Friday, October 14

Failure of an idea - and a people

Below is an extensively edited version of an article someone emailed to me. I don't know the author or source, only that it was "published Sep 14, 05." If you were the author I'll be glad to credit you.
In his 1935 State of the Union Address, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke to a nation entering the fifth year of the Great Depression, but still steeped in conservative values. Continued dependence on welfare, said Roosevelt, "induces a spiritual disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber." To let people stay dependent on welfare "is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

Behind FDR's statement was the conviction that while it's proper for the government to provide aid in an extraodinary emergency, in normal times people should provide for the needs of their own families.

And until around 1960 or so, Americans did just that. But with LBJ's landslide election in 1964 unchecked liberalism triumphed--and began a huge experiment.

Behind LBJ's "Great Society" was a novel (and to many, very attractive) idea: the federal government should use tax dollars to provide 'economically disadvantaged' people with all their basic needs. Liberals believed that by using tax dollars to give the poor money, subsidized food, free (or nearly free) housing and free medical care, the poor would not only be happier but would also be "lifted out of poverty."

When Katrina hit New Orleans, Americans saw the results of 40 years of these programs: Hundreds of young men who in earlier disasters would have put their unique skills and muscle into helping the elderly, the sick, women and children to safety instead took to the streets to loot and rape.

The real disaster of Katrina was how quickly society in that city broke down. The idea that long-term government handouts would build a Great Society was exposed as woefully, laughably wrong. After trillions of tax dollars spent for welfare, food stamps, public housing, job training and education since 1965, not only is poverty still pandemic, but when the police vanished, the beneficiaries of these government programs quickly started preying on women and those who lacked weapons.

Sri Lankans and Indonesians--who live far more austerely than black Americans in New Orleans--did not behave like this in a tsunami that took 200 times as many lives as Katrina.

Stranded for days by the floodwaters, almost everyone waited for the government to come save them. They screamed into the cameras for help, and the reporters screamed into the cameras for help, and the "civil rights leaders" screamed into the cameras that Bush was not only responsible for the disaster (global warming, "dynamited levees") but was also a racist who was deliberately letting blacks suffer.

Americans were once famous for their initiative, for young leaders who would stand up and perform heroic deeds in a crisis. We saw none of that at the Superdome. Watching the performance in New Orleans, it's clear that our society has changed vastly from our parents' day.

FDR was right: a "spiritual disintegration" has overtaken us. The idea that government should give people their daily needs--one of the pillars of modern liberalism--has proven to be "a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

Either we get off this narcotic, or it kills us.

1 Comments:

Blogger Barb said...

Just this morning, the topic of discussion was around a lesson of Katrina relevant to the Washington / Seattle battle over cars v. transport. To wit ... Those with cars escaped from NO, those without stayed. Even the buses that were available could not be driven because those with cars - left.

Key concept ... Self-Reliance is a survival trait, pure and simple.

8:29 AM  

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