The Welfare State: Too Many Takers — Not Enough Givers

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The Irish cabdriver complained almost nonstop during our half-hour drive to the Belfast International Airport. He especially worried about the job prospects for his 20-something son and, for that matter, about those for the generation of young people who face a “sh-tty” future on this beautiful island full of friendly people.

“Give me,” I finally said, “the No. 1 reason for the economic problems here.”

He looked almost stunned.

“Huh…” he said, “let me think.”

We drove silently for nearly a half-mile. Then he turned to me and said, “Too many takers — not enough givers.”

Little by little, inch by inch, drop by drop, governments both in America and in Europe began taking more and more from people, diminishing the incentive of those on both sides of the transaction — the taker and the giver. In America, nearly half of wage earners pay not one single dime in federal income taxes. Many of them trudge down to the local polling place or vote via absentee ballot — and vote themselves a raise.

The Founding Fathers conceived a brilliant document to restrain the federal government and allow maximum freedom for the people to make their own way. It leaves people the power to make their own decisions and to deal with the consequences. Almost before the ink dried, Congress tried to circumvent the Constitution.

James Madison, the fourth U.S. president and the “Father of the Constitution,” warned against using the document — especially the “general welfare” clause — to dispense money, no matter how well-intended or deserved: “With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers (enumerated in the Constitution) connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

When Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist French refugees in 1792, an appalled Madison wrote, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution, which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

“Too many takers — not enough givers.”

Hollywood left-wingers understand the corrosive effect of burdensome government on their own industry. Those working in Hollywood long complained about “runaway” productions, where other states and countries lured television and movie productions away from California by offering tax incentives and less restrictive union rules.

What did Hollywood do about this?

The industry lobbied state and city lawmakers to lower the tax and regulatory burden on production companies in order to keep the work local.

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