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UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who "passionately" believes in the welfare system, is lashing out at parents who are raising their children through social welfare programs. He thinks the issue is a "dependency culture." He blames people's values. The UK's culture of welfare dependency has been called a "national crisis" and a "sin" (on top of the other "great sins: wealth without work; commerce without morality; politics without principle." Where did such a dependency culture come from?

On the surface, this particular social welfare debate is between those who claim that it is their "right" to have children and those who claim it is their "right" to not have their hard-earned money taken to pay for someone else's children. However, at a more fundamental level, one of the key issues to all social welfare programs is moral hazard. "Moral hazard is the incentive of a person A to use more resources than he otherwise would have used, because he knows, or believes he knows, that someone else B will provide some or all of these resources. The important point is that this occurs against B's will and that B is unable to sanction this expropriation immediately."

The moral hazards that result from social welfare programs can be seen many places, such as with families who have more children than they can afford. No doubt it is difficult to take care of children without a job or appropriate financial resources. But the national economic implications of social welfare programs to support such difficulties are enormous. Social welfare programs inherently lead to long-term dependence on the government. Additionally, welfare dependence harms the very children they intended to help.

In his well-known, anti-socialism book The Road to Serfdom, "lukewarm" capitalist Friedrich Hayek wrote:

THERE CAN BE no doubt that most of those in the democracies who demand a central direction of all economic activity still believe that socialism and individual freedom can be combined. Yet socialism was early recognized by many thinkers as the gravest threat to freedom...

To allay these suspicions and to harness to its cart the strongest of all political motives - the craving for freedom - socialists began increasingly to make use of the promise of a "new freedom." Socialism was to bring "economic freedom," without which political freedom was "not worth having."

To make this argument sound plausible, the word "freedom" was subjected to a subtle change in meaning. The word had formerly meant freedom from coercion, from the arbitrary power of other men. Now it was made to mean freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us. Freedom in this sense is, of course, merely another name for power or wealth. The demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for a redistribution of wealth.

Hayek argued that central planners "must create power - power over men wielded by other men - of a magnitude never before known." What are we seeing today? Government control of and welfare to corporations and families is growing significantly. Humorously, some are very angry that government care isn't increasing enough. With such government growth comes social consequences.

But there is a growing minority who are no longer remaining silent. They are claiming that welfare programs are incentivizing bad behaviors. And they are correct. For example, we've seen the damage that results from the moral hazards of corporate welfare (e.g., big banks taking high-risk actions knowing full-well that the government will use taxpayer money to bail them out when problems occur).

Is there a difference between social welfare programs and corporate welfare programs? Should jobless people without financial resources not be allowed to have children? Should the United Kingdom implement something similar to China's one-child policy? What behaviors are proper for a government to socially engineer? Are there any differences between the deserving and undeserving poor? Do welfare programs create a vicious circle of poverty? Why should you be required to pay for other people's children out of your taxes? Should having children be a political issue? Should there be a limit as to how much in welfare a person receives? Is it always moral to help the poor?

David Cameron yesterday took a swipe at feckless parents who expect to raise their children on state handouts.

In an intervention that threatens to reopen the row with the Archbishop of Canterbury over the morality of Coalition policy, the Prime Minister suggested it was wrong for the workshy to expect the taxpayer to fund their lifestyles without limit.

Speaking on ITV's This Morning programme he said he wanted to change the 'values' of the nation to reverse the dependency culture that flourished under Labour.

He said: 'The biggest change I want to make as Prime Minister is to change the values where if people do the right thing, work hard and try to support their families we reward them and if people do the wrong thing they get punished.'

And he said he shared the frustration of hard-working families who complain others have children they cannot afford, knowing the taxpayer will foot the bill...

'I get people saying "we waited before we got married until we could afford it, we waited till we could afford to have children, we waited and then we managed to get a house and I see someone down the road do none of those responsible things and they get put up in a council house, they have as many children as they want. They're not thinking like I'm thinking".'

David Cameron warns feckless parents who expect to raise children on benefits


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Jun 16, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=579

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