Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Pioneer vs. the Welfare State

The pioneers were the men and women of the 18th and 19th century who settled the American frontier in search of a better life. Independent, resourceful, and determined, they rose to the challenge of a free people in a new nation founded on liberty. They did something that was restricted in the Old World of authoritarianism: They ran their own lives and controlled their own destiny.
The Pioneer vs. the Welfare State
by Gen LaGreca
As the towns of these early settlers and their successors grew into cities, and manual trades became mechanized, America produced an explosion of new industries and products—oil refineries, electricity, steel, automobiles, airplanes, telephones, etc.—creating abundance on a scale never before imagined. The enterprising people of America became legendary—from the early settlers to the great industrialists to the ambitious individuals on every economic level who dreamed big and worked hard to better their lives. The pioneer spirit became the proud symbol of America. The personal initiative to improve one’s life, unencumbered by the state, achieved worldwide fame as the coveted American Dream.Thanks to the ambitious achievements of pioneer-spirited Americans, the hardship so prevalent in daily existence vanished, and by the 20th century prosperity became the new normal, raising the standard of living of virtually everyone and creating a thriving middle class. All of this was accomplished in a mere century or so when capitalism and freedom prevailed.

Fast-forward to today, and we see a different country. We see an ever-growing government with a myriad of welfare-state programs that claim to take care of us. We see Americans hampered from seizing the reins of their lives and driving their chariots toward the sun. Instead, they’re conditioned to look to the government to take care of them. From free food and housing to free cell phones and contraceptives, many of our citizens think they have a claim to a guaranteed existence provided to them by taxing and redistributing the earnings of others. Many people think that restricting economic freedom and entangling business in tighter and tighter knots of regulations with give them security against life’s risks. Decades of the paternalistic welfare state have changed the character of the people, causing a growing passivity, insecurity, and dependency—so antithetical to the pioneer spirit.

In the pre-industrial world of hardship, the American pioneers created plenty. In the modern world of plenty, the welfare state creates, nurtures, and perpetuates hardship.

The pioneer and the welfare state represent two opposite views of life and government. The conflict between them is the most important battle of our age. On the one side are the individualists, who cherish personal liberty and want to run their own lives their own way. On the other side are the statists, who want the government to provide for their welfare and who ignore or make light of the coercion by the state and the violation of individual rights that their system entails.

Which side will win in this struggle for the soul of America? The goal of my new book of essays, "The Pioneer vs. the Welfare State," is to influence the outcome. Available on Amazon Kindle.