Churning in the Widening Gyre
Government is out of control, taking and giving money without much sense. So what do we call this situation? Some people still cling to the phrase “welfare state.” But it’s only a welfare state if the government actually increases our welfare.
A lot of people believe that taking money from Peter and Paul, to give to poor John, makes everybody better off. That’s what John’s friends tell themselves, anyway. But what happens when, the next day, the government goes to John and Peter, to give a bit to Paul? And the day after, it selects only Peter as the mark, giving a bit to John and Paul, and then some to Judas over there. And each time the government takes a cut.
This does not increase the welfare of John or Peter or Paul. Only Judas and the government come out ahead. That’s our government today. Philosopher Anthony de Jasay calls it “the churning state.” When there’s just a few government interventions, benefits flow from some and affix to others.
But the more programs you add on the more everybody loses. Except the government. We’d all be better off if governments stopped churning money from one pocketbook to another. Before government spins completely out of control. Or, as the poet Yeats wrote in “The Second Coming,” “things fall apart,” and “the best lack all conviction.” Our leaders say they believe all sorts of things, but they have only one real conviction: government must continue to churn other people’s money so they can skim the cream at each turn of the crank.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.