How the Welfare State Creates Perpetual Animosity

The notion that warfare creates animosity is probably not a complex concept to grasp for most people; really all it takes is to put oneself in the shoes of an Iraqi or Afghani and imagine having bombs thrown on and foreign tanks rolling down your once peaceful streets and neighborhood. Chances are you will not have much sympathy for these troops or the country they are from.

As Ron Paul will attest, there will of course always be those advocating for military interventionism while denying this obvious truth, conveniently omitting from their speeches and statements the fact that as far back as the fifties, it was the CIA – arguably a very credible source of information when it comes to assessing the consequences of military interventionism – that first coined the term “blowback”, in a report on an operation involving the overthrowing of the Iranian government.

ProtesterHowever, government policy does not just create animosity abroad; the same sentiment is created within countries. Though the assertion that welfare and warfare create similar outcomes admittedly is a much more controversial one, it is not all that difficult to recognize – at least not for the open-minded.

We have probably all seen young children play with a toy for a short period of time, then get bored with it and promptly reject the same toy they once had so much fun playing with. In fact, we have probably all been there ourselves in our early years, and parents have come to accept and anticipate it. But as kids grow older they are expected to be more tactful. After all, no matter the gift, the person giving it to you took the effort and spent the money to get it for you. Therefore, even if you really dislike it, the last thing you would do is express that openly. You simply do not look a gifted horse in the mouth, as the saying goes.

Based on the same premise, prior to the welfare state, those who had to rely on the aid of friendly societies or mutual aid organizations for their sustenance were very grateful, realizing they had been given other people’s hard-earned money and often feeling a sense of shame for having to accept it (as detailed here).

Yet the welfare state has slowly but steadily turned this sense of gratitude and shame into a sense of entitlement and greed. It has made both the “giver” and the “taker” an anonymous government statistic, thereby erasing from the minds of those on the receiving end of the transaction, the reality that money doesn’t just come falling from the sky. They simply have no earthly idea of the blood, sweat and tears that went into making the money that the government subsequently confiscated and redistributed.

Meanwhile, the (net) taxpayer is kept from seeing where his money ends up or whom it might benefit. As such, he is not only forcibly robbed and thus kept from keeping the rightfully earned fruits of his labor, even the psychological gratification he might feel from having helped a poor family out is taken from him. It is no wonder, therefore, that he should feel resentment. In other words, there is absolutely no transparency or any semblance of a personal relationship between the giver and the taker. The system has become so utterly dehumanized and formal, with people filling out paperwork to be sent to the central bureaucracy, that there is no honor or satisfaction to be drawn from it for any of the parties involved.

The inevitable effect is that taxpayers rightly feel robbed and resent the fact that they cannot protect themselves from these looters in government uniform, while those on welfare get used to getting something for nothing. The battle is essentially fought in the voting booth, where people get to choose (oh, goody!) which master they prefer to rule over them for the next few years. Ever wonder why debates always seem to be a lot more heated during election season? When it comes time to divvy up the loot everyone wants to have the biggest part of the pie. Politicians, of course, are very much aware of this and use it to buy votes and garner support for their agenda (Obama phone, anyone?).

The Ponzi scheme we know as the welfare state eventually has to come crumbling down, if only from a lack of funding. From that perspective the best-case scenario is one in which the system ends sooner rather than later, so that it doesn’t accrue more unfunded liabilities. As explained above, though, there are many more cracks in this broken system than a mere lack of funding.

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