Two articles in the New York Times last week exemplify perfectly why our nation is in such bad shape. Both articles concerned the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. The first was a Times editorial, entitled “A Big Storm Requires Big Government.” The other article was in the form of an op-ed entitled “Grover Cleveland’s Hurricane” by Matthew Algeo.
The thrust of both pieces was that Hurricane Sandy proved that the nation really needs big government in general and FEMA in particular. Without FEMA and big government, the argument goes, there is no way that people in a free society could cope with emergencies and crises.
Actually, however, in the process of praising FEMA, Algeo did Americans a great service. He criticized President Grover Cleveland for having denied federal disaster relief to hurricane victims in the latter part of the 19th century. He also pointed out that Cleveland vetoed a welfare bill for Texas farmers who were suffering a severe drought.
Why is that a service to Americans? Because it bursts the myth that is inculcated into every American schoolchild — that America’s system has always been the same. Americans are made to believe that myth because the last thing statists want them to do is to start wondering why our American ancestors chose a different system than the one that modern-day Americans chose. In fact, in their haste to publish an article criticizing Grover Cleveland and his selfishness, I can’t help but wonder if the Times failed to realize that the article it was publishing, at the same time, was bursting one of the government’s most prized myths.
As Algeo implicitly points out, Americans have lived under two different economic systems and social orders. Our American ancestors chose a way of life in which everyone kept everything he earned. There was no income tax. That wasn’t an accident. Our ancestors believed that a free society necessarily entailed the right of people to keep the fruits of their earnings.
There was also no requirement that people do the “right” thing with their money. They were free to do whatever they wanted with it. They could save, donate, invest, or spend it. The choice was theirs. Our ancestors believed that that’s part of what living in a free society is all about.
Cleveland’s position simply reflected what America was once all about — what a free society was once all about. As Algeo points out, Cleveland stated, “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” That’s not only what Cleveland believed. It was the philosophy that undergirded American society through the 1800s.
Not so today. Having born and raised under a welfare state, many Americans believe they are entitled to be taken care of by the government, When things go wrong, the first response is, “I have a right to federal money,” which is really nothing more than saying, “I have a right to your money, thanks to the taxing power of the IRS and the welfare function of the federal bureaucracies.”
RE: "The welfare state has severely damaged the principles of self-reliance, can-do, and independence within the American people."
Agreed, but only to some extent.
Have human beings evolved, to such a degree, that they may actually be willing to part (give away) with some of the fruits of their earnings, and give to those in need – will the haves really want to give to the have nots?
I can only hope that they would.
I experienced a category four (Marilyn) hurricane, and the people selling the supplies, which others would need, to prepare for such an event, were gouging (prices) consumers.
“Cleveland was right: Federal aid has encouraged the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government - and has certainly weakened the sturdiness of our national character.”
And again, I agree with that – but the situation is what it is, right now, and we can’t switch back, any time soon, to the point prior, to having become a welfare state.
This is why my beef with the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is simple – If you can get you’re A$$ in gear, with such self prided, record efficiency - moving tens of thousands of soldiers - and all the various weapons of mass destruction - transporting it all, thousands of miles away from home base, so ‘they’ can put “the boots on the ground”; like they did in “Desert Storm” (IRAQ), or somewhere else for that matter, in the Middle East – Then why does it appear so obvious, compared to the latter, that they have done nothing?
Great article you found - and thanks for posting it.
I know of some other material which I read sometime ago, on the "Welfare-State" - but I will have to look for it now (again).
Hmmm, but maybe if they had stockpiled food and water instead of ammo?
Might as well distribute those hundreds of rounds of ammo to the populace since that is all they seem to have to offer.
Or maybe they could have put money into flood control instead of letting out infrastructure rot causing the whole problem in the first place,... naaaaaaaaah