The great flaw in 20th Century political debate was in the loss of a sense of context. We hear endless sound bites about the need, fairness or Justice of this or that, but never a proper foundation for political action, and seldom an analysis which seeks to trace even the short run effects of this or that on any other aspect of the social order than those which affect the immediate interests of a particular faction: The same faction whose problem, or a claimed solicitude for which, has motivated the sound bite.
Because we do not prosper equally in life, those with a compulsive need to level the human condition have launched a fundamental assault upon the social order. Marrying the greed of those seeking unearned advantage to the avarice of politicians with a propensity to buy votes with other people's money, they have demanded that Government become their agent. In the 1930s their agenda was called a "New Deal"; in the 1940s, a "Fair Deal"; by the 1960s, a "New Frontier" and a "Great Society:" Where egalitarians, fresh from 30 years of New Deal failure with major damage to both economy and social heritage, inaugurated a "War on Poverty." And this, with something called the "Civil Rights Movement"-- promoted by men and women of the same persuasion--soon dominated the political spectrum.
Backed by an army of myopic Academics and ultra liberal clerics and journalists, and with an enthusiasm scarcely seen since the Spanish Inquisition, the storming of the Bastille, and the November Revolution, the advocates verbally pilloried those who questioned the new dispensation. On campus, the heirs of mainstream America were taught guilt and self-hatred; all others to resent. We were told that the issue was "Social Justice." And before this onslaught, many so-called "Conservatives" panicked, lest they be deemed inhumane, advocates of exploitation and racism; and the Left achieved at the seat of Federal power, a conditioned mindset which has been dubbed the "Welfare State."
Yet seldom, if ever, did anyone address the long term social implications of the underlying initiatives on those not of the client class; seldom, if ever, the long term demographics; and seldom, if ever, a claimed legal basis for the authority being exercised. It is long past time, we put this Welfare State, sold as "Social Justice," into the context of reality.
For the purpose of this essay, we define as "Welfare" every program and policy, which has the effect or the intention of using the power of Government to redistribute the wealth of Americans from those who have created it--or whose families have created it--to others outside the Government who work little and create less.
To understand a people, you must understand their origins. And to understand a Settler people, you must understand the origins of settlement. America was not settled by those seeking an easy course, a handout, or to be taken care of by others. While there was some involuntary settlement, the overwhelming preponderance of the White settlement was by people who wanted property and opportunity; a chance to reach for the heights, yet quite willing to risk failure, even starvation, misery and death in the pursuit.
Prior to the Revolution, the native American population were predominantly of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic origin: Men and women conscious, even inspired by their ethnic (or racial) heritages. And the independent American, who emerged from the Revolution, was steeped in traditions as old as Magna Carta: The sacred right of property, free from unreasonable or undue burdens or taxes for the benefit of the State; the right to pass on property to one's heirs; the rights to freedom of movement in pursuit of commerce, to local control in local matters, to uniform measures for the use of trade.
Not surprisingly, when the Fathers adopted a Constitution for the United States, it was one providing only a limited sphere for the Federal Government. Basically, they intended an effective Common Defense and the Domestic means to encourage commerce and individual initiative (including provisions which had come down to them from Magna Carta): A facilitator or enabler for a free society; where each would be responsible for his own success or failure, his happiness or sorrow. A Government of specific functions and limited powers; functions applicable generally to the whole people, no one of which was factional problem solving. Individual rights were understood to come not from Government, but to be held against Government--any Government!
In the generations, which followed, the original Anglo-Saxon, Scots-Irish root population were supplemented by a great many people from other lands. But while many of these newer settlers came from countries which had very different cultures, the common magnet was the America that was; the land of challenge and opportunity. We drew immigrants who wanted to be a part of that Anglo-Saxon, Scots-Irish root culture, as it had flowered in America. Where people were expected to be responsible and accountable; to succeed or fail by their own efforts, as their talents and good or bad fortune permitted. And it was sometimes said that many of these rapidly assimilated newcomers were more American in their outlook than the heirs of some of the original settlers. In that climate of freedom and responsibility, many of those new arrivals did better here than their ancestral cousins had ever done in their ancestral homelands: Time after time, the same experiment, the same result!
