property. Rights to welfare—whether to food stamps, public housing, or medical care—create a legal obligation to help others. In contrast, the right to property, understood in the Lockean sense, merely obligates individuals to refrain from taking what is not theirs—namely, the life, liberty, or estate of another.
For the modern liberal, justice refers to dis- tributive justice or social justice. But “social jus- tice” is a vague term, subject to all sorts of abuse if made the goal of public policy. Indeed, when the role of government is to do good with other people’s money, there is no end to the mischief government can cause.
Many Americans seem to have lost sight of the idea that the role of government is not to instill values, but to protect those rights that are consistent with a society of free and responsible individuals. We have a right to pursue happi- ness, but there can be no legal guarantee that we will obtain it without depriving others of their liberty and their property.
When democracy becomes unlimited, the power of government becomes unlimited, and there is no end to the demands on the public purse. Democracy then becomes crude majoritar- ianism in which the “winners” are allowed to
“Under the pretense of morality, politicians and advocacy groups have made the ‘right to welfare’ the accepted dogma of a new state religion, in which politicians are the high priests and self-proclaimed ‘ enefac- tors’ of humanity.”
impose their will and vision of the “good soci- ety” on everyone else. In such a system politics becomes a fight of all against all, like the Hobbesian jungle, and nearly everyone is a net loser as ta es rise, deficits soar, and economic growth slows.
Bankruptcy f the Welfare State Most voters recognize that the welfare state is inefficient and that there is a built-in incentive to