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The Welfare State’s Burden on Young Americans

In anticipation of my upcoming debate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Undercurrent just released an interview I did on my End the Debt Draft campaign. A sample:

Why do you say we are not our grandfather’s keeper? Who is if we’re not?

I do say we are not our grandfather’s keeper, which of course is a play on the traditional notion that we are our brother’s keeper. That notion more than anything is responsible for the welfare state. It says you don’t have a right to exist for your own sake and that other people’s need is a mortgage on your life. So, when older Americans claim they need you to pay for their retirement and health care, that’s your moral duty, even if it comes at the expense of your goals and dreams.

I am challenging that idea that we are our grandfather’s keeper. Obviously I don’t mean we should never help out our grandfather, or cooperate with others when our interests align. But welfare statists’ schemes are not about helping others but about exploiting others. Their view is not that it’s nice to help out others when you can — it’s that you are born in debt, in moral debt, to the needs of others.

Take that seriously for a minute. To live by that notion, it would mean that you don’t have a right to a single morsel of food so long as there is anyone anywhere on the globe who needs it more — even if your dinner was not stolen from others but earned by your own effort.

That is a monstrous idea, and the only reason we don’t perceive it as monstrous is because we don’t try to live by it day in and day out. Well, I say a moral principle that appears noble only because you cheat on it is not a true moral principle.

I agree with Ayn Rand: morality is not about carrying other people’s burdens. It’s about human achievement and human happiness. It’s about each of us being our own keeper, taking responsibility for our own life, and trying to make the most of it.

Whole interview here. For more information about this debate and my other upcoming events, see ARI’s events page.