Oct

24

Mr. Carling's comments ["Self Sustaining Leviathan", in reference to the welfare system] omit the most important fact. The people handling the transfers — the government employees and the private contractors — do a rake off that would make Vegas blush.

The greater part of "Welfare" spending long ago ceased to be actual direct cash given to the applicants; the budgets that create the 47% figure are largely consumed by the people who determine eligibility, etc. Some of us who delivered beer and bombs to the wide spots on the river used to joke about Lyndon Johnson had forgotten his Texas political upbringing; if he had simply offered cash bribes equal to our war spending (the most reliable statistics at the time were that it cost $1 million to kill one VC), there would not have been a communist left in the delta.

That same sick sense of humor applies to public spending on education, job training and the other efforts to bring Quaker enlightenment to the huddled masses: simply dividing up the money being spent and giving it directly to the heathen would have long ago solved the social problems. The difficulty, of course, is that it would take away all the sinecures. The barbarians certainly did their part to end the western Roman empire but its financial downfall was the inevitable result of having more and more people on the government payroll even as the Empire's income (i.e. collection of conquered peoples) declined.

P.S. The best estimate is that from the beginning of the current era (1 A.D.) to the beginning of the 3rd century the Roman Empire's armies captured and sold half a million people a year.


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  1. Ed on October 24, 2012 2:31 pm

    “Quaker enlightenment to the huddled masses: simply dividing up the money being spent and giving it directly to the heathen would have long ago solved the social problems”

    It is interesting you mention this. I have been considering the notion that the entire welfare state (SS, medicare, public school, etc) could be replaced by a citizens dividend or overriding royalty payment equal to some percent of GDP. It would kick in when an individual hits 21, just like a trust fund. Benefits include more freedom, less cronyism, fewer dysgenic incentives for the underclass, and a number of other substantial benefits. Yet as you suggest such a scheme would not in the interests of the vested interests, so basically impossible. I had actually deluded myself into thinking it was a somewhat original idea. Go figure.

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