America before World War I remained a bold land, where the primary responsibility of the individual was the individual and his family; the primary responsibility for the individual was the individual and his family; and the primary unit of Government was the sovereign State in which that individual resided and to which he owed allegiance. And Americans equated these principles with their children's birthright.
The debate over specific Welfare programs has generally focused on the alleged need of the prospective client, the most efficient way to meet that need in a contemporaneous time frame, and the effect of the proposed program on budgets and taxes. An occasional Conservative may point out that the program will have a corrupting effect on the public character and morals, but few indeed will question the right of Government to even deal with the problem, much less address the effect of the program on the long-term demographics of Society. And so long as Courts stick to a dogma, which denies a taxpayer even the Standing to challenge the Constitutionality of a Federal appropriation, there doesn't seem to be much more to say.
Yet in a Constitutional Republic, surely the first question must be "By what authority do you go here?" The second "Does this program fit into the scheme of our Federal Union?" And the answers are that there is no Constitutional authority, and the programs do not fit into any scheme known to the Fathers.
The Courts have managed to avoid a meaningful Constitutional test, by holding that no individual has "standing" (the ability to show direct personal injury) sufficient to challenge Welfare. But by 1800, there was already a clear consensus in America, that the General Welfare clause in Article I, Section 8, was a defining limitation, not an extension of the specific authorizations that follow. And general is the opposite to particular, or factional. No unbiased person will read the Constitution and find any authority for the Government as a factional or situational problem solver. The Constitution conveys powers with a specificity sufficient to eliminate serious doubt:
If the Government had implied powers to deal with problems generally, (as opposed to implied powers to carry out the specific functions delegated), why was it necessary to give Congress separate powers to coin money and regulate its value, and then separately go on to give the Congress the right to fix the Standard of Weights and Measures (the latter a carryover from Magna Carta)? Why, if the right to regulate Commerce included the now claimed power to regulate social interaction for the benefit of definable groups, was it necessary to provide separately the power to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing" (not at their complete discretion, even in exercising the specific grant, but) "for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries?" Why did the duty "to establish Post Offices" not include the right to establish "post roads" without the document having to spell it out. And, indeed, why were these authorizations not implied by other grants?
Because we trust someone to run a postal service does not imply authority to subsidize someone else's housing. The duty to establish uniform weights and measures does not imply a right to provide medical care to a favored group. The power to regulate commerce among the States and with the Indian tribes, does not imply a right to tax commerce to subsidize the education of those with the least impact on commerce--or of anybody else. We could go on; but you cannot understand the Constitution unless you read it-- read it as a whole, in context!
The reason that the public tolerates what has been going on, is because almost no one reads the document. Or, if they read one section, it is seldom in the context of the whole. Not one word suggests a role as general problem solver outside the specific duties imposed. And not one of those duties has anything to do with subsidizing single mother births, providing subsidized health care or subsidized housing for civilians, or sticking a Federal nose into local education outside the District of Columbia.
We grow weary of endless prattle about President Clinton as some sort of scofflaw because he lied under oath about his dalliance with a staff member. He is indeed a scofflaw--but not because he tried to cover-up a dalliance. He is a scofflaw because, like some of his accusers, he took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States; and both he and they have made mockeries of that oath by voting for programs they know were never intended. And in this contempt for Law--for our highest Law--at the seat of Federal power, we see the foundation for the social deterioration that undermines our heritage and culture.
