Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Logical Dead End of the Nanny State

The Western world, as I recently noted (“The Abolition of America,” 7/4/11) is in the process of rejecting the natural tradition of objective right and wrong. One of the sad consequences has been a cultural and moral decay that has infected the greater part of old Europe. Now, only a month or so later, we have witnessed riots in the streets of London and throughout England. Many observers of the British scene have commented on the root causes of the senseless destruction. Three of my favorites - Mark Steyn, Theodore Dalrymple, Ann Coulter - plus Prime Minister David Cameron -- contributed their wisdom to the following analysis.
Lord, please forgive my plagiarizing.

There are many lessons for us from London in flames, as gangs of feral youths trashed and looted their own neighborhoods. There is a saying in Britain for people who undermine their own living quarters – they call it “shitting on your own doorstep.” And this rioting suggests that the welfare state has given rise to a generation perfectly happy to do that.

The London rioters are the children of dependency, the progeny of Big Government: they have been marinated in stimulus their entire lives. One-fifth of children are raised in homes in which no adult works – in which the weekday ritual of rising, dressing and leaving for gainful employment is entirely unknown. One-tenth of the adult population has done not a day's work since Tony Blair took office on May 1, 1997.

The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and if it does not receive that high standard, that is a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived, even though each one has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor, quite likely, any member of his family made much of a contribution. Indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude.

And consigning the violence to rage over reduced job opportunities and welfare doesn’t quite wash. A large number of the vandals and looters are teenagers on their school vacations rather than desperate twenty- or thirty-year olds recently out of a job and with a family to support. As written in the Daily Telegraph, the rioters hardly represented a beleaguered minority neglected by the state:
So far, those arrested and charged include an 11-year-old girl, a 31-year-old primary school teacher and the 19-year-old daughter of a company director who is currently at Exeter University. The participation of those from relatively affluent backgrounds, either in full-time education or full-time employment, makes nonsense of the knee-jerk response of blaming cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance, among other things.

A more plausible “root cause” is the parlous state of British inner-city state education, which has turned out a generation of unemployable youth, who are understandably angry at their dim prospects and their miserable state-provided living environments. This introduces a different, and altogether more damning, diagnosis: the failure of the policies of post-war social democratic orthodoxy, and the cumulative growth of the welfare state, to address the problems of urban poverty and the integration of marginalized classes into wider society – indeed, the state’s role in destroying the integrity of families, in discouraging bourgeois aspiration, and in uprooting traditional community values which historically served to harmonize and reconcile society to itself.

Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to address the “moral collapse” that led to the widespread looting and violence. He has pledged to “review every aspect of our work to mend our broken society: schools, welfare, families, parenting, addiction,… to the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights that has undermined personal responsibility.

“These riots were not about race,” Cameron said. “These riots were not about government cuts ... And these riots were not about poverty.”

“No, this was about behavior ... people showing indifference to right and wrong; people with a twisted moral code; people with a complete absence of self-restraint.”

He listed irresponsibility, selfishness, fatherless children, reward without effort, crime without punishment and behaving as if one’s choices have no consequences as some of the problems contributing to a “slow-motion moral collapse.”

“What last week has shown is that this moral neutrality, this relativism – it’s not going to cut it anymore,” he stressed.

And the “social fightback” starts with families. “If we want to have any hope of mending our broken society, family and parenting is where we’ve got to start.”

When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the British welfare regime in 1942, his goal was the "abolition of want" to be accomplished by "co-operation between the State and the individual." In attempting to insulate the citizenry from life's vicissitudes, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity.

For Americans, the quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what LBJ's Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population. Here is America, the Democrats' real achievement has been in destroying the family, thereby creating an endless supply of potential rioters. When blacks were only four generations out of slavery, their illegitimacy rate was about 23 percent (lower than the white illegitimacy rate is now). Then Democrats decided to help them!

It is barely two generations since LBJ's Great Society programs began and the rate of black illegitimacy has tripled to 72 percent. Meanwhile, the white illegitimacy rate has exploded from 4 percent to 29 percent. Instead of a “War on Poverty,” it should have been called a “War on the Family.”

The vast and permanent underclass created by the welfare state is a great success story for the Democratic Party, which now has a loyal constituency of deadbeats who automatically vote for the Democrats to keep their “benefits” flowing.

It's the Democrat Party “heroin dealer” model of government.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes...weep is an understatement!


3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on the money. Europe, of course, has been invaded by Middle Easterners who have a long tradition of not working. I suspect that a high proportion of the rioters were from that group.


3:13 PM  

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