In Duncan Oklahoma, two black "teens," driven by a white teen driver, murdered a complete stranger--an Australian student and baseball player. The only motive given so far is that they were bored. Since the victim was white and at least one of the three a devotee of the racist thug doggerel known as rap, there may have been other motives, but let us take the statement, given to the police by one of the thugs, at face value.
Almost simultaneously, the Cato Institute has released an update on their 1995 study of welfare largesse, state by state, "The Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off." The bottom line is that in most states, welfare recipients make more money than entry-level secretaries or even school teachers.
Naturally, the cautious pragmatists at a Washington think tank do not condemn the parasites who are sucking the life's blood of American taxpayers. The problem is not their laziness and immorality or the cultural traditions that reinforce them, but the structure of disincentives.
To give them the benefit of the doubt, I don't suppose even libertarians are that obtuse. it is the old propaganda about not leaving the keys in your car: "Don't Help a Good Boy Go Bad," the commercials used to whine, implying that any decent person will steal if he thinks he has the opportunity. People who keep a wallet they find on the street, steal a car with the keys left in it, or take welfare instead of any job whatsoever, know what they are going. In the case of welfare recipients, they are not ashamed to live off the sweat of another man's brow. Personally, I have more respect for a thief who would rather steal than beg.
I don't know enough about the three thugs in Oklahoma to say unequivocally that they are products of the welfare state, but it is a reasonable conjecture. Truthfully, the facts generally do not require any conjecture. Violent criminals are subsidized, by and large, by federal and state tax dollars. In a real sense, these young thugs can argue, citing a once-famous movie title, "They made me a criminal."
Yes, the analysts at Cato are correct: The welfare state does create a structure of negative incentives that discourage work, but the situation is far more grave. In rewarding the worthless parasites who live among us, government do-gooders have empowered a criminal class that preys upon taxpaying workers. Every society has its complement of shiftless losers; even bees have drones, but no hive could survive if armed drones stole the honey and devoured the queen's children.
The blame for this war against the working class (which includes doctors and businessmen) rests squarely on the shoulders of the politicians, journalists, and "experts" who have designed and implemented the welfare state. They are the primary enemy and should not be tolerated or treated politely by the people who pay their salaries. So-called compassionate conservatives who want to make the welfare system and immigration policy more efficient or humane are even worse, because they make serious opposition impossible. When the Republicans come up with their next Presidential candidate--sure to be a cross between Chris Christie and Marco Rubio--no taxpaying worker should make the mistake of giving them the time of day.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.