No program better epitomizes both the theoretical fantasy and the practical reality of the Welfare State than the Aid To Dependent Children Program. While the children of impoverished widow's and divorcees may be eligible; the program, from its inception in the late 1930s, was primarily a subsidy for illegitimacy. In place of whatever options might be available on a State, County or local basis for dealing with the unwed mother and her indigent progeny, the Federal Government set out to break what was seen as a "poverty cycle," by providing support based upon the number of eligible children, while taking the traditional stigma out of the bastard birth. Missing the point that what you subsidize, you tend to increase; and failing to understand that the traditional stigma tended to keep children in the type of family unit which, throughout history, has been essential for each generation to pass on its progress and achievements to the next; they premised their approach on the environmentalist fantasy: That poverty is the primary cause rather than the effect of low aptitude; that if you upgrade the material circumstances of a person, you upgrade his innate potential.
If their hope was that by attacking poverty, they would eliminate a sad situation where young children, living in poverty without fathers and providers, would cry themselves to sleep, they miscalculated. Despite contemporaneous improvements in the methods and availability of birth control, the program produced an explosion in out of wedlock births. Long since, we passed a tenfold increase in the incidence. Today, ten children cry for every one who wept in 1938. And despite a mild reform as part of the "Contract With America," no real improvement is in sight.
But this explosion in numbers is but the tip of the consequential iceberg. While any girl may make one mistake, and intelligent and motivated people sometimes suffer debilitating injuries or are incapacitated through no fault of their own; while the opportunity for boys and girls to seize the moment to rise from poverty by ability and determination has always been an important aspect of the American way; the reality is that one's position in the social milieu is never determined by random selection. Other factors may enter; but generally, those at the top will display a clear and marked edge over those in the middle, both in measurable intelligence and the will to succeed; and those in the middle will show similar advantage over those at the bottom. Human bloodlines are every bit as important as those of thoroughbred horses in determining the propensity to succeed. And while there may be many individual exceptions; on average, the young women bearing illegitimate children in the late 1930s under financial conditions entitling them to Federal assistance, represented a population sample far below average in both intelligence and industry.
It should surprise no one--considering that criminals generally come from among those deficient either in intelligence or industry or both, and that the very act of having children out of wedlock has always been considered anti-social behavior--that a grossly disproportionate percentage of those engaged in criminal activity come from the surging ranks of ADC babies. The frightening increase in the percentage of major crimes committed by juveniles reflects a coupling of the ADC phenomenon with other aspects of the monstrous lie that has become the great shibboleth of the age of unreason and denial; the lie that more than any other underpins the Welfare phenomenon: That all people have essentially the same characteristic qualities; an equality in fact, still waiting to be demonstrated after 200 years of leftwing revolutions, based upon such premise.
As the subnormal cannot achieve the higher level, equality becomes approachable only by taking down the level of the normal and above normal. Along the way, all standards are trashed, and a great many alienated from any respect for the social order.
We see the same phenomenon in the schools; especially in their response to the steady decline in measures of scholastic aptitude, as the ADC babies become a larger and larger part of the test sample. (We will return to that in a moment.) We see another aspect of the problem and mindset in public housing; in programs which have destroyed once happy and socially comfortable neighborhoods by deliberately infusing Welfare class housing; again with no showing, whatsoever, that subsidizing housing gives the beneficiary of the subsidy any incentive to improve. On the contrary, the evidence from the wrecked residential neighborhoods of every large city in America, shows something very different.
We see a still different aspect of the phenomenon in the exponential growth in the costs of medical attention and health care, as the growing legions of subsidized patients take advantage of the subsidy--often for levels of attention, the middle class taxpayer knows he cannot afford. We pay taxes for programs which directly compete against ourselves for services we need as badly as does the Welfare client; and the costs reflect that competition.
Do not misunderstand what we say here. This correspondent grew up in a medical family. No poor person was ever denied medical attention in America, before the Federal Government got into civilian health care, because he couldn't pay for it. That would have violated the sacred oath of every Doctor. This issue is not about that. It never was! Nor has any God fearing American ever wished anything but Godspeed to any other American, however humble his birth, who had the mettle to rise from his origins and seek the heights. This issue was never about that either!
