Townhall | Dennis Prager | Sep. 1, 2009
Those of us who oppose a massive increase in the role the national government plays in health care (“ObamaCare”) do so because we fear the immense and unsustainable national debt it would incur and because we are certain that medical care in America would deteriorate. But there is a bigger reason most of us oppose it: We believe that the bigger the government becomes, the smaller the individual citizen becomes.
Here are five reasons why bigger government makes less impressive people.
1. People who are able to take care of themselves and do so are generally better than people who are able to take care of themselves but rely on others. Of course, there are times when some people have absolutely no choice and must rely on others to take care of them. Life is tragic and some people, despite their best efforts and their commitment to being a responsible person, must have others support them.
Even if one believes, as the left does by definition, that the ideal society is one in which the state takes care of as many of our needs as possible, one must acknowledge that this has deleterious effects on many, if not most, citizens’ moral character. The moment one acknowledges that the more one takes care of oneself, the more developed is his or her character, one must acknowledge that a bigger state diminishes its citizens’ characters.
Presumably one might argue that there is no relationship between character development and taking responsibility for oneself. But to do so is to turn the concept of character, as it has been understood throughout Judeo-Christian and Western history, on its head. The essence of good character is to care of oneself and then take of others who cannot take care of themselves.
2. The more people come to rely on government, the more they develop a sense of entitlement — an attitude characterized by the belief that one is owed (whatever the state provides and more). This is a second big government blow to character development because it has at least three terrible consequences:
First, the more one feels entitled, the less one believes he has to work for anything. Why work hard if I can look to the state to give much of what I need, and, increasingly, much of what I want? Second, the more one feels entitled, the less grateful one feels. This is obvious: The more one expects to be given, the less one is grateful for what one is given. Third, the more entitled and the less grateful one feels, the angrier one becomes. The opposite of gratitude is not only ingratitude, it is anger. People who do not get what they think they are entitled to become angry.
3. People develop disdain for work.
One of the effects of the welfare state on vast numbers of European citizens is disdain for work. This is in keeping with Marx’s view of utopia as a time when people will work very little and devote their large amount of non-working time writing poetry and engaging in other such lofty pursuits. Work is not regarded by the left as ennobling. It is highly ennobling in the American value system, however.
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