Dennis Prager
In the contemporary world, where left-wing attitudes are regarded as normative, it is a given that capitalism, with its free market and profit motive, emanates from and creates selfishness, while socialism, the welfare state and the "social compact," as it is increasingly referred to, emanate from and produce selflessness.

The opposite is the truth.

Whatever its intentions, the entitlement state produces far more selfish people -- and therefore, a far more selfish society -- than a free-market economy. And once this widespread selfishness catches on, we have little evidence that it can be undone.

Here's an illustration: Last year, President Obama addressed a large audience of college students on the subject of health care. At one point in his speech, he announced that the students will now be able to remain on their parents' health insurance plan until age 26. I do not ever recall hearing a louder, more thunderous and sustained applause than I did then. I do not believe that if the president had announced that a cure for cancer had been discovered that the applause would have been louder or longer.

It is depressing to listen to that applause. To be told that one can be dependent on one's parents until age 26 should strike a young person who wants to grow up as demeaning, not as something to celebrate.

Throughout American history, the natural -- or at least hoped for -- inclination of a young person was to become a mature adult, independent of Mom and Dad, and to become a grown up. But in the welfare state, this is no longer the case.

In various European countries, it is increasingly common for young men to live with their parents into their 30s and even longer. Why not? In the welfare state, there is no shame in doing so.

The welfare state enables -- and thereby produces -- people whose preoccupations become more and more self-centered as time goes on:

How many benefits will I receive from the state?

How much will the state pay for my education?

How much will the state pay for my health care and when I retire?

What is the youngest age at which I can retire?

How much vacation time can I get each year?

How many days can I call in sick and get paid?

How many months can I claim paternity or maternity care money?

The list gets longer with each election of a left-wing party. And each entitlement becomes a "right" as the left transforms entitlements into the language of "rights" as quickly as possible.


Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.
 
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