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Why the Welfare State Isn’t Well and It Isn’t Fair October 24, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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Why the Welfare State Isn’t Well and It Isn’t Fair

Throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries Socialism had a fairly precise definition, a somewhat clear program, and a generally agreed upon goal. The definition of Socialism was some variant of Karl Marx’s well known statement, “From each according to the ability to each according to their need.” Socialism’s program was the nationalization of all means of production, exchange, and distribution. Socialism’s goal was the use of all three in a comprehensive plan to bring about some chimera of social justice.

There were two general schools or roads socialists followed to utopia, Marxism and Fabianism. Both were variants of Socialism. They differed mainly in their stated ultimate ideal of a Socialist State and how to get there.

The Marxists said they believed that in a fully Socialist State the State itself would wither away, and all that would be left was a classless society basking in the sunshine of social justice for all. The method advocated by the Communists to achieve this social nirvana was revolutionary change leading to a dictatorship of the working class (proletariat) which ruthlessly exterminated the old society and built the new.

The Fabians saw their road to social justice leading through a highly centralized government built up gradually by democratic means slowly gaining control of the levers of power and gradually implementing its program of bureaucratic control until complete social justice was achieved.

In Europe these schools of thought were explicit and open forming political parties and vying for power either through the ballot or from the barrel of a gun. In America the engrained belief in personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity were too strong to allow the open development of any party that openly claimed Socialism as their philosophy. Therefore the gradualist approach of the Fabians became the incremental approach of the Progressives.

Starting with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, massively redirecting society under FDR, and moving ever forward under every president, except Ronald Reagan, the Progressives have slowly built the web upon which America now is bound.

With the fall of the Soviet Union and of its satellite empire communism finally lost its great patron. It had long since lost its allure in the reality of a brutal dictatorship that ground its people into the dirt in the race to social justice. So in the West Socialism has gone underground in the Green Movement, the vast network of community organizing groups, and in the Democrat Party. Many of the leaders of the Party now openly call themselves Progressives. All of them champion the idea of a Living Constitution that is evolving from the old American ideal of individualism toward a new collectivist ideal of social justice.

As long as the ideas and goals of Socialism were just that: ideas and goals, it all sounded good and many intellectuals as well as many members of the general public bought into the lofty sounding fairness of social justice. However once the Socialists gained actual power in the USSR and later in its satellite empire the crushing reality of its brutish methods and the soul killing dullness of its execution dimmed the glow. It changed its image from a rising sun of opportunity into the glare of an interrogation lamp.

This is where the insidious and dangerous character of the new underground Socialists in the plethora of underground manifestations reveals itself. Today we don’t have a socialist state in America; instead we have a welfare state. Unlike Socialism the welfare State has no precise definition. The attempt to understand all its implications is like trying to take a picture of fog: it obscures the picture however it cannot be seen as anything solid. The leaders of this homegrown style of Socialism: Progressivism, have learned that by incrementally increasing the level of governmental control over private industry and individuals they can still achieve the Socialist goal of income redistribution without the stigma of advocating an admittedly authoritarian dictatorship.

All they have to do is speak in vague terms of the general good and spreading the wealth around and the low information citizens nurtured in state schools will stand in line to proudly vote for hope and change. Never realizing that the prosperity Paul thinks he is voting out of Peter’s pocket will not reach him as it is syphoned off to feed an ever growing bureaucracy needed to transfer the wealth.

As long as the danger to liberty came from self-declared Socialists who were openly pursuing collectivist goals and as long as there was the glaring disconnect of a brutal dictatorship saying it was oppressing its own people in the quest for social justice it was easy to argue that the tenets of Socialism were false. There were examples to show that it would not achieve its goals, that its execution was brutish, and that it would inevitably produce results which most Socialists themselves would find abhorrent.

The situation is different when we face the Welfare State. It has no definite form and is instead a conglomeration of diverse and sometimes even contradictory elements. Some of these elements may seem to make a free society more attractive such as something for everyone while others such as the means to take from one to give to another are incompatible with freedom.