While we are taxed to pay for a Welfare State that subsidizes deliberate breeding at the bottom of society, the middle class birthrate has virtually collapsed. Between high taxes and the high cost of living (including the inability of young mothers to obtain reasonably priced domestic help because of a corruption of the work ethic of many a poor girl by the very programs under discussion), few self-supporting Americans feel that they can afford the larger families, which were once our norm. The people America needs for the next generation of workers and leaders are not being born.
It took Rome about five centuries for a similar but gradual deterioration in their demographics to bring about the predictable result. The modern social engineers are well on schedule to achieve the same effect in only one. If present trends continue, the "land of the free and the home of the brave" will be a very different place by 2038!
We return to the effect of the Welfare State on education. Once again, the most egregious effect is not the first that comes to mind.
There has always been a wide range in levels of ability in our public schools. In Society at large, one deals daily with the bright and dull, the easily motivated and those with no ambition, no aspiration for anything better. But in the days before a Societal mania to make all men and women equal provided a major part of the focus in public education, a motivated teacher was free to devote special attention to those students who, from a combination of innate intelligence and the will to learn, seemed to offer the greatest promise for future achievement. To many, in those days, teaching was more of a "calling" than a "job"; and the ranks of teachers were swollen by some from affluent families, who felt that calling and were often willing to work for relatively low pay, because they truly believed that they could make a difference. And many a poor boy or girl, who had what it took within, escaped poverty with their help.
It is not so today! There are still some truly dedicated teachers; but in the public schools, they come fewer and further between.
It is not, of course, simply the Welfare State. Teachers are now organized, via the NEA and its local affiliates into a very vocal special interest group--one whose spokesmen, at least at the Federal level, are probably to the Left of most field operatives for the KGB at the height of the Communist menace. The Communist operatives, at least, did not really believe in Egalitarianism. The NEA does. The official NEA line is a compulsive denial of the profundity of the differences between students; a compulsive inability to really come to grips with the deteriorating aptitudes in the public schools; and hence, an inability to offer much of value to the gifted student, as everything is "dumbed down" to the level of the genetically impoverished. Every year, hundreds of real teachers (in the traditional sense) leave public school systems in despair; the school bureaucracies, as the teachers' organizations--in the full spirit of the Welfare State-- desperate to appear "politically correct," even at risk to the physical safety of the teachers in the trenches called "class rooms." No one will openly confront the problem.
Of course, the flight of real teachers has been as nothing compared to the flight of middle class students; their parents willing to endure almost any hardship to get them into private or parochial schools, where family values as well as educational standards are still respected.
Meanwhile, as the whole Welfare State mentality is based upon the idea that Society has wronged its failures, and that those who succeed are the villains in our culture; the schools do teach the ADC child, who has been subsidized by Government since the day he was conceived, to blame every problem in life on others. He may get to High School without ever really learning to read beyond the second grade level. He may know nothing of history, geography or spelling. But he knows how to feel deprived and denied; how to hate those who do not do still more to guarantee his indolence. Again, that which was supposed to elevate by improving the social environment, to prove the potential malleability of aptitude and personality, has demonstrated precisely the opposite.
As we abandon the free, individualistic culture which drew the bravest and most ambitious to our shores; so we begin to see a definite shift in the types of immigrant, legal and illegal. To be sure, we still draw many highly intelligent people, who come for a specific job--or a higher rate of pay than they could obtain at home;--but fewer and fewer real pioneers. This situation is masked, because in the tremendous explosion in trade, driven by vast economic growth worldwide, America as the World's greatest producer, has achieved a temporary economic euphoria. But no such tide has ever lasted without ebb. And in place of the older type of settler, who would deal with hard times as a given; we will find that many of the newer breed will expect the cradle to the grave security, the outside world demands; no longer a frontier--actual or symbolic--to develop; but Welfare to secure.
