IP-3-1998 (February 1998)
Author: Linda Gorman
At bottom, there are only two models of government. One gives the State the presumptive power to manage an individuals life. The other gives it to the individual. Throughout history State management has been by far been the most common model. In times past it was called “the divine right of kings,” in modern times it is called “socialism.” The founders of the United States broke with this tradition when they created a republic with a strictly limited government. In the American model, government was designed to serve individuals, not master them.
Americas unprecedented success in promoting the general welfare and individual well-being is a matter of historical record. Left to manage their own lives, individual Americans created a civilized society with unprecedented standards of living.
In contrast, the socialist model has been a dismal failure. As practiced in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, China, North Korea, Chile, Syria, Nazi Germany, and Vietnam, Socialist rule produced an estimated 100 million corpses and unparalleled collapses in living standards in this century alone. The softer variant now in use in Western Europe makes national governments responsible for providing housing, food, income, succoring for the sick, and rearing children. Amid rising crime rates and a fraying social fabric, Western Europes people are finding increases in the individual standard of living harder and harder to achieve.
Which brings us to one of the more puzzling aspects of U.S. public policy. Despite all of the evidence showing that people are worse off when government usurps individual responsibility, during the last 50 years government has gained unprecedented control over the lives of individual Americans. And despite all of the rhetoric to the contrary, the programs promoted by those in public life have generally shared one common result–they take responsibility from the individual and give it to the State.