EDITORIAL
A World Without the Welfare State
By Richard Ebeling - March 24, 2015

We live in an era in which few can even conceive of a world without the welfare state. Who would care for the old? How would people provide for their medical needs? What would happen to the disadvantaged and needy that fell upon hard times? There were free-market solutions and non-government answers to these questions long before the modern Big Government Welfare State.

In fact, before the arrival of the modern welfare state, voluntary, private-sector institutions had evolved to serve as the market providers for many of those "social services" now viewed as the near-exclusive prerogative of the government. Unfortunately, after nearly a century of increasing political and cultural collectivism, the historical memory of the pre-welfare state era has all but been lost.

Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries is an historical case study in how many of these problems were handled without political intervention in the private affairs of society.

The Friendly Societies and Mutual Insurance Protections

The focal point for many of these private-sector answers was the "friendly societies." When they first arose in late-18th and early-19th century Britain, the friendly societies were mutual-aid associations for insurance for the cost of funerals of workers or their family members.

But as the 19th century progressed, the friendly societies expanded their activities to encompass four primary services: 1) accident insurance that provided weekly allowances for the families of workers who were injured in their places of employment; 2) medical insurance that covered the cost of medical care and prescribed medicines for workers and their families; 3) life insurance and assistance to maintain family members in case of the death of the primary breadwinner or his spouse; and 4) funeral insurance to cover burial costs for the worker or members of his family. Later on, many of the societies also developed savings and lending facilities for members, fire insurance and loans for home purchases.

By 1910, the year before Britain's first National Insurance Act was brought into law, approximately three-quarters of the work force of the British economy was covered by the private, voluntary insurance associations of the friendly societies. The memberships in their associations covered the entire income spectrum, from the middle- and higher-income skilled worker to the low-wage, unskilled members of the work force.

The friendly societies also offered instruction in self-responsibility, often rotated their officer positions to teach leadership among the members, and supplied advice on better managing of members' family financial and related affairs.

In the years before the First World War, the free society had developed and was extending the very social institutions needed to handle all those concerns that in our own time are considered the responsibility of the state. What the modern welfare state did was to preempt and undermine the free market's solutions to many of what we call today "social services."

State regulation of the friendly societies, subsidized "free" medical and insurance services, and new taxes to cover the government's cost for providing these national insurance schemes all resulted in a crowding-out of the voluntary alternatives of the private sector.

Private Charity and Voluntary Assistance to the Poor

For the 300 years between 1600 and 1900, British society generally took it as axiomatic that charitable work was the responsibility of individual and private corporate effort. Even the notorious English Poor Laws that generated so many negative side effects were considered to be a narrow and limited supplement to the primary activities of the private sector.

British private philanthropy reached its zenith in the 19th century, and this was not an accident. During this epoch of classical liberalism, the state was not regarded as either the proper or most efficient vehicle for the amelioration of poverty.

Especially for the Christian classical liberal, his faith required him to take on the personal responsibility for the saving of souls for God.

Most of the Christians in 19th-century Britain also believed that to help a man in his rebirth in Christ, it was essential to help him improve his earthly life, as well. Soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, training of the unskilled for gainful employment, care for the abandoned or poverty-stricken young and the nurturing of a sense of self-respect and self-responsibility for an independent and self-supporting life were all seen as complements to the primary task of winning sinners over for salvation.

By the 1890s, most middle-class British families devoted 10 percent of their income for charitable works — an outlay from average family income second only to expenditures on food. Total voluntary giving in Britain was greater than the entire budgets of several European governments, and more than half a million women worked as full-time volunteers for various charitable organizations.

Individual Initiative and Leadership in Voluntary Giving

Individuals of position, wealth, or vision felt it their Christian duty to take up the saving of souls and the caring for these people's material circumstances as steppingstones to the "remaking" of Christ's children. For example, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the seventh Earl of Shaftsbury, who was considered a prominent evangelical Christian, and as one historian of the period put it, "a sort of conscience of the nation, a man of such outstanding virtue that the association of his name with any enterprise gave it instant respectability and mass appeal."

