Monday, March 23, 2009

How the Welfare State Killed the Seagulls Before Killing Itself

People are like seagulls in one important way: when things are done for them that they should be doing for themselves, they not only come to depend on the aid, but they gradually forget how to support themselves at all. Government, in an attempt to be benevolent, has destroyed the thrift and industry of many "seagulls" in the United States.

The Social Security program, despite how well meaning it may have been, has contributed to the destruction of the family in the United States. From this behemoth has come a plethora of welfare programs that have squelched the ability of people to provide for themselves.

It is important for us to take care of each other in times of indigence. This is the essence of charity. It is the essence of welfare. Welfare works best, however, when it is local. When welfare is local, it encourages the indigent to get back on their feet. Federal welfare programs have been largely a bust because they treat people like flocks of seagulls who don't know how to take care of themselves. As a result, they come to not know how to take care of themselves. A country cannot survive when the majority of its people become the equivalent of flocks of dependent seagulls.

Marion G. Romney, in a 1982 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, recalled a story he had seen years earlier in the Reader's Digest magazine:
“In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved. …

“The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the … sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.

“Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.

“A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ‘shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come?
Ladies and gentlemen, government is running out of goods. They can't feed the seagulls anymore. The latest "infusion" of $1.2 trillion into the bond market by the Federal Reserve is indication enough that the United States is on a sinking life raft.

President Romney goes on to say:
The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit. Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens.

We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and political, temporal, and spiritual independence.
With his New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to solve clear problems of capitalistic domination of the working masses in America. Whether or not he was able to solve those problems, it is now clear that he created far greater ones, which still exist today.

Lyndon Johnson, the uber-protege of FDR, carried on Roosevelt's legacy with his Great Society. While minority (especially black) social indicators were improving consistently before the 1960's (when the Great Society took effect), those indicators plummeted thereafter. Minority families began to break down. Government-created neighborhoods provided backhanded incentives for crime to thrive. Educational achievement among minorities came to a screeching halt and went backwards. The drug culture became one of the most successful enterprises in many inner-city areas.

Because of government, masses of Americans have become as the flock of seagulls described above. We've forgotten how to take care of ourselves temporally and financially, thinking that no effort is required. We've forgotten to take care of ourselves spiritually, thinking that government can somehow do that for us.

If there was ever a time that we as states, localities, and families, need to become self-sufficient, rather than being wards of government bailouts and stimuli, it is now. We can't be like the seagulls, or we will die. Government, our welfare state shrimp fleet, is leaving port, and will not be back for a long, long, time.

Related Posts:

Obama's Socialist Firing of GM CEO Rick Wagoner
US Government to Back Up Private New-Car Warrantees




6 comments:

  1. Very pertinent comparison to our current situation. Thanks.

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  2. It may well be that the actions of government has stunted the thrift and industry of some (though I believe that the claims about stunted industry are wildly exaggerated), it is hardly the only culprit. The very active efforts of the market to convince us that the key to happiness is things has played a huge role in the decline of thrift, not to mention the aggressive and predatory efforts of the world financial industry.

    How better might "we" have solved the problems of the capitalistic domination of the working masses in America (something which I'm glad is clear to you, but is sadly does not seem so clear to the vast majority of self-styled conservatives or free-market advocates) better without a social safety net?

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  3. You are correct that market mavens have, to our detriment, convinced many of us that "the key to happiness is things".

    A better way to provide a social safety net is through the community and the family, which big government programs like the New Deal and the Great Society helped to destroy.

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  4. Yes, it would be wonderful if we could live our lives and let society run its course solely through the efforts of families and local communities. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. Families and communities were as strong and healthy as ever prior to the New Deal, and despite their existence, there was a capitalistic domination of the working masses. That seems to indicate to me that families and community alone are not the solution.

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  5. I'm sure you're not surprised that I disagree. ;-)

    The major problem during Roosevelt's tenure was not capitalistic domination (although it was and still is a problem), but the large and general failure of the economy due to (1) inane monetary policies at the Federal Reserve, (2) the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, and (3) bizarre tax hikes and other disincentives by the Hoover administration that exacerbated the economic crisis. I don't recall whether FDR chastised the Fed for their irresponsible policies, but he did strongly criticize both Hoover and Smoot-Hawley. He was tepid at best in encouraging the reduction in tariffs, and he did an about face and continued the economy-destroying tactics of Hoover. The policies of Harding and Coolidge in 1893 and 1921 made sure that the downturns of those years are hardly mentioned in history books. Had FDR done the same, the Great Depression would have been over much sooner. During the process, FDRs patronage of friends and oppression of enemies, desire for total control, and unpredictability helped keep the economy down, as well as destroy much of families being able to take care of their own, and charity in the community. We have never fully recovered. Unfortunately, Obama is now taking a page out of FDR's failed playbook.

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  6. You disagree that there was widespread poverty, with all its attendant ills, in the era post Civil War period through the Great Depression--an era before the New Deal and the "Welfare State" had a chance to destroy family? That the slums did not grow in the metropolitan areas, despite the strong families of the era? You disagree that there were entire communities dominated and controlled by, for example, mining corporations, which employed their overwhelming leverage to their advantage and at the expense of the working masses--their health, their families, and their lives--all in the pursuit of their self-interest?

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