Part 1: FDR warned in 1935 that Social Welfare Programs could become narcotic-like

April 26, 2012

Not much attention has been given to a Cato report published on April 17, 2012 about Welfare and the War on Poverty by William A. Niskanen.  Although my print out of the article amounted to seventeen pages of material, it is worth taking the time and the resources needed to download and read in its entirety

Most telling is a statement made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his 1935 State of the Union message.  When speaking about his proposed social welfare program, Roosevelt added this ominous message (The Social Security Act was signed on August 14, 1935 as part of Roosevelt’s “New Deal”.).   
“The lessons of history, confirmed by evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence on relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber.  To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.  It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy.  It is a violation of the traditions of America.”

A revealing history of “Social Security:  The Roosevelt Administration” can be found at the following link.  The article was part of a lecture series given by Abe Bortz, the First Historian of the Roosevelt Administration and Social Security.  Bortz likewise believed Roosevelt’s philosophy to be one that did not demand that government do everything, but that “everything practicable” must be done.  Roosevelt likewise believed that this nation needed and demanded persistent experimentation.

In doing further research for my article, “Poverty and Dependency in America” aptly illustrates the effectiveness of welfare since first introduced by Roosevelt in his 1935 Social Security Act.

“Decades of government intervention has only made the problem worse.  Trillions of tax dollars have been spent fighting poverty, but instead of encouraging people to get jobs and get themselves out of a financial rut, the welfare system creates conditions favorable to pregnancy, childbirth and illegitimacy.  The “safety net’ has become a hammock for the laziest people in our society.” 

During Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” trillions of dollars were spent. The most widely accepted estimates seem to be come where between 5.0 and 5.4 trillion dollars, although their are estimates that go much higher.  It was also Lyndon Johnson who decided to dip into the Social Security Trust Fund and to add Medicare and Medicaid in 1967, which some Americans still consider to be a locked box, to use for government expenses.   

President Johnson also added Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 in his Social Security Act of 1965, as part of his”Great Society” program.

As we fast forward to 2013, it should be apparent that the narcotic of “continued dependence on relief” has become more destructive than first feared by Roosevelt back in 1935.   

Consider how our federal government is heralding a record number of food stamp distribution.  Meanwhile its Park Service Department is pleading  “Do not feed the animals” because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and not take care of themselves.  When chiding Newt Gingrich for calling Obama the “Food Stamp President”, Nancy Pelosi spoke of receiving food stamps as a “Badge of Honor.”  

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation objected to Gingrich’s labeling of Obama as the “Food Stamp President” on the grounds that a candidate shouldn’t just be focusing on food stamps, but on all of the expensive means-teated-governmment programs.  

Receiving much scrutiny and ridicule by the mainstream media, Democrat pundits and Democrat legislators is Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) budget proposal.  Ryan is being accused of shredding the safety net while giving tax cuts to the rich.   

In a recent revealing interview with The Brody File, Paul Ryan was asked to inform David Brody about his views concerning morality and the debt and how it played into the way he crafted his budget.…  

It was evident to me from reading other of Brody’s posts, that David Brody believes that government should supersede those entities which are closest to the people in assisting those who need help, such as local churches, private charities, and civic organizations. 

As such Brody was demanding of Ryan that he clarify and justify his budget in light of how it seeks to reform the social welfare programs of Medicare and Social Security that Brody considers sacrosanct, as do liberals, even if the facts tell them otherwise. 

Over the next 10 years it is estimated that the Ryan proposed budget would accomplish the following, demonstrating that at least Republicans are willing to address an overwhelming, impending financial crisis that is leading this nation toward the fate of Greece and other European welfare nations.  

  • Cut spending by $5.8 trillion
  • Cut taxes and other revenues by $4.2 trillion
  • Reduce budget deficits by $1.6 trillion
  • Significantly reduce federal debt as a share of GDP in 2012 and to 10% in 2050.  Debt projections for 2050 are based on the long-term analysis of  Ryan’s Budget Proposal by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 
  • Reform Medicare and Social Security.

Ryan’s response to David Brody as a Catholic is commensurate with what most on the Right perceive:

“The preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life, help people get out of poverty out onto life of independence.”

In tuning into Rush Limbaugh on Monday, April 23, just by chance I caught Paul Ryan discussing how his plans to reform Medicare and Social Security were addressed in his budget proposal. 

Ryan informed Rush listeners how one in six Americans live in poverty, that it isn’t the role of government to make poverty easier to live with, and that although he believes in a social safety net, it is the free enterprise system that will lift people out of poverty.  .   

One welfare program touted as being very successful by Ryan was former governor Tommy Thompson’s program know as “W-2” which was an employment program rather than a welfare program. This program is now the standard for welfare reform in the in American.  Ryan, however, told of 70 other welfare program which need to be reformed.…  


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