"$10,000 a year, and nothing more"

Sunday, March 26, 2006
Professor Charles Murray proposes "the Plan" to replace the current welfare state. Part of the justification:

"Throughout history until a few decades ago, the meaning of life for almost everyone was linked to the challenge of simple survival. Staying alive required being a contributing part of a community. Staying alive required forming a family and having children to care for you in your old age. The knowledge that sudden death could happen at any moment required attention to spiritual issues. Doing all those things provided deep satisfactions that went beyond survival.

"Life in an age of plenty and security requires none of those things. For the great majority of people living in advanced societies, it is easily possible to go through life accompanied by social companions and serial sex partners, having a good time, and dying in old age with no reason to think that one has done anything significant.

"If you believe that's all there is--that the purpose of life is to while away the time as pleasantly as possible--then it is reasonable to think that the purpose of government should be to enable people to do so with as little effort as possible. But if you agree with me that to live a human life can have transcendental meaning, then we need to think about how human existence acquires weight and consequence."


terrye said...

I have always wondered what people consider welfare. We all know that people who can work, should work. We all know that too much help can do more harm than good.


My mother lost her husband to cancer, her eye sight, had an aneurism, required 24 hour a day nursing care, lost her home, her savings, and ended up in a Nursing facility dependent on social security and medicare and veterans benefits. She chose none of that, but government did help her in the end.

I know that I could not pay the tens of thousands of dollars a year for her care and I could not quit work, or I would have been the one on welfare. For that matter my mother needed a kind of medical care no one but the very rich could have provided at home. So where does that leave people who really do need help? Or is this just a different thing entirely?

flenser said...

Thats a thoughtful article, brylun. Thanks for showcasing it. I'll have to read his book, although I can see it will make the small government side unhappy.

Syl said...


We do NOT live in anything resembling a welfare state in America.

I'll stop there before I say something I'll regret.

Syl said...

Social engineering at its finest. If you want America to not be America anymore, follow this man.

terrye said...


I was wondering just what people think a welfare state is. I was not trying to be facetious. I think that most people just think of able bodied people taking advantage of government programs. But then again, so many of the programs out there are not for the poor and people just expect them to be there.

I do think the French are living proof we need limits.

Syl said...

I do think the French are living proof we need limits.

And they're also the proof that we're not close to being 'there'.

But the reason we're not 'there' is the vigorous argument we have about it in America.

That's a good thing--no matter which side you land on.