Entitlements are what make us a great Country? Really Mr. President?

Posted on May 13, 2011


The Myth

According to our President we would not be a great country without Social Security, Medicare, ObamaCare, and all the other multitude of entitlements.

The Truth

Our Country has been great since its very beginning and entitlements, which are relatively new development in our country’s history, had absolutely nothing to do with that.

Instead of making us great entitlements are having the opposite effect. The run away cost of entitlements makes up the largest share of the massive debt that is destroying our country. This free money is acting like a drug that is destroying the spirit of self-reliance and entrepreneurship that did make our nation great.

The Facts

These entitlements were not in existence at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Nor were they in existence when our Constitution was ratified. Our country’s greatness can be directly tied to these two events.

Entitlements are actually a relatively new addition to our country. It was 1935 when the first, Social Security, came into existence. When the president made the claim that entitlements are what made this country great he completely disregarded all other factors and events that made this nation great over its first 159 years.

Since the very beginning the United States has been a great country because it was called into existence by the signing of the Declaration of Independence. At the very core of the Declaration of Independence is the belief that we are all endowed by God with Natural Rights that the government cannot take away from us.  Most important among these Natural Rights is life, liberty, and the freedom to acquire property and dispose of as we see fit.

The Constitution was written to limit the power and size of the federal government so it would never pose a threat to the Natural Rights of this country’s citizens. By restraining the federal government the citizens of this country were free to prosper.  The Constitution created a country where individuals are free to live their lives as they wish as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others.

 Because the Constitution created a country where individuals are free to acquire property and dispose of it as they wish there is great incentive for people to become entrepreneurs and to innovate. This led to a prosperous nation as a whole.

This nation was also founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Charity is one of the cornerstones of these principles. Our founding fathers knew for us to remain a great nation it was essential we remained a country rooted in Judeo Christian principles.

Our founding fathers knew not everyone would prosper no matter how prosperous our country became. They also knew that by creating a prosperous nation, made up of free individuals, that is rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, we would be a charitable nation. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution together created a nation of individuals who, out of the goodness of their hearts, would help those in need.

Too much charity can lead to dependence, those receiving it can lose sight of the need to work, and too much easy money can lead to fraud and corruption. Our founding fathers understood this and sought to limit government charity. They knew the best way to limit the harmful effects of charity is keep it under strict local control. The framers of the Constitution did not grant the Federal Government any powers to provide charity in any form. Entitlements, like all other forms of charity, are unconstitutional.

The framers of the Constitution also had a more compelling justification to make entitlements by the Federal Government unconstitutional. They are a form of theft by taxes. Money is forcibly confiscated from the productive and given to the unproductive.  Individuals do have a moral obligation to pay taxes but only for those services the government has a moral obligation to provide. At the federal level the government has a moral and a constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense and things that improve the well-being of the nation as a whole.

By confiscating wealth from the more productive you are reducing the incentive to become productive. By transferring wealth to the unproductive you are providing an incentive to become unproductive. By confiscating this wealth by taxes the government is reducing the amount of money these individuals would normally give to private charity. Our founding fathers understood the government is far more inefficient at providing anything compared to the private sector.

Our founding fathers knew it is far better for individuals to become self-sufficient. They also knew there is a small percentage of people who could not be and there would be times even the most self-sufficient might need help. They understood the best place to look for help is the family. The next level people should look is their church and charities. If they cannot get help from these private sources then they should look to their local community government. If there is a large enough need the town, not the individuals, can look to the county level. The most local level should always be in charge of the distribution of charity from the level directly above it. If there is such widespread need from the towns that the county cannot meet the county should appeal directly to the States. The founding fathers believed that all charity should never progress past the State level for any reason because of the danger of corruption and abuse at the federal level. This may seem cold but without the federal government confiscating vast amounts of wealth from all levels there would be enough money for the States to handle even the worst disasters.

Before Social Security people would be helped by their families when they could no longer work. People would pay into private annuities, which have been all but crowded out by Social Security, or other private pensions to provide for their retirement.  Social Security pays barely enough for seniors to survive on and is all but bankrupt.

Before Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare people would not die if they could not afford medical care. There was, and still is, a robust network of charity hospitals and clinics, not to mention free care at any emergency room. The founding fathers looked at the idea government health care but disliked the idea very intensely. Benjamin Franklin provides a great example to illustrate their approach. He built a very large charity hospital with his own money.  Medicare costs way too much. it is bankrupting the country and it pays doctors and hospitals so little that a large number of medical providers no longer accept it. Where ever socialized medicine, such as ObamaCare, is tried rationing, extremely long wait times, and substandard care are the results.

The Proof

Adam Smith provided the knowledge and inspiration for the economic philosophy of free-market capitalism that our founding fathers used to build out nation around. His book “The Wealth of Nations” and other of his works were studied by the majority of the founding fathers. Those that did not read his works engaged in discussions with those that did.  These topics are discussed in great detail in “The Wealth of Nations.”

W. Cleon Skousen devotes a chapter to these topics in “The 5000 Year Leap.” The chapter is “Principle 7: Equal Rights, Not Equal Things.”

The same author also discusses these topics in the chapter “Prosperity Economics” in his book “The Making of America; the Substance and Meaning of the Constitution.”

Milton Friedman also discusses these topics in “Capitalism and Freedom.”

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