More than a decade ago, the social scientist Charles Murray warned that the U.K. was fast developing an underclass similar to the one that plagued the U.S. in the 1960s and '70s. In the Sunday Times in 1996, Murray wrote, "Britain has a growing population of working-aged, healthy people who live in a different world from other Britons, who are raising their children to live in it, and whose values are now contaminating the life of entire neighborhoods -- which is one of the most insidious aspects of the phenomenon, for neighbors who don't share those values cannot isolate themselves."
Proof of the validity of Murray's thesis was evident on the streets of Tottenham, Manchester, Birmingham and other neighborhoods and cities this week. Thankfully, the U.S. has not yet succumbed totally to the lure of the welfare state. But the class-warfare rhetoric coming from the White House and liberals in Congress encourages the same kind of entitlement mentality that has infected the U.K.
It is not impossible to imagine an American future with a majority of children growing up in fatherless homes, dependent on government to provide for all of their needs, resentful of the rich and insistent on a larger share of wealth than they have earned. The phenomenon is rampant throughout Europe.
While the American people have, to date, eschewed fully embracing the welfare state, President Obama has tried his best to expand it under his tenure. The only thing that has stopped him has been a weak economy.
The riots in England should be a wake-up call, a reminder to Americans that their instincts in rejecting the welfare state are sound. But the only way to ensure that what has taken place in England and elsewhere in Europe won't happen here is to vote out of office those American politicians who embrace the welfare state.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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