SOCIALISM AND THE NANNY STATE
By Debra Rae
October 31, 2007
As a little girl, I humored myself with the fantasy that I had morphed into a fully-grown “Mommy.” This I accomplished with a dab of lipstick and a dollop of rouge. Having donned my Mom’s hat, cape, sunglasses and gloves, I felt satisfied that my charade was reasonably convincing—that is, until a couple in the car parallel to ours pointed and laughed as if to say, “Look at that funny little girl playing dress-up!” With that, I slid in embarrassment to the floor. No matter how grown up I tried to appear, the “real me” could not be camouflaged.
In The Liberal Mind, board-certified forensic psychiatrist Dr. Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr. systematically analyzes yet another dress-up sham. An adult by all appearances, the fully grown man succumbs to the Nanny State’s unremitting invitation to childlike dependency. So disposed, the welfare junkie is reduced to a babe, perpetually nursed by his Nanny State. In effect, radical liberal collectivism infantilizes people and “parentilizes” Big Government that presumes always to know what’s best.
By undermining civilized liberty, arguably the West’s most notable achievement, the “man-child” masquerade bypasses “cute.” Sadly, those who choose to be victims and to remain ignominious wards of the State forfeit individual autonomy with freedom to pursue life, liberty, property and happiness. All too often, when an alleged victim’s poor judgment bites back, government demands that productive, tax-paying adults bail out complete strangers—this, at considerable cost to their own well being. Forced altruism cannot help but shrink incentive to perform, reduce capital to invest and demoralize those who themselves have embraced the daunting responsibilities and accompanying risks of adult competency.
Even more, the dysfunctional collectivist family spawns societal ills—for one, economic irresponsibility by encouraging adult overdependence on the parental State. This troubling arrangement promotes moral laxity as time-honored values—e.g., personal autonomy and integrity—acquiesce to ever-evolving progressive insights that are adjudicated by supremacist judges. When the dysfunctional “man-child” kowtows to crippling dependency and the competent adult is coerced into indentured servitude, class conflict between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” ensues.
Primarily known for his work in moral philosophy and as the first systematic economist with his magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith envisioned administration of the universe by a benevolent God. Smith’s broadly acclaimed “invisible hand theory” contends that, while striving for personal gain, each individual offhandedly benefits public interest by creating division of labor within a free market economy that encourages free exchange of goods and services.
Competent society rightly recognizes and, then, provides appropriate care and sustenance for fellow citizens legitimately impaired by disability, mental or physical infirmity, and/or developmental limitations at either end of the life spectrum. However, others of satisfactory ability have no rightful claim to mandated altruism. Nor should they demand an endless array of cost-free benefits to compensate for alleged societal ills, whether real or imagined. Reverse discrimination does no justice to racial prejudice, ethnic and gender discrimination. The same holds true for folks who aren’t slaves to demand reparations from strangers who themselves oppose slavery!
Feeding masses at some deceptively endless public trough is worse than wishful thinking. It empowers the State to tether, tax, intimidate and take to task gainful, tax-paying citizens. At the same time, it indulges and exploits what Dr. Rossiter calls “residual infantile longings for a return to effortless gratification in the care of an omnipotent benefactor.” Unfortunately, in administering parental “benefits,” Big Government more often than not leaves a trail of waste, malfeasance and ineptness.
Statist intellectuals clearly know the truth about Mao’s reign of terror, and they surely can see what socialism did to Russia, Germany, France and Spain; nonetheless, they refuse to credit free economies for superiority over socialism at promoting the common good. Reverend Robert A. Sirico challenges comparison between North and South Korea, East and West Germany before the Berlin Wall fell, Hong Kong and mainland China before reforms, and/or Cuba and other countries of Latin America (Imprimis, May 2007).
Despite vocal opponents, new Wal-Marts spring up daily and thereby create many millions of jobs worldwide; as a result, global consumers enjoy considerable choice from a treasure chest of affordably priced goods. People of mostly moderate incomes (not the State) own Wal-Marts. As shareholders, many worker-capitalists labor hard and invest well. No doubt Adam Smith would agree with Thomas Aquinas that “the good pours itself out.”
No whining to a Nanny State required.
It is “no accident,” observes Dr. Rossiter, “that the greatest political system in human history was founded by devout Christians on the assumption that its citizens would live by Judeo-Christian ideals”—i.e., the Golden Rule. Remember the Mayflower Compact (AD 1620)? In it, pilgrims invoked the name of God and established the preeminent purpose of the first colony—that being, to advance the Christian faith.