At the other end of the immigrant spectrum, we see the poorest class of Mexicans sneaking over the border to bear their children, to take advantage of the ill conceived automatic citizenship provisions of the XIVth Amendment. Here too, we are on a collision course with a brutal reality.
We could cite other anecdotal evidence, but this has already grown too long. The point is obvious.
The most poignant page in the Welfare chronicle may be in the way the "Liberal" promoters victimize and exploit the American Negro; corrupting his social development and stigmatizing his future. This topic provides a microcosm of the whole dysgenic legacy.
Everything said about American Society, in general, is true to at least as great an extent in relation to Negro Society in the United States. With two thirds of Negro births, today, out of wedlock, and the Negro crime rate many times the White; the race has been savaged almost beyond comprehension. And the saddest thing is not only that it has been accomplished by those who have claimed to be their friends; but that it is a repeat performance of what was done by similarly minded "Liberals" in the 19th Century. The outcome was wholly predictable, because it is a repeat performance!
In 1865, the newly freed Negroes in the deep South had a far brighter potential than the future that in fact materialized. Then, as now, the fault lay largely with their self-proclaimed White "friends."
Because of the economics of the Southern plantation, the vast preponderance of those in the building and construction trades in the Gulf States at the end of the war, were plantation trained Negroes. Had the older generation just passed on these skills to their own children, many would have started up the ladder of opportunity. Instead, they listened to White "liberals" playing the race card: "40 acres and a mule," for the field hands; political power, in league with the Reconstruction Radicals, for the better skilled. And the promise of something for nothing corrupted then as it has corrupted since, with the result that for most families, the skills were lost; and by 1890 the condition of the Southern Negro was pitiably beneath where it had been a quarter century earlier. Not only were many performing at a far less advanced level in the economic sphere than had there parents under slavery, but the social statistics were deteriorating dramatically. The illegitimacy rate was rising; so too the incidence of crime.
It was in this hour of need, that leaders emerged: Men like Booker T. Washington (a gifted educator) and George Washington Carver (a dedicated but practical scientist), who understood how human society works, how men grow and prosper. And as their leadership began to have an influence; slowly, surely, things began to improve; the family structure to stabilize, the crime and bastardy rates to fall. Since it is only through strong families that groups prosper, a foundation for real progress was being laid.
Then came the 1930s' version of "40 acres and a mule.!" The "New Deal" had arrived; and in place of the social customs, which had built America, America's poor were offered the message of resentment, envy and demand. Instead of looking within to find the strength to learn and develop, to earn and build; to demand from Government what others had only achieved by generations of effort; something for nothing--security from the cradle to the grave. Above all, to queue up to vote for the "liberal" politicians, who promised those wonderful things.
Of course, many Caucasian Americans were just as badly corrupted. But against those Negroes who still clung to mainstream American values, to family cohesion and a work ethic, to the constructive path of Booker T. Washington; the collectivist "Liberal" Egalitarians played their most vicious race card: And those who still dared to say that traditional religious teaching, virtue and responsibility offered a better course than resentment, hatred and dependence, were denounced as "White Man's Niggers" and "Uncle Toms!"
To see the tolerance of Welfare State "Liberals" on a mission, you need look no further than the virulent hatred displayed towards Justice Clarence Thomas in recent postings to Usenet Newsgroups. His sin? He believes in the American way. Although he is a Negro, he refuses to accept the social or political bondage of the "Great Society"; refuses to be a lickspittle for the "Liberal" politicians or their Welfare State agenda. One would think he would be honored for his judicial accomplishments. (He is by the Conservative mainstream.) But he has dared to refuse the "liberal" traces; his position a living refutation of the big lie, that no Negro can make it in America, without their help. And to the exponents of the new enlightenment, that is unforgivable. (Or one might look at the postings on Reggie White--a good hearted athlete, as well as evangelist--who dares to proclaim the lessons of his Christian faith against the corruption and depravity of the "politically correct.")
