Big Government, Round 2
To the Editor:
In “It’s Big Government, Stupid” [June], David Frum blames most, if not all, of America’s economic and social problems on the welfare state. From Mr. Frum’s nostalgic perspective, “the welfare state was set up in 1933,” ending a glorious era of rugged individualism and personal responsibility driven by the discipline of free-market capitalism.
Mr. Frum, of course, is talking about welfare for individuals, not businesses. State welfare for business interests has been with America from the beginning. But these subsidies do not figure in Mr. Frum’s analysis. It is only when subsidies are provided to the poor that Mr. Frum gets concerned about the corruption of moral conduct and personal responsibility. Thus, wholly apart from his ridiculous assertion that prior to 1933 “almost everyone” was deterred from engaging in misconduct, Mr. Frum is simply wrong about the role of public assistance in the pre-1933 period. From the moment the Declaration of Independence was signed, the American government provided military force to exterminate and expel the native population from the land and supported the extensive use of slave labor—essentially subsidizing the entire labor component of America’s agricultural and textile industries. This was no small matter. Cotton at the time was fueling the industrial revolution, much as oil fuels the current industrial economy. . . .
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