Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Letter to National Review re: The Welfare State

From: patrickbarron@msn.com
To: letters@nationalreview.com
Subject: Why Jim Manzi is Wrong about the Welfare State
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2010 21:58:34 -0500

Dear Sirs:
Jim Manzi's fairly typical prescription for how to reign in the welfare state--Unbundle The Welfare State--will fail because his premise about man and government is wrong. Manzi says that some men demand government interventions to relieve them of their anxieties and that it is government's legitimate role to decide where to draw the line. It is clear that Mr. Manzi has not read Frederic Bastiat, who explains that welfare is both illegitimate and impractical. It is true that some men desire to plunder others, but government's endorsement of some form of "legitimate plunder" validates this essentially criminal demand rather than regulate it and make it harmless. As Bastiat explains in the first dozen or so pages of his classic The Law, all men are born free and have a legitimate right to defend themselves from the plunder of others. Since government is a product of cooperative men, it can have no other powers except those that these men possessed themselves. Since free men do not possess the legitimate power to plunder others, they cannot pass that power to government. Therefore, government welfare is illegitimate plunder. Furthermore, rather than mitigate some men's desire to live off the fruits of others' labors, government welfare exacerbates this human weakness of character and divides men rather than unite them. We can expect all welfare states to implode under their own self-contradictions, as the ranks of the plunders grow and those of their victims shrink.

Patrick Barron

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