A country of “third rails”

The above quoted title of D.L. Hammack’s blog article at American Thinker captures what America has become—a land of entitlements which, if a politician even questions them, his career in politics instantly ends; so the government’s control over society keeps getting greater and greater, and the society’s ability to function without government keeps getting less and less.

I am reminded that the single sentence of mine which is most often quoted on the Web deals not with the cultural issues that I’ve written about the most, but with the All-Providing (and all-controlling) State:

Once the government becomes the supplier of people’s needs, there is no limit to the needs that will be claimed as a basic right.

And I also wonder, how did my father and his brothers, coming from an “underprivileged” background as the sons of a widowed immigrant mother, go to college, have successful businesses, make money, raise families, have nice homes, have good lives, send their children to top colleges, all without any involvement by the federal government? Liberals don’t believe that that’s possible, or even desirable. Liberals don’t want such people, and such a society, to exist.

Here is Hammack’s article at AT. At the end he lists the ever increasng “third rails.”

April 17, 2010
A country of ‘third rails’
D.L. Hammack

Since the inception of Social Security, there has been an unspoken rule in politics: When campaigning for national office or running for re-election, a candidate could never pledge to touch, cut spending for, dismantle, or otherwise look crossways at Social Security unless it was to raise the payouts to its recipients. Social Security has always been referred to as the “third rail” in politics. You simply never touch it.

It would now appear that the US is riddled with a plethora of untouchable third rails and holy grails. Social Security no longer resides as the lone example of third rail politics. The recent extension of unemployment benefits by Congress is a perfect example of how the entitlement mentality will no longer afford any consideration for cuts to programs that the left would deem to be “rights” given to the beneficiaries by their warm-hearted leaders. It would be a safe assumption to believe that these unemployment benefits will be extended again and again as no politician wants to appear as heartless for taking away this benefit. The problem is this, however: The longer these benefits continue; the more recipients become addicted to the monthly checks. The more they become addicted, the more pressure from the voting block to consider this a “third rail.”

It is a sad state of affairs when it is no longer feasible for politicians to consider virtually any program for cuts, unless it is defense, national security, NASA, or simple discretionary spending. For example, imagine the possibility of this Congress agreeing to reduce annual outlays in any of the following:

1. Social Security
2. Medicare
3. Medicaid
5. Federal employee union wages
6. Unemployment benefits
7. Welfare benefits
8. Federal employee retirement programs
9. Food stamps
10. Lower income housing assistance
11. Low-rent public housing
12. School lunch program
13. Low-income energy assistance

We used to be a nation of laws. We have now become a nation of entitlements and special interests … we have become a nanny state.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 17, 2010 08:16 PM | Send

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