(H)istorians point to a constant threat of self-destructive breakdowns that seem to dot U.S. history, belying the thin veneer of civility that sits between entrepreneurial prosperity and mass chaos. The individualistic, egalitarian, anti-authoritarian values that have made the United States succeed have always been accompanied by an every-man-for-himself ethos that can destroy the system itself.Contrary to Saunders' point, the every-man-for-himself model he demonizes is actually a positive. There is nothing more valuable or cherished than reaping the benefits of what you make for yourself. How does the house get painted? How is the child educated? How are the bills paid after retirement? Not from or because of the state, or a political party that feels your pain, but from individuals who know that the good things in life come from individual involvement. I'm in it for me, that's how it works, and I'm not apologizing to anyone.
This recent natural disaster in the form of a hurricane reveals the man-made disaster of the welfare state that's been among us for quite a while now. The nominal human reaction to crisis is to respond to the situation by doing all possible to mitigate and overcome both immediate and long-term adversity. The problems that arise from chronic dependence are many; disregard for potential consequences, blaming others for mutual grief, and using the occurrence of disaster to take criminal advantage of your fellow man.
There are significant numbers of Americans who rely completely on the government on an otherwise sunny day. In the wake of a disaster, are they concerned about their homes and possessions? 'Course not, they maintain nothing of their own, nor do they have any stake in the collective fortress that is society. A life of dependence has seemingly relieved them from caring about their neighbors, local businesses and employers, or who has to foot the ultimate bill for their decision to live solely on handouts, with no insurance, 10 feet under sea level, right next door to the Gulf of Storm Manufacture. "Not my fault, man; Bush did this to me."
An entire class of people who are willing to settle for the very least from life, who perpetually gripe about others not doing enough for them, and then shoot at those who come to help is not a product of W, FEMA, Wal-Mart, Ashcroft, Lott, et al. It's a product of the Welfare Industrial Complex that has been a tumor growing on society for over 40 years.
From the perspective the Kool Aid drinkers in semi-socialist states like Canada, it's easy to demonize the freedom and individual pursuit of happiness enjoyed south of International Falls. The truth is that the downside of the hardships we must endure are a passive product of all the possibilities when the upside is so vast and accommodating.