The Modern Welfare State


Quite possibly the most brilliant critiques of the modern welfare state comes from Hoover Institute scholar Dr. Thomas Sowell.  In several of his writings, he has described it in such terms:


    "The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world.  First you take people's money away quietly, and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly...It has always been judged by its good intentions, rather than by its bad results...It shields people from the consequences of their own mistakes, allowing irresponsibility to continue and to flourish among ever wider circles of people...It is really not about the welfare of the masses.  It is about the egos of the elites."


    There is an abundance of wisdom in these few lines but the welfare state's performance record has never lived up to its grandiose promises.  It begins modestly, as the Trudeau government did in 2015 & 2016, and then the bills accumulate.  To pay for it, deficits, taxes, and inflation escalate.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul, demagogues wage class warfare and use the inexhaustible public purse to buy votes and power.  The long-term fiscal health of the nation is sacrificed for the sake of short-term gratification.  Incentives are skewed away from self-reliance and personal initiative and gravitate toward dependence upon centralized planning authority.  Individuals become less charitable, thinking that the state will take care of matters which they once handled personally at a fraction of the cost.  Eventually, inexorably, if the welfare state is not reversed, the consumers outstrip the producers.


    There really is no rational reason to expect anything but bad results from a fundamentally immoral practice rooted in legalized plunder.  Taxation is robbery, after all.  One's hard earned money is taken by the state under the clear threat of force.  The state has become our national nanny, by which dependence upon politicians has displaced individual responsibility and private institutions.  


    The welfare state is not a new concept.  The ancient Romans devolved into such debauchery before its greatness was lost to history, losing both its liberties and its life.  A more recent figure is however known to be the father of the modern welfare state:  Otto von Bismarck (1815-98), who served for two decades as the inaugural Chancellor of Germany.  The "Iron Chancellor" united 25 principalities, kingdoms and city states into a new German Federation in 1871, around the same time that both Canada and Australia were founded.  With the free-spending Kaiser Wilhelm I on the throne, Bismarck moved to consolidate his own power over German politics and society.  Within a decade, he witnessed the socialists become a major and growing threat and decided that the best way to placate them was to bribe the German people before the socialists garnered sufficient seats in Parliament.  


    In 1883, Bismarck ushered in nationalized health care insurance, followed soon thereafter by public accident and disability insurance.  Rather than induce government monopolies in these areas, he simply compelled everyone to pay into state administered insurance plans.  Despite such obvious attempts to fend them off, the socialists seized power not long after Bismarck died in 1898.  The modern German welfare state thus began not as a Utopian vision of altruism and compassion, but as nothing more or less than a political ploy designed to keep one man and his cronies in the seat of power.  This was an admittedly modest start to the modern welfare state, but Bismarck's initiatives proved to be the impetus that would embolden future welfare statists to wreak much more destruction than old Bismarck could have possibly imagined.


    Bismarck became known as the "Iron Chancellor" because he demanded that others bend to his will.  Much like a subsequent German Chancellor, Bismarck raged and hated until he nearly killed himself, and often displayed a hair-trigger temper.  Lying was his compulsive obsession, along with exercising power.  Bismarck was ultimately removed from office by Emperor Wilhelm II, but not before the servility of the German people had been cemented, an obedience from which they have never truly recovered.  What an awful endowment for future generations.


    How very refreshing and noble it would be for a ruler to leave a nation more free and independent it was when they first took office.  Bismarck did not achieve this, nor did his welfare state actually provide "free" services to Germans.  In the end, just as today, the largesse of the state proved to be expensive, and history showed that insecurity was the very least of worries for the German people.  One would think that this bit of German history would be a cautionary tale for the West in terms of the inherent dangers of setting up societies in which safety and security are pre-eminent, rather than prosperity and liberty.  Sadly, we are a civilization throughly confused about the role of initiative to better ourselves and even our natural world.