Thomas Barnardo, associated with the Church of Ireland, founded his own charitable organizations that came to care for, house and educate tens of thousands of children in the poorest circumstances throughout England. William Booth created the Salvation Army, saving souls as well as teaching those who came to Christ through his organization the importance of self-responsibility and paying their own way through work and honesty in all avenues of life. William Cadbury (of Cadbury chocolates) and William Lever (of Lever Brothers' soap) created, with their own money, model workplaces and communities for their workers.

An advantage of this world of private charity is that it enabled innovation and experimentation to discover the means most likely to bring people to God and improve their earthly conditions. At the same time, the competition among charities for voluntary contributions rewarded those organizations that demonstrated the effectiveness of the methods they used and weeded out the less successful ones.

The Rise of Socialism and the Demise of the Private Sector

At the turn of the century, however, a sea change began to occur in the philosophy and ideology of many charities and their corporate sponsors. In a period experiencing the rise of socialist ideas, the view developed that government needed to assist or supplant the efforts of private individuals and organizations. And among a growing number of Christian groups concern for earthly improvement of the poor began to take first place over the previously primary task of saving souls.

As the government began to create the welfare state, many of the private charities found it increasingly impossible to compete with the "free" services supplied by the state. And, at the same time, many people now paying higher taxes to finance government welfare programs came to believe they had paid their "fair share" through taxation, so private giving was either not needed or no longer affordable.

Also, as the 20th century has progressed, many private charitable organizations have themselves become dependent upon government funding for large fractions of their activities. This has resulted in increasing government regulation and supervision of their programs. Furthermore, since "he who pays the piper calls the tune," Christian charities have had to diminish or remove the evangelical element in their activities under government rules against religious proselytizing by those receiving government funds.

From Private Action to Government Control

Another aspect of this politicization and co-opting of these private sector solutions to "social problems" is that it really has involved a massive growth in governmental power and decision-making.

The rhetoric is often of transferring income and wealth from "the rich" to the poor or more disadvantaged. But as a number of critics have pointed out, it has really and mostly involved a transfer of power and control from the hands of the citizenry to that of those in political authority.

This theme was especially emphasized by the French social critic, Bertrand de Jouvenel, in a book on The Ethics of Redistribution (1951). Income is not merely a means for physical maintenance of oneself and one's family plus a few dollars for leisure activities. What we do with our income is an expression of ourselves, a statement about what we value, how we see ourselves and what we wish and hope to be.

How We Spend Our Wealth Reflects and Teaches Values

The way we use our income enables us to teach future generations about those things that are considered worthwhile in life. Income acquired above some notion of a "minimum" is also the way individuals have had the means to perform many activities "for free" that are considered the foundation of the social order, from community and church work, to support for the arts and humanities.

Deny an individual the honest income he has earned, even when it is above some hypothetically "reasonable maximum," and you deny him the ability to formulate, and give expression to, his own purpose as a human being. And you deny him the capacity to make his voluntary contribution to the civilization and society in which he lives, as he sees best

De Jouvenel argued that such contributions have been, and remain essential for a good society. This is demonstrated, he shows, by the common belief of most of those who advocate redistribution: Since most people will no longer have the "independent means" to perform such social services and activities, the state must now perform them.

Elitist Contempt for the Common Man

And there is a strong elitist element among redistribution advocates. They do not trust "the poor" to have the intelligence or wisdom to spend their income in "socially desirable ways." The poor prefer to spend their money on beer rather than Beethoven. So, the state takes over that responsibility for them. And it is in this that de Jouvenel sees the real significance of redistributive policies. What is redistributed is not wealth from the rich to the poor, but power from the people to the state.

Individuals no longer plan their own lives, and use their own money, to fulfill those plans. Individuals no longer care for their own children, teach them how to live as human beings or guide them as to what to value and pursue in life. In terms of time, income and talent, individuals are now reluctant to contribute themselves to the society in which they live.

No, these are now in the hands of the state because, through taxation, the state has denied individuals the capacity to do them. The state plans our lives, cares for our children, and decides what should be supported in society as socially desirable and to what extent.

