In a Welfare State How Much Is 'Enough'?
The flames from
According to USA Today, "paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year," while government benefits rose to a record high. In fact, government employment is becoming a method of redistributing wealth. In 2009, the federal payroll grew and the number of federal jobs paying over
The average federal worker earns over 70 percent more than the average private sector worker, writes
Show of hands: Who thinks that's true?
Yet the Democrats want more. More what? More everything. Even as the economy is starting to grow and many experts think we should trim debt and spending, Democrats want yet another stimulus bill, to extend jobless benefits. (They call them "jobs bills" now.) It turns out that all of that talk of a "temporary" stimulus was just that: temporary talk.
Indeed, the mess we have today is merely the natural result of a century-long battle over the size of government. When it comes to the welfare state, liberals want more, conservatives want less. It seems that nobody ever talks about "enough."
Except that's not entirely true.
Ryan's blueprint was denounced by liberals as too stingy and largely ignored by much of the Republican leadership, who were happy to just say "No" to Obama's plans without offering voters anything serious to say "Yes" to.
Purist libertarians who see merely a surrender to liberalism should at least acknowledge that liberals would denounce any suggestion of means testing America's safety net (as will many voters) as cruel cutbacks and a violation of FDR's "vision." Moreover, the current strategy hasn't worked. We've had a century of nearly uninterrupted growth in the welfare state, even under
Liberals are absolutely committed to the idea that everybody should be in the same creaky retirement system. They insist that middle- and upper-class voters must be bribed to support the poor. So
Governments do not generate wealth; they can merely distribute it. The challenge for both liberals and conservatives is simply to define how much distribution is "enough." What would an acceptable safety net look like? Who should be taken care of by taxpayers and for how long?
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In a Welfare State How Much Is 'Enough'?
(c) 2010 Jonah Goldberg