Stepping back and observing society it’s relatively easy to discern that the biggest addition the U.S. society is dealing with isn’t opioids, marijuana or heroin. It isn’t violence or intolerance or any of those other things the media and government spokespersons are so fond of pointing out. No, the biggest addiction in the U.S. is government support and the expectation of that support. Think about it, addicts to government support must have their fixes every week, month, year and tax season. Free phones, housing support, utility support, food stamps, tax credits, child care and a plethora of other allowances and entitlements.
This addiction afflicts not just the lower end of the society but the upper end, as well as many in the middle. Tax breaks, tax credits, credits for buying electric cars which only the wealthy can actually afford. Tax havens written into tax codes where the wealthy can hide their money. There are far too many to discuss individually, but at the top and bottom of society there is the problem of addiction because weaning someone from government support is as hard as rehabbing a heroin addict, and generally just about as successful.
Prior to 1930, a culture of self-sufficiency was practiced in the U.S. Unfortunately, such a culture had given rise to a stratified society with a historically poor segment that had little hope for pulling themselves into the merchant, farmer classes that had evolved between them and the truly wealthy. President Roosevelt introduced many programs designed to restore business vitality during the Great Depression and some of those programs had good results. For example the Civilian Conservation Corps provided roads into rural areas and coupled with the Works Progress Administration gave us the infrastructure for our National Park system. But note, work was required in exchange for the government subsidies and skills training.
What many people do not recognize is the CCC provided the U.S. a sizable pool of already trained soldiers when the draft started for World War II. Since the CCC camps had been based on a military model these men were in good physical shape, knew basic drill techniques, understood rank structure and were ready for either weapons training or, as happened to many, transfer to the engineers and later the SeeBees (CBs) the Naval construction battalions.
But other programs that provided assistance to families based on economic status became entrenched after WWll growing exponentially during the Johnson administration and its Great Society program. As each generation came to expect at least the same and then better entitlement benefits than those of their parents, the need to work became progressively less important. For example, the more children you had the more you received from the government in child support, food stamps, housing subsidies and such. Then the government programs caused the split of the nuclear family because if there was an able worker, i.e. father in the house, stipends were lessened, thus fathers left the home and a new society evolved. That of a single mother burdened with children and unable to work thus needing even larger stipends. This effort also damaged the psyche of the fathers who saw little reason to work. From 1964 on, the U.S. experienced the formation of a true underclass dependent upon Government entitlement programs.
Now we find ourselves at a point where certain politicians want to recreate the WPA, CCC, NRA and the Great Society all at once. But just as the government planners of the Great Society failed to take into consideration the changes in societal attitudes between 1932 and 1964, so too have the current politicians failed to consider the society for which they want to provide perpetual care. The primary difference between 1932 and 2022 is the former started with a society for which daily work for daily bread was the tradition. In 1932 there was no work, so the government created work and the people gladly accepted, looking at it, however, as only a pass through to other more meaningful and more rewarding work. In 2022 we are faced with a society that has become addicted to government programs and is not willing to accept responsibility for their own futures. Such addiction is every bit as bad as being addicted to drugs, alcohol, tobacco or other substances. An addict is always looking for their next fix, and building tolerances, those fixes must become more and more powerful the deeper the addiction becomes. Interestingly, this addiction to government programs can also be an enabling action that results in addiction to actual drugs thus exacerbating the opioid problems we have today. Think about it, you’ll see.
So, the biggest addiction in the U.S. isn’t drugs or violence, its government stipends and tax breaks which have somehow become named “Entitlements.” And here’s the biggest problem: the supplier is the very entity that is supposed to be protecting society from such problems. Thus, the biggest pusher of addictive substances in the world is the U.S. Government.
Dependency does appear to be a regular on the menu.
I liked that you addressed entitlements for the wealthy as well as those ones that the poor receive.