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    The Federal Welfare State Bumbles to Destruction

    02/17/2014
    Personal Freedom and Prosperity 109: Subsidiarity

     In 1991, Pope John Paul II wrote in the Centesimus Annus that the Welfare State contradicts the principle of subsidiarity by usurping and relieving society of its responsibility to their neighbors and community. This “leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” 

    The Federal Welfare State Bumbles to Destruction

     Robert Samuelson observes that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare are steadily diminishing Federal financing from our national defense to food stamp funds.  Samuelson writes:  “The cause is no mystery. An aging population and higher health spending automatically increase budget outlays, which induce the president and Congress to curb spending on almost everything else, from defense to food stamps.” Samuelson lists some devastating cuts:

    • Defense spending will be 40% less in 2024 as compared to 2010.

    • The National Institutes of Health reports that since 2003 its budget has declined 22 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.

    • Since 1997, the federal court system's workforce has shrunk 14 percent, despite more civil filings (up 2 percent), criminal defendants charged (up 34 percent) and people on probation (up 45 percent). 

    Politicians – Democrats and Republicans - and the media are virtually hiding these reductions from the American people.   Politicians do not want to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits.  No politician wants to anger 57 million retirees or the millions of baby boomers, who are about to retire.  

    Likewise, Americans oppose increased taxes and sense a tax on the rich will ultimately be a tax on everyone.  Thus, the federal welfare state bumbles it's way to destruction.  How will it be resolved?  Nobody knows.  However it turns out; it will be ugly and will diminish the economic vitality and prosperity of our children and grandchildren.  

    Samuelson particularly chides Democrats for diminishing Federal welfare programs:  

    Social Security and Medicare benefits candidly is the crux of the budget stalemate. 

    This refusal is rich in irony: The pro-government party in rhetoric has become an anti-government fparty in practice.” 

    Let me offer a subsidiarity solution:   

    Empower organizations, including local governments, to operate and control welfare programs, other than Social Security and Medicare.   Then, we allow communities – government and non-government organizations – to operate and control  welfare, food stamps, education, Headstart and the list is endless.   

    Why?  What is gained?  Community – family, friends, churches, charities, people of good will and local governments care.  Residents of a community know their neighbors, they know the strengths and weaknesses of the people who surroung them, and they want what is best for them and their area by assisting people in need and making a better community.   

    Family, friends and local charities best discern the difference between people who need loving care and those needing a stern lecture and strong guidance.  Family and community is the locus of civilization. 

    Here is the broad plan:  

    Enact federal legislation empowering a broadly-defined community to be responsible for one or all the Federal programs existing inside the boundaries of the said community.  In exchange for accepting responsibility, taxpayers of the community would receive a reduced Federal income tax – their proportion - by 95% of the Federal expenditures on the programs assumed.  

    For example:  If the Federal government paid $100,000 on education, each Federal-income taxpayer would reduce their federal tax by their proportion of the $95,000.  The federal government is relieved of all responsibility and continues to receive 5% for Medicare, Social Security, national security and other government programs.  

    The local community would be free to enact taxes to pay for the programs.  However, the community would be free to alter the program and utilize other resources within and outside the community. 

    Yes, this is a significant departure from our Federal Welfare State as it exists.  However, subsidiarity is far superior to our Federal government spending money on hundreds of programs that have minimal bureaucratic interaction with the recipients.  

    Pope John Paul II wrote in the Centesimus Annus in 1991 that the Welfare State was contradicting the principle of subsidiarity by usurping and relieving society of its responsibility to their neighbors and community. This “leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”  

    A major change? Yes, but a far better solution to the deceitful inaction of Republicans and Democrats.  More importantly,  administering these programs by family, friends and people of good will is far more superior to our current, failed Federal Welfare State.