Monday, March 23, 2015

A World Without the Welfare State

Richard Ebeling emails:

I have a new article on the news and commentary website, “EpicTimes,” on “A World Without the Welfare State.”

We live in a time when many cannot imagine a world without the welfare state. How would the old, the poor and the “needy” be taken care of without a paternalistic government to care for them?

What has been forgotten is that before the modern welfare state, in the relatively classical liberal era before the First World War, private initiative and benevolent charity took care of what today are considered “social problems” needing government solutions.

The voluntary “friendly societies” in Great Britain, for instance, provided voluntary mutual assistance and insurance associations that covered eventually over three-quarters of the entire British population.

And those who did not have such insurance coverage were assisted by a huge network of private charitable and philanthropic organizations that provided help to those in need of medical care, financial assistance, job training, and a warm place to live until they could get on their feet.

But with the coming of the modern Welfare State, all these private sector solutions were crowded out by government, as they taxed people’s wealth and offered these services and support for “free.”

The end result has been to weaken people’s self-reliance and independence and undermine the proper spirit of benevolence by taxing away the means through which people may cultivate and express their values and beliefs about what gives meaning to their lives, including reasoned and rational charity in the free society.


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