My greatest issue with Obamacare and social/welfare programs like them is not whether I think that they will be good or bad for America. My issue is whether or not these programs SHOULD be done. At all.
I think most conservatives/classic liberals like me would agree, there are some things that the government does do that are good for citizens – after all we are not anarchists. Where I differ from our frenemies on the left is when the power of the Constitution is extended beyond those enumerated to allow the federal government to play in a sandbox they should not be playing in. Our country is built upon a Constitution that specifically places the power to determine the future in the hands of the individual, not in some corporate, collectivist, arbitrary authority like the federal government.
The reason that we have had so much conflict over these past many years is that we have controverted and perverted the simple directives of this document to create permission to act where there is none. Our county cannot become collectivist or Marxist – or any form of a coerced communistic state – without the destruction of the very basis of our freedom, the Constitution of the United States of America. Today it is the only thing standing between us and a rapid descent toward the American version of Stalinist tyranny…and yes, that is a slight exercise in hyperbole – but only slight. If you are over the age of thirty, look back over your life and see just how much has truly changed in this country.
If government intervention was truly productive it should be evident by now as government has constantly grown – but we still have poverty, we still have crime, we still have illegal immigration.
Since we have been at it for 50 years, spent billions of dollars and the New York Times is halfway honest enough to call it a “mixed bag“, can we call the “war” on poverty a failure now?
In my lexicon, there are two kinds of poverty – absolute and relative. Absolute poverty is simply defined as a daily battle for survival – I liken this to the poverty in the slums of New Delhi or the outskirts of Bangkok where people live in leaky, one room tin shacks and survive on a bowl of rice a day. Relative poverty is what we have in the US, where poverty is measured as a percentage of the income level – this allows us to classify people who possess items that are not essential to survival (i.e. mobile phones, TV’s, cars and Playstations) as “poor” and is not true poverty. Efforts to “alleviate” relative poverty are nothing more than attempts to provide a certain guaranteed standard of living, not to assure survival.
The solution to absolute poverty is an educated (not indoctrinated) citizenry possessing real and valuable skills and in a growing, expanding capitalist economy, not government handouts. There is no solution to relative poverty because as the national income rises, so does the “poverty line”.
Absolute poverty does not exist in America and relative poverty is not an issue except when it is used by populists and “progressives” to justify class envy in pursuit of creation of a collectivist state.
As the chart below shows, using data from the US Census, the greatest rate of decline in poverty actually occurred in the years BEFORE the “War on Poverty” was declared – after we started “fighting”, it became a stalemate. What does that say about the wisdom and effectiveness of governmental poverty relief programs?
I would propose that the increase in overweening government has not been worth the cost and has worsened many problems it sought to resolve and has created problems where there were none, A collectivist government cannot solve the individual problems of 312 million people without harming a percentage of them…and if some must be disadvantaged to advantage others, damage is done to the liberty of all.
The obligations that the “progressives” (Republican and Democrat) have created to support their deviations from the limits of the Constitution places every American in a de facto state of indentured servitude to the federal government. Seventeen trillion in debt has seen to that. Productive citizens will pay for this in burdensome taxes, the unproductive will pay through a “Sophie’s choice” of “if I get an entry level job, I will lose all benefits”, a choice that many will make in favor of not getting that job. Both will pay the cost in lost liberty.
As proof that all things old are new again, I offer this quote from a letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams of 7 July 1775:
“Your Description of the Distresses of the worthy Inhabitants of Boston, and the other Sea Port Towns, is enough to melt an Heart of stone. Our Consolation must be this, my dear, that Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.“
“Liberty once lost is lost forever.” Words to remember.