No Debate over Welfare-Warfare State

Unfortunately, there has been no debate and discussion in the 2020 presidential race over the two greatest infringements on the liberty and well-being of the American people — the welfare state and the national-security state. That shouldn’t surprise us though given that both Republicans and Democrats, along with the mainstream press, are so wedded to the New Deal/Great Society revolution that began in the 1930s and the national-security state conversion that took place in the 1940s.

At least Republican Ronald Reagan would periodically take swipes at Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, pointing out how this entire socialist paradigm had done so much harm to America. Reagan could also eloquently point out the virtues of the free market and voluntary charity.

Not Donald Trump. He is as committed to the New Deal/Great Society paradigm, especially its crown jewels of Social Security and Medicare, as Joe Biden is. That’s why we have heard not a whit of criticism of the New Deal and that Great Society programs and how they transformed American life for the worse.

It’s no different with the national-security state way of life that America adopted in the 1940s. Oh, sure, there has been plenty of discussion about ending the so-called forever wars. But both Trump and Biden have been notably silent about what to do with the governmental apparatus that is responsible for waging these wars, which consists of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

That silence shouldn’t surprise us. Both Trump and Biden believe in the national-security state. Oh, sure, they might propose this reform or that reform, or they might call for a reduction in the rate of increase in military spending, but rest assured: Whoever is elected president is never going to question the existence of the national-security state apparatus itself and advocate the restoration of a limited-government republic, which was America’s founding governmental system.

Even Republican President Eisenhower warned about how the national-security state — which he called the “military-industrial complex” — posed a grave threat to the liberty and democratic processes of the American people. Not so with President Trump. While he might carp and complain about the operations of the CIA, the Pentagon, or the NSA, he doesn’t see them as threats or dangers to America. And, of course, neither does Biden.

The fact is that both Trump and Biden and their respective supporters, as well as the mainstream press, have made peace with the welfare state and the national-security state. You’re never going to hear from either Trump or Biden why it was an enormous mistake for the Roosevelt and Johnson regimes to have adopted Social Security and Medicare as permanent socialist programs in America. While they might carp and complain and even vow to end their “forever wars,” there will be no mention of closing down domestic military bases and shutting down Cold War dinosaurs like the CIA and the NSA.

A free society necessary depends on the removal of infringements on liberty. If we libertarians are to achieve a free society, it is imperative that we strike the root of the two biggest infringements on liberty today: the welfare state, especially its two crown jewels Social Security and Medicare, as well as the warfare state, including the Pentagon, the vast military-industrial complex, the CIA and the NSA. To achieve freedom, we have to lift the vision of the American people to a higher level. We need to make the clear and convincing case to our fellow Americans for a genuinely free society, one in which there are no socialist programs, one in which charity is 100 percent voluntary, and in which a limited-government republic, not a national-security state, prevails. Striking the root, rather than the branches, of the welfare-warfare state, is what will lead our nation to liberty, peace, prosperity, and harmony.

This post was written by: Jacob G. Hornberger

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at and from Full Context. Send him email.

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