And as the state grows stronger, the individual grows weaker. We become weaker, not only in relation to the state, but also as human beings because we no longer exercise those qualities and habits of mind that only self-responsibility teaches and makes possible.

In spite of the pervasiveness of the Welfare State in our modern society and the tax burden that is imposed to fund it, it is worth remembering that Americans' generosity and benevolence still stands as a beacon for the world. In 2013, Americans donated nearly $420 billion to charitable causes, and this was a nearly 13 percent increase over the 2012 level of voluntary philanthropy in the United States.

But a culture of self-responsibility and benevolence can be and is undermined by a paternalistic state, in which the State not only takes away the income and wealth through which individuals can express and reflect their values and beliefs, but weakens the very idea that such decisions and judgments should be in private rather than political hands.

The Welfare State makes us all poorer in character and independence. Confiscation of freedom through abridgements of individuals' rights to their life, liberty and honestly acquired property also brings with it a less humane and civil society.

With liberty comes not only the individual's right to make his own choices concerning how best to live his life. The experience of Great Britain and the United States before the modern Welfare State makes it clear that free men are also civilized human beings who demonstrate appropriate and reasonable interest and concern with others in society deemed deserving of charitable benevolence.

Posted in EDITORIAL
  • “private or political hands”
    I have no reason to see any but cosmetic division between these when a financially directed corporate agenda runs or at least holds such influence over the political process.
    An more deeply honest – appreciation of consciousness itself, is called for when sickness of inflammatory conflict, dysfunctionality and breakdown of shared purpose and trust renders life intolerable.
    The mentality of coercing and controlling life – including one’s own consciousness of it – seeks to persist in out-of-true dissonance whilst masking or redistributing the consequence of guilt, fear, self-invalidation and pain.
    Ingenuity contrives ever more complex instruments of obfuscation – such that the half-wit leads the blind. Health is not physically defined, any more than life, Restored wholeness of being – on all levels of what it is to be and not just those given focus by fearful drive to escape fear – is what ‘works’, and any attempt to replace a real relationship with a ‘getting mechanism’ – no matter how well intentioned or altruistic – can extend or promote health, radiant wealth, happiness and synchronicity of positive outcomes.
    Even to engage in vocabulary of verbal mental linear concept, tends to be interpreted only through the distortion filter of whatever version of reality is accorded ‘truth’ in the reader’s thoughts system.
    Such disconnected and destructive paternalism as is operating coercion via the mask of caring, cannot operate without the demand for unconsciousness of self-AND shared responsibility. Waking up to responsibility IS exercising freedom. Running of defaults of ideas that are NOT true of you is to give the power of your freedom away to idols or false gods as if they will save you from unowned and unrecognized fear.
    Fear denied becomes a dark manipulating deceit. Fear brought to light becomes the process of shitting off or releasing what does not belong. When one is heavily identified in a fearful self definition it will seem that fear protects by maintaining a segregated sense of personal control over and against the feared and so the process of healing itself is interpreted as threat and enemy.

    Ultimately one is either cooperating with a Life aligning process of reintegrating consciousness or asserting an ever more dense and TAXING defence upon the relational communication that is life manifest.
    Rationality tends to support or justify and out-of-true act of thought,word or deed. But true Reason is sanity itself – of a wholeness of being – rather than asserting exclusive definitions upon reality.
    Seeking a true foundation must arise from recognizing one’s own as false. While we want to maintain the false we will busy ourselves with seeing false foundational thought in others and obtaining a reinforcement for our own lack of true foundation by being ‘against’ what is wrong with the world, others or indeed our self.

    Ultimately, eventually, inevitable, it all comes home to roost. BUT the owning of one’s own choice is the freedom to choose anew – whereas the projection of one’s own subjection of victim status, in lack and loss of grievance, ensures that the choice is hidden and therefore unchangeable. This is the belief in and worship of sin – for the investment in grievance of wound and damage, gives a kind of power over life that those seeking power refuse to yield by restoring their mind to a wholly present Presence.
    The power of illusion may be used for creative endeavour, but the illusion of power can only use up or deplete the true resource or foundation upon which it depends for all that it seems to be – even though its relationship with source and wholeness is an ignorant arrogance of a corrupting self-deceit.

