Before the Welfare State - Granite Grok

Before the Welfare State

Democrats, socialists like AOC and Bernie and others in their party, are content to sit amidst the bounty provided by capitalism, in a comfortable hall, before a crowd of paid ticket holders tearing into capitalism. They call the system that has raised 80% of the globe from extreme poverty since 1980 “irredeemable” while ranting against the injustice of people having to work jobs rather than write poetry.

The anti-history socialist utopia

Listening to them one would think it is as though socialist countries are famous for ensuring that people work only the jobs they find spiritually rewarding. That, is utopia. It has no bearing on reality. It is, quite simply, biting the hand that literally feeds you.

AOC’s most damning line of attack is that America, as it currently stands, is “garbage.” She says that in the United States, “if you don’t have a job, you are left to die.” That’s a complete fallacy.

American reality

The United States currently boasts effective full employment. Our poor are in danger of dying of obesity, not starvation. In America we spend, on a state and federal level, at least $1.1 trillion per year on means-tested welfare programs. By census data, that amounts to nearly $9,000 per household, or nearly $28,000 for every person living in poverty in the United States.

Under capitalism life expectancy has radically increased under capitalism. In 1850, the average European life expectancy was 36.3 years. Today, the average life expectancy across Europe stands at approximately 80. These are things that have happened because of the system she calls garbage. Well, show me the results of socialism.

History of socialism

By contrast Socialism has a long history of death associated with it, some 45 million deaths under Mao, some 30 to 40 million under Stalin, and some 2 million under Pol Pot… for starters. But let’s take the socialist argument to the logical extreme. They are in favor of expensive government programs and think that in their absence, the poor would be left to die in the United States. Is that true? Absolutely not.

Many Leftists make the same mistake. They mix up government redistribution with the social fabric itself to create a new third thing because in their view, there is no social fabric absent government. That is wrong but it is their religion like belief.

To socialists, Democrats like AOC And Bernie; nongovernmental social fabric is a threat to equality. Sen. Sanders has said, “I don’t believe in charities.” The New York Times reported that Sanders questioned the “fundamental concepts on which charities are based,” since government was the only entity positioned to help the impoverished. That’s sheer nonsense. It quite simply ignores history.

What came before

Before the rise of the welfare state, Americans gave massive amounts of charity. In 1926, religious congregations spent more than $150 million on projects other than church maintenance and upkeep. They obtained that money through voluntary giving. At the same time state governments spent $23 million and local governments spending $37 million. Government obtained those funds using the police power of the state to take money through taxation. That’s according to economists Jonathan Gruber of MIT and Daniel Hungerman of Notre Dame. Americans have always given enormous sums to charity.

More importantly, those charitable activities come with something government redistributionism can’t achieve. That is a feeling of social belonging and of membership in a social fabric. Does paying taxes make you feel like you belong? Does it make you feel that you are part of something? And we wonder society today lacks the cohesion it has had in the past.

Conclusion

Free markets create prosperity. Government isn’t our social fabric. Our government was put in place to provide for our common defense and to facilitate commerce. Recognition of those simple facts explains what made America thrive. It can help us thrive again. Recognition and understanding will do that in spite of those who would prefer to tear down our markets and social fabric. It is nothing short of harmful to replace them with heavy handed centralized government.

Ref:
Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro March 13, 2019