linked “freedom from want” to “freedom of speech” and “freedom of worship,” the left has been talking of everything that it thinks would be nice to have in terms of an utter and absolute right: a right to a job and a right to an income, a right to retire in comfort in Florida, a right to the most advanced health care without paying much for it, and a right to have your children taken care of while you work all day at your job. The problem is that these are all goods and services, though of varying importance, and goods and rights are not the same things. People tend to concur upon rights (except for the speech rights of those who oppose them), and they do not depend upon others to supply and pay for their rights. With goods, there is always a political argument: about the value of the good, who is to get it and who is to pay. And all this comes down to the question of “fairness,” about which there is no end of disputation and grief. 

……The people who insisted that goods had to be treated as rights, (which is to say, as universal and limitless), refused to seek cuts, and went on printing money. Even as the whole western world seemed to run out of money, the Obama administration decided it was high time for a massive expansion of government benefits. Then, in early May 2010, just after the American left passed its huge and hugely unpopular health care reform bill, the republic of Greece hit a wall.

……In the United States, the states patterned most on the Old Europe model—those with high taxes, high spending, and strong public unions—suffered the same plight as Europe, while those with free-market models did not. “The eight states with no state income tax grew 18 percent in the past decade,” Michael Barone tells us. “The other states grew just 8 percent.” The 22 states with right-to-work laws grew 15 percent in the past decade, the 28 others grew 6 percent. The 16 states that don’t require collective bargaining with state employees grew 15 percent, the others grew 7 percent. The most rapid growth—21 percent—was in the Rocky Mountain states and Texas, which have low taxes, weak unions, and light regulation. 

Among the states with high taxes, strong unions, and heavy public employee pension burdens are those in the Rust Belt around the Great Lakes. As Matt Continetti writes in the Washington Post, “Five of the eight states that border the Great Lakes now have Republican governors working to limit union power,” while one Democrat, New York’s Andrew Cuomo, son of a much revered liberal icon, has been praised by New Jersey’s Chris Christie as his cost-cutting twin. And to everyone’s shock, the Democratic legislature in Massachusetts has voted to rein in unions, too.

“For decades, the Great Lakes states have subscribed to a high-tax, high-spend, closed-shop political model,” explains Continetti. “That hasn’t worked out.” That didn’t work out in Europe (whose welfare states the American left has always looked up to); that didn’t work out in American states such as California and Michigan; that didn’t work out in Detroit, which is becoming a wasteland in spite of massive infusions of government money, and that didn’t work out for General Motors, which turned in time into a retirement plan with a car company attached to it, which priced itself out of the general market while foreign car companies built factories in right-to-work states in the South, employed hundreds of thousands of people, and took its share of the market away. It probably won’t work out in Illinois, either, where the Democratic governor passed a massive tax increase, and the Republican governors of neighboring states invited Illinois businessmen to relocate there. 
Read the whole thing:

I would go a step futher when describing the intentions of FDR.  He was a socialist who advanced the welfare state, and whose policies prolonged the Depression and damaged the economy for years. His unprecedented grip on the Oval Office and his pretext of a “New Deal” to transform the United States from a Democratic Republic to a socialist state, led to  Contitutionally imposed term limits to the presidency.

When the government creates a carte blanche ‘safety net’, that net becomes a trap. More money goes into feeding the welfare class and Big Government than doing things that would get this country economically healthy, like the common sense policy changes suggested by Drew Carey.  Generate jobs and employment by giving businesses the incentives to build and invest.  This takes limited local, state and federal governments who aren’t hostile to business.

Secondly, it takes a change in the attitude of people who think that everything earned by someone else, belongs to them; free gratis.

We have devolved from a country of rugged individualism to an entitlement culture.  There’s a growing population who believes in getting something for nothing in the form of cradle to grave Nanny State care.  Those of us who worked all our lives have a problem with that.  I served as a U.S. Soldier for 30 years.  I paid federal income tax, state tax, medicare/medicaid tax, and social security tax.  I pay tax on my military pension, as well. 

I don’t mind my taxes going to help the bona fide disabled and elderly, but I’m also supporting a population of professional welfare recipients who manipulate the system and pass it to their children like a family heirloom.  When I was a kid, it was a source of embarrassment to accept public assistance, and you tried to get back into the work force as soon as you could.

Now it’s considered a “right”.

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