    There are many modalities to restoring health. But when the intent is to protect and nurture the sickness so as to persist against one’s true desire, then none of them will do more than delay the inevitable. Truth is inevitable, because it simply Is – where illusions must be maintained by force and guile, which can only exhaust one’s capacity of allegiance. Which is a good thing – though it is not pleasant to arrive at.

  • Andrew Cullen

    Top article from Prof Ebeling. Delighted to see him bring out the important of the Friendly societies in 19th century Britain. The destructive powers of stat intervention reach to the most fundamental, often intangible, behaviours and values of human action and interaction. Being a serf of any post WWII state-provided services has dehumanised us all; camouflaged by the rhetoric of “equal access” .

  • Lyn Morris

    Really great and timely article.

  • Freetruthforever .

    Talking about ending the Welfare State without even mentioning the other side of the statist coin, the Warfare State is naive, at best. The justification for the Welfare State is the Warfare State (i.e. guns and butter). So what about free-market solutions for security and defense? As long as you have an institutionalized monopoly on the use of violence, you are providing a means for legitimizing theft and tyranny that will continue to undermine the free-market as well as the pursuit of personal virtue. The state is the most corrupt and corrupting social entity ever created by men and it is time for this beast to pass on into the history books. Ending the welfare state sounds like a wonderful idea, but it is only half-baked.

    • Bill Ross

      Destroy the “motivational economics” and ability to function of the “Welfare State”, you also destroy the “Warfare State”, both economically and politically because the “Welfare State” is really “appeasement, as opposed to fully informed consent of the governed”

      And, to answer your “defense” question, a “rifle behind every bush” should be disincentive enough for those (rational) pondering starting something, or dealing with the fools who actually do.

  • autonomous

    Socialism is like giving methamphetamines to a criminal. Need I say it? Power to the people!

    • Hey You

      Let’s be clear as to implementing “power to the people”. Democracy was to be the great way by which that was to be done, but it failed as “the war to make the world safe for democracy” proved.

      • autonomous

        As has every application of power been. It seems to be inevitable, given human nature.

        • Bill Ross

          again: “power EQUALS ability to influence.”

          Only three basic REAL methods (of influence) exist: Force, Fraud, Honest Mutually Agreed (thus peaceful) Trade. No other possibilities

          Any “method of influence” can be dissected according to percentage of these primary components

          Note that force, fraud are anti-reason. I consider the degree that force / fraud are used (to achieve goals) in a social economic organisation to be a direct measure of barbarism / violence and, the inverse, civilization / peace.

  • Praetor

    Excellent! The word, Responsibility. The state is here to help you, Bullpucky! The state is destroying everything. The old saying, “charity begins in the home”, if you had a family member fall on hard times, you gave shelter and support till they got back on their feet, that’s how it use to be. Yes, the churches, we once had a separation of church and state, not any more. This tax exemption given to churches is the means of control, the churches have to hirer people to account for every penny given, less money to help those in need, and it leads to corruption. Examples, Salvation Army, Goodwill, just to name two, these are now corporation paying high salaries and are riddled with fraud and theft of funds, and this is do to government over sight. How many Trillions have been given to charities over the years to help the needy and people are no better off and in many cases worse. Today you want to donate, you better get a receipt, because you may have to account for the money you gave away, not spent on goods or services, gave away, its sick. These governments we have today are the cause of all the ills, effecting civilization. Why is this. Locke: Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his consent!!! “We The People,” are consenting to this, and that be the crux of the problem, until, “We The People” remove our consent, the problems will continue and become worse, till there be no more “We The People.

  • Bill Ross

    RE: “What is redistributed is not wealth from the rich to the poor, but power from the people to the state.”

    power EQUALS ability to influence. Your taxes are used to forcefully influence you to pay “more taxes” and, to influence those wielding YOUR guns of state to attempt to force you do so. YOU are paying for the demise of yourself and all who you care about.

    and, it is pretty obvious this influence is used (false pretexts of “social “good”) for nefarious ends such as: placing people in servitude, war to acquire more power and control, or, in general to keep “predators in control” so they can continue their ongoing feeding frenzy on the productive (civilized division of labor) in continuation of their serial assaults of “grand theft civilization”.

