The evil called the Welfare State

'Politicians of many hues and social activists of many kinds have this strange and strong and very nearly perverse belief that there is a need to create Constitutional rights for all possible things -- right to work, right to education, right to food -- so that the state is bound to deliver on its obligations to the poor, and if it fails to do so it could be charged guilty. They believe that this is the way to make the State responsible and accountable. These busybodies believe quite ardently that they are standing up for the poor, and that they are pinning down an indifferent and a callous State. And they are sure some good will come out of this at the end of it all.

Generally, people who want to do good end up creating more trouble without meaning to do so. Those who want the State to do right and to do well by the people are unwittingly creating a patriarchal -- something which all of them hate with all the rage they can muster -- state, and forcing the poor people to become permanently dependent on a benefactor. Of course, they will say that when the state fulfils its social and economic obligations towards the poor, it is not doing a favour and that it is merely duty-bound to do so.

There is something troubling about this. The simple fact is that the more one is dependent on the State, the less free one is. One of the defining features of freedom is that you are responsible for yourself, and that includes your basic and other needs. Yes. The self-reliant man/woman is the free man/woman in the old fashioned, classical sense. What the State ought to be doing is to ensure that no one comes in the way of enjoying your freedom -- other individuals, other groups including the state itself. Put in another way, all of us have put up this mechanism called the State so that we can enjoy our freedoms. By legislating rights which only the State can fulfil, we are letting go of some of our invaluable freedom...

The politicians and policymakers are only too happy to be playing the boss and pretend that they are only doing it for our sake and they have nothing to gain from it. Does this mean that we need to dissolve the State? We need not opt for that extreme solution. What we need is a circumscribed state. It should not be allowed to become a leviathan, even a benign one. The welfare State is an evil in the guise of an angel. There is a compelling need to wean people away from this pathetic dependency syndrome. Very soon we would be legislating rights for people to remain happy, to have families, even to think for ourselves. This is the dystopia that awaits us round the welfare State corner.'

- Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr, 'The evil called the welfare state'.


Popular Posts