Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Market and the Welfare State

In his January 15th radio address, President Bush said it was a moral obligation to reform Social Security. Of course he means eliminate the program. But why should its reform be a moral issue?

An Italian historian, Giovanni Aldobrandini, wrote an article on The Market and the Welfare State in 1988 which woke me up to certain realities:

Within Laissez Faire are embedded the Reformation and Protestantism, with its emphasis on personal responsibility, sense of duty, work ethic and capacity for self-reliance. The defenders of Laissez Faire believe poverty is an affliction or a shameful reluctance to work. Workhouses are the manifestation of the overturning of ancient Catholic charity. For the bourgeoisie of the 1800's, the market is the perfect and spontaneous allocator of resources to everyone according to their means, their purposes and their luck, without regard to the final outcome. It was important to establish the rules of the game and in particular, The Rule of Law, i.e., the State, whose sole responsibiity is the maintenance of domestic and international order...The market doesn't allow collective projects for the benefit of society but only imposes a series of abstract conditions which pre-determine certain outcomes, which the individual must more or less accept.

The Welfare State is not "rampant socialism" or a "giveaway" but was founded out of a feeling of guilt over the social dislocation caused by the harsh rationality and utilitarian calculations of the market but most important, to protect individuals against the violence of Laissez-Faire, which has no use for infants, the elderly, the handicapped, the mentally ill, etc.. A program like Social Security came about out of the notion of pursuit of happiness--translated into the right to a dignified existence guaranteed by the government. It's worth fighting for.

3 Comments:

Blogger loyopp said...

Nur, I agree that "Social Security came about out of the notion of pursuit of happiness--translated into the right to a dignified existence guaranteed by the government." That was the rhetoric at the time, but it isn't the program that came out on the other end. I think the truly worthy SS reform would be reorienting it toward that goal. Nobody's proposing that though.

2/04/2005 8:30 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

It IS a program worth fighting for. Whether you like it for the dignity and welfare it provides America's aging or the welfare it prevents America having to dole out to the poverty that would ensue, Social Security is the single most successful program run by the US government.

Dig in though...these guys aren't going away till they've given killing SS every breath they have.

2/21/2005 5:44 PM  
Blogger littlebitofsonshine said...

yes it is and helping people heal and know there children are safe and tha able to work in a free sociaty woohooy i loved this read .be safe walk in peace allways nur and bless you if so many ways for being so kind to share on so many places and subjects .

5/31/2006 9:41 PM  

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