    Well, THEY may have terrified the colones out of most of us. There is NO way to forcefully fight predators with more power than you. There can be no winners by playing their “might is right” games. THEY can, however, be peacefully defied to a stalemate, bringing them to the negotiating table by the survival threat posed by uncooperative prey. Learn some sense from Mr Ed. (horse sense); You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Or, You can surround a man (slave) with the tools of productivity, but you cannot make him produce, without a REAL answer to the “what’s in it for him, personally” question.

    So, even without the cohones to hold our “predators on the bench” to account, their (really YOUR) power can be dissipated and made ineffectual by not “feeding the beast” and, increasing THEIR costs at every opportunity. I consider those on social services to be assistant predators (providing false pretexts) and, allies, because they are the dominant factor in dissipating our stolen power that is the primary weapon used against and therefore disincentives for the productive:

    http://www.nazisociopaths.org/modules/article/view.article.php/c1/32

    So, ultimately, there will be “power for the productive” (property rights), or none, general impoverishment, “war of all against all”. This is historically where we came from, prior to being collectively rescued by “rule of law” (civilization) as opposed to “rule of predatory men” (barbarism):

    http://www.nazisociopaths.org/modules/article/view.article.php/c1/34

  • 2prickit

    Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door.—Charles Dickens

  • Jim Kluttz

    The question is always how would one reverse the welfare state. The answer is always only through a great liquidation of debt and promises. The welfare state has been financed first by taxes, then by debt and finally by promises until US government promises and debt approach $200 trillion. Debt and promises are necessary financing tools because productive citizens cannot pay enough in taxes to finance a welfare state. For the same reason, private charities cannot shoulder the burden in a transition away from the welfare state. This means that at some point (probably in the near future) dependents of the welfare state are doomed to poverty or worse as the great liquidation advances. Promises are free and politicians and welfare recipients love them, until payment comes due.

    • Bill Ross

      Inevitable fate of all Ponzi schemes. Only “full faith and trust” keeps it going, until that is exhausted.

      BTW, “Mathematics of Rule” is NOT just about money (stored productivity). It proves the REAL considerations / fate of any commodity such as “faith and trust” that can be produced and, dissipated:

      http://www.nazisociopaths.org/modules/article/view.article.php/c1/32

    • Blank Reg

      The welfare state can never be “reversed”. That would require sound thinking on a massive scale and social/political commitment to a long term goal, perhaps decades. That’s not how America rolls. America has a long, tortured history of doing everything the hard way, the path most expensive, chaotic, and bloody (see Slavery). Everyone embedded in the welfare state will hang onto it to the last gasp before utter collapse. And then either (a) the checks will stop coming, or )b) they won’t buy anything. It will collapse, the slate will be wiped clean. Only then, after the dust settles and the bloody chaos subsides, will the survivors pick themselves up and start from scratch.

  • Jim Johnson

    Let me add my 25 years in these private endeavors in support of every point you make here. We tried making it the government’s responsibility. Didn’t work. Toss the experiment and start anew.

  • WPalmer

    As a child of a single mother in the aftermath of the war and raised in England, Being wheeled around by my mom amid the forest of chimneys that still stood, the rest of the houses just rubble at the base, ourselves living in a house that was cracked from foundation to apex, the result of a bomb that had exploded in the neighborhood with the pigeons roosting in the back bedroom. Money, food, accommodation and employment were very, very scarce. There was nothing left for insurance or any other minor luxury.
    We were one of thousands of families who were just trying to survive and live on the meager rations that were allowed.
    Medical aid was a primary concern, base living conditions and poor diet promoted the outbreak of desiese and immunization programs were essential, the state had to step in.
    I later went to an orphanage. Most of my friends were the children that had been pulled from the rubble from beneath their dead mothers who had sheltered them from the air attacks, now wards of the state. There was plenty of destitution and ample poverty but there was no money at all for Friendship Society’s. As much as I despise Socialism because of what it has become, it was the only answer.

