Wednesday, February 11, 2009
On this day:

Social welfare: a threat to individual liberty

When people become dependent on government assistance for their material well-being, their business becomes our business to a much greater degree than if such assistance were not offered. Consider the case of the California woman who recently gave birth to octuplets. No doubt the popular outrage that has already been unleashed against her will only grow as taxpayers get clued in to the fact that they will bear the financial consequences of her decision:
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A big share of the financial burden of raising Nadya Suleman's 14 children could fall on the shoulders of California's taxpayers, compounding the public furor in a state already billions of dollars in the red.

Even before the 33-year-old single, unemployed mother gave birth to octuplets last month, she had been caring for her six other children with the help of $490 a month in food stamps plus Social Security disability payments for three of the youngsters. The public aid will almost certainly be increased with the new additions to her family.

Also, the hospital where the octuplets are expected to spend seven to 12 weeks has requested reimbursement from Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, for care of the premature babies, according to the Los Angeles Times. The cost has not been disclosed.

Word of the public assistance has stoked the furor over Suleman's decision to have so many children by having embryos implanted in her womb.

Now, imagine a society in which all of us - or most of us - are as dependent on government as Ms. Suleman and her children are. Or in which all companies depend on government as much as those who are currently on the receiving end of federally-provided bailout funds. Some would call such a society "progressive," but progressive for whom?

Government is intrusive enough when it exercises those duties that are intended to preserve liberty. (See U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8 for one listing of such duties.) How much more intrusive will it become if we grant it powers which by their nature stand opposed to liberty?