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No Longer Slaves to Petty 18th-century Notions of Individual Rights

Here’s a letter that I sent to the Washington Post:

Robert Samuelson observes that “Every advanced society, including the United States, has a welfare state.  Though details differ, their purposes are similar: to support the unemployed, poor, disabled and aged” (“Greece and the welfare state in ruins,” Feb. 22).  True, but incomplete.

The founder of the modern welfare state, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, wanted, as he said, “to bribe the working classes” into devotion to the German state.  What better way to ensure that families are willing to send ample supplies of their young men off to die for the Fatherland?

And it’s telling that an American admirer of this German system, Frederic C. Howe – who was influential in planting these “progressive” ideas in America’s upper Midwest – admitted that one result of government-dispensed welfare is that “The individual exists for the state, not the state for the individual.”

If Mr. Samuelson is correct that welfare ‘entitlements’ now threaten to bankrupt governments around the globe, we persons whose puny individual needs are nothing as compared those of the state had better beware.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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