… is from page 351 of George Will’s excellent 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility:
Government can at least avoid encouraging or enabling dissolute habits. It has done much harm by destigmitizing and encouraging dependency.
DBx: Government has indeed done so. It has encouraged dependency by older people on the state – that is, on the faceless and forgotten people from whom the state extracts resources – to provide retirement income. It has encouraged dependency by many poor people for income generally. It has encouraged dependency by some businesses on ‘protection’ and subsidies.
The list of specific dependencies isn’t short. But perhaps worst of all is the overarching dependency created by the myth that the state has the power – and, if in the right hands, also the will – to engineer whatever social outcomes someone fancies. If you don’t like this feature of society or that ‘outcome’ of a complex and spontaneous economic process, no problem: the disliked feature or outcome can be ‘fixed’ through skillful social engineering carried out by the magnificent wielders of power.