Killing Initiative

While reading a post on how aphorisms tempt us to short circuit genuine analysis of the subjects they address, I came across a comment about how liberal policies are a premiere example of good intentions paving the road to hell. In this comment the commenter stated:

While intending to ease the plight of the underclass, liberal policies usually end up doing quite the opposite, breeding dependency (often multi-generational), destroying initiative, creating an entitlement mentality, harming the family by rendering fathers economically unnecessary, and rendering children the means of attaining bigger handouts, etc.

So, I have to admit that I do see some truth in the above comment, and yet the first thing that came to mind when I first read it is that lack of opportunity also kills initiative. Along with that, it struck me that without some of the opportunities that welfare provides many people will be strongly tempted to resentment, bitterness and despair, which likely puts children at risk no less than the temptation to use them for bigger handouts.

6 Responses to “Killing Initiative”

  1. Roger Green  

    Without addressing the quote at all, I’m hard pressed to buy the notion that entitlements come solely, or even primarily, from the “liberal agenda”. Watch these reality shows of rich teens expecting huge parties for their sweet 16 events, or that whole sense of American exceptionalism, where OUR way is the only RIGHT way, entitlement is a core element of the American pathology.
    I’ll say further that other countries, in Europe and elsewhere have higher taxes but get services for it at least. When the French wanted to alter 6-week vacations, the workers’ sense of entitlement kicked in.
    If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

  2. K.L.B.  

    What is the “liberal agenda”?

  3. Anthony Velez  

    Good question. I imagine that the phrase “liberal agenda” has more rhetorical value than political value in that it is used more as a means to tap into people’s frustrations with the social ills that are perceived as emerging from the 60s social revolutions. On the other hand, my guess is that the liberal agenda in a broad sense refers to those who are willing to use government to help alleviate social inequities.

  4. Roger Green  

    “the liberal agenda in a broad sense refers to those who are willing to use government to help alleviate social inequities” – my kneejerk liberal reaction is to say, “And what’s wrong with THAT?” Alleviating social inequities sounds almost, dare I say it, Christian.”

  5. Anthony Velez  

    Roger – I agree that wanting to alleviate social inequities is consonant with Christian convictions. The question for some Christians though would be what role government has in seeking to alleviate such inequities. For example, some would want to reserve such activities for private organizations, and keep the domain of government as limited as possible when it comes to addressing social problems.

    Personally, I think that there is a positive place for government in alleviating such inequities, particularly when it comes to giving people access to resources and opportunities. On the other hand, I am not sure to what degree the government should be involved, and I would also want to grant and encourage the private sector to respond to such issues as well. In the end, I subscribe to the very American ideal that we want to create a culture where virtue is encouraged to flourish and vice is held in check. Of course this ideal does not provide clear delineation regarding the degree to which government can and ought to contribute to building such a culture.

  6. K.L.B.  

    I think we’ve been around this mulberry bush before.

    Give A Man a Fish and You Feed Him for a Day