Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Welfare State

I cannot recall ever having met someone whose grasp of economics and human nature was so shallow that they truly believed that complete Socialism could be a viable system.

The question that inevitably follows: how Socialist can a society become before the economics of it all bring the infrastructure crumbling down?

Take, for example, health care. Very few people with whom I am acquainted disagree in principle with ensuring that all children have access to health care: kids are too cute and innocent for us to imagine turning them away. But what happens when the freeloader in question is a lifetime smoker, occasional druggie, alcoholic adult who flits between jobs and has failed to contribute to the funding of the programs on which he would rely to fund his wayward lifestyle? What happens when parasites graft on to the host?

For every sad story about a cancer patient, odds are we could find a story or two about a single mother who keeps having children while on government support. For every person denied insurance coverage due to a preexisting condition, there will be another person whose litany of poor life choices and irresponsible behavior make them an utter drain on society.

Socialism's fatal flaw is not that it tries to help poor people. Socialism's fatal flaw is not that it asks the wealthy to support the poor. Socialism's flaw is that it asks the wealthy to indiscriminately subsidize the orphan and the slacker, the widow and the meth addict, the disabled and the lazy.

Unless and until we are willing to distinguish between the helpless needy and the hopeless needy, expanding entitlement programs is little better than taking a fistfull of money and tossing it out of the window of a tall building on the off chance that it will find a struggling wretch and not a slovenly brute.