    Today in Canada and indeed world-wide, it has become increasingly clear that radical leftist globalist governments are intent upon creation of welfare states via obviation of national borders.  This might have fascinated Bismarck, whose life work was achieved when he united a patchwork of Germanic states under one Federation.  Rather than strengthen national borders, modern globalist leaders like Trudeau and Biden demonize those who demand that national borders be respected.  They constantly try to shift society toward acceptance of open, unenforced borders and mass immigration.  Simultaneously, they call for massive spending on social welfare programs, paid for with unsustainably high taxes on citizens; they also demand that non-citizens and even illegal aliens have full access to social welfare services and even be granted the right to vote in elections.


    This is of course incoherent policy.  It is impossible to have open borders in a welfare state, a fact which even old Bismarck understood a century and a half ago.  His social welfare programs were designed by Germany for Germans.  With properly controlled borders, it is feasible to provide for social welfare spending, even with a relatively low tax burden.  A government can raise or lower immigration rates and admit people based upon the fiscal needs of the nation, thus allowing it to ensure that the vast majority are contributing members of society.  Such is the precise immigration policy of Maxime Bernier's PPC.  It is sound, tried and true conservatism.

    Most people are quite prepared to support social welfare programs when they know that these benefit their neighbours in need of help.   But with open, uncontrolled borders and mass immigration, such support quickly evaporates.  Contributing citizens see their hard-earned tax dollars devoted to undeserving people who are either in the country illegally, who are unable to contribute for a very long time, or who will never do so.  For example, there are still many hundreds of Syrian refugee families who landed in Canada in 2015 following Trudeau's famous campaign promise.  They have lived in taxpayer funded hotels since the day they arrived.  They have borne children and families but do not work.  They simply live off the public dole.  

    The patience of taxpayers in this country is not infinite, particularly in a Canada wracked by massive inflation, rising interest rates, out of control government spending, and compounding carbon taxes.  The social welfare system becomes dangerously unstable once word spreads around the world that generous social welfare programs are available for anyone who lands in Canada, even illegally.  That creates a tantalizing temptation for illegal entry and only adds to the escalating burden on taxpayers, who today are born to the inheritance of a $60,000 share of our national debt.  In his brilliant book, "The Strange Death of Europe", Douglas Murray references hard data showing that refugees who flooded Western Europe after 2015 migrated mostly to those nations with the widest and most generous social safety nets.  He also notes that they tend to leave once the countries in which they had settled began to tighten eligibility criteria for social welfare programs so as to exclude refugees.

    What makes all of this even more scandalous is that it utterly cheapens the very meaning of citizenship.  While this status comes with duties, it must also confer benefits, the key one being that the government we fund is to serve its citizens-first.  Open borders and mass immigration in a welfare state inverts the benefit of citizenship.  Canada has become a nation in which taxpayers surrender their hard-earned money to the government and then helplessly watch as it goes to support non-citizens, many of whom have entered the country illegally and plan to be on welfare indefinitely.  This degrades the quality of services provided to taxpayers actually funding social welfare programs, and results in an escalating tax burden as every last cent is wrung out of an over-burdened citizenry.  

    Absurdly, radical leftists like Trudeau think such policy "compassionate".  The truth is that it extends compassion to non-citizens by showing contempt for Canadian citizens.  That may be fine for a humanitarian aid organization collecting voluntary contributions from around the world, but it is totally unacceptable for a national government to prioritize non-citizens and foreign interests above its own people.  The more that the Trudeau government invokes an open borders welfare state, the closer Canada inches toward collapse of both our willingness to welcome immigrants and our ability to sustain the programs which attract them.  Where Bismarck used social programs as a means of garnering support from Germans and to gaining control over their lives; the 21st globalists like Trudeau now weaponize social programs to sow division, dependency upon government, and universal poverty-also known as the 2030 UN Agenda.

    The radical leftist Trudeau government and its globalist friends, the ones who boarded private jets to fly to Asia this week for global climate conferences, are playing a very dangerous game, and it is Canadians who will continue to suffer the cost.

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