Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Founding Father of the American welfare state, appeared to have qualms about the Frankenstein monster he set in motion:
"The lessons of history show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."
These searing words about Depression-era welfare are from Franklin Roosevelt's 1935 State of the Union Address. FDR feared this self-reliant people might come to depend permanently upon government for the necessities of their daily lives. Like narcotics, such a dependency would destroy the fiber and spirit of the nation.
What brings his words to mind is news that 41.8 million Americans are on food stamps, and the White House estimates 43 million will soon be getting food stamps every month.
What we have accepted today is a vast permanent underclass of scores of millions who cannot cope and must be carried by the rest of society fed, clothed, housed, tutored, medicated at taxpayer's expense for their entire lives. We have a new division in America: those who pay a double fare, and those who forever ride free.
The longer we allow this intolerable state of affairs to continue, the more politically impossible it becomes to reverse it:
Efforts to tame America's ballooning budget deficit could soon confront a daunting reality: Nearly half of all Americans live in a household in which someone receives government benefits, more than at any time in history.
At the same time, the fraction of American households not paying federal income taxes has also grown to an estimated 45% in 2010, from 39% five years ago, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization.
"We have a very large share of the American population that is getting checks from the government," says Keith Hennessey, an economic adviser to President George W. Bush and now a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, "and an increasingly smaller portion of the population that's paying for it."
We have reinstituted slavery. Those who work are slaves to those who don't. The actual masters are the government bureauweenies who take upon themselves the responsibility of redistributing the wealth created by the slaves, while keeping an explosively growing cut for themselves.
Soon we will reach the tipping point, where more than half of the population lives parasitically off the enslaved remainder. Democracy will have become two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. Soon after that, our civilization will come tumbling down. As Margaret Thatcher famously observed, socialists inevitably run out of other people's money.
We may not make it to this tipping point before plunging into ruin. The situation is already clearly unsustainable:
Treasury reported that the government ran a $1.26 trillion deficit for the first 11 months of the fiscal year, on pace to be the second-biggest on record.
Yet even as Americans express concern over the deficit in opinion polls, many oppose benefit cuts, particularly with the economy on an uneven footing.
But the more money Big Government sucks out of the economy and uses to pay people not to work, the longer it will take the economy to recover. That's how the vicious cycle of government "help" works.
Breaking an addiction is never easy. Whether we follow the Soviet Union into the quicksand of socialism or pull ourselves back from the brink, there is going to be pain. The liberals who constructed and expanded the welfare state made it inevitable.