I think Daniel J. Mitchell sums things up very nicely here. I feel about the same way.
Every time we post a story on crop subsidies there are at least a few people out there who jump up and down and swear that taxpayers paying to subsidize farmers (really agribusiness) isn’t welfare.
First, what is called “Right ” and “Left” is increasingly up for grabs. The winged political paradigm makes much less sense now that a significant part of the population self identifies as “libertarian,” which does not fit into the 20th Century way of looking at politics.
Saying this however we’ll go forward.
The question is whether those who advocate ever larger government have to get people “hooked” on welfare of one sort or another in order to win elections. Whether creating dependence on government is in itself a political strategy.
When I was in college one of the first op-eds I ever wrote was on Social Security in the college newspaper. I argued that with the the baby boom generation getting ready to retire (this was the late 1990s) we college students (of a smaller generation) faced a real problem. There were going to be an awful lot of retirees out there counting on Social Security with fewer people actively contributing to the general economy. (And to Social Security.)
The argument I made was of course not solely my own. Many people had made the argument before me and many people have since. I said that we needed to radically reform Social Security and phase it out over a few years.
For a large swathe of the middle of the country the recession lingers on big time. But a couple of other things to consider as we look at these numbers is the degree to which food stamps have become deeply ingrained in the very culture of some areas, and also the degree to which a low cost of living in some parts means that a larger portion of the population qualifies for such assistance. The two factors probably compound each other. Then a poor economy just amplifies the dependence even more.
I am all for the liberalization of marijuana laws, as I have written many times before. The prohibition of cannabis is simply wrong in my estimation for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is a crony capitalist construct. For years millions (really billions) have been made off of keeping weed illegal. From prison unions to Big Pharma lots of interests wanted to keep the inexpensive, relatively innocuous drug in the illegal category. I think legalization of pot is a good thing.