Welfare and Warfare, Paying the Price for the Baby Boomers Generation
By: James Quinn
Jul 19, 2010
Most people in America associate the Democratic Party with spending on welfare programs and the Republican Party with spending on warfare. Until reading Niall Ferguson’s brilliant The Ascent of Money, I never realized that welfare and warfare have gone hand in hand for over a century. The immortal German warmonger Otto von Bismarck was the first politician to introduce social insurance legislation in the 1880s. His reasoning was not strictly humanitarian. According to Bismarck, “A man who has a pension for his old age is much easier to deal with than a man without that prospect.” Bismarck was a shrewd politician who realized that when you provide people something for nothing, they will vote for you.
When you go to war with France, a population sedated with entitlements is more easily malleable and controllable. David Lloyd George rolled out pensions and national insurance in Great Britain prior to World War I in order to win votes. Politicians began a century of addiction to welfare programs, as the poor voted for those that promised them the most. The world has now reached its limit of unfunded promises. The financial crisis in the last two years was caused by politicians throughout the world promising benefits to their citizens and paying for these benefits with borrowed money. Margaret Thatcher aptly summed up what has happened:
“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
The world has run out of other people’s money.