    • Bill Ross

      “it was the only answer.”

      A self-fulfilling prophesy. The “grasping of socialists” created the problem / devastation and offers the “only” solution? And, “they” are gearing up for a re-run.

      talk about “hair of the dog that bit ya”

      • WPalmer

        I don’t think it was quite as simple as that.

        • Bill Ross

          Please enlighten me otherwise.

          • WPalmer

            The roots of the problem went back to WWI.
            The consequences no matter if you think they were planned or not were absolutely overwhelming.
            It is the duty of a government to step in at such time to provide help in whatever way it can.
            The most organized and sustainable way was the creation of a Socialized state, (which had been planned long before the events of 1939.)
            Otherwise you end up with something like Hurricane Katrina or the Tsunami in Thailand where the restoration is half complete, people are still destitute and the interest has waned and the money all gone.
            I hate Socialism don’t get me wrong.

          • Bill Ross

            Socialist: Those who allege (don’t believe that they apart from dupes “believe”) that “good” can be done by compelling / enslaving (preying upon) others.

            The roots go back to prehistory, with a brief “rule of law” respite as as a consequence of “declaration of independence”, now rationalized away by socialists / predators. We haven’t used it, so are “losing it”.

            So, we are “back on course” to dark age II.

          • Praetor

            Your logic is, well, funny. The government was the problem before, during, and after Katrina. Before, the idiot Mayor did nothing, but leave. The idiot Governor, did nothing, but wait. The idiot President, did nothing, to busy, slaughtering people on the war against terror. During, nothing done, but let people die. After, the idiot Mayor blamed whitey, they let it happen, the idiot Governor blamed the Federal Government for not doing (giving/money) more to help, the idiot President just looked stupid, to busy slaughtering in the name of terror, to worry about people dying in some water and wind, what is the problem. Government is the problem, and the reason for the destitution, and the money all gone!! They stole the money, don’t you get it. It toke a little boy, going to the local school and taking a school bus, to save his family and other families, from the Katrina, while the idiots in charge, just set and waited for the destruction and death!!! Your logic is, well, funny.

          • Praetor

            “O’, by the way, they arrested, that little boy, for stealing GOVERNMENT property, does that tell you something!

          • Bill Ross

            Link, please, unless Winston has already dispatched it “down the memory hole”

          • Praetor

            Bill, you, mean about the little boy. Its from my memory, MSM, actually showed the boy ( teenager) in front of the bus. I will try to find a link, to the story.

          • Praetor

            Jabbar Gibson be his name. Some trouble before and after Katrina, but hey, he did something the gov; could not do, get people out of the area. Wiki has info; on this person. Just, from my memory. Seems others did the same! Shows what gov; won’t do, people will, get out the way and let us rule.

          • Bill Ross

            Thanks. No evidence he faced charges. This is what caught my attention. The sheer stoopidity, if so.

            And, so much for the general “criminal” label. Seems quire resourceful and, did the right thing, when the system was too paralyzed for anyone to take responsibility, due to lack of “process” (surrogate “brains”).

          • Praetor

            Dropped, bus stealing charge, since the bus was fine, just in a different location, due too, was needed to save lives. A persons true character, can be judged, by their actions during a crises, which speaks to this lads action, and doesn’t speak to his living conditions, as opposed, to the Prez.; Governors, and Mayors actions during a crises, and does speak to their living conditions, “We Be Privileged”, and will take our sweet a$$ time to get you some help. Typical of gov; “know it all, see it all, hear it all”, know nothings. Good example, of why, dot gov; should go to heck!!! Lazy worthless slugs.

          • WPalmer

            Your comment is “Funny” it bears no relation the subject being discussed.

          • Praetor

            My comment is funny, well, I’ll funny you right back. Why do you think, people “are still destitute”? and the money gone? Why? So, I can see past the “Funny”, that bears no relation to the subject being discussed. Enlighten us.

      • Lyn Morris

        Bill, sometimes you come off like a local school yard bully.

