Skip to comments.Only Government Can Help?
Posted on 03/29/2014 1:20:05 PM PDT by Kaslin
Hey you. Yea, you, running a business. Or opening a franchise. Or preparing to retire after a lifetime of hard work. Mike Konczal has a message for you: Stop congratulating yourself and accept the fact that all your success is only possible because youve got a massive, federal welfare state backstopping you every step of the way.
Konczal is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute (Franklin, not Theodore, if that even matters). Hes penned an essay in the latest issue of Democracy that does a better job than Barack Obama did explaining the presidents You didnt build that philosophy.
Sure, you conservatives probably think people were on their own in, say the 1800s, when the federal governments writ barely extended across the Appalachians. Konczal is here to disabuse you.
The public post office helped unite the national civil society Alexis de Tocqueville found and celebrated in his travels throughout the United States. From tariff walls to the continental railroad system to the educated workforce coming out of land-grant schools, the budding industrial power of the United States was always joined with the growth of the government, he writes.
Indeed, weve always had a post office. Benjamin Franklin worked as a postmaster, for the British before independence. But we dont necessarily need a federal, government post office. Recently two employees of the U.S. Postal Service spent their morning removing two mailboxes from the sidewalk outside my building. Parked next to them was a UPS truck. It was a tidy reminder that the private sector stands ready to deliver mail, if only the government will allow it.
And yes, the federal government once imposed steep tariffs. But those tariffs did more than simply protect domestic manufacturing; until the early 20th century, they produced enough revenue to fund almost the entire federal government.
But dont get the idea that Konczal is arguing that the country needs a small, effective, fully-funded federal government that aims only to protect American property and do limited tasks. Instead, he insists he intends to oppose: Paul Ryans budget, which seeks to devolve and shrink the federal government at a rapid pace. As if.
Under current law, the government would spend $46 trillion in the next decade. Ryan proposes spending $41 trillion. Ryans budget envisions the government spending 19 percent of GDP by the year 2023. Thats about what it spent during the Bill Clinton years, hardly a time of federal austerity.
Konczal claims that Americans need the federal welfare state, because private charities simply arent up to the task. And he unleashes a blizzard of statistics aimed at proving his point. Overall giving fell 7 percent in 2008, with another 6.2 percent drop in 2009. There was only a small uptick in 2010 and 2011, even though unemployment remained very high. Giving also fell as a percentage of GDP (even as GDP shrank), from 2.1 percent in 2008 to 2.0 percent in 2009 through 2011. (The high point was 2.3 percent in 2005.) And on and on.
But notice what hes choosing to measure: inputs. Liberals love to measure inputs, because thats the easy part. But spending more isnt as important as spending more effectively.
Konczal doesnt look at outputs: what did the charities spend during those hard times. Luckily, John DiIulio does. In 2009, the organizations recognized as non-profits by the Internal Revenue Service reported nearly $1.9 trillion in spending while holding $4.3 trillion in total assets (for comparison, the total assets of state and local governments were about $4.6 trillion), he writes in National Affairs. So they poured about half of what they had into helping others. Thats the point of private charity.
Bill Gates became the worlds richest man by focusing on outcomes. The way we help the poor out today [is also a problem], he explained in Rolling Stone magazine. Why arent the technocrats taking the poverty programs, looking at them as a whole, and then redesigning them? Well, they are afraid that if they do, their funding is going to be cut back, so they defend the thing that is absolutely horrific. Just look at low-cost housing and the various forms, the wait lists, things like that. And thats exactly the point: bureaucrats are focused on inputs. What should matter is outputs.
Konczals correct about one thing: the massive welfare state has crowded out many private charities. With massive redistribution programs such as Social Security speeding toward insolvency, we may soon wish it hadnt.
More like back-stabbing!
There is no problem so great...that government cannot make even worse.
He sure is. I look at my tax returns, and then where my taxes go, and can't help but think, "I already gave."
I won't be surprised if that confession gets some nasty comments, but that's the way it is.
Exactly, I gave at the office, literally.
The tragedy of it is, this is very detrimental to real charity and to the social fabric. And now, Obama would like to limit the deductibility of charitable contributions.
I give more than I record, too—I’m not like Al Gore, who deducted 2 bucks for each pair of used underwear. Maybe I should be... but time is money, and the essence of charity is privacy and anonymity.
That's the intention. Government can be the only source of charity, according to liberals.
Do they really say that? Or is it just the coercive effect of their policies?
You hear liberals all the time whine about church charities, claiming they attempt to indoctrinate the recipients and try to recruit them to their religion.
That was Bill Clinton who did that.
Only government can destroy America.
there is nothing that works so well, that government cannot utterly screw up.
How will I eat if there is not a government employee to select my food and chew it for me???
>>That was Bill Clinton who did that.
Close, but no cigar!