Friday, January 29, 2010

The real problem with government handouts is they turn people into conservatives

Watched "Food Inc." the other night. One thing I couldn't stop thinking about during the movie was the massive government handouts given to farmers...and the intense political conservatism among many farmers. I would guess that on a per capita basis, farmers probably receive more government aid than any other large group.

Another group that would have to rate high on government handouts is seniors. Once you turn 65 in this country, you get single-payer health care and the option to receive a steady stream of income from the government (or you can wait until you're 70 and receive more). Yet if you threaten seniors with "big government", they'll run to the polls to elect whoever promises to keep that evil provider of their health care and income at bay.

Look at the states. Many states receive far more in government spending than they contribute in income taxes, and these same states almost invariably support conservative candidates promising "smaller government." One such state not only receives massive federal aid, but even "nationalizes" the oil revenues so every resident receives an income just for having a pulse...and yet they recently produced a VP candidate who warned of the evils of big government and "socialism."

Maybe it's time we give conservatives what they want. Let's pass the following laws:
-End agricultural subsidies. If farmers want smaller government, let's start with the handouts they receive.
-Cut Medicare spending in half and require that outlays for Medicare can not exceed receipts from payroll taxes. Seniors hate big government, so let's stop forcing them to receive medical care at taxpayer expense.
-Pass a law legislating that federal spending in any state must match the revenue collected from that state. This will reduce the size of government in the conservative states, and grow the government services available in liberal states. Both groups get what they want.

Conservatives like to claim that government hand-outs make people lazy and dependent. Perhaps there is something to that. But it seems the more predictable and dangerous effect of government handouts is it turns people into conservatives.

[For the record, I have no problem with honest conservatives who recognize the need for government, but simply believe that we should be suspicious of government intervention and be willing to cancel government programs that aren't working. This group seems to be harder and harder to find these days, as the hypocritical all-government-is-bad-government-except-for-my-handouts groups seem to be the voice of conservatives right now.]


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