A Critical Mass Of Dependency?

In “Blue State Blues: Fleeing Democrats Will Turn Texas Blue,” Joel Pollak provides a depressing view of the possible future electoral consequences of Texas’ explosive growth. His piece is well worth reading, even if it leaves one muttering, “Et tu, Lone Star State?”

But I was particularly struck by the second-to-last paragraph (emphasis added):

A likelier reason for the ongoing self-destruction of the big blue states is that they have passed a political tipping point, beyond which a despondent population despairs of being able to pull itself out of its economic and social malaise and keeps voting for more government in the hope of delaying the inevitable collapse.

This is a critical point; and it makes on a macro level an argument that I have made many times at the micro level, albeit in a rather inchoate and abbreviated form.

I’ve often heard it said on Twitter that once things get really bad, and government so interjects itself into every aspect of our lives that society reaches a tipping point of dysfunction, that Americans will largely reject those impositions and return to a mindset motivated by liberty and self-reliance. While it is an appealing idea–that the pendulum, once it reaches an apogee of dependence, will swing back toward more traditional American values animated by a rejection of overbearing government and the entitlement worldview–that argument seems to me to reject basic human nature.

Call it doubling down out of desperation.

Or call it dependency breeds dependency:

A new study explores the phenomenon of inter-generational welfare and finds that children of parents on welfare increase their participation over the next five years by 6% and over the next 2 years by 12%. “We find strong evidence of a welfare culture, where welfare use in one generation causes welfare use in the next generation,” write the authors of “Family Welfare Cultures,” published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Add to that learned helplessness on a macro level (inculcated by the dependency culture); a crumbling private sector increasingly bearing the burden of paying for that dependency culture (and more and more geared toward enriching elites who have political clout); the erosion of self-reliance and liberty as those values are unlearned over time by a ever-increasing segment of society; and one suspects that the vestigial remains of the entrepreneurial impulse will more and more take the form of criminal violence that is utterly disconnected from morality.

But in the short term, on a micro level, an anemic “jobless recovery” tends to breed desperation, even in those philosophically opposed to dependency in the abstract, and the line of least resistance is availing oneself of the “safety net”–just for now, don’t you know.

And the spiral continues.


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