Having no intellectually viable basis for his position, the frothy White "Liberal" Welfare Stater can be very nasty, indeed, in his denunciation of any Conservative; but against the Negro Conservative, his rhetoric becomes positively Satanic! The message is not lost on moderates of all races. Many keep their views to themselves.
At the time the "New Deal" first decided to patronize the "poor," the Negro illegitimacy rate was a tad below 20%. While a lot worse than the White rate, it had been tending down, and was certainly not considered to reflect an accepted life-style by the 80+%, who saw child bearing as a married family matter, and genuinely scorned the morals, character and sense of the others. In the decades that followed--as the new dispensation worked its social magic-- that rate soared to 2/3 of all births, as the crime rate rose into the stratosphere; and so too the vote for "Liberal" politicians.
It is no consolation that in the same period the White rate climbed over tenfold, from 2% to over 20%. Surely no sentient being can suggest that "dumbing down" the Negro gene pool, increasing the rate of murder and mayhem in the Black neighborhood, and trashing the neighborhood school, as the ADC babies became the overwhelming majority; conveyed any benefit to anyone.
Of course it isn't fair. But millions of middle class Negroes, who are no part of the problem --men and women who work hard and try to build a future for their children--are stigmatized because of this subsidized mass; whose numbers have been increased, even as they have been rendered ever more dependent, at the expense of all who work and pay taxes. In the present climate, no matter how skilled or able the Negro achiever, there is always the suggestion that he has benefited from some twisted program, designed to buy the votes of those who may not have even tried. And who spreads this stigmatizing stereotype? Who really fans the flames of racial antagonism? Why just listen to what the Welfare State "Liberals" have to say about any Black man who opposes their programs! If you hear them tell it, every Negro in America is wholly dependent on their "kindness." It just isn't so. With friends like those, no one would ever need an enemy!
We have cut off some topics only half developed; but we already have a document too long by half for the taste of most web surfers.
Throughout human history, nations have thriven only at times when they have brought together an intelligent and able population with a focused sense of purpose, place or even destiny with respect to themselves and others. As the quality of a population has faltered, or a society has lost its focus, even the greatest powers have fallen, even the grandest civilizations have perished.
It must be obvious to almost anyone with an historic perspective, that America can not go on indefinitely rewarding her worst elements, while penalizing her best, and still retain her basic institutions. Popular government becomes at best impossible, at worst meaningless, if the bulk of the electorate have no clue as to basic principles, the historic focus of their own society. (Approached from a different angle, who with a family, decent job and sense of civic responsibility, would wish to trust his children's future to what the typical ADC mother understands of macro economics or the various functions of a government?)
None of this provides a short term answer. As a trial lawyer, this correspondent is very aware of the concept of estoppel: Where one under no obligation creates a reasonable expectation in another that that other relies upon to alter his position, usually to his detriment. Under such circumstances, Courts for centuries have sometimes enforced an obligation on the party which caused the expectation.
For two generations, the Welfare State has created expectations among the favored classes, which have been relied upon to their detriment. The dilemma then is how to terminate one injustice--ie. the misuse of usurped power in a socially destructive way--without doing another injustice in the mode of termination. As conservatives, we need to look more to a long term phase out than the instant remedy that a strict morality might demand. In the meantime, there is one reform whose time has surely come:
There are all sorts of conflict of interest legislation in America: Legislation which prevents those who have held positions of trust from engaging in certain otherwise legal activities within a specified time frame relative to that position of trust. Certainly, no one who receives a regular, periodic payment from any level of Government--especially if they have not earned that payment--ought to be permitted to vote for decision makers at that level of Government! No one ought to be able to elect people into position to buy such elector's vote by granting or increasing an unearned benefit. It is past time we demanded a limit!
To Reconsider Unqualified Suffrage: