Historic Views on Government – Bandow

Honest opinion about government from Douglas Bandow:

[T]he conventional wisdom is that the only alternative to a government-run, taxpayer-financed system is private charity, which would inevitably allow millions of needy to "fall through the cracks." Thus, the question in the minds of most public officials is, what kind of public system should we use?…
   In the early years of the American republic, people created an effective, community-based safety net, one that relied on personal involvement rather than bureaucratic action.
   In fact, many different forms of social organization have been used by different societies at different times to provide what is today called "welfare." In some societies, the extended family or kin group is the primary locus of providing a "safety net."
   In other cases it comes through the church—the Mormons, for instance. Similarly, in Islamic society welfare is financed by alms-giving, mandatory for Muslims, but the program is only organized rather than run by the state.
   Perhaps the most interesting form of welfare institution in the West, at least to those concerned about individual liberty and personal independence, is collective self-help, or mutual aid as it is more commonly called. Coexisting with traditional charity, mutual aid was the dominant form of welfare up into the 1920s….
   …History provides us with numerous effective and voluntary alternatives to today's public system, but, unfortunately, it gives us few lessons on how to convince policy-makers…to begin shifting the responsibility from the public to the private sector.
   "Welfare reform has become a forgotten issue," Oct. 21, 1992

A former aid to President Ronald Reagan and Special Assistant to the President for Policy Development under Reagan, Douglas Bandow is a nationally syndicated columnist and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute (since 1984). Bandow, who holds a law degree from Stanford, was an editor at Inquiry Magazine and a deputy representative to the United Nation's Conference on the Law of the Sea. He edited U.S. Aid to the Developing World (1985).

Quotation and short bio from The Quotable Conservative: The Giants of Conservatism on Liberty, Freedom, Individual Responsibility, and Traditional Values. Rod L. Evans and Irwin M. Berent, editors. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Publishing, 1996.

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