The economic lesson is this: Human nature has demonstrated that if government can squeeze more money out of its citizens without having to cut wasteful spending, it will; and if citizens can get other people's money without having to earn it, they will become addicted to government and come to regard the sustenance as an entitlement.
Compare the huge number of ineffective and wasteful government programs with The Marshall Plan of 1948, which established the Economic Cooperation Administration, the intent of which was to provide $13.3 billion in U.S. aid to Western European countries to rebuild industry and put people back to work after World War II. Much of Europe is in crisis today because it has become a victim of its own welfare state. Instead of industry, there is indolence. Economies are in trouble because government, not the individual, has become supreme. France just elected a socialist president, rejecting necessary austerity. The European gravy train has derailed.
In America, too, many of our domestic programs merely sustain people in poverty rather than help them to become self-sufficient. Liberal politicians, especially, think this is perfectly fine because addiction to government means addiction to them and to the perpetuation of their liberal agenda.
The moral lesson is this: When government takes money from people who earn it, government has a responsibility to spend it wisely and in ways that achieve the ends set down in our founding documents. Chief among these is that noble sentiment found in the Preamble to the Constitution about promoting "the general welfare." By "spreading the wealth around," rather than teaching and encouraging individuals to build wealth for themselves, government robs people of the joy produced by human initiative; indeed it takes from them one of the building blocks that makes us unique among living things: the dignity and reward of work.
The moral, political and economic lessons of the past are in fables and reality to teach the present and ensure a better future. By ignoring them, Europe and America risk repeating costly mistakes and suffering the consequences.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.
Showdown in Jackson Hole: The Fed Challenged on its Own Turf in Wyoming by Group Likely to Finally Start Dismantling it | Rachel Alexander