Dependency Pays Off In Votes


Thomas Sowell writes that the left’s conflation of compassion with big government programs has less to do with actual compassion than vote-buying.

Although the big word on the left is “compassion,” the big agenda on the left is dependency. The more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state.

Optimistic Republicans who say that widespread unemployment and record numbers of people on food stamps hurt President Obama’s re-election chances are overlooking the fact that people who are dependent on government are more likely to vote for politicians who are giving them handouts.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood that, back during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was re-elected in a landslide after his first term, during which unemployment was in double digits every single month, and in some months was over 20 percent.

The time is long overdue for optimistic Republicans to understand what FDR understood long ago, and what Barack Obama clearly understands today. Dependency pays off in votes — unless somebody alerts the taxpayers who get stuck with the bill.

Earlier today I responded to criticism for conservatives on opposition to entitlements from Grand Forks Herald editor Tom Dennis pointing out that you can’t applaud the social impact of programs like Social Security while ignoring the economic cost. Today Social Security represent such an enormous transfer of wealth from young to old that younger generations may never be able to afford to accumulate the sort of savings it would take to be self-sufficient after retirement.

Yet, we’re told that pointing out this fact isn’t compassionate. Is it that it’s not compassionate? Or that it’s inconvenient, politically, to the goals of the left?

It’s true that conservatives tend to be much more generous with their own time, talent and resources than liberals. “When an empirical study of the actual behavior of American conservatives and liberals was published in 2006, it turned out that conservatives donated a larger amount of money, and a higher percentage of their incomes (which were slightly lower than liberal incomes) to philanthropic activities,” writes Sowell. “Conservatives also donated more of their time to philanthropic activities and donated far more blood than liberals.”

Yet, because conservatives oppose mandatory collective action through higher taxes that pay for ever more expansive government programs we’re not caring or compassionate.

On what planet does that make sense?

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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