Losing hope in America or losing hope in Americans?
The liberal vision of the American welfare state has failed. The percentage of Americans in poverty has barely budged from the time the ‘war on poverty’ was launched, despite transfer payments of $15 trillion since 1964 and the spend-trend is worsening:
According to the Cato report, the federal government will spend more than $668 billion to fight poverty in 2012. State and local governments will spend an additional $284 billion, amounting to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three.
Since Barack Obama took office, total federal welfare spending has increased over 40 percent. Obamaphone, anyone?
The liberal vision, which often includes gauzy platitudes about reducing the debt, more teachers and firefighters, and investing in America seems to ignore the unspoken yet undeniable truth that government cannot cure all our ills, for if it could, it surely would have done so by now. Similarly, if government deficit spending could have healed the economy, wouldn’t it have also done so?
Instead we have the real (yet largely ignored) welfare state issues of unpayable government debt, chronic unemployment, unkeepable government promises, and government’s ever-increasing big-brother intrusiveness.
But the failures of the liberal vision hardly means the conservative message of freedom and opportunity (balanced with personal responsibility) has succeeded, witness yesterday’s election results. As it has been observed, you can’t use tax cuts to buy off people who are net recipients of tax transfers.
“America” is a people, a place, and an ideal, but “Americans” are merely the people who are the residents of the place. Americans may or may not buy in to the ideals America was founded on.