My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Why I Am A Republican, part VIII

" . . . to promote the General Welfare, . . ."

If there is another word that has suffered in its meaning so much since the liberals took over acedamia, I welcome you to propose it.

As it stands, "welfare" no longer means means what Webster says it means: "the state of doing well esp. in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity." Rather, "welfare" has come to be shorthand for the acts of the government which prop up those who--for whatever reason--are unable to stand on their own two feet.

"Welfare," as it now stands, has come to mean that process whereby the government confiscates the wealth of one portion of society and redistributes it into the hands of another portion of society for the purpose of giving the second portion a chance to re-establish themselves within the norms of general society.

As that second meaning has come to be, I see absolutely no way to reconcile what it has become with what it was intended. The "general welfare" is ill-served by a policy of taking from the one to give to the other--the state has no right to act as Robin Hood. And there is, of course, nothing in the Constitution which enables such an act.

But, more importantly, the general welfare is best promoted by guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of all the citizenry; it is best promoted by protecting the citizens from the encroachments of those acting outside of the law; it is best promoted by allowing all the citizens an equal access to--NOT SHARE OF--the wealth and blessings of this country; it is best promoted by establishing Justice and ensuring domestic tranquility.

In short, the government exists to guarantee that the playing field is level for all of its citizens, and that the citizenry has every fair opportunity to pursue their own welfare--"promote" the general welfare, not "guarantee" the welfare of all.

To believe that the government exists, in part, to take the lowly and prop them up, is to believe that a person working 40+ hours a week for a salary to pay a mortgage and keep their children clothed and fed should have to "donate" a sizeable chunk of their salary to a 19-year old mother of three children (by three different fathers) who goes to the bar on Friday night to drink too much and sleep with another man.

Is this the case for all welfare cases? Of course not. There are certainly cases in which welfare does give a victim of circumstance enough of a crutch to learn to walk again on their own. And that is a good thing--but it hardly justifies the other case, in which an undeserving person who has no capacity to make good decisions becomes a perpetual burden on society.

Did welfare reform work? Clearly. The reforms pushed through by a Republican Congress and signed by Pres. Bill Clinton has reduced the number of people living on the government dole, without any corresponding "human tragedies" that were predicted, like increased homelessness and deaths on the street because children couldn't eat. In short, taking away the umbilical cord successfully forced people to eat and breathe on their own.

Is there a compelling societal interest in giving the destitute a hand out? Perhaps. Those who have help are less likely--perhaps--to commit crimes against the innocent, or to turn to prostitution, drugs or violence to stay alive, and that is all positive. Perhaps.

But, at the same time, sending the message to any segment of society that it does not need to contribute to its own survival sends the message to all of society that the playing field is not level. And that does not promote the general welfare.

If there is one idea around which both meanings of "welfare" could be brought together, it may be in the idea of persistent poverty--the sort of poverty that passes from one generation to another in a family, with no sign or expectation that it will ever change. This is an unhealthy development for society: it creates the sort of permanent underclass from which the greatest violence and discontent has always flowed. Government efforts to break this persistent poverty would be in the interest of the society in general, and is the sort of effort I could support.

The problem with persistent poverty in this day and age is that it is as much a cultural phenomenon as it is an economic one. And we, as a society, have a difficult time addressing cultural phenomena. For instance, if (and we know it does) single parenthood leads to poverty, and if (and we know they are) children of unwed mothers are more likely to become unwed mothers themselves, then you would think it would be in the interest of that segment of society in which such conditions are prevalent to address the problem and try to make it better. But, because that segment of society also happens to be ethnically oriented, people who address that issue directly are immediately decried as "racist", and their ideas are dismissed without any discussion of the merits. Even a person sharing that ethnicity is accused of racism, called an "oreo", and dismissed.

But, again, that is only a small part of "promoting the general welfare."

In total, the general wlfare involves a great deal more than just the 10% impoverished--it means all 100%. And for that, I echo my previous post, that the general welfare is much like domestic tranquility in that it is best promoted by justice, security, and equal opportunity. And, as I have expounded upon before, all of these purposes are best served by Republicans, so it must follow that the general welfare is best served by Republicans.


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