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when Ale is de Tocqueville, in his great study of Dem cracy in America, wrote,

When an American asks for the coopera- tion of his fellow citizens it is seldom refused, and I have often seen it afforded spontaneously and with great good will. . . . If some great and sudden calamity befalls a family, the purses of a thousand strangers are at once willingly opened, and small but numerous donations pour in to relieve their distress.

Welfare reform is in the air, but the elimina- tion of the welfare state is still considered heresy by most politicians. They consider themselves “benefactors,” albeit with other people’s money. Yet the role of government is not to legislate morality—an impossible and dangerous goal— or even to “empower people”; the role of gov- ernment is to allow people the freedom to grow into responsible citizens and to e ercise their inalienable rights.

During the past 50 years, the welfare state (the modern liberal’s conception of “good gov- ernment”) has divorced freedom from responsi- bility and created a false sense of morality. Good intentions have led to bad policy. The moral state of the union can be improved by following two simple rules: “Do no harm” and “Do good at your own e pense.” Those rules are perfectly consistent in the private moral universe. It is only when the second rule is replaced by “Do good at the e pense of others” that social harmony turns into chaos as interest groups compete at the pub- lic trough for society’s scarce resources.

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