End Times for the Welfare State
A recent letter to the The New York Times:
To the Editor:
Stephen D. King correctly observes that the United States and many other so-called advanced economies are looking forward to a dismal future (“When Wealth Disappears,” October 6). Unfortunately, he dances around and at best merely alludes to the root cause of the problem.
While recent years have seen rather dismal economic growth, the fact remains that people today are, by and large, wealthier than ever before. Levels of comfort and convenience – from air conditioning to machine washers to access to multiple vehicles per family – once reserved for the wealthiest few are now common even for the least among us. In asserting that “we are reaching the end times for Western affluence,” King thus fails to be sufficiently precise in his analysis. It is the Western welfare state whose affluence has reached its limits.
While the last century has witnessed tremendous strides economically, with incredible new technologies revolutionizing how we live, work and play, it has also seen an ever increasing share of those gains diverted to the public sector. It is for this reason that King’s prescriptions are just a step in the right direction. For our nation to avoid becoming another Greece, politicians henceforth must refrain from promising the fruit of another’s labor as a means for enhancing their own political power.
Director of Government Affairs
Center for Freedom and Prosperity