        • Bill Ross

          who ya calling local?:)

          • Lyn Morris

            dang, luv ya anyways!! LOL

    • Col. Edward H. R. Green

      An emergency facilitates the government’s propaganda for the establishment of control over its citizenry by supplanting individual efforts to rebuild and offer charitable assistance to those afflicted, and that is what was taking place in the aftermath of the bombings of London during and after the war. The state WANTED people to surrender to the propaganda and believe that socialism “:was the only answer”. The government wished people to make themselves unmindful of the many voluntary acts individual and collaborated charitable efforts taking place around them amidst the rubble and misery, the medical care professionals providing their services for free to indigent injured persons, the residents in their shattered homes sharing some of the food that survived the bombs with their hungry neighbors, the money that people used to purchase food and other goods for their neighbors from those who could spare it, and from people who came to the city from the unaffected countryside to donate or sell their goods, the bartering for food and other goods in exchange for anything useful to the barterer if the barterer had no cash,

      No, WPalmer, you are greatly mistaken. The state did not HAVE to “step in”. There was more than sufficient charitable assistance and individual initiative, resilience, determination, and productive ability available to people to rebuild their houses and their lives from scratch in that situation without ANY “help” from the state.

      Perhaps the reason you cannot accept this fact is that you have spent your life regarding yourself and living, not as a sovereign individual, but as a SUBJECT to a monarch (i.e. the state), conditioned socially and psychologically since birth to regard yourself as a life-long dependent of government. Your fellow Europeans–subjects all of monarchies or theother types of statist governments that supplanted them–are of the same mindset.

      • Bill Ross

        surely, you didn’t learn this at West Point or some other military college? I’m Flabbergasted, gobsmacked, if so.

        sounds sorta oathkeeperish…

      • WPalmer

        Are you seriously suggesting that the reconstruction of Britain could have been done by charitable donation !!!
        Entire cities destroyed, Infrastructure in ruins, industry given to the production of weapons and munitions, the repayment to US for their assistance, the repatriation of POW’s and the care for the maimed and injured. Hordes of homeless, orphaned. Chronic food shortages, gas water petrol…. where do I stop!
        Good grief!! your ignorance of the conditions of that day is astounding. Whatever did you learn at school??
        Not to mention the situation in Germany was even worse, people were living underground because there was nothing above it.
        Women were selling themselves for food.
        My God where was this “charity” supposed to come from.
        Incidently I gave up Queen and country in 1967 and emigrated to what was then a more Capitalist Canada I despised the class structure in Britain almost from the day I was born.
        I “touch a forelock” to nobody. Jack is as good as his master..

        • Praetor

          It came from the U.S. tax payers, the Canadian taxpayers and all others who paid taxes back then, in other words the money used to rebuild after ww2, came from the PEOPLE, not the government, and I can spit in both hand smack them to gather, and tell you who caused the ww2, the stinking governments of the time, not the PEOPLE, the ones you say, sold themselves, and lived in holes. So, why did you give up on the Monarchy anyway?

    • FEEuser

      there was no money at all for Friendship Societies because the British gov and the Bank of England had taken it all. Socialism is the answer to NOTHING.

      As Mises so sagely wrote:

      “A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism: is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.”

      Human Action, p. 676

      You were living in a country which dealt with the people with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Government is just made up of people who have managed to create a monopoly of force in the area. That’s all it is. OTHER people could have carried out the same tasks on your behalf VOLUNTARILY had they been free to establish their own markets for doing so without interference from “government.” But that, of course, was not allowed to happen.

      Interestingly, though, England has had some very interesting and innovative self-help organizations through the years. What happened to them? My default answer is that monopolists in the government (what else could they be but monopolists?) made life impossible for them and drove most of them out of business. If I am wrong about the latter, please do correct me.

  • What is redistributed is not wealth from the rich to the poor, but power from the people to the state. AMEN.

    • Whyfor

      Yes, and power taken from the people under threat. Where is the charity in any of that?

