Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lessons of history behind The Welfare State

The vast disparities between rich and poor, the spectacular concentration of wealth amassed by the richest Americans in the previous two generations, and the inability of government policies to mitigate the crisis brought the nation to the edge of class warfare and social disintegration [in the late 19th century].

The specter of a European social order, with societies irredeemably divided between aristocrats and a permanent underclass, seemed to have arrived on U.S. shores. Wealthy Americans began to fear for the stability of the social order.

What force, the wealthy asked in desperation, might mitigate the social chaos and misery, and mute what one public official called “the antagonism between rich and poor”?

Today, new fortunes have been accumulated that rival those of the Gilded Age. Some of that wealth, possessed by people like Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch or Peter G. Peterson, has been used to promote cuts to social spending. Before these opponents and their allies in Congress move forward with the dismantling of the welfare state, however, they might think harder about the reasons such policies were put in place.
Read it all at The Washington Post: What history teaches us about the welfare state.

George Carlin on The American Dream: "It's called a "dream" because you have to be asleep to believe it."


googleheim said...

The crash did not come from liar loaners, government spending, or even welfare.

We know that the foreclosure market was only a $200 to $400 billion roundup if and only if the banks would have kept the debt themselves instead of selling it to wall streets of the globe by means of the overhyped "models" developed by financial engineers, physicists, and mathematicians.

Instead the foreclosures' market was created by the vortex forces of the models sucking up the debt and wanting more and more.

So why are the Republicans going after government spending and not war spending ? Going after the wall streeting fancy quants ?

Tom Hickey said...

"So why are the Republicans going after government spending and not war spending ? Going after the wall streeting fancy quants ?"

Disaster capitalism?

I'd say Carlin answers the question pretty well.

As Michael Hudson observes, what government aggreagates to itself for public purpose is not available for rent-seeking. It is in the interest of the elite to reduce taxation on rent and transfer it to income, which they can mostly avoid, and to reduce government expenditure other than in their interest, which largely involves rent-seeking.

Craig Austin said...

I just read carlin's memoir a few weeks ago. really liked it. i've been really getting into following some of the social commentary comedians lately - marc maron, bill burr etc. pretty funny stuff.

Anonymous said...

And why are the Democrats looking to raise taxes when we have over 9% (yea right) unemployment?

In NYC, Dems just raised the definition of middle class as in those eligible for rent stabilization protection to $250K/year. Yet out of the other side of their mouth Dems say 250K earners are rich and deserve tax hikes which will do wonders for the economy. What a crock.

Anonymous said...

Pure leftist statist propaghanda. The author wants us to think about why these nefarious welfare schemes were put in place?
It’s quite simple actually. They were put in place in order to create constituencies of people who are dependent on such programs in order to create guaranteed voting blocks to help them get reelected. It also allowed them to demagogue opponents who proposed to get rid of the programs. There was no need for these programs, no public demand, and no one was crying for these programs to be implemented. They were imposed on us by our betters who wanted to stay in power by making us dependent on the state. By doing this, they knew the masses would continue to reelect them if they continued to dole our freebies paid for by diluted funny money.
The inequality between the rich has nothing to do with “free market economics” or republican
“tax cuts for the rich”, or any of this Koch brothers conspiratory nonsense. The poor and middle class have seen their real wages and incomes eroded by inflation as our money has lost its purchasing power over time. Big businesses and much of Wall Street are in bed with big government and receive special privileges and the recent bailouts. That’s crony capitalism, not capitalism. The antithesis of free market.
. Big government, intervention, and a falling dollar have helped the wealthy and hurt the middle class. The problem is not too much “free market capitalism”, but a lack of it. The problem isn’t a lack of big government, but an excess of it.