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Political Paternalism, Big Government, and the Welfare State

December 15, 2009

We are living in a time when government is growing by leaps and bounds, and increasingly intruding into our lives.

The dangers from growing government may be encapsulated under a variety of headings that I discuss in an article of mine that appears today in the Christrian Science Monitor online, under the title, “Obama, Health Care, and the New Road to Serfdom.”

Central to the growth of government is the ideology of paternalism by those who claim the right to tell the rest of us how to live our lives.

The desire for political power is also strongly motivated by the desire for plunder, that is, the use of the coercive authority of the State to rob Peter to transfer income and wealth to Paul.

Part of the rationale for bigger government is what Hayek called “the mirage of social justice,” under which those in power will decide who is deserving of what portion of the economic wealth of the society that is produced by the productive private citizens of the country.

Among the side effects of these policies is the creation of the perverse incentives that economists sometimes refer to as “moral hazard,” under which anti-productive and excessively risk-taking behavior is artificially subsidized through the interventionist and welfare statist programs of the government.

A huge burden from all that growing government is doing are the massive deficits that are expanding the Federal debt burden, which will be a heavy stone on future generations to come, as government taxes and inflates the currency to meet its financial obligations.

All of this is leading to diminished individual liberty and radically reduced economic freedom. In other words, down that “road to serfdom” about which Hayek warned us so many years ago.

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