Human Lifestock and The Welfare State

by | Apr 18, 2003

An old television special featured great boxing matches of the past, including a video of a match between legendary light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore and a young Canadian fighter named Yvonne Durrell, in which each man was knocked down four times during the fight. Since Archie Moore was also among those serving as commentators on the […]

An old television special featured great boxing matches of the past, including a video of a match between legendary light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore and a young Canadian fighter named Yvonne Durrell, in which each man was knocked down four times during the fight. Since Archie Moore was also among those serving as commentators on the program, someone asked him if he knew that this was a great match while he was fighting it.

“Yes!” he replied. At the time, he had said to himself: “This is the kind of fight that any fighter would love to be in — a knockdown, drag-out — and emerge the winner.”

Overcoming adversity is one of our great desires and one of our great sources of pride. But it is something that our anointed deep thinkers strive to eliminate from our lives, through everything from grade inflation to the welfare state.

The anointed want to eliminate stress, challenge, striving, and competition. They want the necessities of life to be supplied as “rights” — which is to say, at the taxpayers expense, without anyone’s being forced to work for those necessities, except of course the taxpayers.

Nothing is to be earned. “Self-esteem” is to be dispensed to the children as largess from the teacher. Adults are to have their medical care and other necessities dispensed as largess from the government. People are to be mixed and matched by race and sex and whatever else the anointed want to take into account, in order to present whatever kind of picture the anointed think should be presented.

This is a vision of human beings as livestock to be fed by the government and herded and tended by the anointed. All the things that make us human beings are to be removed from our lives and we are to live as denatured creatures controlled and directed by our betters.

Those things that help human beings be independent and self-reliant — whether automobiles, guns, the free market, or vouchers — provoke instant hostility from the anointed.

Automobiles enable you to come and go as you wish, without so much as a “by your leave” to your betters. The very idea that other people will go where they want, live where they want, how they want, and send their children to whatever schools they choose, is galling to the anointed, for it denies the very specialness that is at the heart of their picture of themselves.

Guns are completely inappropriate for the kind of sheep-like people the anointed envision or the orderly, prepackaged world in which they are to live. When you are in mortal danger, you are supposed to dial 911, so that the police can arrive on the scene some time later, identify your body, and file reports in triplicate.

The free market is a daily assault on the vision of the anointed. Just think of all those millions of people out there buying whatever they want, whenever they want, whether or not the anointed think it is good for them.

Think of those people earning whatever incomes they happen to get from producing goods or services for other people, at prices resulting from supply and demand, with the anointed cut out of the loop entirely and standing on the sidelines in helpless rage, unable to impose their particular vision of “social justice.”

The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites.

One of the most dangerous things about the welfare state is that it breaks the connection between what people have produced and what they consume, at least in many people’s minds. For the society as a whole, that connection remains as fixed as ever, but the welfare state makes it possible for individuals to think of money or goods as just arbitrary dispensations.

Thus those who have less can feel a grievance against “society” and are less inhibited about stealing or vandalizing. And the very concept of gratitude or obligation disappears — even the obligation of common decency out of respect for other people.

The next time you see a bum leaving drug needles in a park where children play or urinating in the street, you are seeing your tax dollars at work and the end result of the vision of the anointed.

Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Please contact your local newspaper editor if you want to read the THOMAS SOWELL column in your hometown paper.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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