In previous Foundation articles, I have discussed the dependency mindset and big brother mentality that has lead to today’s welfare state. Not only do these go against the principles of limited government and personal responsibility on which our country was founded, but our “welfare state comes with a huge price tag,” as Walter Williams explains in his review of Edgar K. Browning’s new book, Stealing From Each Other.
“Browning entertains a discussion about when inequalities are just or unjust. For example, college graduates earn income higher than high-school dropouts. Some people prefer to work many hours and earn more than others who prefer to work fewer. Students who spend 25 or more hours a week on classroom preparation earn higher grades than students who spend five hours. Most would agree that these inequalities are just.
“There are other sources of inequalities that are unjust, such as when incomes result from fraud, corruption, stealing, exploitation, oppression and the like. Such sources of inequality play an insignificant role in producing income inequality in America. Most economists agree that income is closely related to productivity.
“Much of the justification for the welfare state is to reduce income inequality by making income transfers to the poor.”
The result of this policy of redistribution is a loss of productivity; why work to have it given away? Browning estimates that this loss of productivity has reduced GDP by 25 percent, or $4 trillion. Couple that loss with the $620 billion that federal, state and local governments spend on welfare programs – not including social security or uncompensated medical care – and it is apparent that not only does the policy of income redistribution conflict with our founding fathers’ principles…it costs us an arm and a leg!
– Kalese Hammonds