January 25 2013
In his second inaugural address, President Obama assured us that those mean-spirited Republicans who say we have become “a nation of takers” are wrong.
In an oped headlined “Yes, Mr. President, We Are a Nation of Takers,” Nicholas Eberstadt lays out the astonishing figures. It’s a must-read piece, and the statistics will trouble your sleep. But it’s the moral hazard of the situation—which the president dismisses—that is most alarming:
The moral hazard embedded in the explosion of social-welfare programs is plain. Transfers funded by other people's money tend to foster a pernicious "something for nothing" mentality—especially when those transfers seem to be progressively and relentlessly growing, year by year. This "taker" mentality can only weaken civil society—even as it places ever-heavier burdens on taxpayers.
Generosity is a virtue, on that we can all agree with President Obama. But being generous with other people's money is not the same thing.