  • Fabian

    The problem with private charity is the bias whereas you can expect from the state that charity will be based on the need. See the following example; Bill Gates foundation spends millions to improve the lives of Africans when, right at their door, you have thousands of African Americans who have poor access to education. Why is that? I don’t know but they go after their little pet project.
    In the century pasts, societies were homogenous. Everybody was the same color and religion. You had less room for bias. Albeit, to receive some soup from a Christian charity, you’d better know your Pater Noster by heart.

    • Bill Ross

      “problem with private charity is the bias whereas you can expect from the state that charity will be based on the need.”

      definition bias: only a hand up, try to help people become self-sufficient. Nope to those who refuse to “help themselves”

      definition need: appease, create dependents for “political support”. Destroy self-sufficiency, personal responsibility

      that how I see it, ever increasing “need” and, economic collapse to pay for the “need” will make us all “needy” and, not a “green shoot” of productivity (no personal benefit) to be seen.

      • Fabian

        Well the author doesn’t make a case against charity, he makes a case against state sponsored charity by mentioning that before, private, voluntary charity worked well. My point is that I’m not convinced in today’s world that private charity would work better than the state’s. Of course official charity is rife with abuse but private charity would create other problems.

    • Joelg

      Are you implying that Socialism or Government is doing a poor job by not having established Equality in access to education, Fabian? Socialist Logic is then to blame third parties and individuals outside of government (like Bill Gates) for what is the exclusive province of government? Absurd.

      As Richard Ebeling notes, “The state plans our lives, cares for our children, and decides what should be supported in society…” You would have to remove government from total control of public education, in order to allow for private and charitable alternatives. That gets done here and there even within public school systems (e.g. magnet schools), but not without strong complaints and resistance from public unions. Private individuals and charities cannot step in and do what they want with government-run schools. They would not even let you in to visit one classroom, much less takeover the system.

    • FreeOregon

      Seems to me that government is not doing a good job taking care of those in need. Government also exhibits bias. How can it not when each bureaucracy has a unique, human based culture? To return to mutual caring also requires a cultural change among ourselves. We waste so much time, effort and money arguing and trying to get government to do our caring for us.

      Why not put that time, effort and money into those issues that matter to us personally? If we don’t care enough about the poor to do that, why force others to do what we ourselves are unwilling to do? Just to whitewash a sense of guilt? “I paid my taxes and it’s not my fault that people have poor medical care and lack enough food for their families?”

      Why not stop expecting government to do anything at all and take personal action.

  • Joelg

    Socialism can only exist by confiscating the wealth created by Capitalism, because there is no other wealth to confiscate. Once the wealth created by Capitalism is used up, Socialism is finished because there is no more wealth to confiscate and distribute. Though in the USA, the FED printing presses might keep up the facade for an extended period of time.

    In the USA, the goal (or outcome) of the Totalitarian Socialist Party (dba Democrats) is the creation of a Wealthy Elite in Politics and Government (take a look at state & city & school salaries and pensions in Totalitarian Socialist Party-controlled states). It is indeed about Control, and wealth enables Control. And control is really about Power, or the Quest for Power. So, the Totalitarian Socialist state must transfer wealth from the individual to the government and its cronies in order to become Feudal Lords of the Realm.

    Taxes and Regulations are among the key tools used by the Totalitarian Socialists and their Crony Capitalist allies (Monopoly Power in Capitalist drag). Ironically the Totalitarian Socialist Party policies (e.g. wage and other mandates guaranteed to create 1930s style deflationary depression effects) are creators of the same Income Inequality that they make their propaganda slogan. Maybe not so ironic, and more deliberate; like in foreign policy, where you boost war spending by creating enemies to fight. In other words, Directed History by the Followers of Lenin in the USA, with connivance and cooperation of GOP (War Lovers). Two Political Parties with a Shared Lust for Absolute Totalitarian Power. Freedom and the individual are collateral damage, and not part of the body count.

  • Chris

    Globalist like to find scapegoats and these are the most vulnerable people, people created by them. If the west did not blindly accept globalist’s idea of free trade in the most extreme way, their people would still have a high standard of living. Germany is the only country who protected their citizens. Welfare was the answer to communism after the depression and the war. This is a good thing. It also help to close the wealth gap but did not slow technological progress. Go back to those years as that was the right thing that happen to USA.

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