1. The bigger the government, the less the citizens do for one another. If the state will take care of me and my neighbors, why should I? This is why Western Europeans, people who have lived in welfare states far longer than Americans have, give less to charity and volunteer less time to others than do Americans of the same socioeconomic status.
The greatest description of American civilization was written in the early 19th century by the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville. One of the differences distinguishing Americans from Europeans that he most marveled at was how much Americans -- through myriad associations -- took care of one another. Until President Franklin Roosevelt began the seemingly inexorable movement of America toward the European welfare state -- vastly expanded later by other Democratic presidents -- Americans took responsibility for one another and for themselves far more than they do today. Churches, Rotary Clubs, free-loan societies and other voluntary associations were ubiquitous. As the state grew, however, all these associations declined. In Western Europe, they have virtually all disappeared.
2. The welfare state, though often well intended, is nevertheless a Ponzi scheme. Conservatives have known this for generations. But now, any honest person must acknowledge it. The welfare state is predicated on collecting money from today's workers in order to pay for those who paid in before them. But today's workers don't have enough money to sustain the scheme, and there are too few of them to do so. As a result, virtually every welfare state in Europe, and many American states, like California, are going broke.
3. Citizens of liberal welfare states become increasingly narcissistic. The great preoccupations of vast numbers of Brits, Frenchmen, Germans and other Western Europeans are how much vacation time they will have and how early they can retire and be supported by the state.
4. The liberal welfare state makes people disdain work. Americans work considerably harder than Western Europeans, and contrary to liberal thought since Karl Marx, work builds character.
5. Nothing more guarantees the erosion of character than getting something for nothing. In the liberal welfare state, one develops an entitlement mentality -- another expression of narcissism. And the rhetoric of liberalism -- labeling each new entitlement a "right" -- reinforces this sense of entitlement.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”