I am not in any way advocating for no government. I am advocating for limited government. There are many things which most will agree are beneficial to society and which are legitimate concerns for government such as defense, the mail system, taxes appropriate to a limited role, and the judiciary. Most people today would also agree that some form of a safety net is possible in a free society to protect against risks common to all.

However here it is important to differentiate between two views of this type of protection. There is limited protection which can be achieved for all and absolute security which can never be achieved.

The first of these types of protection is against severe poverty: the assurance of a minimum level of support for everyone. The second is the guarantee of a certain standard of life which is determined by comparing the standard enjoyed by one group against that enjoyed by another. In other words the difference is between the protection of an equal minimum income for all and the protection of a particular income for particular groups. This is the goal of the Welfare State that brings us back to “From each according to their ability to each according to their need” or as our current Progressive President puts it, “Spreading the Wealth Around.”

To accomplish this, the coercive power of the State is used to ensure that particular people get particular things which in turn require discrimination between people and unequal treatment. Some are forced to give while others receive. This is incompatible with a free society. Thus the welfare State which aims at social justice inevitably leads back to Socialism with its coercive power and arbitrary methods. In addition though some of the aims of the Welfare State such as income equality can only be achieved through the use of methods which are incompatible with freedom all of the aims may be pursued in that fashion.

The primary danger is that once the aims of the Welfare State have been accepted as legitimate it is then tacitly assumed that the use of means which are contrary to freedom are acceptable. The ends justify the means and the rule of law is sacrificed in the name of social justice.

Ultimately we arrive at a place where the criticism of the generally accepted goals of the Welfare State leads automatically to negative labels. If you point out that Obamacare is socialized medicine you are throwing grandma over the cliff. If you point out that common core is indoctrination you are against education. If you point out that progressive taxation is inherently discriminatory and unfair you are the friend of millionaires and billionaires and the enemy of the poor. If you point out that government regulations are strangling business you are against clean air and consumer safety.

Our Progressive leaders always point to the shining city on a hill where everyone has everything. Our low information fellow citizens never seem to realize that a government which ceases to administer limited resources put under its control for a specific purpose will instead use its coercive power to ensure that people are given what some bureaucrat decides they need. They never connect the dots. They do not understand that when larger and larger segments of the population come to depend on the government for everything eventually it will be the decision of those in authority what anyone receives. This isn’t freedom. This isn’t what America was or what it is supposed to be. And this is why the Welfare State isn’t well and it isn’t fair.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

Don’t Surrender Without a Fight September 28, 2012

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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With the economy staggering on the edge of a cliff, our foreign policy collapsing, our empire crumbling, and our embassies under attack the big question is why isn’t Romney up by 25 points in the polls?

The Republican side of the Washington-based perpetually re-elected party of power has a habit of nominating candidates whose main qualification is that “It’s my turn.”  Look at Dole, McCain,  and now Romney.  These three may have slugged it out in the trenches and proven themselves to be reliable workhorses and adequate fund raisers, but they don’t inspire anyone.

The most memorable speech Dole gave was in a Viagra commercial.  McCain spends more time reaching across the aisle to his Progressive comrades then he does trying to do anything even vaguely conservative.  The best move he made was to nominate Sarah Palin, and then his team spent all their time trying to put a muzzle on a momma bear intent on going rogue.  The most memorable event in his campaign was when he theatrically suspended his campaign to fly to Washington to deal with the financial collapse.  Once there he blended into the background and whispered a meek, “Me too.”

Now along comes Romney.

By nominating him the Republicans threw away one of the most potent differences they had between themselves and Mr. Obama: Obamacare.  During the rough and tumble of the primaries and immediately thereafter Governor Romney proclaimed he would end Obamacare on Day One.  Now he says he likes parts of it and will only get rid of the parts he disagrees with.  Coming from the man who passed and not only defends, but also says he’s proud of the mandatory program known as Romneycare, how will he credibly attack Obamacare in the debates when all his opponent has to say is your plan was the template for mine?

