Life in the Welfare State

By Joel Zychik
web posted October 1996

This afternoon I was walking calmly in the small park in my neighborhood. I noticed an elderly gentleman standing by the curb. His pants were pulled down to his knees, exposing his underwear and his large pot belly. When I got within comfortable speaking distance of him, he asked me to help him up on to the sidewalk. My first reaction was to look around to see if I was being set up for a mugging. No one else was in sight close to us. Then I gave him a stern look. The old man pulled up his pants and zipped up his fly. I walked over to him and courteously extended my arm. He grabbed hold of it and stepped up to the sidewalk. As I walked away, he said "God bless you." I kept walking, wondering if I had done the old man any good. Had I not been there he’d have probably made it on to the sidewalk through his own efforts. I remembered looking at his rolled up pants leg and noticing that his feet showed the scabs and battered skin of someone who had been living in the street. His hair had been well-groomed, though, and his face had been clean. I realized that what I had done was given the man the simple gesture of "Sure, I’ll give you a hand even if you don’t need one. You just want to know if someone cares about you, OK, for these few moments, I’ll care." It was a voluntary exchange on his part and mine. He asked for help and I offered it. He got my help; I got his thanks.

But what if this mundane act of one person helping another were taken over by the welfare state? What if there were a law which required me to help the man? What if there were cameras in the park to make sure that people like me helped people like him? My first reaction would be to despise him. His first reaction would be to demand my help rather than ask for it. My cautionary scanning of the area would be considered paranoia. The fact this his pants were pulled down would mean that I should think he needed special attention and more caring than the average person. My stern look in his direction would have been considered racist. The old man was Black. Instead of my considering him an old man who just couldn’t handle life anymore, I’d have considered him an ignorant, leeching cretin - no matter what his race. Instead of offering my arm to him courteously, I’d have thrust it in his face. He might have been able to sue me for assault. My neighbors would have considered me divisive, uncooperative, intolerant, bigoted. Instead of one man asking for my help, there’d have been three demanding it. None of them would have thanked me. They’d have said that I didn’t help them quick enough. There would be cries from the press that more people be made available to help the elderly on to the sidewalk. The Democrats would ask for $2 billion to train "Elderly Enablers" The Republicans would have said $1.3 billion is more than enough. Criminals would begin to hang out in the park because they’d know that’s where they can find elderly, unarmed prey. The public schools would teach that all children should do their share in helping the elderly on to the sidewalk. Children who failed to submit proof of having helped an old person on to the sidewalk would be ridiculed and penalized academically.

The horrors and the idiocy that I’ve just described in fictionalized terms are all too true in the real world. They occur in every area of our lives, except in maybe helping someone on to the sidewalk.

Sometimes people ask me why I am so sure that the welfare state will collapse. Besides the fact that the welfare state is bankrupt, there is another issue. It’s that millions of people who genuinely want to alleviate suffering understand that in the 20th century the greatest crime America perpetrated on the poor was creating a welfare state. Capitalism did not exploit the poor. It gave them the opportunity to work, save and invest their way out of poverty. Capitalism did not deprive the poor of charity. It made charity possible. Capitalism did not destroy the self-respect of a poor person. It rewarded respect for others and respect for oneself. What did welfare do? It encouraged the poor to stay poor; that’s why welfare has become a way of life. It treated the intellectually lazy and the hard working student the same. Thus ignorance becomes fashionable among the welfare class. It taught children and parents alike that you can treat people like dirt and still be provide with food, clothing, shelter and medical care. That’s why anger and hostility characterize the welfare class. The horrors of the welfare state are endless.

The welfare state will crumble because it is fundamentally inhumane. The day will come when we will hear something to the effect of: "Today, in the name of humanity, American generosity and reverence for the human spirit, I, as president of the United States, am signing this bill passed by unanimous vote in both Houses of Congress which outlaws any form of government enforced charity or welfare from this day forward."

© Joe Zychik. All rights reserved.

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