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February 11, 2014

Patrick Buchanan: Is it the end of the line for the welfare state in America?

The Congressional Budget Office did not exactly say Obamacare would cost the nation 2.5 million jobs.

But what it did say is vindication of what conservatives have preached since Barry Goldwater stood in the pulpit 50 years ago.  The more liberal the welfare state, the greater the disincentive to work and the more ruinous the impact upon a nation's work ethic.

The CBO has just given us a statistical measure of that truth.

The Obamacare subsidies, it said, will cause some to quit work, others to cut back on the hours they work and others to hold off going to work, so as not to lose the benefits.

The cumulative impact of all these decisions will be equal to the loss of 2.5 million jobs by 2024.

A devastating blow to an economy where the labor force participation is at a 30-year low.

The CBO has put a number of what everyone knows to be true: If people don't have to work to provide the needs of their daily lives, some will drop out and become permanent charges on the pubic purse, deadbeats.

The father of modern liberalism, FDR, never disputed this.

As he warned in 1935, welfare is "a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

However, a related and larger question is raised by the CBO:

If Obamacare alone will cost the equivalent of 2.5 million lost jobs to the U.S. economy, what is the impact of our entire welfare state on the vitality and dynamism of the U.S. labor force?

Yet, if we judge the Great Society by its goal, providing the poor with their basic family needs so they can go out into the marketplace and find jobs and join their fellow Americans, it has been, writes Rector, “a catastrophe.”

Scores of millions of Americans are today less able to achieve self-sufficiency through work than were their grandparents.

And by providing for all the needs that the father used to provide for his family, the Great Society has helped make fathers superfluous. We have now a vast underclass of scores of millions who are dependent upon government for most or all of their basic needs, a class among whom many, if not most, have lost the ability to survive without government money, food and shelter.

This is something new in America, something we did not know with the Irish boat people of the 1840s, the Okies in Dust Bowl days or during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Taxpayers are rebelling, budgets are falling dangerously out of balance, and the welfare state is beginning to buckle under the load.

Perhaps T. S. Eliot was right:

"This is how the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper."

Patrick J. Buchanan is a conservative columnist and author.

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