In the primaries the former governor from Massachusetts who has been running for President since he was elected Governor in 2003 was relentless in his negative attacks against his more conservative rivals.  In the general election against the hard hitting Chicago machine bent on doing whatever it takes to retain power Mr. Romney seems to have lost his edge.  It’s like watching a boxer with oversized gloves constrained by the Marquis of Queensberry Rules fighting a gang banger from the South side in a cage match.

With the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media solidly in the Obama camp and using every opportunity to boost one side to the detriment of the other, Romney has to depend solely on paid advertising to counteract ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC.  Everyday every network except FOX masquerades as news outlets as they work tirelessly to re-elect their Fearless Leader.  The thrill running up and down their leg energizes them enough to advance their agenda day and night turning the worst debacle in American Foreign policy since the hostage crisis into Romney’s gaff or Obama raiding Social Security for hundreds of Billions into Romney wants to throw Grandma off the cliff and starve her dog.

This is like watching a slow motion train wreck.  Wake up Mr. Romney!  If you want to win this thing you are going to have to win this thing.  They may be starting to vote in many places but in Chicago they’re already counting the pre-marked ballots.  The Republicans are starting out with the cards stacked against them, and if Romney doesn’t come out swinging in the debates he may join the ranks of also rans even if he has been running for ten years.

A little free advice.  Instead of running away from your 47% comment embrace it.  You were correct. You don’t have a chance to gain the vote of those who are dependent on government.  However, unless this express to the poorhouse is turned around soon this might be the last election before the dependent class becomes the majority.  And if that ever happens, the Democrats will never lose a presidential election again.   Mr. Romney don’t equivocate about your wealth and your personal success. Hold it up as something anyone has a chance to achieve in a free society.  Lead the way back to capitalism before we totter over the entitlement cliff into a nanny state nightmare of cradle-to-grave regulations guaranteeing a mediocre future.

Come on!  You fought like a brawler to get this opportunity don’t through it away because you’re afraid of being called a racist, a vulture capitalist, or a tool of the elite.  You’re being called those things anyway.  In that first debate you had better punch Mr. Obama’s ticket back to Chi-Town or this train is going to leave the station and you’ll miss the boat.

If Mr. Obama is re-elected on his platform of using executive orders to take everything from the producers and give it to the non-producers everyone who votes for him should remember elections have consequences and every once in a while you get what you vote for.  And as sweet as the “I told you so” might be it doesn’t have to happen.  Anyone who will stand up and offer to lead America back to America should be able to beat the worst president in living memory.  Don’t equivocate. Don’t pander. Make a straight forward case for limited government, personal freedom, and economic opportunity.

This may be the last chance we have to turn this thing around before we hit the dustbin of History.  The 47% are going to vote for “Give me more!” no matter what you say, so you might as well say what might motivate the undecided to finally decide and vote for freedom.

Mr. Romney could say that after spending trillions of dollars to revive the economy, recession is the new normal.  He could point out that after years of apologizing and bowing to others, Mr. Obama has succeeded in changing us from the world’s sole superpower to the world’s punching bag.  His campaign spots could remind everyone the workforce is shrinking, the lines for food stamps, welfare and disability are growing, and all the opposition offers is more of the same.

Since anyone who has lived in the Obama nation knows all these things, what should be the most effective campaign slogan Mr. Romney could use is “I’m not Obama.”  He’s already using that; however, to win he needs to appeal to the hearts and the minds of those whose votes haven’t been put on layaway by the federal benefits machine.  This election will be won or lost in the debates.  If Mitt Romney will stand up and say what he means and mean what he says, and if he will make a case for returning to Constitutional government he will win. If he soft pedals for fear of making a mistake or offending someone he will deliver the Republic to the fate of all past republics: financial collapse and ruin.

Mr. Romney you need to show the people of this country that you are in it to win it.  Show some passion and fight the good fight for truth, justice and the American way.  And whatever you do, don’t surrender without a fight!

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

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