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June 3, 2010

Progressive Government: A Limitless Welfare State

Posted by The MaryHunter at June 3, 2010 11:42 AM

George Will's column today compares and contrasts the Madisonian vision of limited government with the Wilsonian progressive government of "unstinted power." A highly recommended read, and rich. Mr. Will discusses Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State, a new book by William Voegeli. Mr. Will and Mr. Voegeli describe the progressive view, where there is no "limiting principle" for government. Government that exists for the sole purpose of forever expanding the welfare state. Funded by... YOU.

Although progressivism's ever-lengthening list of rights is as limitless as human needs/desires, one right that never makes the list is the right to keep some inviolable portion of one's private wealth or income, "regardless," Voegeli says, "of the lofty purposes social reformers wish to make of it."
Lacking a limiting principle, progressivism cannot say how big the welfare state should be but must always say that it should be bigger than it currently is. Furthermore, by making a welfare state a fountain of rights requisite for democracy, progressives in effect declare that democratic deliberation about the legitimacy of the welfare state is illegitimate.
"By blackening the skies with crisscrossing dollars," Voegeli says, the welfare state encourages people "to believe an impossibility: that every household can be a net importer of the wealth redistributed by the government." But the welfare state's problem, today becoming vivid, is socialism's problem, as Margaret Thatcher defined it: Socialist governments "always run out of other people's money."

Sure, we know this already, but it always helps to re-learn these truths from history and basic principles, to better understand those who would limit our freedom and wealth with unlimited authority -- if they only could.

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Image hat tip: The B.S. Report.