Decades later, a leading public educator and founding father, Noah Webster, recognized this very faith as foundation for our nation’s public life—this, for good reason. Alongside Divine enablement, “human instincts can be controlled only where the constraints of individual conscience are adequate, cultural morality supports their control, and society’s laws deter their criminal expression” (Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., M.D., The Liberal Mind).
Through the revolving door of evolving contemporary values, however, childlike moral immoderation typically trumps mature moral moderation. Accordingly, today’s Olympic-class consumers all too often indulge in what they cannot afford—even if they have to beg, whine, steal or borrow to get what they want. The perpetual child is “worth it” after all; and convenience, comfort and emotion drive the childlike masses. This being the case, syndicated columnist George F. Will detects “no trace of the ‘50s innocence at the mall” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 26 November 2006).
But then, who’s to say what’s right or wrong anyway? The prevailing secular worldview elevates no moral code as superior over another—certainly not that of Christianity over, say, Islam. This is true even though in the largely Sunni Muslim nation of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov ordered the massacre of hundreds in the city of Andijan. Countless more in Sudan and Nigeria have suffered displacement and torture at the hands of radicals hell-bent to impose Islamic law over all.
While the morally relative liberal would be hard pressed to dismiss such travesties as neither right nor wrong, he readily castigates the traditional Christian for applying his “spurious moral compass” to fornication and adultery; lying and pot-smoking; profanity and pornography. This, of course, begs the question: “How can either the Muslim radical or the Christian moralist be ‘wrong’ if moral distinctions are bogus?”
Fact is moral distinctions are legitimate and needful. Dr. Rossiter reminds us that a society’s very character is reflected in whether or not its people are governed by the rule of law grounded in individual liberty rights. To revere ordered liberty, he maintains, is to commit to standards of morality and ethics.
Lake Tawakoni State Park ranger Freddie Gowen recently happened upon a creepy-crawly, 200-yard stretch of sprawling spider web east of Dallas. Ensnaring millions of mosquitoes, it blanketed seven large trees and dozens of bushes, not to mention a nature trail (The Seattle Times, 31 August 2007).
In contemplating this phenomenon, I can’t help but reflect on the vast web of our nation’s supremacist judiciary—most specifically, its abuse of our national civil forfeiture law.
What makes a transaction lawful should be mutual consent, not “just compensation”; however, innate and inalienable freedoms have fallen prey to the far-reaching web of radical liberalism embodied in judicial activism—the first duty for which has become support of collective purposes. To this end, government is increasingly authorized to regulate affairs (and property) of its collective family to serve the so-called greater good.
Cato the Younger once warned against allowing “the greater” to sell interests of “the less-er.” This enables the former to divide illicitly-acquired estates among themselves. Published in the London Journal from 1720-1723, Cato’s widely read letters served as the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.
Although the enforceable right to own property remains the greatest single protector of individual freedom, preservation of property no longer defines the primary business of government. Property reassignment—i.e., wealth redistribution—actually favors citizens with disproportionate resources and clout within the political process. All the while the rich get richer (and the poor, poorer), our shrinking affluent middle class is threatened with extinction. Over time, private property rights and access to public lands have become what associate editor Peyton Knight calls “endangered species” (Insider’s Report, February 2001).
Autonomous, albeit steerage-class immigrants streamed through Ellis Island in New York Harbor from 1892-1943—most in search of new-frontier freedom and opportunities. Even today, vast numbers of the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” continue to rush our golden shores. Problem is, all too many of them look for an omnipotent benefactor to kiss their “owies” and, thus, ease their pain.
Regretfully, with help of judicial activists and their liberal cohorts, “the land of the free and home of the brave” is fast becoming the land of the childlike free-loader and the home of his indulgent Nanny State.
Ideals of Western society reflect an intuitively accurate grasp of what is required for nations and their citizens to thrive. For example, the decidedly Western ideal of rugged individualism gives legs to what author-attorney James Hirsen references as “the grand experiment we call America,” whose “divinely inspired and uniquely political perspective” holds that individual rights do not come from government. They are endowed by the Creator Himself.
