Start real reform to end poverty (Thomen)

There has been a lot of commentary recently regarding Baltimore’s explosion of riots and its causes, [but] I don’t recall reading anything really new. Back in 1944 in his book “The Road to Serfdom,” F. A. Hayek provided the outlines of the causes of the Baltimore riots.

[Hayek] describes the progress of socialism, the welfare state, the development of government dependency, enlargement of government, government expenditures exceeding government revenues, the rich getting richer because of their ability to manipulate a growing government, the poor getting poorer because of a stagnant economy, destruction of the family as the poor increasingly survive on welfare payments because [these] payments are not enough to lift them out of poverty. Does all this sound familiar? What are we to do?

The road to serfdom for most Americans is down this road of government largesse, bankruptcy (the federal debt has doubled in the past six years), and smothering regulations – in short, serfdom.

There is another road. We can exit the road to serfdom by renouncing the welfare state, by returning to a land of opportunity free of an oppressive government and its smothering of freedom by faceless bureaucrats making up the rules as they go.

Reducing the size of government is critical to taking the road less traveled to economic freedom and a growing economy. By retrenching the welfare state, we can promote and glorify honest work in lieu of debilitating, incapacitating welfare handouts while simultaneously reducing the size of government. But how?

Welfare, both personal and corporate, is addictive. Going “cold turkey” might be more than the body politic could survive. Let’s do it more gradually. Reduce all federal government regulations 10 percent per year and “do good” handouts by 5 percent of current expenditures per year, small but steady [steps]. In 20 years, a new generation will have become more accustomed to a declining welfare state as a viable means of survival and will therefore have to take the steps to become independent, responsible, and productive citizens and parents.

In 1934-35, my mother was a social worker in New Orleans. Her job was to buy groceries at a local grocery and deliver them to the husband who would meet her about a block from his home where the groceries would be transferred to him so he could “bring the bacon” home. Quaint idea, huh. Since then we have been traveled a long way down the road to serfdom. Where is the politician who has the courage and skill to lead us out of the wilderness of the regulatory/welfare state?

James R. Thomen

We’re not sure there is enough time left for the “small but steady” changes that are described, but it’s pretty clear what direction this country needs to go.
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