In my last post, I lamented the wealth that is wasted and destroyed by the mixed economy/welfare state. Let me give one example to make it more real to you.
In 2007 the budget for the Department of Agriculture is $19.7 billion. All of that money is wasted. A free market with competing producers would deliver food that was better and cheaper.
Agriculture is a pressure group. Politicians in farm states buy votes by assuring farmers that money will continue to be stolen from the rest of American taxpayers and given to them. Any politician in a farm state who refused to guarantee this theft would not be elected.
Complicating the waste is environmentalism, which erects regulations prohibiting individuals from using their property as they see fit.
This vast exercise in state power results in taxpayers paying $19.7 billion to a system that makes food more expensive and of lower quality.
I repeat, we’re paying $19.7 billion so that we can pay more for inferior food in the supermarket.
But the damage done by the Department of Agriculture goes beyond wasting almost $20 billion a year to make food worse. State intervention in agriculture destroys the self-respect of farmers by making them wards of the state. Instead of proud, productive individuals, farmers are parasites living on stolen goods. Instead of practicing such virtues as productiveness, honesty and integrity, farmers mooch handouts and play the game to get benefits from the state. The state spreads cynicism and guilt among farmers who know the subsidies they receive are unearned.
The one proper function of the state is to protect the individual from the initiation of force, but in the mixed economy the state becomes the initiator of force. The state, which should protect justice, becomes a source of injustice. The rule of law is weakened by state intervention, which further weakens individual Americans’ respect for the law. Statist institutions such as the Department of Agriculture are not just impractical, they are immoral.
State intervention in the economy spreads the rule of force and destroys the use of reason. Civilized standards are necessary when men use reason with one another in a free society, but these standards erode when reason is supplanted by force. The more the state intervenes in the economy, the less civilized America becomes.
The welfare state is destroying the American character and the American way of life. As collectivism waxes and individualism wanes, so goes the “can do spirit” that developed when America was a free country. America is becoming less a nation of individuals who are expected to use their initiative to better themselves and more a nation of passive wards dependent on the group for survival. America is becoming more like the nations of Europe with their traditions of authoritarianism and state worship. Once our heritage of individualism is gone, it will be difficult to return to freedom. A nation of trembling parasites is unlikely to embrace self-reliance.
To return to the realm of the practical, the spiritual destruction in America further destroys wealth because individuals give up trying to better themselves and passively accept mooching off the group like everyone else. Instead of producing wealth, individuals become accustomed to receiving redistributed wealth. We lose far more than $20 billion a year in a statist institution such as the Department of Agriculture. We can never know how much wealth is not created as individual Americans lose the fire in their soul and give up.
As the state intervenes in the economy, America loses its future.