From Puritan times to the eve of the Civil War, rugged individuals within the church worked for betterment of Western society. Long before America’s infrastructure of interstate highways, bridges and motels (not to forget Starbucks!), apostles on horseback and Methodist circuit riders courageously forged the rough frontier. In doing so, Francis Asbury was said to have worn out six faithful horses! Trail blazers, as these, are rightly credited with how the West was won.
For his forthright, individualistic style of preaching, Charles Finney offended many who gathered to hear him. But this did not thwart waves of spiritual awakenings that spread not only the Gospel, but the cause of higher education as well. Historian Whitney R. Cross linked Finney to the “lawyers, real-estate magnates, millers, manufacturers and commercial tycoons who led the parade of the regenerated.” The social impact was felt in the anti-slavery movement generated by the Second Great Awakening. Movements for prison reform, child labor laws, women’s rights and inner-city missions likewise rode respective waves of spiritual revival.
In the 19th century, a great network of volunteer societies (Benevolent Empire) organized to attack social problems (Christian History, Volume VIII, No. 3, Issue 23). Their collective efforts advanced the moral imperative to cooperate voluntarily as responsible, competent, ruggedly individualistic adults—not as “a great corps of mutual servants.”
To ensure freedom and peace for all citizens, society must provide an overarching social structure. But a flourishing, free society never undermines legitimate rights of the individual for the elusive good of the State. It does, however, acknowledge dependence toward God. “One nation under God” presupposes generous acts of altruism; but societal goodness predictably springs from the voluntary expression of living faith—never from coercive government.
Charles Sykes has observed that “American life is increasingly characterized by the plaintive insistence, I am a victim.” This is because of my status as “worker”—or my state of unemployment. Perhaps it’s because I am a minority—e.g., a woman—or simply “the little guy.” No matter, I perceive myself as oppressed, disenfranchised and/or exploited and, therefore, entitled.
Life’s hard reality is that inequalities are inherent in nature. Who among us has not, at some point, been counted as poor, weak, sick, wronged or cheated? Justice is not based solely on need, inequality, disadvantage or suffering. Simply put, all of us are “born into trouble as the sparks fly upward.” The Bible makes it clear that rains of blessings and of adversity fall on the just and the unjust alike.
When one’s “just due” remains unrealized, the affluent, therefore presumed-to-be selfish are not necessarily to blame. Only a spoiled finger-pointing child is perpetually demanding and chronically resentful. Mature enough adults make no rightful claims to the fruit of another’s labors. They accept that, despite titanic claims, Big Government is ill equipped to eradicate poverty, ignorance, ill health and all other forms of social injustice.
In an equitable, free society, no one is exempt from constraints that others must respect. Similarly, none is exempt from exercising rights of self-ownership, first possession, ownership/exchange/transference of property, self-defense, just compensation/restitution, and limited access to another’s property in emergencies. Even a disabled, minimally competent adult can enjoy a life of his own.
Freedom-lovers take the bull by the horns, accepting that life’s inherent inequalities are not injustices to be remedied by the parental State. They understand that, when the State forfeits individual rights to satisfy group demands, productive adults suffer loss of earned benefits, just title, freedom of exchange and due process. This, they oppose.
No matter how they are packaged, liberal entitlements often damage the poor and perpetuate poverty by treating entire groupings of citizens as if they were helpless children. Most agree that human slavery is egregious; but, when the adult “child” becomes a willing “slave” to the Nanny State, no one’s the better for it.
© 2007 Debra Rae - All Rights Reserved
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Daughter of an Army Colonel, Debra graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa. She then completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Washington. These were followed by Bachelor of Theology and Master of Ministries degrees-both from Pacific School of Theology.
While a teacher in Kuwait, Debra undertook a three-month journey from the Persian Gulf to London by means of VW "bug"! One summer, she tutored the daughter of Kuwait's Head of Parliament while serving as superintendent of Kuwait's first Vacation Bible School.
Having authored the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural -Isms, Debra speaks to Christian and secular groups alike. Her radio spots air globally. Presently, Debra co-hosts WOMANTalk radio with Sharon Hughes and Friends, and she contributes monthly commentaries to Changing Worldviews and NewsWithViews.com. Debra calls the Pacific Northwest home.
Web Site: www.debraraebooks.com
In 1989, for example, "60 Minutes" linked childhood cancer to a chemical used to regulate ripening of apples. Understandably, millions of parents panicked; and its manufacturer pulled Alar off the market. Subsequent tests by the National Cancer Institute and the EPA negated that claim.